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Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

We've updated our Galaxy Nexus review to reflect the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update

Our Verdict

The update to Jelly Bean refreshes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus making it exciting again, while price drops ensure it's still a viable option. It's a great handset, but at around the same price the Galaxy S2 is still the better buy.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 8.30 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 720

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For

  • Jelly Bean makes things smoother
  • Stunning screen
  • Keyboard and internet fantastic
  • Future-proofed with NFC

Against

  • Only five homescreens
  • Other UI's offer better social networking
  • No microSD slot or FM Radio
  • Battery life disappointing

The size of the Galaxy Nexus, the quality of its screen and its weight make this an ideal PMP and we really enjoyed using it as such.

It's a real shame however, that you are stuck with a finite amount of storage as it makes you really selective about what music and videos you load on in case you run out of space.

Music

The music player was redesigned for Ice Cream Sandwich. The icon was changed and it's now called 'Play Music'. When you're in, it's very similar to what you've used before as the changes are mainly cosmetic.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

In fact it hasn't been changed at all for Android 4.1: Jelly Bean, so if you're coming from an ICS equipped device there's nothing new to see here. The most adventurous thing you can do with it is play around with the equaliser settings, bass boost and 3D effect.

The latter two require headphones to be plugged in and although they do make some difference, don't be expecting something like Beats Audio on the HTC Sensation XE.

There is also a basic music widget that allows you to control playback and when the screen is locked you can easily access music controls to change the song in a similar fashion to iOS. Very handy when driving. You can also access music controls from the notifications screen.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

We're also fans of the way it handles searches. For example, holding your finger down on the song title as it plays allows you to search the Google Play store for related songs and applications.

It's a competent music player and does exactly what you'd expect. We had no issues with the major obvious file types, such as MP3, WAV or AAC. But it's hardly adventurous. Thankfully, there are many free and paid for alternatives out there that do a much, much better job so we'd encourage you to explore.

Unfortunately, there is no FM radio bundled on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. You can always download the excellent TuneIn Radio app but it would have been nice to have an old fashioned radio to save eating into the data allowance.

There's also no sign of the Shazam-alike 'Sound Search' widget which shipped with the Google Nexus 7.

Video

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

Watching movies is a more than pleasant affair on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It is a basic player in that when you start playing one of your flicks, there aren't dozens of options that you can wade through, tweaking this and tweaking that.

There is literally play and pause and that's it (apart from a scrubber at the bottom so you can move ahead or back to a chosen point.) Playing audio over the included speaker is OK in a moderately quiet room but you'll need headphones should you want to watch videos anywhere remotely noisy.

Luckily, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is fairly easy to hold and your hands aren't likely to get tired unless you're really scrawny. Because of its shape though, it's not the kind of phone that will prop up and stay up so if you're watching a movie on a train, for example, you'll either have to hold it for the duration or come up with some elaborate way of making a stand for it to stay upright in.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

All the major file types are supported apart from Apple's .mov format where videos would transfer but then just not show up on the phone at all.

And the experience is mesmeric - the sharpness and the improved contrast ratios over LCD are there for all to see, even on low-grade video, and we were massively impressed with the mixture of resolution and screen size. This is next generation stuff right here.

One of the big plusses here is that if you get bored of your own videos and you don't fancy YouTube (by the way, a YouTube app IS present on the Galaxy Nexus), then you can download more from Google.

Google have started offering rentals of movies via Google Play and this functionality is hardwired into the 'Play Movies' app. Recent releases are there and reasonably priced. For a relatively new service, it's actually very well stocked. You can also share your own videos over email, Bluetooth and more from the same app.

Photos

Photos are accessed via the Gallery (both the ones you've taken on the Galaxy Nexus and your Picasa albums) and are laid out in neat thumbnails. You can edit them within the app itself and do basic stuff like cropping and rotating.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

Of course, there are also apps like Photoshop and PicSayPro which do the same tasks and more and are available via the Android Market.

It's very easy to access and manage photos as you're taking them too. Swiping across the screen from the camera app will show you the last photo you took and you can then keep swiping to scroll through the rest of your photos. A two finger swipe up or down will zoom out a little, showing you an overview of multiple photos, while swiping up or down over any of these will delete them.

For streaming, DLNA is supported although you wouldn't know it since there is no obvious app included to show it off. The hardware is there but you have to download third party software from the Market to fully realise this.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyHSPA+, HSDPA, HSUPA, EDGE, GPRS
SAR Value0.30 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Nexus
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 850
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time8.30 Hour
Screen Size11.8 cm (4.7")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Log, Caller ID
Pixel Density315 ppi
Height135.5 mm
Width67.9 mm
Depth8.9 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy Nexus Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineGalaxy Nexus
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeProximity Sensor, Gyro Sensor, comfortmeter, Accelerometer, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberTHRGALAXYNEXUSBLK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

With the latest Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 operating system and brilliant 4.65" HD Super AMOLED screen, the Galaxy Nexus is without doubt the next-generation Android™ smartphone. New applications, such as Face Unlock for extra security and Android Beam for enhanced content sharing, will utterly blow your mind. The curved and stylish design also packs in a powerful 1.2GHz dual core processor for PC-like performance while on the go and a 5mp camera with fast image, panoramic shot and HD video recording. The Galaxy Nexus - Simple. Beautiful. Beyond smart.