on May 19, 2012
Amazing. With the official Jelly bean from Google and Verizon, the signal issues seem to be have been resolved. The gps sometimes is SLIGHTLY slow to find me, but other than that, the only gripe i still have is the horrendous battery life, but I have multiple batteries to combat that. With my OtterBox Commuter on it, it's the best wireless experience i've had.
I absolutely loved this phone... kinda. the size is perfect, the screen is ridiculous, the software (Ice Cream Sandwich) is amazing and the best thing to happen to android since it came out. I used Nova Launcher on top of it, to add some functionality but keep the stock ICS look (mainly I wanted the long press menu to pop up different options, the rest I kept the same as ICS). The battery is terrible, so I ordered an extra battery and battery charging dock.
The accessories are pretty blah, too. Dont even waste your time on the Car Dock samsung created. Terrible practicality, no extra funcionality, just buy a cheap universal car dock. I also miss my HDMI out without needing an adapter.
This phone doesnt sell a lot because verizon 1) doesnt advertise it and 2) train their employees on anything ICS, so the sellers are scared to sell it and people are scared to use it because it's "new". It's very intuitive, clean, and polished.
So why did i give this phone a 3/5? One answer: reception issues. Now, i'm not snobby when it comes to signal. I dont always expect amazing signal, but the fact is, the 3G-4G hand off is TERRIBLE with this device. The signal retention and recovery is terrible. I took road trips and my wife's RAZR had at least 2-3 LTE bars, and my phone was struggling to hang on to a signal in 3G. In some stores, i would have no reception, and she would be making calls. On my road trip from Minneapolis to Green Bay, I lost all data (still had voice capabilities) for 1.5 hours. No reason that should happen on Verizon on a major highway.
Before you go judging, i'm fairly tech savvy. I rooted, ROM'd, tried different ROMS, including the unofficial "official 4.04" to see if it helps, and also, I tried 2 Nexus's out, this was my second one. Much better than the first one I got, but still, just couldnt do it.
In the city, it wasnt bad. Around my city, the signal was strong, but very intermittent, as in, it would drop sometimes, esp when changing from 3G to LTE, which shouldnt really happen in the first place in the cities.
So basically, if you are fairly stationary, and dont rely on a strong signal, this phone is amazing. But Samsung and Verizon need to figure out why the radios in this thing suck. There's tons of threads about, some people have better experiences than others, but i gave it two shots, and hesitantly switched back to my RAZR MAXX cause the signal is way better, battery is awesome, but terrible screen compared to the Nexus.
Get it if you want the latest and greatest on Verizon, but I suggest either waiting for the next gen devices to get announced in q2 or q3, or get a Rezound or a RAZR if you want good signal.
on December 22, 2011
Ever since the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was announced by Google I was intrigued by it. Reading about it just made me want to get it but unfortunately Verizon Wireless took their time releasing it while the rest of the world got theirs. Well, after being patient I was able to get it from Amazon Wireless. First off, if I could rate Amazon Wireless I would also give them a 5/5 for excellent service and customer support. Thank you Amazon for a wonderful experience and by setting everything right. :)
I won't go into detail since there are many other reviews that pretty much did a good job in pointing the pros and cons of the wonderful phone, but I'll give a summary in a normal user's point of view.
Coming from a Droid Razr the first thing I am very happy about was the battery life. Both devices are 4G LTE devices but the Droid Razr sucked up so much juice that I was frustrated! I've had many types of Smartphones in the past and the Razr takes the cake in terms of poor battery life. Although the Razr had a nice thin body I prefer the beefier feel of the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy Nexus felt more secure in my hands than the Droid Razr.
I never tried the Nexus S but I did have the original Nexus One so I had some sort of standard to compare to. The Nexus One which was made by HTC was better built and compared to the Samsung version. Nonetheless it still exudes a Nexus type phone. Screen is clear and crisp and I think is one of he best screens out there. I tried watching 720 video on it and was blown away with the quality and sharpness. Amazing! And finally, Ice Cream Sandwich is everything I hoped it would be. It's so different from it's past versions but still similar in some things. There are small things that I have to get used to like accessing the properties page and what not. It's now on the upper right of the screen. No biggie like anything else it's just a matter of getting used to for the better.
