Review Samsung Galaxy Nexus by kafaakBlog
In my country, Thailand, Samsung Galaxy Nexus received a warm welcome from Thai users. I don’t know how many have been sold, but I heard it was a lot.
The first time I had my hands on Galaxy Nexus was when I attended Samsung Galaxy Note World Tour last year. I was very excited. But, what’s so exciting about it? Because it’s Nexus!
As many of Android users may already know, the Nexus family is the official Android smartphone from Google which guarantee that the OS can be updated to the latest version.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus First Touch
As mentioned earlier, this is not really my first time touching it. But I shall recall and share that experience with you guys here.
There are so many changes to the latest Nexus. The display is the 4.65 inches gorgeous HD Contour Super AMOLED with 1280×720 (HD) resolution. The display ratio is 16:9. Best fit for watching HD movies. Of course, it’s capacitive touchscreen and is capable of detecting touch 10 points simultaneously.
The glass used is not Corning® Gorilla® Glass, but is said to be scratch resistant. Since I couldn’t find any information about it, I decided to test it myself.
This time there is no physical button at the front panel. With the latest Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, comes soft keys: Back, Home and App Switcher (what’s missing are menu and search buttons). Galaxy Nexus features 2 cameras: 2 megapixels at the front and 5 megapixels at the back with LED Flash. The back cover is said to made of the durable hyper skin. See who durable it is in th video clip below.
Galaxy Nexus comes with 1,850 mAh battery. Not much for smartphone with such a big HD Super AMOLED display. However, I concluded after spending a week with it that the battery can last 4-4.5 hours on 3G network.
Specification and Performance
Check Google website and you will get the full specification for Galaxy Nexus. Please note that the one being sold in Thailand has the same specification as in UK. You will find a little different specification in US.
What are the selling points for Galaxy Nexus?
- HD Contour Super AMOLED display with 1280×720 pixels resolution.
- The first of Nexus family to use dual-core CPU (Texus Instrument OMAP 4460).
- LED notification in 3 colors.
- Zero-lag shutter 5 megapixels camera. Video recording with face detection.
For number-lovers, here are the results from various benchmarking softwares.
For dual-core CPU device, Quadrant Advanced’s score is not quite high because it’s powered by TI OMAP 4460 instead of Samsung’s Exynos. But overall the scores are fine and should be able to run all 3D games just fine.
Ice Cream Sandwich UI
The UI got a major change. Instead of 4 standard physical keys, Galaxy Nexus comes with 3 soft keys like I mentioned ealier. In my opinion, the reasons behind the missing 2 buttons are:
- Search button is a button that users rarely use for quite some time. Google also replace the Google Search widget with a permanent search bar at the top of every home screen.
- Menu button is not really missing. We just don’t see it. However, you can find menu button appears as a 3-small-dot icon beside the App Switcher button.
Don’t worry. It seems that if manufacturer still want to make a phone with physical buttons, it can be done and Ice Cream Sandwich will not show the soft key.
I like it when I put shortcuts on the home screen into a folder. It’s much more beautiful than in iOS. You can use the space available in home screen more effeciently this way.
Just like in Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich also support widget resize. Just tap the widget and hold it for a couple of seconds. Once you see a thin blue line around the widget you can resize it by dragging the small dot to resize the widget. But please note that not all widgets can be resized.
Now Ice Cream Sandwich can capture screen…
At last, Android can do a screen capture. Just hold the Power + Volume Down button for about one second and walla! screenshot is saved!
The screenshot will be saved in a folder name “Screenshots” and can be accessed through Gallery.app. You can use File Manager App (e.g. Astro File Manager, OI File Manager), as well.
Oh! That reminds me that even it’s the 4th version, Ice Cream Sandwich stil doesn’t come with File Manager app pre-installed.
Well, you can download one from Android Market, though.
Improvement in Internet browser and problem with Thai language
I can feel that the concept behind Internet browser in ICS comes from Honeycomb, but the UI is made for better fit with smartphones. This is a huge improvement compare with the one in Gingerbread. You can open websites up to 16 tabs simultaneously. You can set the browser to request a desktop version of the web instead the mobile version. However, I found that this function doesn’t work for all websites.
The browser also has a problem when displaying websites with Thai language. I tried with many sites such as kafaak.wordpress.com (my old web site), yokekungworld.com and blognon.com. All had the same problem. (See how the problem looked like in the image on the right.)
This problem is not quite noticeable while displaying the mobile web, but it’s so obvious while displaying the desktop version.
Face Unlock is not quite secure as it should
Galaxy Nexus + Ice Cream Sandwich offers another way to lock the device; Face Unlock. (Samsung Nexus S with Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t have this function.)
The use of biometric is supposed to be the most secure, but the reality is so cruel. The issue number 21845 claimed that anyone can trick the system using a photo of a person’s face. I confirm that the issue is real. However, not all photo will work, though.
Anyway, Google has already mentioned that Face Unlock is less secure than the use of Pattern, PIN, or Password. But it didn’t mention that we can use a photo to trick the system.
Settings are Well-Organized
It used to be very difficult to find one setting in Android settings. Things are not quite well-organized and many times I find myself look for a setting in a wrong place. Different ROM from different brands put things in different places, especially the “Factory Data Reset”.
This time, in Ice Cream Sandwich, Google does a good job in putting all the settings in place. “Factory Data Reset” is now in Backup & Reset category. You can also check the data usage without having to install additional app. And as it’s a model for developer, there are settings for developer in Developer Options.
Better, yet not the best, camera.app
Galaxy Nexus has 2 interesting features “Zero Lag Shutter” which take a photo once the shutter is pressed. This allow you to do a burst shot by continuously tap the shutter. Another one is real-time face effect in video mode. See the sample in the video below. (Thanks @muenue for being a model.)
As for the quality of the photo and video, see the samples below.
The quality of the photo is just so-so for 5 megapixels camera. You can be sure that it is not the criteria you will use to make a decision to buy it. However, the 1080p video is pretty impressive.
What about games?
For most games, including the 3D ones, dual-core 1.2GHz with 1GB RAM and PowerVR SGX540 as a GPU is kind of overkill. Games like Shadowgun or Dungeon Defender Deluxe: First Wave can be run on Galaxy Nexus without any problem.
However, I noticed that playing Modern Combat 3 is not quite as smooth. Not sure if it’s the software problem or Modern Combat 3 (which has a very detailed 3D graphics and a lot of effects) is too much for PowerVR SGX540. I tried the same game on Acer Iconia Tab A500 which is powered by nVidia Tegra 2 1GHz. The game could run very smoothly.
Galaxy Nexus in short
Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have state-of-the-art hardware. However, it’s the Android device that has everything it should have. Android 4.0 is a lot improvement for Google (still not close to iOS, though). Although this is a developer phone, I don’t see any problem if general consumer want to use it. You can have a good experience with it as both telephone and multimedia player.
Generally, the Nexus family will set the standard for the upcoming Android devices. Looking at Galaxy Nexus, I can say that dual-core 1.2GHz CPU with 1GB RAM and screen size between 4” – 5” with 1280×720 pixels will be the standard for the high-end Android devices.