Not the pinnacle of new technology, but Android perfection (for now...) December 15, 2011
Reviewer: Nathaniel Allen (Oakland) -
There are phones with bigger screens ([[ASIN:B0061YRDX6 Galaxy Note]]), faster CPUs and GPUs ([[ASIN:B0061R3DVO Rezound]]), thinner profiles ([[ASIN:B0061OQJTK RAZR]]), more memory and longer battery life, but the Galaxy Nexus (Verizon's LTE version) puts a respectable amount of everything together into one package, and leaves me practically nothing to complain about.
IN SUMMARY: This may turn into one of my longer reviews, so in a nutshell: BIG, but comfortable to hold, though begs to be used with two hands. Screen is awesome (bright and crisp) & keyboard is accurate. No problems with signal coverage. Average volume levels. Smooth & fluid Android interface feels polished. Camera very good, but vid cam has a lot of issues. "Typical" LTE battery life i.e. widely variable depending on usage, AT BEST a whole day on one charge.
Android 4.0 Operating System:
Outstanding: The OS feels integrated, speedy and mostly intuitive. Face unlock isn't just a gimmick, it's mostly reliable (though not in bad light), and it's very swift in getting me to the home screen. Swipe-like gestures similar to Palm's failed Web OS are carried over to manage and switch recent apps. The ability to expand widgets and personalize screens is not only fun, but really useful -- for instance, I set up a screen for "home" where I'm more interested in the weather, Facebook & G+ updates, and feeds from my bike forum, whereas my "work" screen has quick access to certain web sites and apps that I use regularly. Icon animations for screen transitions are subtle but just enough to give the front end interface a sort of 3D effect. The selection of "live" backgrounds is neat, but a few of the more graphically intensive ones slow the phone down just a bit -- and as great as they look, I still opt for corny (and static) photos of the kids. Hopefully, this being a Nexus device, new OS updates will come regularly and quickly from Google, without delay from Verizon -- but be aware that this may be a bit of a beta device since it sees the first wide distribution of everything.
You'll need to know that because the operating system is new, there will initially be application incompatibilities. This isn't a knock against the Galaxy Nexus -- it's something early adopters of a new platform should expect. I expect this to last only a short while, because new Android 4.0 devices are in the pipe for release in the coming months.
Phone & Signal:
For starters, I like 4.0's big "clean" dial pad. And it's also easy to dial from any of my contacts, as they culled from all sources (personal Gmail, company email via Exchange, G+). But I prefer to use voice dial because I'm often driving when calling, and I'd prefer voice confirmation ala BlackBerry (Android 4.0 still requires me to look at the screen to confirm). External speaker sound quality is loud enough for most uses, but just slightly quiet & flat compared to other phones (not a problem over my Bluetooth [[ASIN:B001EN109C visor-mounted speakerphone]] or [[ASIN:B0043EV20Q headset]]), and my voice quality is apparently clear and loud on the receiving end. I live and work in a well covered urban area, so signal strength is rarely a problem with any phone. However, I do have a couple of "dark spots" in the remote areas of where I work, and the GN hasn't dropped a call on me yet. LTE coverage has been equally strong with fantastic data speeds, fantastic, *but* Verizon's 4G antenna is literally attached to the building I work in. It's not enough to say "faster than dialup" as in some respects it is faster than my home cable (longer latency times, however).
(Note 1/22/12: There have been numerous reports (confirmed by Verizon) of signal problems in either fringe coverage areas or inside buildings. I, personally, have not experienced any problems with this either with dropped voice calls (CDMA/1X) or dropped data connections (LTE/3G) BUT there is a short "no data" time out when the phone switches from LTE to 3G, or vice-versa. HOWEVER, out of curiosity checked my 3G signal strength in Settings > About (LTE must be switched to OFF to read 3G signal strength, otherwise 4G reception will be displayed) and observed the Nexus consistently -10 to -15 dBm WEAKER than some other Verizon Android & BlackBerry devices I had access to. And to restate, I am in a well-covered area and have had ZERO issues with connectivity.)
It wasn't too long ago that I scoffed at the notion of a "good" camera in cell phone, but more and more I've come to rely on the photo shooter that is **always** with me -- and the Nexus is a sharp shooter. Switching to camera mode and shot-to-shot times are off the hook quick, and the output is excellent. Yes, it's an itty-bitty lens and the low-light shots still require a very steady hand as well as a steady subject. Dynamic range is still a challenge in situations that include bright highlights combined with dark shadows. But focus is usually sharp, colors are mostly accurate not overly bright, and grainy "noise" is kept to a minimum -- mainly in shadowy details. While the lens + sensor can't freeze a busy kid in a modestly lit indoor situation, the super fast shot-to-shot times nearly guarantees that at least one shot will come out without motion blur.
"But only 5 megapixels?" Meh... compared to previous phones, these photos look --GRRreat-- at the typical resolutions I view them at on my 24" home PC monitor after uploading to Picasa and Facebook. The flash is wonderfully bright and will adequately light a pitch-black subject, though will over-illuminate a subject that is too close. And photos automatically upload off my phone into the ethereal "cloud" via my G+ account, almost like a [[ASIN:B002UT42UI Eye-Fi SD Card]] but one better! And with built-in editing, I can crop, filter and "fix" my pix before I share them.
The camera is, without question, more complicated to use than any other current phone, but in that complication some flexibility is offered. The very fast shutter fires on release (not on press), and the exposure seems to be center-weighted (meaning that the lighting conditions at the center of the image will determine how the picture is exposed). This allows a 5-step picture taking process in difficult lighting situations (i.e. brightly backlit scene):
- 1. Pan the camera around the subject to achieve the on-screen exposure I desire
- 2. Press and hold the shutter button to lock the exposure
- 3. (while continuing to hold the shutter release) recompose the shot, if desired
- 4. (while continuing to hold the shutter release) tap on the subject I want the camera to focus on, which may not be what I originally aimed at or may no longer be in the center of my frame (if desired)
- 5. release the shutter release to fire the shot
Alternatively, I can just blast away at the shutter release and hope to get the shot I want. Honestly, outdoor shots come out great with not so much as a quick press of the shutter release. Decently lit indoor shots and flash shots where subjects are a few arm lengths away are *pretty good* without too many exceptions. It's those close-in flash shots and dynamically lighted shots that take time and attention to shoot well.
The video camera, on the flip side, leaves a bit to be desired. The picture is presents is "clean," but the rolling shutter aka "Jello Effect" is most definitely present when panning slowly. There's a sort of wobble that appears that may be an artifact of some sort of electronic image stabilization. There's also a problem of intermittent stutters / pauses -- not bad, just very short and noticable. It's less noticeable when shooting in 720p at 30 frames per second, versus the HD 1080p @ 24 FPS mode. And lastly, there's a weird fish-eye effect when panning smoothly IF any objects are in close range; not as evident on long shots. If you're planning on using the video camera function a lot, you'll want to check this out in person before buying -- or see if a software update can correct some of these issues. On the plus side, I can attest that the video images are sharply focused and with good coloration.
I absolutely LOVE the YouTube app on this, which is seamlessly integrated with my desktop YouTube favorites and subscribed lists. Videos expand to take full advantage of the 4.65" screen, and have just minimal buffering at the intro (assuming a 4G or WiFi connection), with no blockiness or artifacting/pixelation associated with my previous phone. Or, with Adobe Flash installed, I can access desktop versions of sites such as ABC or NBC to watch full episodes of TV programs.
The stock browser is very speedy and really makes alternates such as Opera Mobile and Dolphin HD unnecessary and, frankly, clunky. Pages pinch zoom smoothly and without lag. Scrolling is equally smooth. Tapping on zoomed text columns reformat them to fit the width of the screen, to eliminate side-to-side scrolling. With Flash installed and Desktop mode selected in the User Agent settings, I have access to just about everything I can browse on my laptop. However, there are some pages which it doesn't render correctly (actually, just one in particular that I use for work) that necessitates Dolphin. Also, there's a browser called ICS Browser Plus available on Android Market that takes the stock Android 4.0 browser and expands on its "Quick Controls," which I highly recommend if you opt to use the browser's full-screen mode.
Mounted in a Cygnett DashView Universal car mount (not yet available on Amazon), the Nexus makes a very capable personal navigator, complete with moving maps, a very fluid display that zooms in and out of the maap, voice commands, and a very capable voice search function that rivals anything from Garmin. Alternate routes are either one or two screen presses away, and factor in real-time traffic from major freeways and minor surface streets alike. Estimated travel times are good within a few minutes (usually overestimated), but not as accurate as my dedicated Garmin (with OTA traffic) or my BlackBerry Traffic app.
One complaint is that the voice search isn't integrated with my phone's phone book, so while it's easy to say "Navigate to Memorial Stadium," with expected results, I can't say "Navigate to Home" or "Navigate to John Smith's Home" (as an example of a personal contact). Navigating to contacts' addresses requires a few extra steps, and can be "starred" (favorited) in Google Maps for quick selection from inside the Nav application. Another complaint is that running the Nav app with the screen + GPS + data running the entire time sucks a lot of juice, and a standard 500mA car charger can't keep up. At minimum, have a high-output [[ASIN:B000S5Q9CA Motorola Rapid Rate Charger]], or something with similar charging currents, on hand for navigation use.
The the Nav app's credit, if the data connection is lost, my route and the associated maps are all pre-cached, so as long as I stay on-course, I continue to receive turn-by-turn directions.
