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Tech Report – Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The arrival of yet another new smartphone is hardly reason for headlines. Motorola, LG, HTC and the rest seem to produce a new phone every week. While the tech writers may still get excited, the rest of us just shrug our shoulders and carry on texting.

There are exceptions however. Everyone waits with baited breath for the annual reinvention of the iPhone, while phones like the Droid Bionic and HTC Thunderbolt – which both came out earlier this year – get attention for their size, speed, or unusual feature-sets.

And so it is with another landmark smartphone – the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung, which is available from Verizon starting today.

The Galaxy Nexus is different for a couple of reasons. First, it’s running Android 4.0 – better known as Ice Cream Sandwich – Google’s latest smartphone operating system. Secondly, it’s been optimized for sharing, which means easier networking and easier video chat, which is fast becoming the new benchmark for state-of-the-art smartphones.

Long time Android fans may be a little taken aback by the number of changes incorporated in Ice Cream Sandwich, but in a good way. Google is clearly striving for a level of standardization between Android phones and tablets and has fortunately decided that simpler is better. The redesigned menu lists, notifications, and settings all make perfect sense, and it will take only a few minutes for the seasoned Android user to feel right at home.

Although the sharing features are centered around the Google+ social network, they extend to almost every feature of the phone. Android Beam lets you share information from your phone whenever you get within an inch or two of another connected device, and Google Cloud makes sure you are always in sync and backed up.

In appearance, the Galaxy Nexus is a lot like Samsung’s Galaxy S series. The 4.65-inch screen displays wonderfully bright colors, and that sharpness is used to full advantage when streaming movies and viewing other HD content.

There is a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for photos and video, and another 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls. The Galaxy Nexus comes with a full-suite of built-in photo and video-editing tools, including some Photo Booth-style special effects that be both serious and silly.

But despite all these new features, the Galaxy Nexus would still be just another smartphone without Verizon’s 4G LTE super-fast network. Whether you are sharing, streaming, surfing, or video chatting, it all happens instantly and effortlessly. Although iPhone owners and others will tell you that 3G is all you need, a phone like the Galaxy Nexus tells you otherwise.

The Galaxy Nexus costs $299.99 and requires a two-year activation and data package. (For a limited time only, Verizon is offering an increased monthly data allowance of 4GB for $30 on all its 4G LTE smartphones. Other charges apply.)

Comment by PaulB, posted 12/19/2011, 9:51 AM:

Good article. Yes it is a good phone phone. But we also need to keep in perspective that Nexus is a developer phone. So it is not as consumer friendly. As well a new phone which means it does have some bugs. The biggest of which has to do with the 4G/3G radios. they seem to not have as good reception as other 4G phones like the HTC thunderbolt or Razr. However the Samsung Droid charge had the same problem when released but through a software update they fixed the radio problem and is a great.
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