android Reviews

Galaxy Nexus Hardware Impressions

I have had a Galaxy Nexus for just over a week now so I thought I’d post some thoughts on the hardware. It’s a big phone but thanks to the collection of curves and bevels that make up its chassis it’s comfortable to hold. The folds on the side emphasize the subtle curve of the screen in a trick reminiscent of car design. It only weighs 135g which may irk some people but it adds to that comfortable feel. The textured back is not really rough to the touch and it’s better than having glossy plastic which attracts fingerprints. The bezel is a lot smaller than most phones thanks to the absence of buttons on the front. It really is almost all screen.

And what a screen. 1280×720 pixels, bright and colourful, this is the screen many people have been waiting for. Yes, it’s pentile but the pixel density is so high it doesn’t matter. Here’s how to make someone say “Wow!” in one easy step: show them a 720p MP4 trailer on the Galaxy Nexus. There are some AMOLED artifacts such as pure white screens looking slightly grainy like paper, if you look closely enough. These are very minor though. As always with AMOLED, black is very dark and blends with the bezel. Text is very crisp and readable.

The camera is a bit of a weak point. Megapixels shouldn’t matter but low light performance does and it’s a let down here. However, it is a big improvement over the Nexus S because of the speed and features included. The 1080p and 720p video options are nice to have but will eat up the 16Gb of internal storage pretty quickly. The live video effects are great for showing off but are a bit of a gimmick.

The speed of the network connections are a real plus point. The fastest speed I have recorded on HSPA+ so far is 6.5Mbps. With dual band Wi-fi connected to my wireless ‘N’ router I get 65Mbps.
A word on battery life: it’s surprisingly good and slightly better than Nexus S. After 10hours 41 minutes with moderate use (some Wi-fi, browsing, listening to podcasts, Google Maps with latitude and GPS on, some calls) I had 46% left.
A possible negative is that there’s no support for USB mass storage when connected to a PC. Instead there’s MTP which means the memory can be access from the phone and PC simultaneously. This is good because with mass storage apps with data on the /sdcard partition would stop working. However, MTP seems to be unreliable as it sometimes requires the phone to be rebooted to get working. This is like the MHL adapter I tried for HDMI output. Unfortunately, USB game controllers, keyboards and mice don’t seem to work yet. Hopefully these issues will be fixed with a firmware update.

I will talk about Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich in another post.