Galaxy Nexus Reviews: Of Course It's the Best Android

While we wait for Google's and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus to get a U.S. release date and pricing, some reviews are popping up for the international version of the phone. Data speeds aside, these Galaxy Nexus reviews will tell you everything you need to know about the next Google phone. Here's a roundup of what critics are saying:

Hardware Design

The Galaxy Nexus is a humongous phone, thanks to its 4.65-inch 720p display. Mashable's Charlie White loved the design:

"Looking at the phone from the side, I realize this is not the thinnest smartphone I’ve ever seen — that honor goes to the Motorola Droid Razr — but at 8.94mm, it’s slim enough. And, it’s the first smartphone I’ve ever seen with a gentle curve to its body, accompanied by a remarkable 'Contour Display' whose glass is also gently curved. It’s a subtle effect, but I think it’s downright beautiful."

CNet's Kent German and Jessica Delcourt weren't as impressed, proving that hardware design is usually a matter of personal taste: "It's eye-catching yes, but like other Samsung phones before it, the Galaxy Nexus also feels too fragile in the hand, even at 4.76 ounces," they wrote. "Here again we fear that we have to be extra careful not to drop it even once on a hard surface."

Display

As one of the first smartphones with a 720p display, the Galaxy Nexus rivals the "Retina Display" of Apple's iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S in pixel density, but with a much larger screen. Here's Myriam Joire of Engadget:

"Fonts are crisp, colors are vibrant, blacks are deep, and viewing angles are exceptional. However, we noticed an issue with the auto-brightness setting, which functions properly in daylight but is too dim in low-light environments."

The Verge's Joshua Topolsky also found nits to pick:

"Generally, I'm in love with the Galaxy Nexus screen, though it isn't exactly perfect. As with the Nexus S, I noticed some color aberrations and odd striations which were visible when there was a large swath of solid, lighter colors visible (a plain gray background, for instance)."

Performance

Android has never been known for smoothness, and even some of the newest smartphones have a herky-jerky feel in some places. But according to Joshua Topolsky at the Verge, those issues have been scrubbed clean on the Galaxy Nexus, which runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor.

"Touch response is excellent on the phone — everything reacts quickly to your movements. Homescreen scrolling was snappy, moving into and out of apps was instantaneous, swiping through long lists was stutter free, and web browsing (even on heavy pages like ours) was super speedy. Game frame rates were smooth, photo viewing and editing was frictionless, and the phone handled heavy multitasking with aplomb. It's obviously a combination of great hardware and great software, but the Nexus is probably the tightest feeling, snappiest Android phone I've ever used. It's awesome."

(For more on the features of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, check out our Android 4.0 overview.)

Interface

The most noticeable difference between the Galaxy Nexus and older Android phones is its lack of hardware buttons for navigation. Instead, the Galaxy Nexus uses the same kind of software buttons found on Android tablets, including a home button, a back button and a button that calls up your most recent apps. Other functions, such as menu and search, appear and disappear as needed.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid liked the new setup, but said it took some getting used to:

"Aside from the omitted Search button, which I miss simply because it makes my beloved voice control harder to get to, this new setup feels like a huge step in the right direction. Most people are going to be excited about Ice Cream Sandwich’s more flashy features, but this is a fundamental and important change that is going to make Android easier to use for a lot of people — which is why I’ve spent so many words on it."

Camera

Although 8-megapixel cameras have become the norm for high-end handsets, Google and Samsung stuck with a 5-megapixel sensor for the Galaxy Nexus. Here's Harry McCracken, writing for Time:

"The photos I took with the 5-megapixel rear-facing camera on the Galaxy Nexus weren’t as nice as ones from the 8-megapixel model on the iPhone 4S, which is almost incapable of producing bad shots. I did, however, appreciate how amazingly snappy the Nexus’s camera is–when Google claims it has zero shutter lag, they’re serious. And a fun panorama feature, similar to the one on some Sony cameras, lets you create 360-degree views by sweeping the phone around you in a circle."

Conclusion

In the end, most reviewers came to the conclusion you'd expect from a flagship Android phone: it's the new champ.

"The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is by far the best Android phone I’ve seen yet," said Mashable.

And here's CNet, with a bit of dissent: "The trouble is, though, that iOS and Windows Phone, with their manual-not-required interface and attention to the user experience, are waiting to scoop up consumers who find the new Android to be too much. By taking a step forward, ICS will win a few of them back, but it also keeps a foot in Android's cluttered past.

The Verge gets the final word here: "It's one of the best smartphones ever made, and with a couple of minor tweaks (particularly to the camera), it could be the best smartphone ever produced," said The Verge.

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For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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