Oh yeah in terms of storage and the fact that it doesn't have a Micro SD slot, it doesn't bother me because I never really used all that space. I have another device for music because I like to conserve as much battery life I can throughout the day because I work and commute in New York City. Some people might be put off with what Samsung did which I can understand but to me I don't use it so I can't deduct points on that.
Overall, I am very happy with the phone and look forward to seeing what else I can do with it. A++
on May 23, 2012
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is an amazing phone to be sure. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, even if it is not as large as the Note's screen. In terms of power, it's no slouch either. The 1.2GHz processor can really fly. On the outside it looks nice and feels nice. The camera, while not amazing, is more than passable, shooting pictures almost instantly. The speaker is a typical phone speaker, but does fine if the area is quiet. For a more in depth review on each part, read on.
Overall, I give this phone a 5 star review.
The outside of this phone is very well made. The display curves ever so slightly at the bottom to accommodate the bulge for the speaker and input/output at the base. While it is plastic, it is no slouch. Samsung's texturing on the back works and gives me a real sense of security when holding the phone. Now, my previous phone was an old LG slider that I now use as a doorstop, but the earpiece on that was comfortable. I don't know if it's just my phone or my ears, but if I press the phone to my ear, it is slightly uncomfortable. The speaker on the back is somewhat inconveniently placed, as I tend to cover it when I am typing in landscape mode, but to be entirely honest, I haven't really used it much since I purchased the phone. Having a few other miniUSB 2.0 devices is extremely nice, as the charging cord works for more than one. Some people have complained about the headphone input being sloped and revealing part of the headphone jack, but it does not affect the aesthetics from the front at all.
This part of the phone is probably one of the highlights. The 4.65" screens blacks are amazing, the Super AMOLED's working amazingly. Some people complained about the pixel arrangement on other Samsung phones, and this phone keeps that same PenTile display, though with the ~320 ppi density, it's not noticeable at all. (I have flashed a custom kernel, the franco.kernel, to this device, and there are ways to change the color ratios if you are unsatisfied.) Again, this screen blew me away when I saw it, and the lack of hardware buttons just makes the phone look like a seamless slab of curved glass. Beautiful. I don't have huge hands by any means, though I do play the violin, and my fingers are quite long. To me, this device is the perfect size for one handed and two handed use. It's big enough that it doesn't seem crowded, but small enough to be used by one hand if needed.
When looking at this device, quite a few quad-core phones had been released. Though they may provide that extra power for games and some videos, I found this phones' two 1.2GHz cores to be more than adequate. I have noticed no lag unless I severely underclock them, which I would not recommend as it saves a minimal amount of battery. (Personal recommendations on clock speeds: min 200MHz, max 1100MHz. Standard applications rarely bring the clock above 700MHz, the 1100MHz just give it a bit of leg room.)
I've used *NIX systems for about 3 years now, and the first thing that I installed on this was the Terminal IDE. It comes with a busybox install, and so, being curious, I opened it and started htop. The specifications say 1GB of ram, though for programs, you only have 695mb to work with. Not too bad, but a bit on the small side.
I haven't run any synthetic benchmarks with my current kernel and rom combination, though plenty are available on the web.
I'm going to bundle the battery into this section. The battery is nice. It doesn't get the 5 day usage that I could get from my doorstop, but it runs fine for a full day and then some, depending on how you use it. If you play games for 4 hours and expect to have 80% battery left, you're out of luck. One thing that I've noticed is that when charging via computer or outlet, the area above the battery where the camera is begins to heat up steadily. It doesn't get dangerously hot or anything, but it's noticeable when you have to hold it up to your ear.
