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Galaxy Nexus review

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The new Galaxy Nexus smartphone has two important things going for it – excellent software and excellent hardware.

It is this combination of factors which always puts Apple products like the iPhone and iPad over the top and motivate people to spend days queuing outside stores to be the first to get their hands on them.

With the Galaxy Nexus the hardware was left to Samsung – no slouch when it comes to designing decent hardware.

In the software department Google has decided to go with the brand new Ice Cream Sandwich – version 4.0 of the popular Android operating system.

The result is a device that will sit among the top tier of smartphones alongside the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Razr.

The Galaxy Nexus is available now through the Telstra network and in the near future in Optus and Vodafone.

DESIGN

The Galaxy Nexus has an ever-so-slightly curved screen to match the curve of your face.

This ensures the device can never be resting on the screen.

The Galaxy Nexus has a large 4.65-inch screen which dwarfs the iPhone 4S

Speaking of the screen – it’s huge – 4.65-inches HD Super AMOLED with a resolution of 1280 x 720.

It’s big. It dwarfs the iPhone 4S when the devices are sitting side by side.

But while that extra size is great for browsing, capturing and enjoying pictures and video and using apps, it does mean you’re carrying around a larger device.

There are no buttons on the front of the Galaxy Nexus. The home and back buttons are virtual buttons that appear on the bottom of the screen.

The menu key has been replaced a key which displays a scrollable list of all the recent apps you’ve used.

The Galaxy Nexus has a slightly curved screen

Along the left edge of the device is volume up and down key, the right edge has the on/off/lock key and on the bottom is a headphone jack and micro USB or charging and video out.

On the back textured cover there is a 5-megapixel camera and flash with a 1.3 megapixel camera is on the top right corner on the front above the screen.

ANDROID 4.0

Ice Cream Sandwich – or Android 4.0 – brings with it a new sleeker look as well as a few new features.

There’s a mini dock on the bottom of the screen which has shortcuts to your phone, contacts, messaging, browser and your app folder.

One new feature is NFC (near field communication) which means content can be shared with another NFC compatible device just by touching them together.

The Galaxy Nexus is running Android 4.0 with easy multi-taskingThis is an easy way to share things like contacts, web pages, directions and even apps.

There will also be opportunities to use NFC as a mobile wallet to access your account to pay for things.

Another Android 4.0 new feature is Face Unlock which lets you unlock the Galaxy Nexus simply by looking at it. This new security feature allows users to register their facial features to replace their security code.

Now every time you try and lock the device it will look for your distinct facial features and proportions before it unlocks.

This feature worked most of the time and the times it didn’t we either tried again or used a PIN code we were asked to supply as a back up.

PERFORMANCE

Speed should be the Galaxy Nexus’s middle name. The 1.2Ghz dual core processor keeps things moving nicely. There’s no waiting for things to happen – they just do.

The Galaxy Nexus is dominated by the large 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen which is bright and clear so it’s easy to read websites, use apps and surf the internet.

Videos and pictures looked great on the screen and it’s large enough for comfortable extended viewing. The on board music player can also look after your listening needs.

And the good news is it’s even easier to get your content onto the device with a program called Android File Transfer. The application even works on a Mac to sync your music, pictures, videos and apps.

Messaging was a breeze on the Galaxy Nexus thanks to an excellent keyboard with auto correction allowing is to write long emails.

But what was even more impressive was the device’s voice to text input. The accuracy was remarkable and a useful way to complete your messages and create notes.

The Galaxy Nexus can capture panoramic pictures in a single motion

The 5-megapixel camera on the device is not in the same class as other phones in this category. Still images were acceptable but lacked warmth and detail achieved by similar devices.

One thing we did like about the camera though was the ease of capturing a panoramic shot in a single motion and speed of the shutter so you won’t miss those important moments.

The full HD video was better quality and provided above average results.

VERDICT

The Google Nexus is a breakthrough product with lots of amazing features and abilities.

But what was noticeable was what was missing from the device.

Samsung built this device in partnership with Google and it appears the company reserved some of the better features for themselves on the Galaxy S II including shortcuts to services like Music Hub and the ease in aggregating all your social networking feeds, not just Google +, in one place.

The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is inferior to that which can be found on the Galaxy S II and way behind the camera on the iPhone 4S.

But that said the Galaxy Nexus, and in particular, the Android 4.0 operating system is a huge improvement on the majority of Android devices already in the market.

Galaxy Nexus

Price: $799

Four stars (out of five)

www.google.com/nexus

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