Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)
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- 4G LTE-enabled smartphone with Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS, 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display, and dual-core 1.2 GHz processor
- Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking (with optional Wi-Fi Mobile Hotspot service); Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities
- 5-MP camera; full HD 1080p camcorder; front-facing video chat camera; Bluetooth stereo music; 32 GB memory; corporate and personal e-mail
- Up to 12 hours of talk time, up to 150 hours (6.25 days) of standby time; released in December, 2011
- What's in the Box: handset, rechargeable battery, wall/USB charger, stereo headset, quick start guide
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Samsung Galaxy Nexus SCH-i515 - 32GB - Gray (Verizon) Smartphone
The world's first smartphone running on Android 4.0 (a.k.a., Ice Cream Sandwich), the 4G LTE enabled Galaxy Nexus by Samsung for Verizon brings a redesigned user interface with enhanced multitasking, notifications, full Web browsing experience, and more. You'll also enjoy innovative, next-gen features such as Face Unlock, which uses facial recognition to unlock the Galaxy Nexus.
Powered by Android 4.0 and a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor (view larger).
4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED Contour Display (view larger).
The Galaxy Nexus is outfitted with a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED Contour Display (with curved glass), 5-megapixel camera with zero shutter lag and Full HD 1080p video recording, and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls on the go. It's powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor that speeds up your web browsing, gaming, and multitasking.
The Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Broadband network provides speeds up to 10 times faster than Verizon Wireless' 3G network. With 4G LTE, you'll enjoy simultaneous voice and data capabilities, allowing you to check e-mail, browse the web, download an app, and check directions on Google Maps while on a call. You can expect fast download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G LTE mobile broadband coverage areas (learn more about 4G below).
You can share your high-speed 4G LTE connectivity with multiple devices--laptop, another phone, MP3 player, and more--via Wi-Fi using the built-in Mobile Hotspot functionality (additional service charge applicable). And the Galaxy Nexus is outfitted with ultra-fast Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking as well as next-generation Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity.
The new Android Beam feature (using NFC connectivity) allows you to quickly share Web pages, apps, and YouTube videos with friends by simply tapping compatible phones together. You'll also enjoy easy access to a full complement of Google mobile services, including Gmail, Google Maps 5.0 with 3D maps, syncing with Google Calendar, a redesigned Google＋ app, and access to more than 300,000 apps in the Android Market.
Other features include a virtual onscreen QWERTY keyboard with enhanced auto-correction and touch recognition for a more natural feel, 32 GB of internal memory, 1 GB of RAM, and up to 12 hours of talk time.
Advanced Photography and Video Recording
The Galaxy Nexus has a full-featured 5-megepixel camera with automatic focus, top-notch low-light performance, and zero shutter lag. Open it right from your lock screen, and fire off a photo instantly. You can also take beautiful panorama pictures--just point and touch the shutter and pan your phone from one side to another. Android immediately stitches together an expansive panorama photo, ready to share.
A full-featured photo editor lets you add filters and effects, adjust color, straighten, reduce red eye, crop, rotate, flip, and even doodle on your favorite photos--right after you take them. Your edits are saved as a copy, so you can always get to the original.
Your photos can upload themselves with Instant Upload, which makes it much easier to share them with family and friends. If you've signed up for Google+, you can enable Instant Upload and share photos with anyone you choose.
Shoot video in Full HD 1080p, and snap still shots while you're at it. Continuous focus, real-time zoom, and time-lapse mode give you the power to shoot stunning videos. When your footage is ready, create your own movie with Movie Studio and upload it to YouTube. When you shoot videos, you can choose from a number of silly faces and other fun effects. Galaxy Nexus is smart enough to recognize individual facial features--give your friends big eyes, squeeze heads, make noses bigger. Or change the scenery with background replacement.
The Galaxy Nexus by Samsung weighs 5.29 ounces and measures 5.33 x 2.67 x 0.37 inches. Its 1850 mAh lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 12 hours of talk time and up to 150 hours (6.25 days) of standby time. It runs on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, as well as EV-DO, Rev A 3G and CDMA 800/1900 frequencies where 4G LTE is not available.
What's in the Box
Galaxy Nexus by Samsung handset, rechargeable battery, wall/USB charger, stereo headset, quick start guide
Organize your home screen with folders.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich Operating System
The Galaxy Nexus runs the Android 4.0 operating system (dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich), which adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing while improving on the best Android features: easy multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and more.