Being a Nexus phone, this was made to showcase the newest Android technology. Sadly, Verizon is not updating their sorely outdated 4.0.2 Ice Cream Sandwich for the current 4.0.4 ICS. While a disappointment if you intend to flash custom roms and kernels that require the 4.0.3 or 4.0.4 ICS, it's not the end of the world. There are upgrades for this readily available, but as of this writing, they are not supported by Verison or Google. Besides this minor hiccup, the phone's standard UI looks amazing. The Super AMOLED display makes the blacks in ICS darker than pitch. Being that I use Linux, I was quite happy to use Android, as it affords me many of the same customization opportunities. I have used iOS, and at least for me, the Android UI wins hands down. Not just because I prefer the vanilla ICS over the iOS interface, but there are so many ways to customize the UI that iOS just lacks. Okay, this is an ICS review, not a comparison. The pulldown menu integrated into ICS is much more robust than I was expecting. It's easy to see what you need to see and get rid of it or view it.
The applications for Android are also exceptionally well done. Even those obviously made for the lower resolution screens scale up very nicely for this massive 720p display. Root access on this device is also easy, as it is a 'developer phone' more than a 'consumer phone,' and some of the 'developer options' in the menu are useful even when not working on Android applications. (The 'Show touches' option is very nice, though beware of any options that mention flashing the screen, and accidentally turning on the 'Show screen updates' option will result in a strobe effect that will possibly give you massive seizures.)
Something thing that I feel I should mention is the keyboard. The stock keyboard is a nice slate theme, dark, but not too dark, and the buttons are sized perfectly. After only a few days, I was easily able to touch type on the portrait keyboard. If you want a good keyboard for the terminal emulators available (some come with their own keyboard which is usually quite good), the Hackers Keyboard has a great 5 row arrangement with easy access to symbols and a tab button, exactly like a computer keyboard. With some slight tweaks, the keyboard I chose just works for me to administer a server from my phone via ssh. (Another place where I feel that Android excels and iOS falls behind.)
The camera is nice. That's pretty much all that can be said. It doesn't break any records at 5mp, but the pictures are nice enough that you can share them and not be embarrassed by how horrid they are. I didn't buy this phone for the camera, but taking pictures of my two cats and being able to share them is just a joy.
Phone speakers are not really meant to be used for music or videos, and it obviously has some major failings when doing either one, but on speakerphone the call quality is great. As I mentioned before, it's somewhat easy to cover while typing. It's not as loud as some other speakers, but it works for what it's made for.
on December 19, 2011
I waited months for this phone to come out, checking online everyday for any news on a release date. I really wanted to love this phone, but I just can't.
I purchased a Droid Razr for my husband and a Galaxy Nexus for myself a couple of days ago. When I leave work today, I will be exchanging my Nexus for a Razr.
First, the positive note. The Ice Cream Sandwich operating system is a beautiful thing. So many things just work better than earlier Android. Unfortunately, that is the only thing I have found to like about this phone.
When compared to the Droid Razr, the Galaxy Nexus comes up lacking in almost every way. First, The screen on the Razr actually looks better to me in a side by side comparison. The only way to match them at all is to turn the Nexus to maximum brightness, at which point you may have an hour of battery life with consistent use. The screen drains the majority of the battery life and it does so quickly.
Second, the speaker on the Galaxy Nexus at full blast is only as loud as the Razr turned down halfway. There is no way I will ever hear this thing ring in my purse and you can barely hear Youtube videos or music even with it right next to you.
Third, the signal quality and 3G do not work as well as the Razr. I had no 3G all day yesterday, but my husband's Razr had a perfect connection. Also, sitting side by side, the Razr had a full signal and the Nexus only had one bar.I restarted the Nexus several times and was still unable to access the internet on my phone.
Lastly, the camera on the Nexus is awful. Taking identical pictures with the Nexus and Razr was really disappointing. The Nexus pictures were grainy and dim, while the Razr pictures were sharp and defined. You could zoom in on a picture taken with the Razr and see the individual whiskers on my dogs nose. Try to zoom in on a picture taken with the Nexus and all you see is a blur.
