As the first phone to ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy Nexus is definitely attracting a lot of attention. The phone itself offers a mostly "pure" Android experience without a lot of bloatware, which is a good thing. We also appreciate many of the new features that Google has added to the Android 4.0 operating system.
Some of our favorite new features found on Ice Cream Sandwich include better multitasking capabilities, the ability to swipe to dismiss individual notifications, control over how the phone uses its data connection, and new camera capabilities. Speaking of the camera, Samsung and Google have really stepped it up a notch with the Galaxy Nexus. Although this phone may not have the highest resolution camera on the market today, it does offer continuous auto focus and zero shutter lag, which are two key features that we really appreciate. We still don't feel the quality of images is at the same level as a dedicated camera, but the quality was acceptable, especially for a camera phone.
Click to enlarge
In our real world tests, the Galaxy Nexus was responsive, though the phone rarely took the top spot in most of our benchmark tests. However, the Galaxy Nexus especially struggled with some of the network speed tests. Verizon Wireless has said it is working on a signal strength fix for the phone, though it's not clear if the fix will actually affect signal strength and ultimately performance, or simply how signal strength is being reported.
There's definitely a lot to like about the Galaxy Nexus, but there are a few things we wish we could change. For example, we wish the phone offered a microSD card slot. For our uses, it's handy to have the ability to pop in a card preloaded with files and be on our way. The 32GB of onboard storage should be more than adequate for most users, but we still feel an expansion option is a nice feature to have as well.
Click to enlarge
We're also seeing a lot of phones today shipping with built-in HDMI connectivity. The Galaxy Nexus doesn't offer a built-in HDMI port, but you can use an adapter if you want this functionality.
Since the Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to offer Android 4.0, it definitely has a leg up on the competition, at least for now. However, once other high-end smartphones begin receiving updates to Android 4.0, we expect the Galaxy Nexus to lose some of this competitive edge. Still, the Galaxy Nexus offers Android 4.0 today and it's a solid, high performance smartphone that should only get better with time as Samsung and Verizon role out updates to the device as well.