The new Ice Cream Sandwich interface features an onscreen navigation bar that replaces the hardware buttons for Back, Home, and Menu found with older Android-powered phones. And with Google+ integration, you can video chat with groups of up to 9 friends as well as easily upload and share photos and videos. Other features include:
You can now unlock your phone with just your face using the Face Unlock option. It takes advantage of the front-facing camera and state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to register a face during setup and then to recognize it again when unlocking the device. Just hold your phone in front of your face to unlock (or use a backup PIN).
And the lock screen now lets you do more without unlocking. From the slide lock screen, you can jump directly to the camera for a picture or pull down the notifications window to check for messages. When listening to music, you can even manage music tracks and see album art.Home Screen Folders
Quickly access related apps right from the home screen by organizing apps and shortcuts into folders--just drag one app onto another to create a folder.Multitasking
Multitasking is even easier and more visual in Android 4.0. The Recent Apps button lets you jump instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently--tapping a thumbnail switches to the app.Voice Input
The new voice engine in Android 4.0 lets you dictate the text you want, for as long as you want, using the language you want. You can speak continuously for a prolonged time, even pausing for intervals if needed, and dictate punctuation to create correct sentences. As the voice input engine enters text, it underlines possible dictation errors in gray. After dictating, you can tap the underlined words to quickly replace them from a list of suggestions.
The Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network allows you to download photos, apps, and games in seconds and entire movies in minutes. LTE (or Long Term Evolution provides significantly increased upload and download speeds over 3G networks, as well as significantly reduced latency (or lag time). Verizon Wireless expects 4G LTE average data rates to be 5-12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2-5 Mbps on the uplink in real-world, loaded network environments.
With these blazing fast speeds, you'll be able to stream HD movies without the annoyance of constant pauses to buffer the video stream--as well as quickly download HD-quality movies right to your phone in minutes. Additionally, you'll be able to download a new song file in about 4 seconds or upload a photo to your favorite social networking site in about 6 seconds.
The Verizon Wireless 4G LTE mobile broadband network will also redefine the mobile office for business users. Business applications that used to require wired networks will be untethered forever, allowing you maximized productivity and efficiency while you're out of the confines of your office. Enhanced security lets you tap into most VPN networks with less waiting, and faster responsiveness enables you to upload 10 MB presentations back to your team in less than 25 seconds.
In areas serviced only by 3G, you can expect download speeds of 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps and upload speeds of 500 to 800 Kbps in Mobile Broadband coverage area.
Also Available for This Android Device
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No matter what I do, it doesn't see a network. I'm not talking WiFi I'm talking LTE, the Wifi is working fine and I was able to login to my google account just fine. The problem is with the LTE network, there are no bars showing and I am in the heart of Boston. All my phones have full bar reception...I added my sim card and still nothing happens. I even went through manually setting it up online with VW by changing my current phone EID to the Nexus (which isn't neccessary) but it still doesn't connect. It's like there is no antenna. I'm still hopeful that there's something I'm missing and it all can be corrected soon.
Okay, Part 2
Nothing I did could correct the problem I'm having. It doesn't see any Network and therefore, will not connect to Verizon. It also has the worst battery problem I've seen and the connector is questionable. Since the listing shows that they are currently out of stock I'm gonna have to return it.
There are phones with bigger screens (Galaxy Note), faster CPUs and GPUs (Rezound), thinner profiles (RAZR), more memory and longer battery life, but the Galaxy Nexus (Verizon's LTE version) puts a respectable amount of everything together into one package, and leaves me practically nothing to complain about.
IN SUMMARY: This may turn into one of my longer reviews, so in a nutshell: BIG, but comfortable to hold, though begs to be used with two hands. Screen is awesome (bright and crisp) & keyboard is accurate. No problems with signal coverage. Average volume levels. Smooth & fluid Android interface feels polished. Camera very good, but vid cam has a lot of issues. "Typical" LTE battery life i.e. widely variable depending on usage, AT BEST a whole day on one charge.
Android 4.0 Operating System:
Outstanding: The OS feels integrated, speedy and mostly intuitive. Face unlock isn't just a gimmick, it's mostly reliable (though not in bad light), and it's very swift in getting me to the home screen. Swipe-like gestures similar to Palm's failed Web OS are carried over to manage and switch recent apps. The ability to expand widgets and personalize screens is not only fun, but really useful -- for instance, I set up a screen for "home" where I'm more interested in the weather, Facebook & G+ updates, and feeds from my bike forum, whereas my "work" screen has quick access to certain web sites and apps that I use regularly. Icon animations for screen transitions are subtle but just enough to give the front end interface a sort of 3D effect. The selection of "live" backgrounds is neat, but a few of the more graphically intensive ones slow the phone down just a bit -- and as great as they look, I still opt for corny (and static) photos of the kids. Hopefully, this being a Nexus device, new OS updates will come regularly and quickly from Google, without delay from Verizon -- but be aware that this may be a bit of a beta device since it sees the first wide distribution of everything.