I do not claim to be an expert on technology or cell phones. This review is just my opinion of this phone based on a side by side comparison. I really hate that the flaws outweigh the Ice Cream Sandwich yumminess but I will trade slightly superior software for vastly superior hardware.
on November 16, 2012
I bought this a few months ago in April 2011. After receiving an HTC smartphone for work, I can tell you the Nexus is one of the best phones on the market. It's super fast with a smooth, vivid screen and it's ridiculously thin. Yes, I was a little daunted by how big the phone is overall, but I quickly became used to it (even with my small hands). Not to mention, it acts wonderfully as a tablet.
The battery life seems to be the biggest issue with this phone. I ordered the extended battery from Verizon and can't believe it doesn't come with the phone already. I charge mine every night and it lasts through the following day. I'm fortunate that my car has a USB hub and my job requires me to drive all day so I can charge it at any time.
I haven't had any connection issues whatsoever. I live and drive all around Atlanta and haven't had any issues.
Overall, this is an excellent phone.
on December 19, 2011
Update: Dec 21, 2011
My recommendation, for those who can, is to get the pure google version of nexus for software update purposes as apparently updates to carrier based phones would have to receive carrier approval first before the update can be rolled out. This being a brand new OS on the brand new phone, direct link to Google would certainly help.
Alright been playing for an hour now, its simply amazing...4.0 is just sweet. Will update later, for ref I came from htc sensation, hd2, storm etc, n seriously considered sgs2, note.
Overall ICS, just amazing, the navigation, the folder option, everything.
Screen, just marvelous.
Size, perfect, optimal...for those who want as much screen real estate as possible, only Galaxy note owners may be happier.
Build quality, solid.
Speaker volume not as loud and crisp as Sensation.
Some data issues, can't download apps from Market sometimes for some reason. Getting around via wifi.
Signal issues, apparently not the strongest...expecting a patch for data and signal issues.
Minor but expected, short on accessories currently.
on January 31, 2012
Going on my third week with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. All I can say is that it does everything I needed and more.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a huge improvement over what I was previously using (Froyo). The Google Apps integrate in really well. It's easy to copy text in an email, paste it into a browser, and send a friend a link in an text.
The only thing I can't do is upload my Facebook contacts into my contact list. This isn't an issue because I had everybody I wanted already in my Google account, but it is something people should be aware of. I'm not sure if Google and Facebook will settle their differences and fix this. Battery life is decent.
I use my phone all day to surf the web and listen to music and I can't make it through an entire day on a charge but I guess this is what I expected so it hasn't been an issue. The phone is very responsive although I notice some lag if I have a lot of high power Apps open at once. It took me a while to get used to the size of the phone. My old phone (HTC eris) was so much smaller that this phone seemed enormous. After a week of use I hardly notice the size and because of the bezel and how thin the phone is I don't notice it in my pocket anymore then my Eris.
All in all I highly recommend the phone.
on February 28, 2012
This review is actually a response to the critical review by N. Gu.
Before I start, I want to just express that I also own a Galaxy Nexus, albeit the GSM version. That being said, my comments are based on the Verizon model.
Your issues with signal are somewhat misleading. Did you know that Verizon has had several well-reported 4G blackouts over the last few months? Check and see if this has affected you. As for poor signal overall, please see this anandtech article which explains that it's more a perception issue and an issue of how the phone hands off the signal between 3G and 4G.
Some of your other issues, such as soft speaker volume and lag have been addressed in the 4.0.4 software revision.
Battery life on the Galaxy Nexus really isn't any worse than any other LTE phone on the market when LTE is enabled (Droid MAXX exempt). It's recommended by most people to turn off LTE when you aren't using it. I'd use a widget for this. Also, let's keep in mind that the screen on this device is nothing short of massive. It you're going to use it with the screen on for that long, chances are you'll be near a charging cable. Use it. For normal cell phone usage throughout the day (calls, texts, moderate browsing and entertainment), it's just fine.