I may be among the minority, but I am excited about Google's new approach to memory management with this device. One solid block of 32GB means there's no more selecting between an SD memory card or internal storage for audio, video, program and data files. This should put an end to filling up all available space on the internal storage, yet left with gobs of unused gigabytes on the external card.
This memory management change necessitated the removal of USB mass storage mode from the device, but the new transfer protocol works great with Windows 7 & XP (your mileage may vary with other operating systems, including older versions of Windows, and will reportedly not play nicely with USB in-car entertainment systems in Ford & probably other vehicles, although streaming over Bluetooth still works).
I was a little concerned this phone would be too big, and was even more concerned my wife would find it a problem. It turns out there's a bit of a trade-off: It's slimmer and lighter than either of our previous phones, and the amount of screen real estate is exciting. I take no issues with the build quality -- it feels very refined and techy, not "chunky" like some heavier and/or rubberier phones. This is definitely a challenging device to type on one handed. Just checking emails or flicking through photos of a bookmarked website is one thing, but trying to bat out a quick text message or any other sort of keyboard input practically necessitates two hands. This is nothing new for somebody switching over from a keyboard phone (like my wife's Palm Pre+) but a bit of a change coming from a smaller touchscreen phone with a capable one-thumbable portrait keyboard. And for what it's worth, this is a really easy, uncrowded QWERTY keyboard for my big thumbs to tap on -- even in portrait mode!
I've parked mine in an [[ASIN:B006JO232E Otterbox Defender]] case and, while it fattens the Nexus by a factor of two, the phone's slim build is the only thing that made such a beefy case palatable. You can follow that product link to my review, if you're interested.
Gorgeous. Stunning. Big. Crisp. Bright. Sensitive. Tiny text is crystal clear and easy to read. Colors are very rich and black really is inky black (evident when playing back a movie with dark scenes). If you heard something negative about the "pentile" display this phone uses based on similar displays released recently on phones from Motorola, stop into Verizon and check one out for yourself before forming an opinion. If I have one criticism, it's why is it so difficult to get auto dimming to work correctly?
This is tough to rate. I've been subjecting my LTE Nexus to what I would consider abnormally high usage in the couple weeks that I've had it (1750mAh battery -- 100mAh lower than what the retail phones shipped with) and I can say this with certainty: if you're either tethering or using Verizon's mobile WiFi Hotspot feature, expect to either plug this in to the charger, or run down the battery in a matter of hours. For normal day-to-day use with a handful of phone calls, some data consumption / web browsing + camera use, getting through an 8-hour workday is no problem, and there are days where I can make it to bed with 20% left on the battery, and others when I need a boost as soon as I'm in the car after work. Seems like a pretty typical LTE device, from what I know of this phone's LTE predecessors. It's certainly no "all day and then some" a la BlackBerry, if that's the battery life you're used to. And definitely worse than the GSM version of this same phone.
I have since picked up Samsung's [[ASIN:B006OBSUUG Extended 2100mAh Battery]] (direct from Verizon by dialing (star)611), and must say that the slight 1- to 2-hour increase in runtime is appreciated.
Google's "Nexus" Promise:
There are newer/better/faster devices not too far down the road featuring the Android 4.0 operating system and improving on what Samsung delivered here. But what hooked me is the promise of regular updates directly from Google for the lifepan of this device, with very minimal interference or influence from Verizon -- just like they've done with previous Nexus devices. I hope that's how it plays out, because the next hot phone can't be that many weeks away, but chances are it's going to be packed Verizon's bloatware and infrequent updates. Your mileage, of course, may vary. ;-)
The Competition (Nexus vs. the [[ASIN:B0061R3DVO HTC Rezound]]):
I hesitate in posting this, because it's very limited in terms of all the other devices available out there, and will surely be out-of-date in a matter of weeks as new phones are announced. But I gave a good, hard look at the HTC Rezound when it came time for me to buy, and it was not an easy decision.
The Rezound has a more naturally colored picture, with the same high resolution. The blacks aren't as deep, and the whites aren't as bright, but the LCD display has just a slightly finer focus to it (without getting too technical, I believe due to the pixel arrangement). In theory, the Nexus has an advantage outdoors in bright sunlight (I didn't test a Rezound outdoors).
The Rezound has a Snapdragon S3 clocked at 1.5 GHz, but I found the Nexus to have a snappier feel to it. HTC uses their "Sense" skin on the Rezound, and it seems that that has a high overhead requirement. For instance, when looking at available system memory after a fresh boot-up, nearly half is already in use by the system. There's no telling when Android 4.0 hits the Rezound WHAT Sense is going to look like then (could be better, could be worse, in terms of system overhead requirements).
The Rezound's camera is fabulous. Where the Nexus shoots more muted colors (some might say "natural"), the Rezound's photos have a richer appearance. The Nexus also has a tendency to blow out highlights (i.e. whites, brights and light skin tones become the same shade of white). This, I believe, will be resolved with a minor correction in the software, and as is, I firmly believe the Nexus photos stand up well on their own and are generally very good -- but the Rezound is undeniably a notch or two better.
The Rezound's external speaker is slightly (just) louder than the Nexus', but also has a wider dynamic range. Playing identical audio from the two phones side-by-side, it's not entirely evident which is louder, but the Rezound is definitely a fuller sound.
The Rezound is thick and has a smaller battery. Only 4mm thicker than the thickest part of the Nexus, and only 230mAh smaller battery, but the external battery (2700mAh) makes the phone extremely fat.
The Rezound uses a 16GB removable SD card (included) to supplement the 16GB of internal memory, to match the Nexus' 32GB. As I wrote in my review, I'm a fan of the single partition system the Nexus is using, so two partitions in the Rezound is a bit of a negative for me, but according to popular opinion I am in the minority here. Also, the Rezound will mount as a traditional USB mass storage drive when plugged into a PC or car audio dock, whereas the Nexus is USB Host (USB OTG) and may result in a few extra hurdles for OS's other than Windows 7.
The Rezound -- no two ways about it -- definitely shows stronger 3G signal reception (in dBm's, not bars) than the Nexus. Again, I have no connectivity problems to complain about -- this Nexus has been a dream both with voice calls as well as data -- but I don't doubt some complaints I've read of owners experiencing dropped calls in fringe areas.
The Rezound has HTC's track record of infrequent, often tardy OS updates. I am heavily attracted to the Nexus due to Google's direct support of this product over its expected 2-year life cycle.
Still the Best Phone Offered at Verizon, but SIII is a close second December 17, 2011
Reviewer: Timothy Swann
Hardware & Form Factor:
A lot of the reviews of the GSM version claimed that the phone felt big in people's hand and that some people had trouble with one-hand operations, however I don't see this to be the case. I have had no trouble using this phone in one hand. It fits comfortably in my hand, and the phone is incredibly light. While the RAZR might also be light, because it is slightly wider, it did not feel as comfortable in my hand.
While this phone may not have the same high-end processor that is found in the HTC Rezound, the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor combined with Android 4.0 makes this thing lightning fast. (Update 1/17/12: My research has informed me that the processor in the device can actually clock up to 1.5GHz. You can get speeds higher than 1.2 GHz, but you must unlock your bootloader and flash a custom kernel. There are a few that overclock to 1.35 GHz since that is what has been found to be the highest speed that remains stable. Do this at your own risk.)I have found no lag in anything. At times, launching the camera application takes a few extra seconds, but it is really not too bad. Overall, launching apps is the fastest of all of smartphone out there (and yes, this is faster than the iPhone 4S). Since I've already mentioned the camera, I'll mention it now. It takes very good photos, but not quite the quality of pictures that the iPhone 4 or 4S is capable of. While it is only a 5MP camera, REMEMBER that MP is not the whole story because the light sensors are even more important. That being said, this takes very good photos and make this a good point-and-shoot camera, just not great.
While some people don't like the plastic feel that Samsung chooses to use, it feel very sturdy! If you need to take the back cover off, it comes off fairly easily, but snapping it back in is somewhat annoying. But keep in mind, how often will you really need to take off the cover. Because the phone is made of very high-quality plastic, it is much sturdier than the iPhone. Yes, the iPhone may have more of a premium feel to it, but to make a phone that has glass on the front and back of the phone, you will very scared of dropping it for fear of cracking the glass. And if you crack the glass on the iPhone, it is not covered by insurance.
I have two assessments of the speaker on this phone. For phone calls, it's great, whether you have it on speaker phone or not. However, if you try to watch a video or listen to music on it the speaker could be louder, but the fact that the speaker is on the back of the phone plays a factor in why it could be louder. . Let's remember this though, this is a phone so in that respect the speaker is great!
The Display is absolutely amazing! It's crisp, and the color saturation is incredibly. I've never seen a display quite like it. It is on par with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the HTC Rezound. While the Rezound technically has the highest ppi, the 315ppi on the Nexus is amazing. You can adjust the brightness to save some battery life, and even on low the picture looks as good as is to be expected, but I've chosen to leave it on full brightness because the screen is just that pretty. At time I find myself switching to the auto-brightness setting which I find is very helpful. Since I have always used my cells phones as my alarm clock, the auto-brightness makes it easy to actually look at the phone when the room is dark after I've just woken up. Because the screen is amazing I am willing to leave it on full-brightness most of the time, except when I go to sleep becasue I don't like being blinded when I have to either snooze or dismiss my alarm.
