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Review of Samsung Galaxy Nexus GSM/UMTS Smartphone

Live photos of Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Contents:

  1. In the box
  2. Positioning
  3. Design, Dimensions and Controls
  4. Screen
  5. Battery
  6. USB, Bluetooth and Communications
  7. Memory and Memory cards
  8. Performance
  9. Camera
  10. Android 4.0 Software Features
  11. Impressions

In the box:

  • Phone
  • 1750 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • USB cable
  • Wired stereo headset
  • Charger
  • User Guide

Positioning

Google has a good tradition now to launch Nexus models together with new Android version. It is a tour de force for а “bare” OS from Google without any add-ons. Such reference models get new updates faster. For example, Nexus S is the first one on Android 4.0, while other manufacturers are not yet ready with their offerings. On the market Google models do not become bestsellers as they cannot offer maximum features reserved by companies for their own flagships. The same happened to Galaxy Nexus, because if we compare it with Galaxy S2 we see that the camera boasts only 5 MP instead of 8 MP. A dual core processor has 1.2 GHz and is built around TI OMAP 4460. Such details are numerous, but they are unlikely to stop customers decided on buying the latest Google model.

Future owners of Nexus are easy to describe: they want to have the latest OS version and attentively follow the evolution of Android. I think the bulk of Galaxy Nexus sales was associated with those, who needed Android 4.0 and had no alternatives. Between November of 2011, when it hit the shelves, and March-April of 2012 the phone had no rivals, excluding alternative firmware or models from second-tier manufacturers. Every coming Google model is becoming exceedingly popular and enjoys better sales. I have to say that the quality of models is growing too. Galaxy Nexus is attractive for those who need an Android smartphone with good, but not top features, and does not want to wait for flagships from third party manufacturers of models with add-ons. “Bare” Android 4 is really good.

If you do not need a flagship with the cutting edge hardware capabilities, but are looking for the latest Android version, then this phone is the only way out for you.

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Design, Dimensions and Controls

When you hold this phone in your hands you immediately pay attention to its curve. It is different from the similar approach in Sony Ericsson handsets, but there is a clear curve at the back, which repeats a fainter one for the screen. In other words a curved HD screen allows to put it face down without the danger of soiling it (let alone scratching or damaging). The curve looks unusual only from the very beginning and the model is nice to work with on a regular basis. I have only a positive feedback here. The body is made of plastic, is slightly glossy, while the back is textured. The plastic cover resists dirt and soil. In future Samsung will use this material in many models, as it proved its worth. The dimensions of the phone are: 135.5х67.9х8.9 mm with the weight of 135 g. It fits any hand well and doesn't look too huge for the current crop of Android solutions. On the left side we have a paired volume rocker, while the right side hosts an on/off button. The bottom has a microUSB jack and a 3.5 mm jack for headphones or headset.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs Samsung Galaxy S2:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs Samsung Nokia N9:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs Apple iPhone 4S:

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Screen

A 4.65" Super AMOLED screen boasts the resolution of 1280х720 (16 million colors). It uses a capacitive technology and supports up to 10 simultaneous touches. The quality of the picture is excellent and it can compete with the Retina screen in Apple iPhone (a bigger screen gives it an advantage).

You almost do not feel the curve of the screen, but subjectively it is more convenient than its flat counterparts. It can be a placebo effect, because some do not feel the difference at all.

The automated brightness control is more aggressive than in Galaxy S2, so this parameter can be affected more decisively. Subsequently, I set the level manually to suit my needs. On the other hand it markedly increases the power consumption.

To my mind the screen quality is on par with that of Galaxy S2 with a slight difference in brightness, fonts details in the browser, but you will not feel it in real life. This screen is clearly above average and should not generate any complaints whatsoever.

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus (below):

The bottom side is dedicated to keys, because there are no buttons under the screen, whether hardware or sensor. It is a typical feature of Android 4, which causes no problems anyway. Even in winter the screen is convenient to handle (it is not inferior to Galaxy S2).

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Battery

The model sports a 1750 mAh Li-Ion battery (versus 1650 mAh in Galaxy S2). The manufacturer claims up to 8.5 hours of talktime and 270 hours on standby. In real life conditions the phone can run the whole day with the load similar to that of Galaxy S2. We have a parity here. Full charging requires around 3 hours.

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USB, Bluetooth and Communications

Bluetooth. Bluetooth 3.0 supports High Speed. Data transfer to other devices with the same capability uses Wi-Fi 802.11 n with the maximum speed reaching 24 Mbps. In our test a 1 GB file was sent at the maximum speed of 12 Mbps with the distance of 3 meters.

The handset supports various profiles including Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer, Object Push, Basic Printing, SIM Access and A2DP. The handling of headsets is traditionally sound.

USB connection. Surprisingly, Android 4 does not work with USB Mass Storage, So we are left only with MTP. For those who use only Windows PCs there will be no issues, but MacOS users will have to download a special app from the Google website to see files in the phone memory, which is not convenient. Interestingly, but manufacturers of Android 4 smartphones will fix this problem first of all.

USB 2 allows for up to 25 Mbps.

Once you connect to a PC it is impossible to use both USB and Bluetooth and the phone demands to disable Bluetooth despite the current mode (whether you are connected and transferring data or not), which is clumsy. USB connection triggers charging.

MicroUSB jack also supports MHL, which means that a special cable (available in consumer electronics stores) can connect your phone to an HDMI output. It is a better idea to use microUSB than a separate miniHDMI jack on the body.

GSM networks have EDGE class 12.

Wi-Fi. 802.11 a/b/g/n is supported and the wizard is close to that of Bluetooth. It remembers selected networks and automatically connects to them. You can customize a one-touch connection to the router by pressing a button on the router and activating an appropriate key in the phone's menu (WPA SecureEasySetup).

Wi-Fi Direct. This new protocol must replace Bluetooth or at least compete with its 3rd version (it also uses Wi-Fi n to transfer large files). In the Wi-Fi settings select Wi-Fi Direct for the phone to start searching for devices. Select the device you need, activate the connection and you are good to go. In the file manager you can view files from another device or send them. Another option is to find devices connected to your router and send required files from the gallery or other sections of the phone. The main point is for devices to support Wi-Fi Direct.

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Memory and Memory cards

The phone has 16 GB of inbuilt memory and the users can initially have 14 GB at their disposal. There are no memory cards here.

The amount of RAM is 1 GB and after the start we can capitalize on 800 MB. It is enough for all apps and in terms of RAM this phone is one of the best on the market.

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Performance

Here we have another dual-core Samsung processor (TI OMAP 4460). In comparison with Galaxy S2 it is a bit weaker - 1.2 GHz. In the daily use the performance is similar to that of Galaxy S2. New OS makes the overall performance better.

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Camera

The phone has a 5 MP camera from Samsung, which is clearly inferior to that of Galaxy S2 with its 8 MP module. It is the biggest downside of the model and the only reason I do not use it regularly. In other respects I was quite content. Look at the photo samples. They explain everything clearly.

Video. The maximum resolution is 1920х1080 (1080p). In files properties we see 30 fps, but the resulting product is somehow shaking if you walk or drive while shooting. There is fixed focus and in difficult conditions the camera fails to focus on the object at all times. Overall, the quality is comparable with other solutions or even surpasses them. Here comes a video sample.

Look at the capabilities of the photo editor from the Android 4 review.

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Android 4.0 Software Features

As far as the model has no add-ons in the interface and is fully built on Android 4.0 feel free to read an appropriate review.

Review of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Interface and Control

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Standard Applications

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Impressions

There are no issues with the ringtones volume and you can hear the phone well enough even from the winter gear pockets. It can be slightly quieter than Galaxy S2, but the difference is barely noticeable. During the conversation I had an issue with the ringtones volume, when it fluctuated at will. It is a known defect to be fixed in the service centre. The rumour has it that only handsets from the first batch were affected. I had no complaints to the connection quality.

The new Google flagship costs around 450-500 Euros, which is not too much for a new model, but taking into account a weaker camera, features comparable to those of Galaxy S2, which costs much less, we can say that a high markup is charged solely for the new OS. Ultimately, it is up to you whether to pay or not. If you can wait then in spring you will get a new generation of devices for the same price, but offering much better features. To my mind this approach will be the most appropriate, but if you are impatient to try out new Android 4, then this model is the best option.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Review of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Interface and Control

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Standard Applications

Review of Samsung Galaxy S II i9100. Part 1

Review of Samsung Galaxy S II i9100. Part II

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 08 Fabruary 2012

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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