You'll need to know that because the operating system is new, there will initially be application incompatibilities. This isn't a knock against the Galaxy Nexus -- it's something early adopters of a new platform should expect. I expect this to last only a short while, because new Android 4.0 devices are in the pipe for release in the coming months.
Phone & Signal:
For starters, I like 4.0's big "clean" dial pad. And it's also easy to dial from any of my contacts, as they culled from all sources (personal Gmail, company email via Exchange, G+). But I prefer to use voice dial because I'm often driving when calling, and I'd prefer voice confirmation ala BlackBerry (Android 4.0 still requires me to look at the screen to confirm). External speaker sound quality is loud enough for most uses, but just slightly quiet & flat compared to other phones (not a problem over my Bluetooth visor-mounted speakerphone or headset), and my voice quality is apparently clear and loud on the receiving end. I live and work in a well covered urban area, so signal strength is rarely a problem with any phone. However, I do have a couple of "dark spots" in the remote areas of where I work, and the GN hasn't dropped a call on me yet. LTE coverage has been equally strong with fantastic data speeds, fantastic, *but* Verizon's 4G antenna is literally attached to the building I work in. It's not enough to say "faster than dialup" as in some respects it is faster than my home cable (longer latency times, however).
(Note 1/22/12: There have been numerous reports (confirmed by Verizon) of signal problems in either fringe coverage areas or inside buildings. I, personally, have not experienced any problems with this either with dropped voice calls (CDMA/1X) or dropped data connections (LTE/3G) BUT there is a short "no data" time out when the phone switches from LTE to 3G, or vice-versa. HOWEVER, out of curiosity checked my 3G signal strength in Settings > About (LTE must be switched to OFF to read 3G signal strength, otherwise 4G reception will be displayed) and observed the Nexus consistently -10 to -15 dBm WEAKER than some other Verizon Android & BlackBerry devices I had access to. And to restate, I am in a well-covered area and have had ZERO issues with connectivity.)
It wasn't too long ago that I scoffed at the notion of a "good" camera in cell phone, but more and more I've come to rely on the photo shooter that is **always** with me -- and the Nexus is a sharp shooter. Switching to camera mode and shot-to-shot times are off the hook quick, and the output is excellent. Yes, it's an itty-bitty lens and the low-light shots still require a very steady hand as well as a steady subject. Dynamic range is still a challenge in situations that include bright highlights combined with dark shadows. But focus is usually sharp, colors are mostly accurate not overly bright, and grainy "noise" is kept to a minimum -- mainly in shadowy details. While the lens + sensor can't freeze a busy kid in a modestly lit indoor situation, the super fast shot-to-shot times nearly guarantees that at least one shot will come out without motion blur.
"But only 5 megapixels?" Meh... compared to previous phones, these photos look --GRRreat-- at the typical resolutions I view them at on my 24" home PC monitor after uploading to Picasa and Facebook. The flash is wonderfully bright and will adequately light a pitch-black subject, though will over-illuminate a subject that is too close. And photos automatically upload off my phone into the ethereal "cloud" via my G+ account, almost like a Eye-Fi SD Card but one better! And with built-in editing, I can crop, filter and "fix" my pix before I share them.
The camera is, without question, more complicated to use than any other current phone, but in that complication some flexibility is offered. The very fast shutter fires on release (not on press), and the exposure seems to be center-weighted (meaning that the lighting conditions at the center of the image will determine how the picture is exposed). This allows a 5-step picture taking process in difficult lighting situations (i.e. brightly backlit scene):
- 1. Pan the camera around the subject to achieve the on-screen exposure I desire
- 2. Press and hold the shutter button to lock the exposure
- 3. (while continuing to hold the shutter release) recompose the shot, if desired
- 4. (while continuing to hold the shutter release) tap on the subject I want the camera to focus on, which may not be what I originally aimed at or may no longer be in the center of my frame (if desired)
- 5. release the shutter release to fire the shot
Alternatively, I can just blast away at the shutter release and hope to get the shot I want. Honestly, outdoor shots come out great with not so much as a quick press of the shutter release. Decently lit indoor shots and flash shots where subjects are a few arm lengths away are *pretty good* without too many exceptions. It's those close-in flash shots and dynamically lighted shots that take time and attention to shoot well.
