Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android phone
Galaxy Nexus review: The Galaxy Nexus is by far and away the best Android phone ever
- Brilliant screen
- Slick, polished software
- Outstanding performance
- Average battery life
- Camera isn't the best
- Low speaker volume
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is without a doubt the best Android phone on the market right now and the best Android phone that's ever been released. The camera could use a boost in quality, the low speaker volume is annoying and battery life isn't outstanding but the Galaxy Nexus combines a gorgeous screen with slick software and super fast performance. The best phone of 2011.
After months of rumours, a delayed unveiling out of respect for Steve Jobs, and a launch that could be best described as chaotic, Google and Samsung have finally released the Galaxy Nexus — the first smartphone to run the latest 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" version of Android. The Galaxy Nexus successfully combines a superb screen, great software and excellent hardware to produce what we think is the best Android phone ever.
Galaxy Nexus: Design and display
There are a few reasons why we think the Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone on the market, but the most apparent is its strikingly large 4.65in Super AMOLED HD display. The HD denotes a high definition resolution of 1280x720, and the Galaxy Nexus displays an ultra sharp and crisp image. Its bright, vivid and clear and text is crisp and smooth with minimal visible aberrations: if we were being picky we'd say that the iPhone 4S still displays slightly crisper text, but the difference is very small and won't be immediately noticeable to a casual user.
The large size of the screen naturally makes the Galaxy Nexus great for video playback but Web browsing is the main beneficiary — the clarity of the screen makes reading Web pages and books an impressive experience. Our only complaint involves the automatic brightness feature: its often erratic and most of the time is either set a little too bright, or too dim. We suspect this is an issue that could and should be corrected by a software update.
The Galaxy Nexus is a large phone but the big screen doesn't make it uncomfortably large to handle. The unit has on-screen controls rather than capacitive keys that were previously standard on Android phones, so the Galaxy Nexus isn't too much bigger than the popular Samsung Galaxy S II. Aiding the look and feel is a curved screen and a body that has a teardrop profile — this means the Galaxy Nexus is thicker at the top and slightly wider towards the bottom. The curvature makes the Galaxy Nexus feel natural to hold and therefore comfortable to use.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Nexus' battery cover is way too fiddly and difficult to put back on once its removed. It's only a minor issue but the fit and finish is a step behind many of its rivals including the iPhone 4S and the HTC Sensation XE — the plastic feels durable but it doesn't look or feel as sturdy as a premium device should. We also dropped our review unit and it left a noticeable chip and multiple scuffs on the plastic surface, while there is a small spot on the edge of the cover that moves when you press it, suggesting its not clicked into place properly. We love the teardrop design and the the non-slip grip that the back of the Galaxy Nexus provides, but we wish Samsung paid more attention to detail.
Two more minor issues — we hate the headphone jack on the bottom of phones and the Galaxy Nexus is no exception. It feels out of place and requires you to turn the phone around when you pull it out of your pocket. We also found the volume buttons on the Galaxy Nexus too easy to accidentally press when the phone is in your pocket, which is annoying when you're listening to music.
Galaxy Nexus: Ice Cream Sandwich UI
The hardware of the Galaxy Nexus is only half of the story. Google's latest Android software, Ice Cream Sandwich, is the real star of the Galaxy Nexus show and the changes are both exhaustive and impressive.
Right from the moment you switch on the Galaxy Nexus for the first time, it's clear that the entire user experience has been improved. The interface has been refreshed to create a more uniform look and feel. There's a new typeface called Roboto. The software is faster and slicker than any previous versions of Android and is an improvement over any manufacturer UI skin that we've seen on any other device. The Galaxy Nexus feels consistent and is easier to use than any other Android phone we've ever tested.
There are too many changes to list, but there are a few key elements that make the Galaxy Nexus a pleasure to use. The first is consistency. Google has changed almost every part of the interface and the result is a phone that is easier to use. Android 4.0 still isn't as simple as iOS or as elegant as Windows Phone 7.5, but its fast, effective and easier on the eye than any previous versions of the software. In a full week of use, the Galaxy Nexus did not crash or stutter: performance is consistently excellent.
On the lock screen, you can swipe right to get to the home screen or left to jump straight into the camera. You can now access notifications from the lock screen and you can swipe individual notifications away rather than having to clear all notifications. You can also quickly access the settings menu from the notification drop down, create folders on the home screen by dragging one app on top of another, and access widgets by swiping through the app draw. We also liked the link to the Android Market in the top right corner of the app draw — a small but very appreciated touch — along with the fact that the Google search widget is now a permanent fixture at the top of every home screen. It can not only be used to search the Web, but can perform a phone-wide search, too.
As previously mentioned, Ice Cream Sandwich no longer uses hardware shortcut keys. Instead, three on-screen buttons appear (back, home, multitasking) on most screens. In some apps, further settings can be accessed when three small dots appear in the lower right hand corner of the screen. This can be a little confusing and its often easy to accidentally bump the home or back buttons, but the navigation is something we quickly got used to. We also found multitasking quite intuitive: pressing the multitasking buttons brings up a vertical, scrolling list of your most recently used apps. Tapping on an app will switch to it, while swiping an app off the screen will close it. Its the same multitasking method used on Google's Honeycomb software for tablets, but it feels far more natural and intuitive on a phone.
Next page: Keyboard, camera, Web browser, battery life and more
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Witness a 241% Australian price hike: Dell Latitude 7370 review
- 2 Is this the best value phone on the market? Moto G4 Plus review
- 3 Sony Xperia X Performance review: Sony’s most disappointing product in years
- 4 Huawei P9 review: lifting photography to another level... sometimes.
- 5 Huawei Mate 8 review: probably the best all-round Android phone you can buy
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Blackberry announces DETK50, a secure US$299 Android phone
- Samsung files artificial muscle patent for use in flexible smartphones
- The affordable new Moto E grows in size, but not price
- Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 is now the company's fastest mobile chip
- Snapchat launches Memories so you can save and search for past stories
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTSocial Media AssistantQLD
- FTCisco IP Telephony EngineerNSW
- CCSenior Deployment ManagerVIC
- CCCisco CCIE Certified Network EngineerWA
- FTData AnalystACT
- CCStrategic Business AnalystNSW
- CCDatabase AdministratorNSW
- CCBPM Solution ArchitectVIC
- FTEmbedded Software EngineerWA
- FTInfrastructure Technology Platform ManagerVIC
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (Java/J2EE/MyEclise) 160721/AP/vmpAsia
- FTService Desk ManagerNSW
- FTPositive Vetted ICT positions - Defence intelligence and information securityACT
- CCServiceNow Technical LeadNSW
- CCProject Engineer -VIC
- FTSAP Team LeadVIC
- FTSAP ESB Service Management SpecialistVIC
- CCProject Manager/ Sr PMO Analyst - Consulting BackgroundNSW
- CCInformatica DeveloperNSW
- CCService Lead - Cloud hosting and storageNSW
- CCField Engineer - POSTAS
- FTApplication Support AnalystSA
- CCSolution Architect - Supply ChainNSW
- CCChange Analysts - multiple rolesNSW
- CCContract IT Assistant (Office Automation/PC LAN) 160802/ITA/991Asia