Galaxy Nexus Is Tasty With ICS Software

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-12-20 Print this article Print

The primary homescreen includes a Google Mobile widget--and this is why I called the phone "great for Google Mobile users" in the headline--that includes the Google-made apps that render the Nexus a "pure Google experience" smartphone.

Users may access Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, Google Maps, Maps Navigation, Google Books, Google Music, Google+, Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, Android Market, and Google Calendar all from the widget. It's a Google Mobile apps users' dream.

Google also created a nice People app that lets users access their phone's contacts from Facebook and Twitter, as well as Gmail and other social networks. People app includes high-resolution profile photos, and lets users check their friends status updates.

In general, ICS is a marked improvement in efficiency and multi-tasking over the Android 2.3 Gingerbread build I've been testing on Android phones for the last several months.

I found the 5 megapixel camera, which would normally be modest with so many 8 megapixels shutters gracing the market's current, premium Android phones, to be more than adequate. When Google advertises zero shutter lag, they mean it.

I'm so used to the lagging load time and shutter of my Motorola Droid X at this point that I've become a pro at timing pictures right simply by accounting for a 10 second load and lag time. You don't get that with the Nexus.

The only time you wait is when you take a picture in "panorama mode," which takes several seconds to scan and save a photo to the phone. Video recorded in 1080p, pretty much standard for premium phones.

Face Unlock, the facial detection software Google flaunted as a new front for Android smartphones, worked as well as advertised. I simply took a picture of my face with the 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera. Every time I pushed the on button thereafter, Face Unlock scanned my mug, and let me in--or didn't if I tricked it by making a funny face.

You should also note that if people look similar, and I'm not even talking about just identical twins, it's possible to fool Face Unlock, so if security is a top priority for your Nexus, you best use other unlocking features, such as a pattern or PIN.

The Nexus' 1850 mAh battery is the best I've tested yet on a 4G LTE phone from Verizon, lasting pretty much a full day even with some video watching, though I didn't watch more than 30 minutes of Netflix straight. I just didn't have the time. The phone comes with 32GB of memory and 1GB of RAM.

Regret 1: I did not get to test Android Beam, the near field communications (NFC) content sharing app because, well, I simply don't have another NFC-enabled device with which to tap it against to share Web pages, apps, YouTube clips and other content.

Regret 2: There is as of yet no Google Wallet mobile payment app to test on the Nexus. Verizon and Google have yet to come to an agreement about including it on this phone.

Overall, for those users who love speed and powerful app processing in a smartphone, paired with a monster-big screen that's great for gaming and consuming a lot of YouTube, Netflix and other video, the phone is well worth the $299.99 price tag (and a no-brainer if you can get the Amazon deal, with a two-year contract).

But if you don't feel you need ICS yet and prefer a smaller, more modest smartphone, go ahead and swim downstream; the Galaxy Nexus is now the king fish of Android communicators, in screen size, price and OS functionality.




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