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 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Google wants to solve the Android update problem once and for all with Project Treble
- Intel concerned about name of John McAfee’s privacy phone
- Low-cost Android phones to get iPhone features with new Qualcomm chips
- Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4 is coming in phones midyear
- Apple's next iPhones may cut corners on memory due to price squeeze
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSolution ArchitectNSW
- CCFront End DeveloperQLD
- FTL&D Manager, Transformation Program in Finance ServicesNSW
- FTEnterprise ArchitectVIC
- TPTrim Helpdesk AnalystVIC
- FTPHP / WordPress DeveloperQLD
- CCWintel Server EngineerNSW
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- TPImplementation Planner - Payroll PortfolioQLD
- FTSupport Engineer Level 3QLD
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- FTLevel 2 Desktop Support - Microsoft Office 365 experienceNSW
- CCTechnical WriterVIC
- FTCustomer Service OperatorVIC
- CCFront End DeveloperNSW
- TPAssistant Change Manager | System Implementation ProjectQLD
- CCSenior Digital BANSW
- FTMobile Apps TesterWA
- TPSoftware Engineer / DeveloperQLD
- FTERP Reporting AnalystNSW
- FTSecurity Dev Ops and Java DeveloperVIC
- CCSolution Designer with PEGA experience- TelcoVIC
- FTDesktop EngineerNSW
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD