Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review (Verizon)

So I was reading yet another glowing review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and thought to myself, what is it about this phone? I had played with the device some at my local Verizon Wireless store but was left unimpressed. The unit on display felt cheap to me, the backing had to be taped to the phone due to the excessive use at the store. I had read plenty of negative reviews of the shortcomings of the Galaxy Nexus as well.

I had an upgrade to burn and Christmas money waiting for the right device. I recently purchased an HTC Rezound to replace my Thunderbolt but found the screen resolution too small for my needs and returned it days later.

Maybe I should give it a try? The worst thing that could happen is I don't like it and would end up returning it just like I did the Rezound. Sure, there's a $35 'restocking' fee, but that's nothing compared to two years of dealing with a phone you don't like. And I use my phone a lot. Constantly.

So I stopped off after work, picked one up, purchased the extended battery on sale, and drove home to get it setup. It literally took me 10 minutes to see what so many others have experienced with this device.

If I could only use one word to describe it.... Wow.

Wow, wow, wow...

The screen is just beautiful. It's a large screen, but the text reads well and it feels great in my hand. The phone itself doesn't seem to be larger than other Android devices out there. It feels thin and it's extremely light, but more solid than I expected.

Ice Cream Sandwich is really, really sharp, fluid, and smooth. You'll instantly notice how great it looks with everything you do. (Notifications, settings, app folders, etc.)

The notification tray now allows you to simply swipe away the notifications you don't need to view at that moment, and the recent apps button integrated throughout Ice Cream Sandwich is an excellent time saver for navigating between apps.

Gallery App

The core Google Apps have been improved too, they look cleaner, function better. They functioned well on Gingerbread, just a little better now. I use the core Google apps for work and personal use. Very important that they work well, and they do.

Google Calendar looks great, fully customizable as usual for the calendars you want to pull in. The photo Gallery seamlessly pulls all of my photos from the device and the cloud, Gmail has been updated and looks great, and the launcher is fully customizable and has a great look to it as well.

Google Calendar

Google Talk has been updated and now allows you to access multiple Google Talk accounts at the same time. The interface has been improved and looks even better than before.

And in case you're curious, the actual phone quality on this device is loud and clear. You know, if you still want to make phone calls....

It has a nice big notification light located on the bottom-front of the device which you can control the colors to with the help of some apps in the Market such as Light Flow.

Light Flow App

The stock messaging app is perfect, and the Galaxy Nexus has the best web browser I've ever used on a mobile device, period. It syncs up to my Chrome bookmarks in the Cloud and allows you to request the desktop view for any web site you view.

Web Browser

Google Maps has been enhanced in Ice Cream Sandwich and is a definite improvement.

Google Maps

Camera: This is a big one for me. I'm constantly taking photos and the camera has to be solid. I know it has received some bad reviews due to the quality of the photos, but I'm actually impressed with the quality of the photos I've taken. The shutter speed is fantastic and I like that I can quickly access the camera from the lock screen. Keep in mind most of the photos I've taken have been outdoors with plenty of light available, but I actually think it's an excellent performer when you have a well lit environment.

Actual Photo

Actual Photo

Actual Photo

Actual Photo

The problem with this camera is in those situations where you don't have much light and the Nexus struggles with taking a good shot. The photos become over exposed at times, and it seems to have difficulty in focusing. All smartphone cameras seem to perform poorly in low light environments, but the Nexus really falls short in this area.

Indoor Photo

Indoor Photo

Indoor Photo

Face Unlock has worked perfect for me, I know some others have experienced issues with it, but it's a nice feature to have when you need to quickly access your device.

Best of all, it's a pure Google phone. No bloatware (2 Verizon apps you can disable), a Bootloader you can easily unlock which means custom roms will be easier than ever to flash to this device. Android updates will also be pushed to this device first due to the fact there isn't a manufacturer skin you have to deal with.

Google Books

Lesson learned: You really can't get a feel for a device until you load your data on it, make some phone calls, shoot out some texts, take some photos, etc.

I'm not going to return this one.

(Update) Battery Life: Battery life has been average for a 4G LTE phone, and when I say average, I mean not very good with heavy use. The stock battery is 1850 mAh, and the Extended battery is only 2100 mAh. You don't get much of a bump there, and it shows in real world use as well.

I've experienced only 8-9 hours of life with this phone with solid use before the extended battery is completely drained, but have experienced 14 hours or so with light usage. Someone will come out with a beast of a battery soon and I'll be first in line to purchase it.

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