Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus First Impressions

Aaron Baker
member from Dallas, TX
Published: December 15, 2011

"Hey, remember when everyone was so worked up over the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus launch?"

We can finally say that, now that the device is officially (finally!) available on Verizon Wireless.  And boy, has it been a long time coming.

First, we were only given a vague "end of the year" timeline.  We thought it would come on Black Friday to position it for the busy holiday shopping season.  No dice.  Fast forward through several speculated launch dates, and yesterday, official word broke that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus would be available today (December 15th) for $299.99.  The review unit arrived this afternoon (special thanks to UPS yet again for the delivery flub), and I've had my paws on it ever since.

I've already covered the international version of the Galaxy Nexus, and save for the larger battery, 4G LTE connectivity, chunkier build, and the inclusion of some Verizon bloatware, it's mostly the same device.  Check out my original impressions here, and read on for more on Verizon's newest Android!

  • Android purists are going to find Verizon's Nexus to be a bit tainted, as the battery door sports the carrier's logo and 4G LTE insignia in place of "Google."  You'll also find My Verizon Mobile and VZ Backup Assistant preinstalled on the device without any option to remove them.  It's been debated over and over again, and while I could argue both ways here, it could certainly be worse. 
  • The Galaxy Nexus is plastic, though it feels nice and sturdy.  If you've handled the GSM variant, you'll immediately notice that Verizon's version is thicker, though it's far better than Verizon's first crop of LTE handsets.  It feels great in the hand.

  • The 5-megapixel camera continues to baffle me.  While it offers some great features like near-instant shutter speeds and a host of editing options, picture quality pales in comparison to other high-end Android phones on the market - including Samsung's own Galaxy S II line.
  • Verizon's 4G LTE speeds have been as fast as I expected them to be.  I've seen download speeds between 5.82 Mbps and 25.07 Mbps, clearly different depending on network traffic and a host of other things.  Upload speeds have ranged between 3.76 Mbps and 10.74 Mbps.  I tried to use Mobile Hotspot today, but had some issues connecting; I'll have more for you in the full review.

  • Call quality is excellent so far, and like the international version, my test callers have made it clear that the noise cancellation features are top notch (one kept asking "Where are you?  It's so quiet!").  I like the curved body, as it makes it much easier to hold to my face for long periods of time.  The earpiece is loud on my end, though speakerphone could be a touch better.
  • I haven't had the pleasure of working with the Galaxy Nexus long enough to test the battery life, though I'm interested to see how it holds up given LTE's historical drain on the battery.  I pulled it off of the charger at 5:01 PM, and with some calling, text messaging, and browsing the web, it sits at 85 percent at 6:45 PM.  Not the best by any stretch of the imagination, but I've seen worse on Android.  If 1,850 mAh isn't enough for you, Verizon sells a 2,100 mAh extended battery.

Despite the litany of Android phones that have come out this year, choice is a good thing, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus fills a niche.  It's the first Android device in the US to pack Ice Cream Sandwich, it offers a big HD display, has 4G LTE, and is landing on the nation's largest wireless network, making it accessible to millions of upgrade-hungry customers.  If being an early adopter of Ice Cream Sandwich (and a stock version, at that) is important to you, the Galaxy Nexus is the must-have Android device of the holiday season.  But if you're someone that seeks the latest-and-greatest across the board, take pause and have a look at some of the other devices on the market, since they may have a feature set that appeals to you more.

Having worked in the mobile space for years, there's a certain "wow factor" that takes place when a revolutionary product series debuts.  Most in the industry can attest to being blown away by particular landmarks - the original iPhone, HTC Nexus One, HTC EVO 4G, and Samsung Galaxy S II series, just to name a few.  We liked those products because they took the best of what was available at the time and threw it into an awesome package.

I visualize the Nexus line as the flagship Android product; the unit that sets the benchmark for Android phones for the next few months.  Galaxy Nexus is a great device for sure with some killer features, but little things like the camera and TI OMAP processor place it squarely in between other high-end devices like the Motorola DROID RAZR, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and HTC Vivid.  And that's not where a Nexus device should be.  It should be leading the pack.

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