I know I've already mentioned the camera a little bit, but since most reviews line item this separately, I will do the same. Yes it's only 5MP, but MP aren't everything. As I've mentioned, the light sensors are more important. It is a little disappointing to see that Samsung didn't inclue the 8MP shooter they use on their Galaxy SII brand becasue that phone takes some pretty good photos as well. After spending a decent amount of time playing with the camera, I find that in perfect lighting, this thing takes great pictures, but other than that, it struggles to take a high quality picture. This still doesn't change the fact that it can take very good pictures, but it's just not what you would have expected in a flagship phone, especially since pictures from the Galaxy SII takes better pictures. Kind of a bummer. However, you can play with the settings as needed to get what I think can still be a very good picture, but not great.
Google really made us aware of the zero shutter lag that comes from the software and camera. I've tested this several times and demoed it to a lot of people that didn't quite believe. I could shoot off about 10 photos in like 2-3 seconds. That's pretty fast!
This thing can also shoot in 1080. Now if you wondering how it can do that with only 5MP, you have to understand what resolution 5MP can produce. A 5MP shooter can produce photos and videos with a resolution of 2984 x 1680. For those of you that don't fully understand the resolutnion of 1080p video, the resolution is actually 1920 x 1080. Now that you can see this, it is clearly understandable why and how the 5MP shooter with a great sensor shoots in 1080. (Updated on 1/27/12: My initial review mentioned 720p recording, but after using the camera enough, I found that was in fact capable of shooting 1080p video in the settings. Default is 720p though, so be sure to change it!).
Again though, the camera in the Galaxy Nexus isn't quite going to give you pictures of the quality that come from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, but this is still a decent camera.
I came from a Blackberry, but I have had some experience with iPhones and various Android phones and the custom skins different OEMs use. I can say that the lack of OEM customization and the pure Android experience is by far the best. I like it better than the iPhone OS too. While some people won't like seeing the Google Search Bar widget built in to all the home screens, I kind of like it. The swipe down notification tray is great (something I didn't have with my BB), and you can access it even while the screen is locked, but if you have security set up you will need to unlock before accessing notification tray.
The speech to text feature baked into the whole OS is very good. However, you need to speak very deliberately, and very clearly. If you do, it's about 95% accurate. the other 5% actually has some other options to select from that it thinks you said. While I have not demoed Siri on the iPhone 4S, i do know that you need to speak very clearly too for that, but it might be more accurate. I can't say for sure though. And while the speech to text in ICS is not a personal assistant, I do not need to talk to my phone like I am on the Star Trek Enterprise. Also many owners of the iPhone 4S don't even use Siri after the first couple of weeks. After months of having this phone, I use the speech to text all the time because it's very easy to access and dictate messages when my hands aren't free to type or if my eye should be elsewhere.
The resizable widgets is great. The other thing I like is the ability to create folders on your home screens, but this is something that iOS has had for a while now. However, where this trumps iOS is if you create speed dials. In iOS you can't easily create speed dials, but Android has always been good at this, and with the ability to create folders on your home screen, this becomes incredibly useful because you are not cluttering your screen with all your speed dials.
ICS also has a task manager is that very easy to access as it's built-in as one of the software buttons (remember there are no physical buttons aside from the volume rocker and the power button). You can switch between apps that you have open with a quick press. You can also use this to close any apps that you aren't using anymore. Speaking of Apps, because this is a Nexus device, you won't find any of the bloatware apps that Verizon loves include on its phones. Well, actually you will find 2 apps, My Verizon Mobile and VZ Backup Assistant. I tend to find Backup Assistant to be useless since all my contacts are synced with my gmail, but the My Verizon Mobile i think is semi-useful. Although I have a grandfathered data plan, I can easily launch this app up and check my minutes. If you really don't want these two apps though, in ICS you can disable the apps and they disappear for your app tray.
If you are buying this and don't have a grandfathered data plan you will most defintely want to take advantage of a brand new feature in ICS. You can limit how much data your phone uses each month on the mobile network. This is really important because you don't want to use your phone all month and then get hit with a huge overage charge on data. You can tweak the settings too to limit background data used by running apps also. This is a great add to ICS!
We've all heard this time and time again, but battery life on 4G phones is not great. So this phone comes with a slightly larger battery than the GSM version. That being said, this was needed for the 4G LTE antenna. You may want to disable 4G if you don't live in an area that has 4G or if you want to conserve battery life. Because I'm not always in 4G coverage, I've turned off the 4G. Since then, my battery life has been great! Most of your battery life is going to get drained by your display, but this is true for all smartphones though. I love how crystal clear the screen is on full brightness so I can deal with the the slightly shorter battery life I will have.
Update 1/3/12: After several weeks now with the phone, I can comment on the battery life better now. On moderate to heavy usage I can get upwards of around 7 hours. On light usage I get more than 10. The real kicker here is the screen. Screens on any smartphone are power guzzlers. Everyone has different usage on their phones. Also, I read someone complaining about how long it takes to recharge. Using the charger the phone came with, the phone charges pretty fast. However, some other chargers I have take a little longer. Since each charger is designed slightly different (voltage and wattage), this could be the factor.
New 1/9/12 - A Nexus Device: Some people might argue this as being a true Nexus, but the idea of Nexus is for it to be a true developer device. Now you don't need to be a developer to want this phone because it is still by far better than most of the devices out there. However, if you do want to experiment with this and learn how to flash roms and do some other fun stuff, since this is a Nexus device, the bootloader comes unlocked and the device is easily rooted. One developer actually wrote a program that does it all for you. So what would have take a user with no experience about 5 minutes (that's how long it took me and I had never rooted a phone since I came from Blackberry), will take you about 1 minute.
Also as a Nexus, this device has no OEM customization, which I've already stated. This makes the User Experience simply put as fantastic! There is next to no learning curve with this phone. Very easy to use in that regard.
Some people will likely be upset by the lack of Facebook syncing with your contacts, but from my research this is not soething that has been supported for some time. If you do need that, Friendcaster will do the trick though and can be downloaded from the Android Market. However, there is a brand new app as of 12/19 that apparently works better called "HaxSync - ICS Facebook Sync" that works great. I have yet to try it, but I will be sure to check it out for $0.99.
Yes, there is no Google Wallet, but this apparently has to do with security concerns from Verizon, but it could also have to do with the mobile payment system that Verizon has coming later this year. Because of the Net Neutrality laws, if Google fixes the security issues that Verizon is concerned about, Verizon will not legally be allowed to block the app. So don't be too concerned about this one. You can actually get this on your phone now without rooting by downloading the .apk from XDA. Just remember that you are putting your personal CC information into the app.
Is it really a true Nexus device? Well it depends on how you look at it. Because of the two Verizon apps on it most people would say no. I don't see why Verizon forced Google to include the apps when they don't force Apple to preload the same apps. Kind of bums me out to see VZ flex it's muscles, but I already mentioned these can be disabled and you can completely remove if you root the phone. The real concern here is regarding updates. Verizon has shown that they will interupt the update process that Nexus devices should be receiving. Android 4.0.4 has been available for some time now and Verizon has yet to allow it to be pushed to this device. If you are going to buy this phone, keep in mind that all other devices on VZ's network are subject to the same slow update process.
No Gorilla Glass, but this is really not an issue. I just want to call this out because someone asked me about it. Gorilla glass is actually much more expensive for OEMs and is power hungry. The fortified glass used by the Nexus is incredibly durable. You can take a key and try to scratch it, but you will have a hard time leaving a mark or even cracking the screen.
No USB mass storage. While this was thought to be a huge deal-breaker for a lot of people, you can connect it to your computer and drop files onto the device. So if you were concerned about being able to get pictures or music from your computer to your phone, you don't have to worry too much.
No SD slot. This is related to the USB mass storage because it doesn't have the removable storage. But this phone has a 32GB internal storage. This is more than enough for any user. If you really intend to fill up more than that with pictures or music, get an iPod or a regular digital camera. Also, you can easily access Google music on this device, so load your music onto that and you should be just fine since you won't use up space on your phone and you'll still be able to access all your music!
The phone can get hot at times. I've found this is only when I have just pulled it off the charger and start using it immediately and frequently. Otherwise, I haven't had any problems with this.
Update 1/9/12: Ok so this does get hot when using it for a while (i.e. the screen is on and at a somewhat high level of brightness). I am not sure what this will do to the stability of the hardware in the future, but this is definitely a slight concern of mine.
Hopefully if you read this you found this helpful. I can easily say this is an amazing phone and I am glad I waited for this phone instead of settling for the RAZR or iPhone.
OG Droid Upgrader - Wow, Android Phones Have Come A Long Way December 21, 2011
Reviewer: J. Anderson (Austin, TX) -
25 months in the Smartphone arena is more than a lifetime - I went from a Blackberry to the OG Droid in November of 2009. No real complaints about the OG Droid, it was simply well used and abused, and ready to retire. I choose the Galaxy Nexus based on the high anticipation, European-version reviews, and finally the official LTE reviews from numerous sources. I wasn't looking for perfection but this phone comes pretty darn close. Below are my findings, including a perspective on some of the potential negatives:
Display - Wow, it's beautiful. I've read complaints about over-saturation and as an amateur photographer, I have a good eye for color. That said, I am quite pleased with this display and find the rich colors delightful, and the blacks inky like e-ink. If I want absolute accurate color, I'll be looking at a high-end desktop monitor using Lightroom, not my smartphone. The viewing angle is a huge improvement over older phones too. And the 4.65" size is so choice. As others have noted, some of that is lost during normal use due to the virtual menus but it's such a big screen, you'll be fine. During movies it auto-hides.