The video camera, on the flip side, leaves a bit to be desired. The picture is presents is "clean," but the rolling shutter aka "Jello Effect" is most definitely present when panning slowly. There's a sort of wobble that appears that may be an artifact of some sort of electronic image stabilization. There's also a problem of intermittent stutters / pauses -- not bad, just very short and noticable. It's less noticeable when shooting in 720p at 30 frames per second, versus the HD 1080p @ 24 FPS mode. And lastly, there's a weird fish-eye effect when panning smoothly IF any objects are in close range; not as evident on long shots. If you're planning on using the video camera function a lot, you'll want to check this out in person before buying -- or see if a software update can correct some of these issues. On the plus side, I can attest that the video images are sharply focused and with good coloration.
I absolutely LOVE the YouTube app on this, which is seamlessly integrated with my desktop YouTube favorites and subscribed lists. Videos expand to take full advantage of the 4.65" screen, and have just minimal buffering at the intro (assuming a 4G or WiFi connection), with no blockiness or artifacting/pixelation associated with my previous phone. Or, with Adobe Flash installed, I can access desktop versions of sites such as ABC or NBC to watch full episodes of TV programs.
The stock browser is very speedy and really makes alternates such as Opera Mobile and Dolphin HD unnecessary and, frankly, clunky. Pages pinch zoom smoothly and without lag. Scrolling is equally smooth. Tapping on zoomed text columns reformat them to fit the width of the screen, to eliminate side-to-side scrolling. With Flash installed and Desktop mode selected in the User Agent settings, I have access to just about everything I can browse on my laptop. However, there are some pages which it doesn't render correctly (actually, just one in particular that I use for work) that necessitates Dolphin. Also, there's a browser called ICS Browser Plus available on Android Market that takes the stock Android 4.0 browser and expands on its "Quick Controls," which I highly recommend if you opt to use the browser's full-screen mode.
Mounted in a Cygnett DashView Universal car mount (not yet available on Amazon), the Nexus makes a very capable personal navigator, complete with moving maps, a very fluid display that zooms in and out of the maap, voice commands, and a very capable voice search function that rivals anything from Garmin. Alternate routes are either one or two screen presses away, and factor in real-time traffic from major freeways and minor surface streets alike. Estimated travel times are good within a few minutes (usually overestimated), but not as accurate as my dedicated Garmin (with OTA traffic) or my BlackBerry Traffic app.
One complaint is that the voice search isn't integrated with my phone's phone book, so while it's easy to say "Navigate to Memorial Stadium," with expected results, I can't say "Navigate to Home" or "Navigate to John Smith's Home" (as an example of a personal contact). Navigating to contacts' addresses requires a few extra steps, and can be "starred" (favorited) in Google Maps for quick selection from inside the Nav application. Another complaint is that running the Nav app with the screen + GPS + data running the entire time sucks a lot of juice, and a standard 500mA car charger can't keep up. At minimum, have a high-output Motorola Rapid Rate Charger, or something with similar charging currents, on hand for navigation use.
The the Nav app's credit, if the data connection is lost, my route and the associated maps are all pre-cached, so as long as I stay on-course, I continue to receive turn-by-turn directions.
I may be among the minority, but I am excited about Google's new approach to memory management with this device. One solid block of 32GB means there's no more selecting between an SD memory card or internal storage for audio, video, program and data files. This should put an end to filling up all available space on the internal storage, yet left with gobs of unused gigabytes on the external card.
This memory management change necessitated the removal of USB mass storage mode from the device, but the new transfer protocol works great with Windows 7 & XP (your mileage may vary with other operating systems, including older versions of Windows, and will reportedly not play nicely with USB in-car entertainment systems in Ford & probably other vehicles, although streaming over Bluetooth still works).
I was a little concerned this phone would be too big, and was even more concerned my wife would find it a problem. It turns out there's a bit of a trade-off: It's slimmer and lighter than either of our previous phones, and the amount of screen real estate is exciting. I take no issues with the build quality -- it feels very refined and techy, not "chunky" like some heavier and/or rubberier phones. This is definitely a challenging device to type on one handed. Just checking emails or flicking through photos of a bookmarked website is one thing, but trying to bat out a quick text message or any other sort of keyboard input practically necessitates two hands. This is nothing new for somebody switching over from a keyboard phone (like my wife's Palm Pre+) but a bit of a change coming from a smaller touchscreen phone with a capable one-thumbable portrait keyboard. And for what it's worth, this is a really easy, uncrowded QWERTY keyboard for my big thumbs to tap on -- even in portrait mode!
I've parked mine in an Otterbox Defender case and, while it fattens the Nexus by a factor of two, the phone's slim build is the only thing that made such a beefy case palatable. You can follow that product link to my review, if you're interested.
