Google Galaxy Nexus Review

There are already a lot more thorough reviews out there, but I thought there would be room for one more with a Canadian/business use view of it. The Galaxy Nexus is the newest Google phone and the platform of choice for the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android (4.0). In Canada right now, this phone can only be purchased on Bell or Virgin Mobile. Virgin is Bell’s “fighting brand” in Canada, so Bell makes the claim that the Galaxy Nexus is a “Bell Exclusive”. Indeed, if you try to buy it from a Bell store, they’ll be a bit snooty about it and claim that it’s a “Bell Exclusive” and can only be used with their plans. Virgin is a bit less snooty and will sell you the phone on as short as a 30 day contract. Most Bell and Virgin stores are VERY confused about this phone, the unlock-ability, and the sell-ability of it. The Galaxy Nexus I purchased from Virgin Mobile was unlocked, though a few phone operators and store workers thought it was locked. It was a good thing it was unlocked, because I needed to use it with Rogers. So, bought from Virgin, popped in the SIM card, and it worked right away.

Upgrading to a Galaxy Nexus from a Galaxy S

My previous phone was a Galaxy S Captivate, which is one of Samsung’s previous generation Android phones. To upgrade, I needed to move my pictures, contacts, email, and programs. This was an absolute breeze. After starting the phone and logging in:

  • I setup Wi-fi.
  • It automatically synced up my contacts + contact pictures.
  • I used Google+ to store the images from my previous phone, so those are all up on the cloud and I had to do nothing. If you didn’t know, you can store unlimited photo’s and videos as long as they’re not too high a resolution for photos or too long for videos.
  • As soon as I logged in, it started downloading and installing the same programs I had on my previous phone.
  • I had to pair it up with my JVC AVX740 to connect Bluetooth in my car.
  • I had to enter my work email info and authorize my phone.
All in all, a pretty easy upgrade. Android makes this easy even if you’re moving from a different platform, and easier yet moving from the same. It’s still not as slick or seamless as upgrading an iPhone, but because of the segmentation between apps, I feel like it’d be a bit more robust. If your email contacts fail to move on an Apple upgrade, you’re screwed. If they fail to move on an Android phone, it’d be easy to try to re synchronize them with GMail.

Hardware Stuff

Screen and Form Factor

This is a big phone. If you’re looking for something small, this is not it. The trend lately has been bigger and bigger screens, and the Galaxy Nexus rocks out a 4.65 inch screen. The biggest difference to me was the height, but never mind the size, the resolution is incredible, packing a full 720p resolution on a phone. 3 years ago, that would have been an OK HDTV resolution, now it’s a phone. Innovation in technology  is awesome! It means that high definition video looks awesome, images can be checked for details and quality, and web pages can be browsed at lower zoom levels. This was a big reason why I wanted higher resolution; web browsing at a lower resolution required jumping around the web page a lot and zooming in and out.
iPhone 3GS vs Galaxy S vs Galaxy Nexus
iPhone 3GS vs Galaxy S vs Galaxy Nexus
iPhone 3GS vs Galaxy S vs Galaxy Nexus
iPhone 3GS vs Galaxy S vs Galaxy Nexus Screens
Google's Galaxy Nexus in Hand
Galaxy Nexus in Hand - Not too big

Camera

Check the other reviews on the web. I really like the no lag feature, because you can just take a million shots and keep the ones that look good. For kids, that’s awesome as they seem to be making weird faces about 95% of the time and wicked cute faces only 5% of the time. Just keep shooting pictures and you’ll catch them eventually.

Battery Life

More than a day, even with insanely high usage. That’s much better than the Galaxy S Captivate, and that’s all I care about.

Network Speed (Speedtest app)

Rogers HSPA: Galaxy Nexus 8.9Mbps down, 1.2 Mbps up. On my Galaxy S, it managed 3.2Mbps down and 1.2Mbps up.
On Wifi through Telus, the Galaxy Nexus did 2.4Mbps up and 0.9 up whereas the Galaxy S did 2.4Mbps down and 0.8Mbps up.
Findings: 1. The Galaxy S couldn’t handle the full download speeds that Rogers has to offer, but could handle everything else. 2. Telus’s DSL speeds suck. 3. I wouldn’t upgrade if you’re looking for much higher network speeds; a phone like the Galaxy S is still pretty capable on that end.