I do agree that the Camera quality isn't great compared to some of the newer phones on the market (see: iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, the latter of which I also own). I don't know enough on this to comment on why, but I assume it's got something to do with how it constantly builds a buffer of images instead of gathering the necessary light in low-light conditions. Daytime pictures are quite good.
That's pretty much the end of my response, but I want to point out some of the things I think set the Galaxy Nexus apart in a good way.
The screen. This screen is absolutely fantastic. End. The resolution is high enough to where you've got more detail than anybody with normal eyes could ask for. It's also AMOLED which means you get true blacks, fantastic contrast, and beautiful colours. I'll put it this way, if this phone didn't have the screen that it does, I would be incredibly sad. I love turning it on, I love looking at it.
The lack of physical buttons on the face of the devices: The beginning of software buttons in Android. Honestly, this review is taking a bit longer than I intended but I will say that there are numerous advantages to having the buttons as part of the display instead of on their own. Shortly, they are: They can disappear, change form, or change orientation. This is important, especially now that Android guidelines are pushing developers to add menu buttons to their apps. Legacy apps without menu buttons will have one automatically added to the software buttons on the device. Fantastic.
Finally, I want to say that having Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on this device completely makes up for any flaws it might have. ICS is an absolute joy to use. By leaps and bounds, it's the best Android version yet, and quite possibly the best mobile OS on the market. If you've tried other version of Android in the past but not yet ICS, give it a try. It's far superior.
This is the best Android smartphone currently available on Verizon's network. Hands down. Even if you're not on Big Red, this will soon be on Sprint and is available unlocked for *any* GSM carrier (ATT, TMO) unlocked from various online retailers.
PS: RGB notification lights are possibly the greatest thing ever. Thank you Google and Samsung for bringing them back to the high end smartphone arena.
I bought this phone the day it came out. My good friend does phone reviews for a living, so he gets sent all the new phones and tests them and writes aqbout them. I had bought the Bionic and he said I should take it back and wait for this one. I'm so glad I did! The phone has so many great featurs, and a few drawbacks also.
-Speed: on 4g this phone is FAST. You can browse web pages, play games, and more with extremely fast sppeds!
-Battery: The phone gets bad grades based on it's battery, but I honestly haven't had many problems. Yes, it dies much faster than say my origional Droid, but the screen is HUGE and I'm using it much faster. The trick with the batter is to turn everything off you're not using (GPS, WiFi, bluetooth) and make sure you're email and social networking programs aren't updating at really close intervals. Do you really need your facebook to update every 15 minutes or can you update it when you open the app? I set all my controls to conservative limits and have been able to easily make my phone last a day. My husband has the HTC Rezound and his battery dies 2x faster than mine.
-Adroid 4.0 OS (Ice Cream Sandwich): This is the best operating system by far (except a few minor issues I'll mention in the Cons). It is so much more customizable. Anyone who has data limits will appreciate the "Data Usage" section where you can track your usage a and how much data each app is using. This in itself is awesome if you have say a 2 gig limit and find yourself going over. Same with the "Battery" manager. It tells you exactly what's using battery on your phone so you can try to readjust settings on various apps to reduce their battery drain. I don't use the Face Unlock feature because I frankly would feel like a dork holding my phone up like I was taking a picture every time I wanted to unlock my phone.
-Design: This phone is sleek and thin. Even with a case on it it still looks good and feels good. I've heard some people complain that the plastic on the back feels cheap, but I honestly always have a case on it so don't notice it.
-Screen: This has a beautiful, crisp screen. I watch Netflix on my phone and do a lot of browsing and gaming and LOVE the screen. I think it can easily hold up to the iPhone retina screen. I also love that the buttons on the bottom (home, back and recent apps) disappear when watching a movie. That extra space really does help!
-Ability to disable bloatware: I don't need all of Verizon's crap on my phone, I love that I can easily disable it. My husband has all the stupid Verizon apps on his Rezound that I could easily disable. Love it!
-Sound: The sound quality is horrible. I always plug in headphones when watching movies or listening to music because the speakers are terrible.
