Samsung Galaxy Nexus


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Sir Topham Hatt

Useful Links:

Neowin Review | Neowin Android 4 (ICS) Review | Hands-on: Verizon GN

As the Galaxy Nexus has been reviewed by Neowin, this is more of a user-based view, rather than the unit review.

I've had my Galaxy Nexus for nearly a week now and I've comes across various features which are great and some which are not so great.

Me at a Glance:

  • Second Android phone (first was the HTC Desire).
  • Not really into rooting or custom ROM.
  • UK based.
  • I have 3G on all the time. Wi-Fi only on when I need it (usually at home). Brightness is at the lowest level (I only turn this up in direct sunlight).
  • I don't watch movies or listen to music really. I play a few games, browse the internet and usually message / call people.

Let's start with some general comments:

That Phone is HUGE!

Yes! It is a large phone, much more than my Desire. I was worried that it was a bit too big when I first handled it. However when I used my Desire after for a few minutes, the experience was awful. The screen was tiny and I found I had adjusted to the new navigation gestures from only a few hours play with the new toy.

The phone does feel much better though. It's slim and fits nicely in my pocket. I don't have huge hands but I find the GN fits nicely there too. And yes, there is a small section of the back case missing just to the right of where you get your fingernail in to get it off.

Connecting it to a PC - So What Does Happen?

I was somewhat confused when I was reading how the phone reacted when I connected it to a PC and then got worried I wouldn't be able to drag and drop files like "normal". This isn't the case. Connect it to the PC, it'll install drivers (three of them, although the "Galaxy" driver failed on mine).

It shows in (My) Computer like an "attached device", just like my Creative MP3 Player is. There's no drive letter, it's not seen as "external storage" either. You can drag and drop files to it. I haven't had the apparent bug of copying pictures to the device taking forever either.

Here's some Negatives:

[-] Google Search Bar space unusable

What a shame. You can hide the Google search bar at the top of the home screen, but the space it creates is unusable by anything. While this does create a rather clean look, it has ended up a negative point. I ended up putting it back though as I thought the phone looked stupid with the blank space there.

[-] Crashes Already?

Yes, I have experiences some "stopped working" messages. There isn't a pattern as yet but I should think most of the apps aren't yet fully compatible with ICS yet. But everything I need is working fine.

[-] No Facebook Integration

This is a bit of a major one for me. The HTC Desire had fantastic integration with Facebook, meaning contact pictures would update easily and info like birthdays would be pulled and added to my contacts. Now though, everyone has no picture and I've had to fill in dates manually. I did enjoy this feature and hope it will be fixed in future updates but for now, expect a lot of work getting contacts nice if you haven't got them nice in GMail.

[-] Still too much integration of contacts from EVERYWHERE

So I add my Twitter account and the GN thinks it's being helpful and adds people like Simon Cowell, Asda and Cadbury's UK to my contacts. No thank you. It's a shame you can't decide who to add before it adds them.

[-] The Moving Menu Button

It's been touched on in the main review but it really has started to annoy me now. Some apps have the ... button at the top, while others have it at the bottom. I don't know why they took the menu button out of the main set of menu buttons at the bottom.

[-] No Way to Set Data on "Data Usage"

Maybe I have missed it but there seems to be no way to set a data level in the new "Data usage" feature. It's a great feature but let's say I have used 200MB out of my 500MB per month usage. There seems to be no way to set the Galaxy Nexus to start from 200MB. Therefore the only way I can use it is enabling it when my monthly reset date comes up.

[-] Widgets Section Seems Cluttered

There's a lot of apps which have a widget option. The new widgets section seems cluttered as they are a bit all over the place so it seems. I'd rather have it laid out like the Desire did where you could select an app and view available widgets for that app.

[-] Messages / Email in Notification Bar Only

On the Desire, i would get a nice little green circle over the app button on the homescreen telling me how many unread messages I had. This isn't so anymore as unread messages and emails are only in the notification drawer. I'm sure this will turn into a positive but for now, I do miss the little green circle.

[-] Limited Folders

The new way to create folders is simple, drag and drop two icons over each other. The negative? You're limited to 16 icons for that folder. I'm sure the Desire could have way more than that. This means now that my games cannot go in a folder as I have more than 16. Again, a simple thing to fix but I don't see why it was limited to begin with.

[-] No Full Screen Calendar

Another "that's a shame" point. The Desire had a nice full screen calendar as a widget. Now I have a small 2x3 widget that isn't great. I'd like to see my month ahead and see what is coming up without installing a new app.

[-] TV -Off Animation

Just like the face-recognition unlock thing, it's a silly gimmick which I'd rather it just turn off and save that tiny bit of battery.

Here's Some Positives:

[+] Disable Default Apps

Coming from the Desire, I understood rooting my phone would enable me to simply uninstall some default apps like the "Teeter" game. But no. The button was still greyed out, how rubbish.