Size - I'm over 6 feet and have "L" hands. I can't palm a basketball very well to put my hand size in perspective. All that said, I have no issues at all with the size and find the gentle curves and textured back quite comfortable. I can use the device with one hand when needed, though I must say even with my OG Droid I tended to use two. In my front jean pockets, it fits fine and I think the curved glass helps a bit. So while yes, this is one of the largest smartphones on the market, it is quite usable. Would I size down and give up all that screen real estate, no way! But to each is own and for heavy one handed or smaller users, it may make sense to try in the store and compare to smaller form factors. One other point: While the Galaxy Nexus is not the thinnest phone out there, at 9mm, it is still quite thin. To put it in perspective, my OG droid was around 14mm. I held the Droid RAZR several times and found the design striking but not particularly comfortable to hold. It was wide, with sharp angles and top heavy. I also picked up the HTC Rezound and found it quite comfortable despite its relative girth. I personally think thinness is overated and contour/ergonomics are more important.
Battery - This is probably the biggest letdown. Even though I was eligible for an upgrade when the first batch of LTE phones came to Verizon, I didn't want the bad battery life associated with those. I've only had the phone for a few days and admittedly have used it quite heavily during that time. But based on my early experience, I plan on carrying a charger or spare batteries with me during the day. I think it will make it through the day with very light usage (I'll get there eventually when I'm done playing and configuring :). But if you plan on navigating, watching videos, or otherwise just having the screen on a lot, plan on having backup juice. I found these 3rd party batteries and charger on Amazon: [...] Note they do not have NFC built in but otherwise should work fine and serve well as backup batteries in my bag. Finally, I am hopeful (no knowledge to go on) that as Android 4.0/ICS is updated, users will see battery life improvements. If not, this will be the one strike against the GN.
Performance - I don't know what to say here other than it does everything I ask it very quickly. It's faster than my wife's Incredible 2 and night & day from my OG Droid. As long as it stays that way with future software updates, I'll be happy.
Software - Much has been written about Ice Cream Sandwich / Android 4.0. If you're an Android user, you'll quickly figure it out and love the tons of upgrades. I really appreciate the ability to customize my device as compared to the arguably more polished but locked down iOS. That's a personal preference though, and I'd probably buy my parents an iPhone. But for me, it's all Android. A case in point: Verizon didn't want to offer Google Wallet (NFC/wireless payment enabled) on this phone because Verizon is launching its own payment system shortly. But being an Android phone, within 3 days of release, somebody had already offered up an installable version (no rooting required) that works perfectly. That experience would never happen in the iOS world. In summary, Android users need this upgrade and will love it. Others need to decide what's right for them.
Conclusion - I simply love this phone like no other. It is so capable and a real pleasure to use. My one complaint is the battery life, which is less than ideal, but something I'm willing to put up with to have this much phone in my hand.
UPDATE: I decided to install Juice Defender Ultimate ($5 marketplace), which I had purchased for my OG Droid. Today, that has clearly made a big difference. With very moderate settings, I am at 8 hours unplugged and still have 70% juice left. That's with normal use of checking emails and other apps approx 3X/hour. So with this trend, I can easily make it through a 16 hour day unplugged. The only negative is when the screen is first turned on, it takes about 3-5 seconds to establish data connection. Something I can live with.
UPDATE 2: The LTE speeds are blowing me away. With 3 plus bars at home, I'm seeing 8-15mbs down and up. With lower bars at my office, I'm seeing typical speeds of 5-8mbs down and 8-10 mbs up. Latency is around 50-70 ms.
Solid device crippled by certain issues January 21, 2012
Reviewer: N. Gu
Ok so this is more of a 3.5. And mind you, this is going to be LEGIT because I've had this device for almost a month.
What I like a lot about the phone:
1) Size of screen - very easy to read!
2) ICS - very clean interface and runs smooth, not necessarily super intuitive, but very functional! I wish I could say I love the task manager button.. but I forget about it often. Honestly any task killer will do the job, without you swiping stuff away a billion times.
3) Internal storage of 30 GB - yes i know this is a negative for some people, but for me I like it. I had like 60+ apps and some music and two movies on my phone and still had about 25 gb left. So trust me folks, storage will not be an issue!
4) Led notifier - yes I know other phones have this. but man, the LED light on this thing is BRIGHT. And I like how you can customize the colors. Fantastic. Download Lightflow.
5) Real-time voice to text - just fantastic. love seeing the text appear as you're speaking. very effective and fairly accurate!
6) ICS keyboard - just great, you could blind type and do a pretty good job
7) Updates from Google - a definite perk
What I didn't like:
1) Signal issues - There was a day where I didn't have service at all, and I live in a GOOD 4G and if not 4G, at least a solidly good signal area. I'm near the heart of Los Angeles for goodness sake! So that one day I was curious why I wasn't getting any calls or msgs. Shame on me for not checking if signal had come back on, after a reboot, I just assumed it'd come back on.. but it didn't. Later on in the evening, I rebooted again and a stream of msgs and voicemail came in. Imagine my horror. I'm really tired of seeing "no service" on the phone. The whole point of a "phone" is well, to know that you can use it reliably as a phone since that is its primary purpose. I'd have to say this was one of my deal breakers..
2) Camera - Yes no shutter lag is awesome, but the quality of the photos.. not so much, unfortunately. For me the camera matters. I don't always have my point and shoot digital camera on me..and I want to be able to know that when I have to take a picture on the fly..that it will still be a GOOD picture. The picture quality is just not great, especially poor under low light conditions. And the quick shutter lag does not compensate for the poor focus. What's the point of taking lots of pictures quickly if only a few actually turn out clear? I'm hoping for all you nexus owners out there that a solid update will come out that improves the camera. For me, I just can't wait forever for it.. and even with third party apps..doesn't help all that much. I'm of the mindset that you shouldn't buy a device to wait for the good things that are to come.. you should buy it because it's good and you love it..RIGHT NOW. That's my philosophy.
3) this is strictly for me - The Size: Make sure you go into a store first and try it out for a WHILE before you get it. I did this too, I went into numerous verizon stores and held the phone. I thought it was going to be OK. But after I got it, and started using it, and time went on.. over the course of a month, I realized this phone was just too big. I wouldn't say my hands are tiny though, but the phone just didn't feel as good in the hand to me.
4) To some extent - the build quality - This is not a "cheap" phone but I realized I liked the feel of an HTC phone better. This phone is very light and coupled with the fact that it sometimes felt a bit too big for me despite me liking the large screen, I was TERRIFIED of dropping it. I felt like the back would pop up right away if I dropped it, and I was scared of the screen scratching or breaking too, even though from what I've read, the screen is pretty hardy. Still, it's about the feel.. and to me, it felt too delicate (and yes coupled with the fact that because sometimes it felt just a *little too big for one hand, made me feel like I didn't have a good grip!). I knew I would need a case for this phone, and that would make it EVEN BIGGER. That's when I knew that I couldn't stay with it for two years..a phone had got to feel good in YOUR hand.
4) Speaker volume - too soft. seriously. I downloaded volume + which helped a little bit. but then the sound sometimes felt a bit distorted. I'm a media person. I like watching videos and listening to music, and I like showing them to friends too. I need a solid media device and the speaker volume was just too low. Also sometimes it was hard to hear my phone ringing. Again, these are basic things crucial to being a PHONE first and foremost.
5) Sync and compatibility with apps - ICS is new, I get it. But know that you will deal with some sync and compatibility issues since not everything is compatible yet with ICS
6) Battery life - my goodness, with some fairly moderate to heavy use, the phone could die in about 4 hours or so. Not cool. And I did test this. I had a charger in the car and on some days, I just didn't use it. The battery died quite quickly. I will say that if you condition the battery through a couple full cycle charges, it does get better. But still not what I would say good battery life.
7) Slight lag - hitting the home screen from an app, the screen freezes and is blank for a sec or two, and then the apps appear. Didn't like seeing that at all.. I thought this device was supposed to be completely optimized for ICS and run with no lag. But I will say that I thought that it was a bit laggy at times..and also within the first few weeks of me using it, it did randomly reboot a couple times. Sometimes from an app, other times just random.
So yes, my primary dealbreaker was the signal issue, followed by camera, and definitely just the feel/build quality of the device. Battery life was a concern too. I returned the Nexus for the Rezound, which honestly was probably a better fit for me in the first place. I was torn between the two, I ordered the Nexus first since I had been waiting for it. And although I genuinely liked the phone (primarily because the screen was huge), I knew that I wouldn't be happy for TWO years with it. And I gave it a chance, for sure. Seriously, a phone is a big investment. As a techie, the two important devices in my life are my phone and laptop. I spent alot of time doing research for both. I know that I can also root and unlock, etc. But I'd like a phone to work pretty darn well outside of the box too because not everyone has the time to flash ROMs and constantly change up everything about your phone. I know the phone will be good for a while in terms of software because of timely updates from Google. Hardware is not so easy to change/update. And as I said before, I'm buying a product for the NOW too, not just the future. I will be returning the Nexus for the Rezound, which just arrived the other day. Having used both phones now, I made the right choice for me. Make the right choice for you!