-Lack of facebook integration: Seriously? What is going on here! I really miss having peoples facebook pic pop up when they called or having phone numbers from facebook populate acutomatically into my phone, or being able to access someone's facebook page and info from my contacts page. This was perhaps the biggest disappointment for me when I got this phone. Apparently it's all phones with Android OS 4.0, not just the Galaxy Nexus.
-Reception: When I'm standing next to my husband somewhere he'll be getting 4g with all the bars and I'll be in 3g with just one or two. Sometimes I can't even get reception and he can.
-Updates: Apparently this phone is supposed to be first to receive updates. Well I'm still running 4.0.2 and I know that 4.0.3 is out now with apparent upgrades to help with reception issues. Some web sites say this phone is going to go straight to 4.0.4, but I just expected us to get the first updates and am disappointed with this.
Overall I'm really glad I got this phone. After having it for a few months I wouldn't trade it for anything else out on the market and would recommend it to friends.
UPDATE May 29, 2012:
I'm still happy I got this phone over the other phones available at the time of purchase. I'm extremely frustrated with the connectivity! It takes forever to connect to 3g/4g. Sometimes I have to turn my phone off and on to get a signal. It drops calls quite frequently, very frustrating also. I am so happy I got a phone with a big screen though. I've been going to the gym and doing cardio and watching Netflix to pass the time, it's awesome to have a big, beautiful screen to watch on! I'm also frustrated with the lack of updates, my phone has not been updated yet and I've heard month after month that it's coming soon. I thought that was one of the benefits of getting this phone, be the first to get updates. I guess not. Anyway, still one of the best on the market, but be prepared for dropped calls and poor data signals.
on January 6, 2012
I was very torn between the Motorola Droid Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I wanted the benefits of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) but fell in love with the Razr's hardware from the first time I saw it.
I waited for the Galaxy Nexus, and I am far from disappointed, to say the least. I don't think it's too fair to focus just on the OS for this phone's review--many other Android phones will have 4.0 within a few months, so while it's a big selling point, it really shouldn't be the ONLY selling point.
The Galaxy Nexus (Nexus henceforth) is a very large phone, which may turn some individuals off from it. However, keep in mind that the massive screen size is also at the expense of the back, menu, home, and search dedicated hardware buttons that appear on most phones. This means that the screen size can be increased with less of an impact on the overall size of the phone. The size of the phone was one of the main reasons I hesitated upgrading from my original Moto Droid, but I have to say, due to the slim profile, it's not nearly the burden I expected.
Compared to my previous phone, which was built like a tank, the Nexus feels like a lightweight. It's not that it feels cheaply manufactured, but it certainly feels more fragile than I'm used to. I would imagine most smartphone users wouldn't notice this as much as me, given the heft of the original Droid, but it's worth mentioning. The phone feels nice in the hand, but despite the textured back, it can feel a bit slippery. It hasn't been a problem for me so far, but I have definitely noticed that the textured back is not very grippy.
Cell signal has been solid on the Nexus. I get about the same quality signal on my Nexus as I got previously on my Motorola Droid. When the bars are lower, the quality of signal (speed + reliability) remains high. I generally turn 4G off to save battery since I am not often in a 4G area. However, when 4G is enabled the speed is exactly what I would expect from Verizon: FAST.
The Nexus has slightly better than expected battery life. With a reasonable amount of use, I can get through an entire work day. 4G (which I generally leave off) may lessen the duration of the battery, but generally I find that I can make it through a full work day without needing to charge. (although I sometimes do anyway out of habit from my old phone's dying battery)
Speaking of the back of the phone, I am not a big fan of how the battery cover is removed and reattached. The cover is very flexible, but it does feel like it takes a bit too much force to pry it off or snap it back on. I wouldn't imagine it to be a problem, but it was startling the first time, when I installed the battery.
The screen is absolutely beautiful. In anything but direct sunlight, I have been extremely pleased with the colors and brightness of the screen. However, I tried holding it at an angle which reflected the sun more, and I basically couldn't see anything. Still, even outdoors in the bright sunlight, when not actively trying to make the screen look terrible, I was fine with its performance.