However, Google has given me an easy way to satisfy my OCD. Visit the app details through the Settings page and you can choose to "Disable" the app. This removes it from the app drawer, therefore on first look it's uninstalled. How lovely :) I can then just enable it if I find something went wrong. It even places the app at the very bottom of the list of installed apps.

[+] Battery Life

Compared with the HTC, I get the same use from a full charge - between 35-40 hours or so. For the larger screen and under-the-hood power, there's no significant drop. I used my Desire in the same way as I do the Nexus, so it has surprised me that it lasts more or less the same time.

[+] No SD Card

A positive I head you? Yes. For me, it's a positive. My Desire has next to no space available on the device so while rooting, enabled apps to be installed on the SD card by default. Now, there's none of that hassle. When disconnecting from my PC, my apps are available straight away too, when using the Desire, the system was "mounting the SD card" and then it took a while for it to load the apps I had (icons showed a default "no icon" icon - if that makes sense!).

I guess because I don't store HD movies on the phone or GB's or music, then the smaller 16GB (the only version available in the UK) works for me. I am using 4GB of the whole storage.

I haven't yet tried out recording some home movies in HD which I am sure would fill up the card fairly quickly but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

[+] Only 5 Home Screens

Another "wut - but I want seven!" kind of point, but for me it works. When I knew I was getting the Nexus, I slimmed down my Desire to the 5 home screens and found the other two I could do without. So actually, for me it's a positive as it's limiting me cluttering the home-screens with things I actually don't need anyway.

Conclusion:

There seems to be a lot more negatives than positives, but the phone is still new and it's based on my usage rather than many generic reviews.

In a short conclusion: I won't be returning the phone as it's much better than the Desire in many places.

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simonlang

hmmm.... you name much more negatives than positives there. i am looking for a htc desire replacement as well, and one of our phone carrier offers the galaxy nexus for cheap (cheap enough for me 2 afford that is). i really hope that cause the phone is still new google will fix all or most of the negatives asap.

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ARchamps

Thanks for posting this. It seems a few people are complaining about app compatibility with ICS.. but isn't that more a con for the apps? With any new OS (ios, blackberry, even windows), older apps will usually require an update to work on a newer OS. I'm pretty sure that the apps that have problems will be updated soon.

Anyways, I'm probably going to pick this up soon! How is the browser on ICS? Does it display websites well?

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Jason S.

"No Facebook Integration" should be a positive.

the Nexus and ICS is supposed to be a baseline for other manufacturers; therefore, it shouldnt have crappy integration.

i played with my coworker's Nexus last week and i wasnt all that impressed w/ it. the screen is nice, but not as nice as the Rezound. The Nexus' plastic body feels cheap. for all the hype, ICS is underwhelming.

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Roger H.

I was gonna say about Facebook and Twitter stuff. I don't use Facebook integration because people change their freaking names and it makes it impossible to find them. Sometimes I go to look for "Christina" but because she thinks she's cool, she changes it to "Stina" on FB and therefore changes it on my phone. Now instead of finding her under C i gotta look for her under S (took me a while to find that). Sometimes I dial by just pictures too, so when their pictures keep changing or they put a picture of their new puppy I gotta figure out who's who and then go from there again totally defeating the purpose of the quick dial.

As for Twitter, you should be able to filter them out by Contats to display - Uncheck Twitter options and they'll sync but just wont display - another reason I unchecked Facebook too. I don't need my high school aquaintance in my phone as i'll never call her, just nice to catch up once in a while.

Nice little review however.

I agree with you on the Menu stuff (i think it should always be at the bottom beside the recent apps button).

Agree on the data settings part as well.

Crashes - I'd just say apps needing updates.

I actually only use 3 homescreens - don't really need 5 on mine.

I don't need the extra space for the SD card too. I have on in my SGS2 so I have total of "32GB" but I only really use 3-4GB on the internal storage. :D

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Sir Topham Hatt

hmmm.... you name much more negatives than positives there. i am looking for a htc desire replacement as well

I'd got for it. Like I say, I haven't looked back and the negatives I did post are all mainly trivial anyway.

It seems a few people are complaining about app compatibility with ICS..

How is the browser on ICS? Does it display websites well?

Apart from Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, the only other app I have problems with is "Network Info". This isn't such a big issue but I am sure the app will be updated in due course.

The browser is fine. It displays the same as the Desire, a little better maybe. I don't browse the internet much on it, but it is fine from what I have used it for. The larger screen does help a lot.

i played with my coworker's Nexus last week and i wasnt all that impressed w/ it. the screen is nice, but not as nice as the Rezound. The Nexus' plastic body feels cheap. for all the hype, ICS is underwhelming.

I agree, the hype isn't living up to the phone, but I know this will be a good phone fir the next couple of years so that's all good for me.

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ARchamps

How is the GPS on the phone? Sorry for the questions :)

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Sir Topham Hatt

Haven't really tried GPS yet, but I should think it will be as good as other connection features.

Internet is much faster than on my Desire though.