P.S. So thankful for Amazon Wireless, they did a one-time exchange for me, which was a wonderfully smooth process. Keep those reps employed, they are great.. best customer service!
Business user... December 18, 2011
Reviewer: C. Six
Background: I am a Droid early adopter (bought the original Moto Droid the day it was launched). I've owned the original Droid, the Droid X and the Droid X2. My wife switched from her Blackberry Storm to the Droid Pro. My son owns Incredible 2. Daughter's own iPhone 4 and Samsung Fascinate.
I've been waiting for Verizon to launch a high-end bloat free (no Touchwiz, SenseUI or motoblur) since I owned the original Droid hoping that a pure device would improve interface performance. This phone doesn't disappoint. It is fast. At first launch the phone re-installed most apps that were on my X2. Once I set it up with corporate email (Touchdown app), personal email (Gmail), music library (iSyncr wireless) and logged in/setup all apps that typically ran in background on my X2 (weather, Pulse, Twitter, Facebook etc) I tested the response of the UI. No delay, no hesitation, great video response fast all around experience. Been using it for a few days at this point. Not once have I noticed a delayed response to a swipe or tap - this is a huge win for Android. Typically Android devices have some minor 'lag' due to the fact that the OS is so much more functional than competing OS's (except perhaps Win Phone 7).
I own a Xoom tablet so the learning curve on Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) was minimal. If you haven't used Honeycomb there is a learning curve which is managed well by pop ups teaching new tricks. If you learned a previous version of Android you will be up to speed in 24 hours on this device. With that said, this OS is far more powerful than previous versions. Each day since I've had it I learn new features which enhance my ability to interact with the device. I love the group folders that can be put on the desktop. While having 7 'panels' of icons is nice - the group folder feature leaves you one additional tap from launching anything from your homescreen - very nice.
Battery life - this is my first 4G phone. I am a power work user (email & web) but don't stream a lot of video or play a lot of games. I get through the day and into the evening without issue. My primary concern was being able to get through a 12-13 hour day without needing a charge or to swap batteries. Most days I can get through the work day without issue. I typically get home after a long day with about 20% remaining. Note that I do not take significant measures to manage battery life. I will likely get an extended battery once they are in stock.
* Pure software - no bloatware
* Speed and user interface upgrade with ICS
* Groups on desktops - very convenient feature (simply drag an icon on top of another to create a group)
* Incredible screen - this is an HD screen. HD provides an additional row of icons her page due to higher resolution
* Feels good in hand. I like the form factor. In my opinion it could be a bit HEAVIER to feel more substantial in the hand. I will likely get an extended battery which, for me, will kill two birds with one stone (longer life, more substantial feel in the hand)
* Lack of accessories at launch - this is likely due it being a new device but I'm used to seeing great accessory support from Motorola at launch. It looks like the car charger doesn't have built in charger but just a 'hole' to use a charger. No desktop charger at launch - if there is one, it's not on Verizon, Amazon, Samsung sites.
* Weird setting for volume seems to link notification volume w/ phone volume. I love to set up profiles for volume and then control with Locale. At night I want the phone to be able to ring but I don't want to receive a notification for each email/text. The only method I can find to turn off email notifications is in the Email app which is annoying to have to do each night versus simply swapping profiles.
* Limited to 32 gb of storage. I knew this going into the purchase so no star deduction - note to Google, on future devices if you're not going to include an SD card then give an option to buy 64 gb or more internal space on the device.
Great at everything, except being a good phone April 9, 2012
Reviewer: Joseph Magerramov (Seattle, WA USA) -
I bought this phone 2 weeks ago, and initially I was very excited about it. Android 4 OS looked and felt great, the phone was very fast and snappy, and the screen was great. However, once I got to use it for a few weeks I got very disappointed. I have two major problems with this phone:
1) Battery life. The phone lasts roughly 10-12 hours on stand-by. And if I use it, then that number is even lower. That is insane - essentially you cannot take this phone on any kind of trips, it will die on you. For comparison, my previous Droid X would last around 24-36 hours on stand by.
2) Connectivity. There has been a lot said about the phone's connectivity, but my experience is even worse. Occasionally, the phone would lose all connectivity (0 bars, cannot browse, make phone calls or receive texts). And 10-15 minutes later it'd come back. This happens in my house and in my office, both in a major metro area. Sometimes this happens when the phone is on stand by and connectivity doesn't come back until the phone is restarted. Once, this lasted 6 hours, and resulted in me missing a bunch of messages and phone calls. With my previous phone, I've never had such problems in either of the two locations.
Unacceptable performance from a "top-tier" phone May 31, 2012
Reviewer: N. S. Spears "spearofsolomon" (Lawrence, KS) -
What's good about this phone? It has a great display, a great processor, and the changes to Android for ICS are all steps in the right direction. Among the ICS changes I appreciate the most: the new "recently-used apps" button, the context-sensitive settings button, the software buttons, the Navigation voice improvements, the very snappy GPS performance.
What's bad about this phone? Well, take a seat.
The phone randomly reboots itself every couple days, usually right when I need it the most (in the middle of turn-by-turn GPS navigation).
It gets unbelievably hot while charging and using GPS in the car.
Far and away the most annoying, call quality can be terrible even with full bars in Verizon 4G. I spent an hour on the phone with support and they ended up telling me that it was a software issue with Android that should be fixed in a future update, and that if I experience bad call quality I should reboot the phone. That is an unacceptable "solution", and I've found that I basically get one or two good calls before call quality starts to sound like I'm in the middle of a desert. It's really unfathomable that the data network is so high-bandwidth that I can make a skype call with crystal-clear voice quality but my cell calls sound like a lawnmower convention.
Ok that rant is over. What else ... battery life is amazingly bad, as documented everywhere else on the internet.
The sound stutters when trying to listen to multiple things at once. For instance, if you're listening to music and using GPS, or a text message comes in, the sound can (not always, but regularly) stutter badly to the point that you want to turn the sound off completely. It sounds especially bad when you're in the car with the phone plugged in via 3.5mm to your stereo. Also, would be really nice if there were options to disable incoming sounds when listening to music. Otherwise using the phone as an mp3 player for company becomes unworkable unless you go into airplane mode.
These type of polish issues become especially frustrating when you consider that the Nexus line is supposed to generate Google's "reference phones" for Android. The Nexus One wasn't as fast and probably couldn't handle ICS, but at least it did what it said it could do. The Galaxy Nexus has taken a step forward in speed, features, and polish, and two steps backwards in polish (yes, I wrote it twice) and basic functionality. On top of that, the Android updates that might fix these issues have been delayed for months and no explanations have been offered.
If I were buying again, I don't know if even the cheap $50 price could entice me. I would probably wait for the iPhone 5. The One X (not on Verizon) and the Galaxy S III are the new Android superphones, but if the Galaxy Nexus running stock Android has these kinds of issues, who's to say the newer superphones won't have them as well? As annoying as it is to admit, Apple is showing that they are the only company with enough attention to detail to merit the patronage of discerning customers.
Update: I forgot to mention a few issues.
One, when I have the phone plugged in to my car charger and hooked up to my car stereo (via 3.5mm), when I hold the phone with my fingers wrapped around the phone just above the base where the charger is plugged, an incredibly annoying loud clicking sound starts coming out of my speakers. Apparently my hand + the charger causes some kind of electrical interference?
Second, the camera frequently has software issues that require me to reboot the phone. Instagram and the native camera app will say, "Cannot connect to camera."
Third, (and this is probably an Android 4.0 issue rather than a Nexus issue), sometimes the phone gets confused about which app a shortcut is supposed to open. For instance, I could click the Messaging app icon and be sent to the Bacon Reader app instead. I haven't figured out any sure way to fix this other than rebooting the phone. Sometimes a pressing the back button a lot will sort the issue out but other times it won't.
If any of these problems are fixed in future updates, I will update the review.
Update 2: The (Text) Messaging app doesn't handle drafts correctly. Very annoying.
Update after using Android 4.1.1 for quite a while:
Several of the issues I mentioned above have been addressed in Android 4.1.1. Specifically
1. The audio stuttering issues have been addressed and a very elegant "sound-over" technique is used when multiple sounds are playing at the same time. For instance, if I'm using turn-by-turn (the main reason I'll probably never go to an Apple phone) while listening to music and the voice navigation needs to say something, the music audio lowers for a momemt, the voice navigation speaks over the music, and then the music audio raises again. A very nice solution to the problem of multiple claims on the sound output and a welcome fix to the stuttering issues.
2. The phone no longer reboots itself randomly. In fact, I had forgotten how much I hated that until I re-read my own review.
3. The text messaging app handles drafts correctly.
I will also mention that the new behavior of Jelly Bean is nicer in general. The UI is more responsive and I like the new Notifications pulldown enhancements quite a bit. I would also have said that they fixed the "Cannot connect to camera" because that hadn't happened to me in a long time but it did pop up the other day. So boo to that, but it is much better than it was. The new "Play Music" app is very thoughtful with several ways to edit your queue (think "Currently Playing') or playlists on the fly that make the app a pleasure to use. Say for instance that you want to listen to several albums without touching the phone again. Just play the first one and add the rest to your queue, and you're done.
So, what didn't they fix? The things that you would have expected - the hardware issues.