Gorgeous. Stunning. Big. Crisp. Bright. Sensitive. Tiny text is crystal clear and easy to read. Colors are very rich and black really is inky black (evident when playing back a movie with dark scenes). If you heard something negative about the "pentile" display this phone uses based on similar displays released recently on phones from Motorola, stop into Verizon and check one out for yourself before forming an opinion. If I have one criticism, it's why is it so difficult to get auto dimming to work correctly?
This is tough to rate. I've been subjecting my LTE Nexus to what I would consider abnormally high usage in the couple weeks that I've had it (1750mAh battery -- 100mAh lower than what the retail phones shipped with) and I can say this with certainty: if you're either tethering or using Verizon's mobile WiFi Hotspot feature, expect to either plug this in to the charger, or run down the battery in a matter of hours. For normal day-to-day use with a handful of phone calls, some data consumption / web browsing + camera use, getting through an 8-hour workday is no problem, and there are days where I can make it to bed with 20% left on the battery, and others when I need a boost as soon as I'm in the car after work. Seems like a pretty typical LTE device, from what I know of this phone's LTE predecessors. It's certainly no "all day and then some" a la BlackBerry, if that's the battery life you're used to. And definitely worse than the GSM version of this same phone.
I have since picked up Samsung's Extended 2100mAh Battery (direct from Verizon by dialing (star)611), and must say that the slight 1- to 2-hour increase in runtime is appreciated.
Google's "Nexus" Promise:
There are newer/better/faster devices not too far down the road featuring the Android 4.0 operating system and improving on what Samsung delivered here. But what hooked me is the promise of regular updates directly from Google for the lifepan of this device, with very minimal interference or influence from Verizon -- just like they've done with previous Nexus devices. I hope that's how it plays out, because the next hot phone can't be that many weeks away, but chances are it's going to be packed Verizon's bloatware and infrequent updates. Your mileage, of course, may vary. ;-)
The Competition (Nexus vs. the HTC Rezound):
I hesitate in posting this, because it's very limited in terms of all the other devices available out there, and will surely be out-of-date in a matter of weeks as new phones are announced. But I gave a good, hard look at the HTC Rezound when it came time for me to buy, and it was not an easy decision.
The Rezound has a more naturally colored picture, with the same high resolution. The blacks aren't as deep, and the whites aren't as bright, but the LCD display has just a slightly finer focus to it (without getting too technical, I believe due to the pixel arrangement). In theory, the Nexus has an advantage outdoors in bright sunlight (I didn't test a Rezound outdoors).
The Rezound has a Snapdragon S3 clocked at 1.5 GHz, but I found the Nexus to have a snappier feel to it. HTC uses their "Sense" skin on the Rezound, and it seems that that has a high overhead requirement. For instance, when looking at available system memory after a fresh boot-up, nearly half is already in use by the system. There's no telling when Android 4.0 hits the Rezound WHAT Sense is going to look like then (could be better, could be worse, in terms of system overhead requirements).
The Rezound's camera is fabulous. Where the Nexus shoots more muted colors (some might say "natural"), the Rezound's photos have a richer appearance. The Nexus also has a tendency to blow out highlights (i.e. whites, brights and light skin tones become the same shade of white). This, I believe, will be resolved with a minor correction in the software, and as is, I firmly believe the Nexus photos stand up well on their own and are generally very good -- but the Rezound is undeniably a notch or two better.
The Rezound's external speaker is slightly (just) louder than the Nexus', but also has a wider dynamic range. Playing identical audio from the two phones side-by-side, it's not entirely evident which is louder, but the Rezound is definitely a fuller sound.
The Rezound is thick and has a smaller battery. Only 4mm thicker than the thickest part of the Nexus, and only 230mAh smaller battery, but the external battery (2700mAh) makes the phone extremely fat.
The Rezound uses a 16GB removable SD card (included) to supplement the 16GB of internal memory, to match the Nexus' 32GB. As I wrote in my review, I'm a fan of the single partition system the Nexus is using, so two partitions in the Rezound is a bit of a negative for me, but according to popular opinion I am in the minority here. Also, the Rezound will mount as a traditional USB mass storage drive when plugged into a PC or car audio dock, whereas the Nexus is USB Host (USB OTG) and may result in a few extra hurdles for OS's other than Windows 7.
The Rezound -- no two ways about it -- definitely shows stronger 3G signal reception (in dBm's, not bars) than the Nexus. Again, I have no connectivity problems to complain about -- this Nexus has been a dream both with voice calls as well as data -- but I don't doubt some complaints I've read of owners experiencing dropped calls in fringe areas.
The Rezound has HTC's track record of infrequent, often tardy OS updates. I am heavily attracted to the Nexus due to Google's direct support of this product over its expected 2-year life cycle.