Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review, Our Take On Google’s Flagship Phone


The Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It’s Google’s flagship device. This is the device that Google used to build the latest iteration of the Android operating system. It’s also the device they use to test out future updates. But does any of this mean the Galaxy Nexus is the one for you? We’ll before we get to that, lets go over some of Galaxy Nexus’ specs:

  • 4.65 inch Super AMOLED display at 1280×720 (720p) HD resolution
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 16-32 GB (depending on model) of storage
  • 5 MP rear camera with 1080p recording
  • 1.3 MP front camera with 720p recording
  • 1750-1850 mAh battery (depending on model)
  • NFC capabilities
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

As you can see, the specs on this phone are pretty darn good. But specs are just that, specs. How a phone really performs in the real world can (sometimes) be a whole different story. With that said, in this review I’m going to give you my likes/dislikes or pros/cons of the Galaxy Nexus:

First up, what I don’t like about the phone:

Speaker: Even though Google has claimed the Galaxy Nexus to be its flagship phone, it doesn’t mean that the phone is perfect (no phone, at least to me, ever is). My first major complaint about the phone is the speaker. The speaker on the phone just sucks. Simple and plain. I’ve seen flip phone Boost Mobile phones that have a louder speaker. But thankfully, the speakers issues aren’t hardware related. How do I know this? I downloaded an app called Volume Plus that amplifies the phone’s speaker. After some tweaking, voila, a speaker that performs similarly to the SGS2.

Sluggishness: The next issue I have with the phone is its sluggishness. This is evident in a couple of areas. For one, using a live wallpaper on this expensive piece of technology makes you feel like your back on the G1 (the first “Google” phone ever with a 512 MHz processor). Swiping from screen to screen just stutters in a way that makes me avoid live wallpapers all together. But that’s not it. Sliding to unlock straight to the camera, which is meant to be a means of capturing the moment, takes anywhere between 3-5 seconds. You’ll see some instances of lag in other areas of the phone as well that I won’t get into.

Double Tap Zoom: Another issue is the double tap zoom in the browser. About half the time I load a web page displaying an article in the browser, when I double tap to zoom in the phone does nothing. And then, a quarter of the time when it does something, it clicks on a link within the article taking me to a whole different page. Needless to say, it can get really annoying. Again, this issue seems to be software related. I downloaded the Google Chrome browser and had much better luck. But Chrome isn’t without its issues either, as typing in letters in the search bar can be a full 2 letters behind in registering.

No SD Card Slot: The good news is all of these issues are software related (at least I hope). But there is a major issue I have that isn’t software related. And I’m not talking about the camera (which I find to be great unlike some reviewers). I’m talking about the lack of a micro SD card slot. The HSPA+ version of the Galaxy Nexus, which is the one I use, only comes with 16 GB. The LTE version on Verizon (and soon to be Sprint) comes with 32 GB. While that’s much better, I’d still prefer having the choice to expand my memory if I wanted (choice is the reason why we love Android to begin with, isn’t it?).

Now, what I like about the phone:

Screen: Thankfully (after spending $700 on an unlocked version), there are more things that I like about the Galaxy Nexus than I dislike. The first thing, and hardest thing to miss, is the beautiful 4.65 inch Super AMOLED HD display. Yeah, it’s not Super AMOLED Plus so it has a PenTile matrix display. But honestly, I doubt most people could tell the difference. The screen’s colors are super rich, blacks are as dark as can be, and the high resolution makes everything look crisp and clear. All this makes for a great YouTube watching, web surfing, and e-book reading experience.

Design: The next thing I like about the phone is the design. Now, after reading other reviews on the net, I bet you’ve been given the impression that the design on the phone is a bad thing. I don’t see it that way. Yeah, it’s not metallic or glass. Yeah, it’s made out of plastic. But guess what? The plastic material makes the phone light and less likely to break when dropped (take that iPhone). The front of the device is all black and looks super sleek with no capacitive buttons. The phone is pretty thin at just 8.9 mm and the hyperskin texture on the back cover is pretty nice.

Pure Android: One of the biggest advantages of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is stated right in its name. I’ll give you a clue: it’s not Samsung or Galaxy. The fact that this phone is a Nexus device, as in its Google’s flagship phone, means that it will always get updated to the latest version of the OS (for at least two years or so). You get updated to the latest and greatest from Google at least three months before everyone else does, and you don’t have to deal with any manufacturer or carrier bloatware.

Camera: Most people believe that just because the rear camera on the Galaxy Nexus has 5 MP it is automatically inferior to any 8 MP camera out there. This couldn’t be further from the truth. But while I am happy with the rear camera, I’m not talking about it here. What I like about this phone is the front facing camera. I think a lot of people overlook the fact that the front facing camera can record in 720p. It can take pictures at 1.3 MP, which is higher than most other phones which snap photos as VGA resolution.

And my conclusion:

Overall, I have to give the Galaxy Nexus a big thumbs up. The pros of the phone outweigh the cons, and when Google releases its next minor update (version 4.0.4 or 4.0.5) it should take care of some of the issues I have with the phone I mentioned above. Once that happens, the pros and cons of the phone will be in even great favor for the Galaxy Nexus.

If you’re looking to purchase this phone but are hesitant because of upcoming phones like the HTC One X or One S I don’t blame you. I myself am eying these phones but I think that ultimately I will stick with the Galaxy Nexus. Why? Because while I feel like the improvements these newer devices will bring will be nice (like the Snapdragon S4 processor), I don’t think they’ll be as significant as the ones we’ll see when Samsung releases the SGS3 or the next Nexus.

So in the interim, I’d rather have the device that gets the new features and software optimizations (which should improve performance) and promises me the pure vanilla Android experience that the creators of Android envisioned when making it.


About Author

David Rahimi is the editor-in-chief at Ever since he got his first smartphone, he has been obsessed with mobile technology and all that it has to offer. Other interests include business, investing, and neuroscience.