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Android’s New Flavor: Galaxy Nexus

February 8th, 2012

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Remember the good old days when you were a kid and something as simple as an ice cream sandwich could give you all the joys you could ever want?  How would you feel if you could have that same satisfaction under the same name, only as a smartphone?  The Android powered Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone is currently the only phone to operate on Android’s newest software, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.  This new software was designed as a convergence of Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Android’s tablet software. It offers a huge upgrade in the user interface and many other functions previously not available on Android.  This new software combines with the smooth looks of the Samsung hardware to make one heck of a phone.

To begin with, you won’t be let down by the size or look of the Galaxy Nexus.  The Samsung 1280×720 Super-AMOLED display is gorgeous, hands down.  Each pixel emits a light on its own, which makes the contrast and color saturation at the top of its game.  With a display that is 4.65 inches, the Galaxy Nexus is much larger than Google’s previous flagship phone, the Nexus S.  Despite the sometimes over-sized display, you are sure to appreciate every pixel.  Ice Cream Sandwich makes all buttons software based, removing the need for physical buttons on the hardware. While the software buttons also take up space, this still makes way for a larger display than previously seen on smartphones.

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With a bigger screen also comes a bigger keyboard, which in turn means less typos.  The Galaxy Nexus is a powerful phone, and will easily keep up with your quick typing.  Another important thing to mention is instead of the phone automatically (or annoyingly?) “correcting” words as you type, Android underlines them and allows you to change them on your own.  While some may have not minded the previous way, this is personally a very welcomed change.

Unfortunately, the 5-megapixel camera does not live up to the power of the rest of the phone.  Though the shutter lag has been greatly improved with Ice Cream Sandwich software, the iPhone 4S still remains in the lead for picture quality.  Even so, the camera is by no means horrible and will take decent enough pictures for almost any purpose.  Ice Cream Sandwich also brings in the ability to easily take panorama shots straight from the camera application, and in my testing it worked very well.  Another welcome addition to Ice Cream Sandwich is the ability to grab a screenshot by simply holding down the volume button and power button at the same time, something not possible in previous iterations of Android.

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When it comes down to it, most people don’t buy a smartphone for its size or camera.  We want the best applications and we want them to run at their best, and Ice Cream Sandwich makes moving from one app to another easy.  The newly added recent apps tray is very convenient when it comes to switching between apps, as well as the ability to close an app straight from the tray by swiping it off the screen.

Another new feature in Android 4.0 is Face Unlock, which unlocks the phone when the front camera sees your face.  It’s neat and pretty reliable, but not totally secure as a picture of the person will also unlock the screen.  Typically, the unlock pattern is faster anyway.

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Music and video are both up to par, as usual for Android.  The larger screen and better display makes watching movies more enjoyable, and navigating through long lists of songs easier.  There are still a wide variety of options for downloading and listening to music, but one great option is Google Music, which is now out of Beta and available for everyone.

Overall, the Galaxy Nexus performs really well.  It runs extremely smooth and has no major upsets.  The phone has a sleek and rounded design that fits very comfortably in your hand or pocket.  The new Android font and better animations make the user interface that much better, as well as the new and improved keyboard mentioned before.  The battery life of the Galaxy Nexus is not the best, but this is true of almost all modern smartphones.  Light to moderate users should be able to get through a day on a single charge, but heavy users may need to pick up an extra battery or carry a charger with them.

Despite the lack of a long lasting battery, the phone runs at a great speed and maintains a strong connection to Verizon’s lightning fast LTE network – not to mention its beautiful screen and design.  If you’re looking for a smooth interface with a satisfyingly fresh feel, a Galaxy Nexus will surely suit your needs.

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