Not tried Bluetooth yet.

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Sir Topham Hatt

[-] No Full Screen Calendar - Now a plus [+]

You can actually have a full screen calendar. Simply press and hold, then when you get the chance to remove it, leave the widget where it is and you'll have pull sections to stretch it where and how you want.

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+Nexus18

Neat little review there! Nice to see points from a users experience as well rather than the "experts" views all the time! :)

However for most of the negatives that you have mentioned there, you can easily solve them by installing a 3rd party launcher like go launcher ex, very good launcher and the best IMO! The launcher would be the only thing that I would replace on the GN/stock ICS.

As for the CRT off screen animation being turned of/on, I don't think that would affect battery life that much or even at all! However it would be good to have the option of choosing what you want.

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Jeston

So basically half of the negatives can be summed up by saying "I miss the HTC sense UI" which actually amazes me, but then I'm a pretty big vanilla Android fan.

I don't really understand the people saying the phone is not living up to the hype. This phone is exactly what I expected and I'm pretty impressed with it (even after the excrutiatingly long wait). I can only assume the crashes you refer to are from you installing unsupported apps, because i've had literally zero crashes since I bought it. The only app I normally use that I'm waiting to be updated is Swype. Other than that, all my apps work as they're supposed to, kudos to the devs for their quick updates.

Overall ICS is an incredible update over Gingerbread as well as Honeycomb and I couldn't be happier with the device running it. To anybody wondering if they should grab one, I enthusiastically say "Yes!"

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+Nexus18

Pretty much!

I don't get that either, I can understand in terms of the hardware aspects of it, which is a little underwhelming considering the galaxy S 2 has been out for a good bit longer and still has better hardware overall pretty much and is cheaper b a good bit (mostly the camera overall not being as good as the GS 2, slower GPU and no SD card on the GN), however personally I don't care about those as the difference between the photos quality isn't too much and the snappiness, features (granted is borught by ICS though and probably the better sensor that is used) and better photos in very dark areas is better and makes up for the sacrifice in quality, only the professional photographers would be able to tell the difference :p, slower GPU is perfectly good for most heavy usage anyway and the onl areas where the speed difference is shown is in the "epeen benchmarks", external storage should have been included but at the end of the day, I have a 8GB SD card on my current mobile and I only use like 4GB and that is loads of pics/photos, some music and about 40 apps installed (moved to SD).

However the 2 massive selling points for me when it comes to smartphones is:

- screen

- software/UI

- company support

And the GN is without a doubt the best there is for those 3, there isn't a better screen on the market yet than it, the stock android looks great for ICS and is the first time I wouldn't bother replacing all the stock apps with 3 rd party apps, only the launcher would get replaced and of course no bloat, no custom skins, which IMO just make the experience much worst and slower and most importantly, getting updates quickly and knowing that you will get all the big android updates without having to worry about some lame excuse like hardware doesn't support it or it is too old........

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ThePitt

even the positives points you make them looks like negative. No SDCard for me is a big no no.

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techbeck

How is the GPS on the phone? Sorry for the questions :)

GPS works really well. Fast, and re-routes quickly.

And for people reading this, this is the OPs OPINION on the phone. Don't not get the GN just because of his view on it. Everyone has their own views/opinions. Personally, his CONS don't really bother me to much and some seam trivial IMO. Its a different OS...takes a little to get used to. Never had an App crash on me and if they are for some, just wait for an update. Updates will come more rapidly once more phones start getting ICS.

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Kaoxt

They need to fix the Google Music app ASAP. I use my phones a ton for listening to music and it is crashing daily... I cringe when it crashes and you get a LOUD noise that kills your ears when it decides to go crazy then shut off phone.

Hopefully Google fixes this: http://code.google.c...detail?id=22669

I had to switch back to the iPhone and debating whether to return the Galaxy Nexus, or wait it out for a fix, then sell the iPhone once the issue is resolved and can go back to the Galaxy Nexus.

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+Nexus18

Why don't you just install a 3rd party app like winamp, poweramp for the time being?

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Sir Topham Hatt

And for people reading this, this is the OPs OPINION on the phone. Don't not get the GN just because of his view on it. Everyone has their own views/opinions.

Exactly.

Neowin reviewed it, other sites have other reviews too, so I thought I'd share my opinion and the things that I have experienced, which is what I take into account when purchasing new technology.

Personally, his CONS don't really bother me to much and some seam trivial IMO.

This (Y) They are just more or a transition between an HTC and a "pure" Google phone. There could have been more pluses I guess, things like in-built spell-checker but I didn't think of those at the time.

In other news, I had about 6 updates to install the other day from the Market, all ICS updates :)

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gazebee_

Thanks for the 'review'. As an HTC Desire owner myself this was very relevant. However, as much as I would like the Galaxy Nexus, I can't justify getting it because my rooted device offers keeps me updated in the game. The memory woes are remedied by A2SD/Data2SD etc.

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