1. Most importantly, the phone still sounds like crap when making voice calls. Several comments suggested that I have a bad phone and I should exchange it, but given the number and type of complaints I have seen from some other Galaxy Nexus owners, I'm afraid to exchange it lest the devil I have be gentle compared to the devil I don't.
2. The battery life is still awful. Although, I'm willing to exchange battery life for screen size if that is the trade-off you have to make while battery technology develops. You just have to have chargers everywhere.
3. The phone still makes an odd clicking sound when you hold it in a certain way while using the 3.5 mm out.
Ultimately I use the phone as a handheld computer the most, and as a talking device secondarily, so I'm just going to put up with the hardware issues until my contract is up. I don't think it's worth $250 to break contract and get a better speaking phone.
Also, I have no desire to join the back-slapping circle of Apple owners congratulating themselves on their great taste.
Connection Issues, Among Other Problems January 27, 2012
Reviewer: John Koehn (Arlington, VA) -
I really wanted to like this phone. But after 2 months, a replacement phone, and about 40 hours wasted on the phone with customer support, I give up.
The good: It is beautiful, it feels great in my hand, the large screen is amazing.
The bad: It doesn't work. This phone has awful connection problems. I also have a Blackberry and an iPhone 4S, all on Verizon. About 10-20 times a day, the Galaxy Nexus loses its data connection. It usually happens when switching from 4G to 3G signals, as best I can tell. It happens at my home, my work, and everywhere else. The data connection is usually down for 1-5 minutes. When it happens, my other devices have good signal with no issues.
It also drops calls at an amazing rate, 3-4 per day. As best I can tell, this also happens when the phone switches from 4G to 3G signal. The unreliability is just crippling. Nothing is worse than pulling out your phone to send an urgent text only to not have signal. Wait a few minutes, try again, still no luck. What would I do in an emergency? Not rely on this phone, that's for sure.
Verizon has sent me a new phone, a new SIM card, and has had me do all kinds of factory resets and other "fixes" for the phone. But nothing works. I have read on some message boards that this might be an issue for the phone, and if that's the case Samsung should offer refunds for selling such a worthless phone.
Other issues (much less painful than the signal issue but still annoying) include the fact that sometimes the phone will not charge when it is turned on. This also appears to be a known issue. If you turn the phone off, it will charge just fine (and restarting the phone also usually works) but come on, the cell phone I owned 10 years ago didn't have any problems charging when on. I've come to expect such luxuries.
So again, I have tried so hard to like this phone. It's fun to watch movies on. It's fun to surf the web on. It's fun to video chat on. When it works. And while it might work 23.5 out of 24 hours in a day, the times it doesn't work are just too frustrating to forgive. So do yourself a favor and skip this phone. You might love it, but you'll probably also hate it.
I Hate this phone....but it is a great tablet! May 30, 2012
Reviewer: Patrick Mcallister
My family all wanted new phones for Christmas. One son is a solid apple fan so he got an iPhone. The rest of us use Google mail etc. so we went with this device. It is a GREAT device. It is a TERRIBLE phone.
Does anyone remember the early days of Personal computers. When hardware manufactures blamed software manufactures and it went around and around. The same thing happens here. Verizon blames Samsung, Samsung blames Google. And Google has dropped the "VERIZON Samsung Galaxy Nexus" from it's officially supported devices. So it is a nightmare.
Just today, on my first two calls the microphone quit mid call so my party could not hear me. And calling back only works sometimes. I have a hard time telling when I have received text msg's. The important icons along the top are microscopic. Lastly, Nexus to Nexus so family member to family member calls are frequently unintelligible. Garbled and missing words. (Mom, Dad and Son are 100's of miles from each other and con not understand what the other is saying)
I love having a personal navigator, (No 4g at all in Western Colorado, and hardly any good 3g) so not so much.. The camera can be a big pain. Once I use it I have to reboot the phone for it to work right again. The music player is OK but sometimes, while using a book on tape, the playback just stops. I have to completely start the player from the beginning and also look for the chapter I was on and drag the icon to my place in the book. Of course, I can't do this while driving (the sound comes out of my car stereo) so if I want to keep listening I have to pull over.
Maybe these are small things, but together they make me crazy. And EVERYONE has promised software updates. Verizon said Jan 2012, then Feb, then March Then April then for sure the middle of May. Today, May 30 NO UPDATE. All the "Droid" and Google forums say get a Droid Razr HD. I wish I was rich and could get out of my $330 a month contract (4 data phone lines). Now, you can by a Galaxy Nexus for the same price I paid in December with no data contract at Google's online store. I use WiFi for nearly everything (No 4g at all in Western Colorado, and hardly any good 3g) WiFi rules. Home Depot, Sam's club, Starbucks, my house, everywhere I am has free WiFi enabled with super fast connections. I bet I have spent 100 hours scouring forums for help. With no luck, so good luck with yours.
I hate this phone, and you will too if you make the mistake of buying it May 26, 2012
Reviewer: Opal Mom (Chicago, IL USA) -
I had had the original Droid, and when it came time to replace it, I was torn between this phone and getting an iPhone. I went with this phone, primarily because of the Navigator (the free turn by turn voice navigation had been great on the Droid). What a mistake! I've had it since November, and I can genuinely say that I can't see how I'm going to make it through another year and a half with this phone until I qualify for an upgrade. Here is a list of the major problems (all of which, I found out after I bought the phone, have been issues for many other users as well): (1) Random reboots. The phone just randomly shuts itself off and reboots, at unpredictable times of the day. Sometimes I'm using it, and sometimes it's simply sitting in my purse, doing nothing, when it decides to randomly reboot. Not such a big problem then, but it's a really big problem when I'm driving down the highway in an area I don't know, relying on the Navigator, and the phone randomly decides to reboot, which then turns the Navigator off, so I have to get off the highway to safely restart the Navigator. This has happened to me more than once. (2) Random loss of connectivity. This drives me absolutely CRAZY!! The phone will just be sitting in the same spot, doing nothing, and suddenly, it will completely lose connectivity to the Verizon network. The only thing that restores connectivity is to shut the phone off, wait several minutes, and then start it back up again. I have to do this at least 2 - 3 times every day, and sometimes many times more. It might not sound so bad in the abstract, but believe me, once it starts happening to you, you'll realize just how much of a time-wasting pain in the butt this is. I've read that the problem is caused by the relatively weak radios that Samsung has put into this phone, and by the problems that the Galaxy Nexus consequently experiences when it switches from the 4G network to the 3G network. I don't know how true this is, though, as this problem often happens to me when the phone has stayed completely in the same place, and therefore, there shouldn't be any switch from network to network. (3) Navigator is now "broken" on this phone. Ever since Google updated Maps, the Navigator function is basically broken on Verizon Galaxy Nexus phones. Instead of saying the names of streets, exit numbers, how far ahead a turn will be, how long you will stay on the road, etc., the Navigator now only says to turn or exit, with no street name, no exit number, etc. It's been this way for the past month or two. I've contacted Google, and they've said that this problem will be fixed once the phone updates to version 4.0.4 of Ice Cream Sandwich. The problem is, version 4.0.4 has been out for the past 6 months or so, and Verizon has shown absolutely no indication that any of us will receive it anytime soon (Verizon Galaxy Nexus phones are currently running 4.0.2). So, unless and until Verizon and/or Google get their act together, I'm hosed, and the Navigator -- which is the main reason that I bought the phone in the first place -- is basically unusable.
Short, but sweet review December 27, 2011
Reviewer: D. Halfacre "Dustman" (Evanston, IL) -
If you are going to buy an android one this one might last you the length of the contract
First to get new android updates
The screen is beautiful
You don't have a skin on top of the base android using unnecessary battery/resources.
LTE data speeds are incredible with this phone.
Android is still more confusing to the lowest common denominator (based on observing my wife) compared to iOS (01/06/2011-Update after initial review, my wife has caught on to the Android experience, it did take a week or two. Versus when we had the iPhone she was off and running pretty much as soon as she got it).
As with other smart phones, and especially ones with LTE you are going to need to charge it if you want to use it frequently.
During use the phone gets rather warm/hot
There seems to be a bug presently where if the phone drops a cell signal it has problems picking back up a signal, contributing to already short battery life.
Galaxy Nexus lives up to the hype December 19, 2011
I received a Galaxy Nexus the day it was released. I first tried to get one a costco but was 2 months off of my 2 year upgrade so I had to go to Verizon to purchase it for an annual upgrade. The phone is everything I wanted and was claimed to be. Android seems to be moving in closer on its iPhone counterpart and I feel this phone is plenty.
I chose this phone for many reasons other than being an android fanatic. All my friends all have iPhones. They all made fun of my poor Droid X for various reasons. The huge reason was I wanted a 4g phone, no manufactor UI, and various new features the phone has.
I feel Ice Cream Sandwich has made huge strides for its updates and are shown beautifully across this device. Everything is simple from the unpacking and I dont need so many of the useless apps that I had previously on my Droid X. The cameras and its pictures it takes are gorgeous. Being able to take a screenshot on it is also a rather enjoyable factor, it even includes the software made buttons! it is quick to respond and the 4g network is quick here in the Bay Area. I havent had to many qualms with the battery life. I feel it lasts me throughout my 12 hour day, but sometimes I do try to keep it charge when I unknowingly decide to go out for hours on end, I think out of habit versus because it needed it. The display is clear but I feel that it could be brighter. The speakerphone could be better, it is to soft making it unpleasant to deal with when I need a loud one.I find the lack of SD card support isnt all that unpleasant. Its size seems to be an issue with everyone. I dont think so, I think with the right position in your hand. (me being 5'10 with normal sized hands) you can reach any portion of the screen and is not an issue. the stock predictive text and voice to text works very nicely and is not such a pain to correct.
