Samsung Galaxy Nexus review: Opening new doors

GSMArena team, 30 December 2011.
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Android Market is unchanged

The Android Market has several scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. Actually, this is where the tabbed-UI trend in Android started.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Samsung Galaxy Nexus Samsung Galaxy Nexus Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The Android Market

Other than that, the Market is almost exactly the same as it is on Gingerbread (the only difference is that there's an on-screen Menu key at the top right corner). We weren’t big fans of the interface change, but it finally feels at home with Ice Cream Sandwich.

When downloading an application useful info on the app, like rating and comments along with the info, screenshots and demo videos by the developers. Before confirming the download, the Market will show you a screen of permissions required by the application.

There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).

You should have access to all of them - the ones not updated for ICS will run with that tiny Menu key cramped in the bottom right, but that's not a deal-breaker.

Conclusion

Google didn’t disappoint with the execution of Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Samsung did an excellent job with the hardware of the Galaxy Nexus.

It's probably only the second Nexus phone (after the Nexus One) that is really attractive to customers at large, rather than mostly to developers.

A new major version of Android is not the only first to its name, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is also the first globally available droid phone with a 720p screen. And what a screen it is - the 316ppi pixel density makes for an amazing image sharpness and completely hides the PenTile nature of the matrix.

Top-notch connectivity is also a big plus and the browser is hands down the most capable mobile browser currently available.

The camera resolution is the one department where the Galaxy Nexus falls short of the competition, potentially being a potential deal-breaker but we can assure you the Galaxy Nexus produces some excellent quality photos and videos.

You can always go for a Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II for a better camera but at the cost of screen size and resolution. Some variations of the S II like the Skyrocket i727 for AT&T or S II for T-Mobile have bigger screens (though not higher resolution). The Skyrocket has LTE too. The Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE has the same screen as the Galaxy Nexus and LTE, but it's a hard model to come by.

Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket i727 Samsung Galaxy S II T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II • Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket i727 • Samsung Galaxy S II T-Mobile • Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE

You don't have to look to Samsung for a good AMOLED though - the Motorola RAZR XT910 has a 4.3" SuperAMOLED screen with qHD resolution. The HTC Sensation XE uses an LCD screen, but it focuses on audiophiles anyway, with its iBeats headset.

US droid users can choose from the LG Nitro HD for AT&T (which has a 4.5" 720p AH-IPS LCD and is available for Bell Canada as the Optimus 4G LTE) and the HTC Rezound from Verizon (4.3" 720p S-LCD screen, and it’s a CDMA + LTE model just like the Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus).

Motorola RAZR XT910 HTC Sensation XE LG Nitro HD HTC Rezound
Motorola RAZR XT910 • HTC Sensation XE • LG Nitro HD • HTC Rezound

If size is no issue, the Samsung Galaxy Note is an interesting offering - its SuperAMOLED screen measures 5.3" and has an even higher resolution (800x1280). Then there's the more powerful chipset, the better camera and the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Note
Samsung Galaxy Note

Note that none of these have Android Ice Cream Sandwich yet. In fact, no other phone has it - some of them will be getting it at some point sooner or later, but you can't have it now.

Finding an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is proving tough, especially if you live outside the US or South Korea. It's a phone that can go head to head with the current leaders and win most of the time. It will be surpassed eventually by the coming next-generation flagship droids, but it will never be a bad choice.

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