Review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

I waited and waited and waited! I finally got what I was waiting for...a new phone. I've had a Windows Smartphone for over 5 years now (Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5). My contract had finally ended and I was eligible for an upgrade with Verizon Wireless. I almost pulled the trigger a few months back with the Motorola Droid Boinic, but it just didn't do it for me. The Droid Bionic seemed clunky, the skin Motorola uses was not great, and I heard bad things about the camera from the day it was released. At the time, I was also hearing rumors about something called the Nexus Prime that would have the newest OS for Android called Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) or Android 4.0. So, I decided to just wait to see what this Nexus Prime is all about. Eventually, that phone would come to be know as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and was released by Verizon Wireless on December 15, 2011. I was one of the first customers at my local Verizon store on the morning it was released. I've had it a little over two months now and I'd like to share my thoughts on the phone.

First of all, I love this phone. Let me just get that out of the way. Google did a great job on Android 4.0. The user interface is so much better than previous versions like Froyo and Gingerbread. I've used Froyo on my Samsung Galaxy Player and Gingerbread on my HP Touchpad tablet. ICS has a better flow than previous versions. New features include the ability to disable apps that you can't delete, create folders to group apps together, improved settings including great battery life information, data usage tracking, and more. The notification bar is improved as well. 
One of the biggest changes is the loss a physical home button and other physical buttons on the front of the phone. ICS now uses virtual buttons including a back button, home button, and a recent app button. The physical search button now longer exists. The settings button has become a virtual button as well and is displayed as a vertical Ellipsis. The settings menu appears at the top of the screen on some apps and at the bottom on other. This is a little confusing because of it's random placement, but is by no means a deal breaker.  
I like the size of the phone. It is not to thick and not too thin. I use an extended battery which adds a little bit of thickness, but it's not very noticeable. The screen size is nice even though some people are afraid of it having a 4.65" screen. After using the 5" Galaxy Player for awhile, I would even be OK with a larger screen, but I can't have everything. The 5MP rear facing camera is nice, but it still doesn't compare to an iPhone 4 or 4S. It records video in 1080p HD, takes great pictures in good light, and is fast with zero shutter lag. Pictures are sometimes grainy in low light situations but the LED flash helps out in those situations. There is a front facing camera as well for video chatting or just taking a picture of yourself. The front facing camera isn't the best quality, but I hardly ever use it so I can't say too much about it. 
The external speaker is not quite loud enough. I find myself missing calls because I didn't hear it. It's also hard to listen to music or my favorite TWiT podcasts when there is other background noise. I had to send my first phone back to Verizon Wireless because the external speaker just quit working. Unfortunately, Verizon sent me a "Certified Used" replacement phone. I was very upset about that after spending $299 on a brand new phone, only to have it replaced with a used phone (that's really a whole other blog post). Regardless, I have a working phone again.
The screen display is awesome. The Galaxy Nexus my first capacitive touch screen phone. My previous three phones had resistive screens and were really stylus dependent. The resolution is amazing and the colors are vivid (especially when brightness is turned up to 100%).
Other hardware specs include a 1.2GHZ dura core processor, 4G LTE radio for blazing fast data speeds, 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, wifi, and bluetooth. The only thing missing is an external sd slot. I don't really store a lot of music or videos so it doesn't really affect me that much. It could be a big issue for others though. There are rumors that Verizon will be releasing a less expensive 16GB version soon (that will also have no sd card slot, so buyer beware).
Wrap up
If you haven't figured out that I love my Galaxy Nexus, then go back and read this again. It is a solid phone and is probably still the best Android phone on the market. A close second (for me) would be the Samsung Galaxy Note. Unfortunately, it is only available on AT&T and is running an older version of Android (Gingerbread). I definitely rate the Galaxy Nexus as a "Buy". New and better phones could be just around the corner, so the choice is yours whether to buy now or wait for the next great phone. 

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