The camera is acceptable quality. It is good, but not great. It definitely doesn't match the camera from the newest iPhone, and there are other Android devices with better cameras, as well. I haven't had any issues with it, and I do like the ability to take photos more rapidly than I was able to on my older Android phone. I miss the dedicated hardware camera button found on my Droid, but because the lock screen has a shortcut to the camera, I'm finding that I adjusted quickly to not using a hardware button for the camera.
The sound is one of the weaker points, in my experience so far. I find myself wanting to turn the ringer/media volume up, even when it is maxed out, because the volume simply doesn't go that high. In-call volume was fine for me, even in a loud restaurant, but I have missed some notifications due to the volume being too low. This may not affect everyone--I have a tendency not to hear my phone anyway. This phone just seems a bit quieter than others I've used in the past.
The screen curvature was a strange thing to me, the first time I saw it. Honestly, it doesn't make much difference to me now. The Nexus is slim enough that I don't notice the curvature of the device in my pocket, unless I'm deliberately paying attention to it.
The review wouldn't be complete without at least some mention of the upgraded Android OS, so I will just mention a very small number of features I enjoy with the update, although that will barely scratch the surface of the new version's feature set.
The new lock screen is nice. Being able to switch to the camera directly from the lock screen is an interesting feature that I particularly enjoy. I don't use it that often, but when I do, I always think about how much longer it took on my old phone to get to the camera app and take my first picture. It's not instantaneous, but it's the closest I've seen on a phone so far. The panorama setting might come in handy, but I haven't put it to use yet, so I can't really comment. Facial recognition for the lock screen was good in my experience, but not something I'd want to use regularly, just based on personal preference. Frequent locking/unlocking using the camera will use (slightly) more battery than a slide to unlock, or password or pin, in most cases, and provides very little actual security, so I opt to use slide to unlock--also in part due to being able to unlock directly into the camera app.
App management has also been nicely revamped. Most things can be installed on the Nexus, but even stock apps like "My Verizon" can now be set to "Disable" which stops them from running, although they remain occupying your phone's storage space. Disabling also removes them from the app drawer, which is nice in my opinion. Grouping apps on your home screen allows you to store several apps in one "space" on the home screen. Tapping the top icon in this space expands the group as if opening a folder in Windows, showing all the shortcuts inside to various apps. The Nexus came configured with a "Google" app group, and I have since grouped several games into another group, as well as my Song ID (Shazam and Soundhound) into another group, so they don't take up as much home screen space.
The app switcher is probably my favorite feature of Android 4.0. Now pressing the app switcher button (one of the 3 on-screen buttons available at all times) shows an overlay including the name and a snapshot of all the apps you have recently run, allowing you to restore the state of those apps at any time. Swiping an app to the side removes it from the app switcher list. The number of apps available here is configurable in the setting, as well, in case you don't want too many background apps running at once. This has come in handy, although it has also made me aware that the back button no longer forces an app to close when exiting an app. It will still appear in the app switcher overlay, in most cases.
There are too many new features to really discuss at length at this time within Android 4.0. That is simply a taste of what's in store. There are changes to Android visuals, fonts, animations, notifications, and many other parts of Android. However, those will one day apply to any Android 4.0 phone. Therefore, I won't go any further into explaining them. Android 4.0 software reviews can be found all over the internet.
What is most important is that the Galaxy Nexus is a high quality phone. I WANT to rate this phone a 5/5, because I love it. However, part of that is likely bias from upgrading from the old Motorola Droid, which makes this phone shine even brighter. I do believe the Razr's hardware is slightly superior, but not enough that I would trade phones and wait for the Razr's 4.0 update. I very much enjoy my Galaxy Nexus, and am looking forward to the next 1-2 years of using it. The phone is definitely a 4-star device, maybe 5-star, depending on your preferences. It is definitely not perfect, but it's the best smartphone experience I've ever had, due to the combination of solid hardware and clean, usable software.