Overall I would reccomend this phone over the iphone and is simple and great. I enjoy this purchase muchly.
Buyer Beware April 23, 2012
I ordered two of these phones expecting Google's flagship 4G Ice Cream Sandwich Phone on the 4G LTE network. BOTH phones suffer from a know defect in large manufacturing batches of these phones in which the LTE radio which causes frequent, nearly constant radio shutdown when the LTE radio is turned on. The signal will cut out completely for about a minute, and as soon as it reconnects, it will stay connected for less than a few minutes then loose the signal again. With the LTE radio turned off, and only the CDMA (3G) radio on, the phone is rock solid stable and battery life is great.
I have an app call "No Signal Alert" which keeps a log of signal loss issues. Sitting on my desk where i have 3-4 bars of 4G signal it will go from completely connected to the grey tringle indicating TOTAL signal loss about 12-15 times PER HOUR. yes PER HOUR!
Here is a link to the relevant bug report at Google.
It's classified as a defect. Apparently there are large numbers of these phones with the LTE radio problems. Many also experience purple/yellow screen discolorations and random microphone muting.
We are returning these two phones and will hope to get 2 fully working phones in replacement.
Samsung Nexus Fails at Most Basic Function - Being a Phone July 14, 2012
For any of all of those who have suffered with Samsung Nexus 4G dropped calls, connectivity issues, random shutdowns, camera freezes, and other mystery signal loss read on. I'm on my 3rd replacement phone from Verizon who refuses to acknowledge there is ANY problem with the phone. They are great at playing dumb. Alas, I lose radio (phone) connection AT MINIMUM a dozen times a week. For those running a business by phone this is a death sentence. Customers comment "wow what carrier do you have? I'm never going with them." This phone does the advanced operations fairly well, BUT it's most basic function and reason for existing, i.e. making and keeping phone calls it FAILS with epic proportions. Don't let the glammy, glitzy, 4.5" screen and graphics fool you.
If Verizon actually operated with some integrity and balls and said, "yes it's a known firmware/hardware issue with our CDMA/LTE network, we are working on a fix" then I could retain a shred of respect for them. However, they continually deny any issue exists, and customer service happily reads from their prepared script, "well I have this phone and it works great..." Sadly, the LTE/CDMA radio switching problem (i.e. your recipient can't hear a word you say suddenly) is WELL DOCUMENTED in many popular forums, but it will not show on the carrier dropped call report they keep on file with each registered phone. IT's not a dropped call, it's total loss of radio signal. Keeping the phone on 3G/CDMA does not fix the issue. Alas, why would you buy a 4G phone and switch 4G off just for it to work? Would you buy a Corvette only to drive it in 3rd gear? EFF NO!
The final dagger was last week when I finally convinced Customer Service over the 800 number to switch out the Nexus for a Razor. Although they would not waive the $12 overnight fee - I had to pay that else wait a week for shipping by Snail Mail. 4 hours later I received a call from "The Shipping Department" that said my Razor order was refused "By the System" and I would be getting a refurbished (i.e. defunct) Nexus. WTF Over? I called Customer Service and they said "The System" would not allow a switch with another model. Regardless of industry, company, product, etc. whenever I'm told "The System" won't allow it, as if computers run the people at Verizon, then I'm done with their company and product FOREVER.
It's been 5 trips to my local Verizon store, plus 5 more painful looooooong, put on hold 'We're experienced high call volume' BS 800 number calls with V. I'm now working on getting a total refund, launching this shiny POS phone, and walking away permanently from Verizon. Releasing a flawed phone, collecting customer's money for that phone, then failing to acknowledge a common problem and offering a defective replacement should send you running for Apple, or another respectable manufacturer and carrier. Need more proof?? Just look at the other 1 star reviews on this phone.
Useless April 19, 2012
Reviewer: Rachel (Bell Gardens, CA, United States) -
Two brand new phones were extensively troubleshoot by both level 1 and 2 of verizon tech support and were not able to determine the cause of the connectivity issues both phones have and I was prompted to return them. I believed in all the good reviews I read but with an extremely erratic network connection that consumed my patience the phone turned up to be a complete fiasco.
The 4G and network connection was intermitent most of the time disconnected, with in LA city
- Could not make phone calls most of the time
- If phone call went thru, it wouldn't take long before the call was dropped and service lost
- Brief internet browsing (4G) only to loose connection shortly after
- apps would stop working due to lost of network connection (4G)
- If connected to a wifi you can use it only forgett about the phone
Samsung offer to repair...
Forgett about google youl'll get ignored
Just as a side note, verizon's reps, wether over the phone or at their corporate offices will discourage you about your phone aquisicition thru amazon
- refusal to activate your new phone, they will refer you back to amazon
- They'll warn you that no manufacture's wrranty support thru verizon
- I was told that Amazon is not an authorized retailer by verizon
IN FEW WORDS THE GALAXY NEXUS TURNED OUT TO BE A BLOOD SUCKER
Hours of fun at parties January 1, 2012
Reviewer: B. J. Rosen (Westford, MA) -
Overall I'm happy with the GN but not with Verizon's update policy. Verizon takes forever to push out software updates, months longer than the other carriers. However this is a Nexus device which means that you aren't dependent on Verizon or Samsung for OS updates if you are willing to root the phone. Jelly Bean ROMs for the Verizon GN became available within hours of Google's code release. I've been running my GN with a Jelly Bean 4.1.1 ROM. I liked the phone with ICS, I love it with Jelly Bean.
Screen: The super amoled screen doesn't disappoint, it's bright, clear, easy to read, absolutely beautiful. The screen alone justifies buying this phone.
LTE: The LTE performance is also excellent, I've measured as much as 30MBits down, 22 up on speed tests although the low teens is more typical, it's as fast as a phone needs to be.
ICS: Ice Cream Sandwich is a nice clean interface with snappy performance although it has a number of flaws which I'll detail later. I was hoping that updates would come frequently because it's direct from Google and not burdened with a useless layer from Samsung. However Verizon has fallen down on the job it took them 7 months to release a point release update to ICS, a couple of months after the other carriers, I gave up waiting for them and unlocked my phone and installed it from a leaked release that was on the web.
JB: Jelly Bean is a big improvement over ICS. You have to root the phone to install JB because Verizon hasn't pushed it out yet, the other carriers released it in July, as of the middle of August there is no sign of it from Verizon. Jelly Bean improves voice recognition massively and adds Google Now which is a terrific assistant. Sound quality is better and the phone is completely stable even though I'm running a rooted ROM not an official release. ICS would crash occasionally, that's never happened with Jelly Bean.
Button placement: The worst thing on the phone is the placement of the volume and power buttons on the side, what was Samsung thinking when they did this?. The buttons are hypersensitive and so badly positioned that you are constantly pressing them. The worst offenders are the volume keys which are placed in the middle of the left side exactly where your thumb goes, so you have to be very careful not to turn the volume down when you are holding the phone. When holding it in your hand you can adapt, however the place where it's a really serous problem is when using a windshield mount. I bought a Braketron universal GPS mount which I highly recommend, it's solidly made, holds the phone securely and positions it in a very convenient manner. I looked at the Verizon windshield mount but it's unusable if you have a protective skin on the phone, and you absolutely need a skin for this phone. The terrible button placement makes putting the phone in the mount a task akin to defusing a bomb, it's very very hard to put the phone in the holder without the volume going down to 0. The power key is closer to the top so it's not as bad, however I had the phone shutdown on me once before I figured out that the power button got pressed by the mount. There is a workaround for this, an APP called Persist which locks out the volume buttons. There are two other apps that claim to lock the volume buttons, Volume Locker and Volume Control+, but neither of those work, Persist does.
Speakers: The built in speaker is absolutely awful. The volume is low and it's extremely distorted with ICS, it's much better with Jelly Bean but the volume is still low. The sound with headphones is magnificent, and phone calls through my car's built in bluetooth are also great, but the sound directly from the built in speaker is the worst that I've ever heard from a device in this class. Unfortunately my built in bluetooth in the car isn't A2DP capable so it only works with phone calls, not with navigation. I've just bought a tiny bluetooth speaker which totally fixes the sound problem with this phone, [[ASIN:B006JO1YGA DBEST London PS4001BT Solo Bluetooth Rechargeable Mini-Speaker]].
Battery Life: The battery life is very poor, with the standard battery it drains at a rate of 8%/hour. However there is good news, there are several 3800ma batteries available for the GN. I just bought the Trexcell battery, it was only $20 and it seems to last for 30hours with light use which is more than twice as long as the standard battery. The downside of the big batteries is that they double the thickness of the phone, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff. [[ASIN:B007EZ2PU2 Trexcell Samsung Galaxy Nexus 3800mah NFC Compliant Extended Battery + Cover (Compatible ONLY with VERIZON Samsung Galaxy Nexus i515)]]
Battery Cover: The back cover is paper thin and it takes some doing to snap it back in place. Once again I ask the question, what was Samsung thinking? I bought a Cruzer Lite skin for the device which fits very snuggly over the phone, it adds significant protection and most importantly it seals the back of the phone, the battery cover itself seems like it will eventually fail to provide a reliable seal.
