Just to start off, yes, I am aware that this is an older phone, and that its successor the Nexus 4 has been out for a while too, but this phone is still worth talking about. Some people, or should I say most people, out there have been waiting ages to have their Nexus 4 delivered, while others have been waiting to even be able to order the device itself. So for the time being, the Galaxy Nexus is still a viable option for a pure android OS experience.
Since they are older, you can get them on the cheap through second hand websites and from carriers that are still offering it. I won’t bother to state the specs of this one other than it being the 16GB model that I specifically have been using. I will also be leaving out carrier issues, as that would be different for everyone.
Now although the phone offers a pure android experience, it doesn’t come with the latest version of Jelly Bean, instead it still features 4.1.1 at its most recent update, but other than the google search cards function and the multiple user accounts setting, there isn’t that much more to offer in the minor update to Jelly Bean.
Just so that everyone is clear on this I did switch from an iPhone 4S to this phone, so the majority of this review will be a comparison of the two devices.
When considering the means by which you connect the Galaxy Nexus to your computer, it took me some getting use to. Because I am a Mac user, I had to download the Android File Transfer program from http://www.android.com/filetransfer/ which was ok, considering Apple works with iTunes, Android should have computer software attached to it. But this program makes the phone function more like an SD card that is having content saved to it.
Because I have been in the Apple ecosystem for almost 8 years, a lot of my content was from the iTunes store, so any movies, tv shows, apps, and music videos I had purchased there were not transferable to the Galaxy Nexus, but the music, and video content I had from other sources were still usable on my Android defies. If the Google Play store offered a bigger variety in good content then it wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but software has room to grow, and needs time to do so also.
In reference to physical features of the phone that I enjoyed or found fault with, the list is large. First, I just didn’t like the placement of the two cameras. The back facing camera just took up way too much space on the back of the phone, and caused it to stick out further than the rest of the body. The front facing camera was just kinda weirdly placed, off to the top right corner, instead of being closer to the centre top, which would be better for video calling, at least in my mind. The screen is absolutely massive and it greatly surpassed the old iPhone 3.5 inch display. It is also fairly responsive and a breeze to navigate through. I liked also that the back plate was an easy snap off design, and that the battery was of standard cellphone design, so it could be easily replaced. The only issue with the battery is that NFC is built into it, so you need to make sure you buy the proper replacement. The speakers on the phone though, were just not that good, very weak even, and they did leave something to be desired. With the large screen real-estate, also comes a pretty large form factor. The Galaxy Nexus has a plastic bezel that is not too easy to grip, and I find that in cold weather, trying to handle this device can lead to an accidental dropping. I like that it has no physical buttons on its surface and instead they opted to go with software virtual buttons. Lastly, the phone’s connector is just your standard micro USB, which is a big plus to all of use with a million extra micro USB cables just lying around.
To get to my final decision on the rating for this device, I took all of my comments into consideration and just rated it fairly. The Galaxy Nexus does offer a pure android experience, its standard tech specs are still quite amazing, and its ease of use is only beaten by the iPhone (so that is still a plus). The physical design at times was a benefit and a hinderance, and the growing Google Play ecosystem still needs time to flourish, and its lacking expandable storage also isn’t that good considering all the other android devices with expandable storage. In the end, I place the Galaxy Nexus on the scale at 3.5/5 just between the rating for the Galaxy Discover that I posted last month, and the rating for the iPhone 4S that I place at a 4/5. In my mind, no smartphone has reached a perfect 5/5 yet.