Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Three: Hands-on review

By Shem Pennant,

Three were so excited about the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the flagship Android phone, that they sent me one to cast my weary eye over for a week or so. So how is the new hotness?

Samsung and Google left little out of the guts of the Galaxy Nexus. Inside the device you’ll find a dual-core TI OMAP 4460 CPU clocked to 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, 32GB or 16GB of storage (I tested a phone with 16GB), and the usual assortment of radios (Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS). The device is also equipped with an NFC chip, as well as a compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and barometer.

Galaxy-Nexus-Hands

Smartphone cameras are rapidly getting better and better and are being called upon to do more heavy lifting. The camera on the rear of the device is a 5-megapixel shooter with a companion single LED flash, while up front there’s a 1.3-megapixel camera. A year ago I might have felt this camera was amazing. Now I merely find it so so. Performance was sub-par in low light and it regular conditions it lacked the “wow” of iPhone 4S, but still really good. I am merely whelmed by it. However the built in Hipstamatic/Instagram functionality is pretty cool and the in camera editing facilities are excellent – knocking the pants of the modest offerings of iOS5.

Settings in general are great – a nice addition to Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest incarnation of Android. It’s really easy to pop in and edit settings on most pages and there lots of little dials I can hit. This is much, much better than the iOS system of having to hunt through the settings menu to find things.

As someone who fell foul of O2’s “unlimited data” when using Spotify for the first time, the ability to monitor and restrict data usage was a godsend and it’s great to be able to set hard limits for data usage to prevent hefty fees.

The Nexus uses face recognition to unlock the screen, which is clearly a gimmick but is also fun. I tried with a picture of Milli Vanilli and it didn’t work, so it’s a useful way of settling lots of “you look just like X” type arguments.

The battery life is about a day, which is acceptable in this age of lowered expectations.The screen is huge, which is wonderful for gaming and photo viewing yet annoying for day to day use.
Multi-tasking on the Nexus however was brilliant. There is a dedicated software button (if there can be such a thing) on the side that lets you jump in and out of multi-tasking. There is a swipe gesture that lets you flick away tasks. Multi-tasking uses a large thumbnail of the screen rather than an icon. Again this is much better than iOS’s little tray of icons system – at least in terms of user friendliness.

Overall, everything was very fast and responsive and oversized screen aside, delightful to use. The mobile browser was quick and played nicely with 3’s mobile network across East London.

For more about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus head to Three