Voice Recognition: In ICS Google must be using different voice recognition software for Search, Navigation and Voice Dialing. The quality of the voice recognition for Google Search and for Navigation is astounding, it's nearly perfect. On the other hand the quality of the voice recognition for voice dialing/contact lookup is hilariously bad. It's so bad that this phone can provide you with hours of fun at parties. Not only is the recognition rate 0%, the translations are usually rude or obscene. Here are some examples, I'm not making these up, my girlfriend's name was variously translated as "Cash the Bitch" and "Crap in a Ditch", my business partner was translated as the less rude "Orange Soda", the piece de la resistance however is my girlfriends mother's name which it translated as "My Sweet Ass". Jelly Bean fixes this, it's not perfect but at least it works most of the time.
Transferring to and from the phone: ICS doesn't present the phone as a storage device when you plug it in to your computer via USB however there are solutions that work over WIFI so this isn't a serious problem. I installed a couple of apps on the device, ES File Explorer which not only gives you a really nice interface to your local file system but also support SAMBA. I exported a directory on my computer as a SAMBA share and I'm able to copy files back and forth between the systems with ES File Explorer. The other APP I installed is SSHDroid which provides Secure Shell server on the phone. SSHDroid supports both SFTP and sshing directly into the phone. With SFTP you can upload and download files directly to the phone. Neither app requires rooting and both are free from the Marketplace. I'm also using Dropbox which is a really simple way of sharing a directory across multiple desktop and mobile devices.
DO NOT BUY - Serious network connectivity issues - bought two for only 1 cent ea, and will be returning July 7, 2012
Reviewer: Disciple of Hugeness "Keep it HUGE"
I am not a hater. I will say up front that Amazon still has great customer service, and even Verizon has been helpful in resolving issues. But here is my Cautionary Tale.
Now that Sprint is rolling out 4G LTE phones, but has no 4G LTE network, my old HTC Evo 4G was suddenly faster than even their newest HTC Evo 4G LTE which can't connect via Wimaxx. So I left, and after Jelly Bean's announcement, I leapt at this no brainer - buy a Gnex for a penny, and even if I broke contract after 6mo, it would only be $350 per phone which was the going rate on Google Play for an unlocked version anyway. I bought two - one for me and the Mrs.. The fact that the phones were a penny each made breaking my Sprint contract easy, and forking over the penalty didn't feel too bad.
A few days later, the phones arrive, and we are both running up to date ICS 4.0.4. Her phone - no problems - F'n awesome. Mine? Unfortunately, the connectivity issues that have plagued reviews of this phone since 4.0, started on day 2. Text messages won't send 50% of the time due to "no network," 25-50% of phone calls cut out if I include dropped network while dialing. I called Verizon tech support hoping they had a fix, since it seemed absurd that they would still be selling this phone if was this unreliable. The advice was, "This is a known issue for this phone. I would get a new phone."
"You mean a replacement?"
"No, I mean a new model."
Called Amazon Wireless - "Well...if you read the reviews, this seems to be a hit or miss device." They graciously offered to exchange the defective device.
Went to the Verizon store - "Call customer service, and see if you can get an SIII."
Called Verizon again today. The Tier 1 support guy said, "I'm sorry your first experience with Verizon has been like this. However, I am not sure getting a new phone is the best advice, let me transfer you to Tier 2." And what did Tier 2 say? "I would get a new model phone before your 14 day window expires."
I am heartbroken, because in the short time I've had it, I thought this phone would take me through 2 years. But what good is a phone that can't make calls? It's just a small tablet.
The fact that my wife's phone works shows why some reviews are great. But the network issue seems to persist, and even the most current update has not fixed this. This is hit or miss phone, and seems to have serious HARDWARE (no software fixes) issues. As such, I don't believe that exchanging the device will solve the problem. The last thing I need is to be locked into a contract with a phone, constantly taking trips to the store, exchanging it for a new one, reloading apps/configuring etc. My time is worth more than the savings a penny price tag gives me.
I'd pass, or at least wait until AmazonWireless offers the SIII, so if you get a dud, you can return it for an SIII for likely $199.98 more. However, I have not been able to determine that this problem won't come up in time, even if you get a "working" nexus.
Poor signal strength and dropped calls April 28, 2012
Reviewer: a_friend_usa "a_friend_usa" (United States) -
I was really excited to get this phone but the signal strength is very poor and it thus drops calls a lot. This problem is posted all over the internet. When I call Verizon every rep has a different answer. I was told that it is a software problem that will be fixed by an update but it is now almost May with no update more than 4 months later. Most Verizon reps say this is not a known issue even though it is posted all over the internet including their own forum. Most people are told to exchange their phone for a refurbished phone that ends up having the same problem even after several exchanges.
I called Samsung and they said it is a hardware problem and I need to send it for repair.
I suspect that this is a known hardware problem with the phone in either the antenna or "radio" that cannot be repaired. I think the phone needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. I do not think the companies want to admit it because it would result in a very costly widespread recall or refund.
Still waiting for the update to see if it fixes the problem.
Never meet your heroes. December 18, 2011
Reviewer: L. Fuller "phorq" (Binghamton, NY USA) -
I waited and wanted this phone to be the end-all android device. It's not.
(1)Large beautiful screen at higher brightnesses BUT not without issues, see Bad (1).
(2)Thin and curvy design makes makes huge phone not feel so unwieldy.
(3)Android 4.0 and get-it-first priority for future updates means you'll get the newest updates first over the next few years. All without carrier or manufacturer bloatware.
(4)Camera is VERY fast BUT not without issues, see Bad (2).
(1)Grainy screen at low brightnesses. After research online, it seems to be a SuperAMOLED weakness that varies in severity between manufactured panels. My Samsung Fascinate Galaxy S with SuperAMOLED screen showed NONE of this issue. The auto-brightness setting keeps it at a grainy brightness often and annoyingly.
(2)This 5MP camera on the back just isn't very good. I've taken many photos in the past 4 days of owning this phone, and none of them are stunning.
(3)Sending audio through bluetooth to my car stereo resulted in a noisy, garbled experience that I won't do again for respect to the music. [EDIT: this may not be a bluetooth issue, as much as a signal issue. Streaming Rhapsody either through wifi or 3G at standard bitrate sounds terrible, even forcing "HD" stream helped, but not much, and the songs continually pause every 15 - 20 seconds. Even streaming music through Google Music is slow to load each track, if it even will load without a "must have connection to listen" error.]
(4))Loudspeaker is very quiet. I had to install Volume+ just to make it loud enough to hear notifications in a crowded noisy room. Unfortunately, now that it's loud enough to hear, it's so distorted and tinny, I don't want to listen to music over it, even in a quiet room. Both my Moto Droid 1 and my Samsung Fascinate had much better speakers.
All this being said, I'm looking to exchange it for something else. Most professional reviews I've seen online ooh and ahh over Android 4.0 and make small mentions of the hardware shortcomings. In 6 months time, the up-to-the-minute superphones, the Moto RAZR and HTC Rezound, will have Official 4.0, or ROMs of 4.0, and the Galaxy Nexus' shining attribute will be dissolved. At that point it'll be painfully obvious that beyond that 720P screen, this phone doesn't shine brighter than its competition.
Based on hardware alone, the Galaxy Nexus is just an average phone with as many faults as successes.
Great OS.. not a great phone. December 19, 2011
Reviewer: Honi N. Helms "honi_baby" (Frostproof, FL USA) -
I waited months for this phone to come out, checking online everyday for any news on a release date. I really wanted to love this phone, but I just can't.
I purchased a Droid Razr for my husband and a Galaxy Nexus for myself a couple of days ago. When I leave work today, I will be exchanging my Nexus for a Razr.
First, the positive note. The Ice Cream Sandwich operating system is a beautiful thing. So many things just work better than earlier Android. Unfortunately, that is the only thing I have found to like about this phone.
When compared to the Droid Razr, the Galaxy Nexus comes up lacking in almost every way. First, The screen on the Razr actually looks better to me in a side by side comparison. The only way to match them at all is to turn the Nexus to maximum brightness, at which point you may have an hour of battery life with consistent use. The screen drains the majority of the battery life and it does so quickly.
Second, the speaker on the Galaxy Nexus at full blast is only as loud as the Razr turned down halfway. There is no way I will ever hear this thing ring in my purse and you can barely hear Youtube videos or music even with it right next to you.
Third, the signal quality and 3G do not work as well as the Razr. I had no 3G all day yesterday, but my husband's Razr had a perfect connection. Also, sitting side by side, the Razr had a full signal and the Nexus only had one bar.I restarted the Nexus several times and was still unable to access the internet on my phone.
Lastly, the camera on the Nexus is awful. Taking identical pictures with the Nexus and Razr was really disappointing. The Nexus pictures were grainy and dim, while the Razr pictures were sharp and defined. You could zoom in on a picture taken with the Razr and see the individual whiskers on my dogs nose. Try to zoom in on a picture taken with the Nexus and all you see is a blur.
I do not claim to be an expert on technology or cell phones. This review is just my opinion of this phone based on a side by side comparison. I really hate that the flaws outweigh the Ice Cream Sandwich yumminess but I will trade slightly superior software for vastly superior hardware.