Software Stuff

Like I said at the start, this phone runs the newest version of Android. Is it amazing? Not really. Is it better than everything else out there? I think so. Since the last time I reviewed the Galaxy S, most app makers also have Android in their plans. I had a friend over who was glued to X Construct, and he was really disappointed that it didn’t have an iPhone version. That’s pretty weird; having an Android exclusive app. For most apps, the iPhone version is still better or newer, but it’s getting very close to parity now.

Face Unlock

Screw it. It takes a second to load up the front camera, and that’s too long for me. PIN or pattern unlock all the way.

Usability

I’d say that usability is improved. My 3 year old had no problems moving from the Galaxy S to the Nexus and still figuring out how to launch and close games. That should be testament enough that it’s easy to use and they haven’t broken too many conventions from the previous version. I could really care less, but it does look a HELL of a lot better. Icons, usage, it’s all a lot prettier, but still not glossy and frilly.

Reliability

I’m on day 3 of a “.01” version and I haven’t had any crashes.

Summary

Right now, this is the best phone you can buy. The iPhone 4S has a better camera and slightly more integrated voice commands but has a lot smaller of a screen, and does not allow for the kinds of mucking around that the Nexus does. This is not really a great phone for someone with small hands. The curved screen fits well when on a call, and when in the pocket. I much prefer the speaker location to the Galaxy S’. That’s it. When it comes right down to it, the iPhone, Galaxy S, and Galaxy Nexus are all phones that use nearly their entire front as a screen, have really usable software in the background, and have app environments that encourage development. They’re all better in their own ways, yet all better in some ways to the old flip phones that a lot of people are still using. The fact that they’re all out there is encouraging and should encourage innovation in the future.

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Google Galaxy Nexus Review

Reviewed by Adriel Michaud on Dec 12

The Galaxy Nexus is simply the best phone available to date
The newest Nexus phone from Google and Samsung
Rating:5
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9 thoughts on “Google Galaxy Nexus Review

  1. Great review! My iphone 3G has almost “sold the farm”…that’s right…3G…no S. I was looking at this phone, or waiting for an iPhone 5 (or maybe iPhone 4S2?). Not sure if I like the bigger screens…after all, it is a phone…and not a tablet.

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    1. It’s all about the screen; you can only reasonably pack in so many pixels before it requires a magnifying glass to read. It definitely starts cutting into tablet territory, as I now have a higher resolution on my phone than on my tablet.

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  2. I think Samsung has been doing pretty good on making their phones some of the best out there. The Galaxy Nexus is just adding to the greatness! Verizon was the only carrier that didn’t get one of the Galaxy SII phones, so this makes up for that! There is a 720p screen under that curved glass which should make all the HD movies and shows I stream look great! I have tried using LTE on my cousins Droid RAZR and it is pleasantly fast. I usually stream my shows in HD, but 3G can’t really handle the higher quality of streaming without being attached to wifi. LTE definitely helped in streaming my HD shows from my Sling Adapter-connected receiver to my phone. Since I’ve been working for and subscribing to DISH, I know that I have more HD channels that I can stream to my phone than any other provider. Hopefully, LTE and the Galaxy Nexus makes it even better!

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  3. just found out I’m getting a Galaxy Nexus tomorrow at the office — currently have a Galaxy S Fascinate… — help me out? What to watch out for when making the move? I’m all worried about backing up/moving contacts…settings? etc. uggh!

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    1. If your contacts are sync’d to GMail, don’t worry whatsoever. They’ll just work. Back up your pictures to your computer or Google+. It’ll auto-download your apps if you’re on wi-fi, but I think you’ll need to reconfigure any apps that save local settings. All in all, upgrading an Android is pretty low event. Not as slick as updating an iPhone, but there’s more recourse for action if something fucks up.

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