Yes, the Galaxy Nexus isn't the newest of phones (it was originally released in late 2011) but it does have one major thing going for it - it was the first phone (and is still one of only a few) that got Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Because the Nexus is a pure Google device, you don't get any overlaid UI – like Samsung's Touchwiz or HTC's Sense.
Our other iPhone alternative reviews:
- Samsung Galaxy S3
- BlackBerry Bold 9900 (opens in new tab)
- HTC One X (opens in new tab)
- Nokia Lumia 900 (opens in new tab)
Jelly Bean's UI is super-slick. This is borne out in resizable widgets, lovely folders that bore into the screen, and an ace notifications system that enables you to pinch and expand emails and so on. Stock icons are also well-designed and the way the phone turns off like an old TV when you hit the power button should be cheesy, but is actually very cool indeed.
The Galaxy Nexus differs from many Android phones in that it has no physical buttons at all. The keys for back, home and bringing up the task manager (new to Ice Cream Sandwich – Android 4) are all integrated into the screen.
This makes the design of the phone, at least from the front, very minimal. Flipping it over, there's a textured back (with removable battery) bearing Google and Samsung logos.
There's a lip at the bottom of the phone, which makes it feel very comfortable in the hand. The other thing unique about the design is the curved glass screen. It's subtle, but adds a lot to the ergonomics of the device.
Google Now is also pretty cool. Essentially (and forgetting the privacy issues - you can opt out), Google Now remembers what you ask for in Google Search, where you go and what you like – and presents the information in the form of nicely designed 'cards'.
So, when you drag up from the home button to the Google logo, you can quickly see the weather in places you commonly visit (and your current location), the traffic on your regular journey, your favorite team's results (although it only seems to work for US sports at the moment), and places of interest close to your current location.
Voice search has also been drastically improved with Jelly Bean, and it's on a par (if less conversational) with Siri on the iPhone. The 5MP camera on the device isn't as good as that on the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X (or indeed the iPhone 4S), but it does have a clean, simple interface that you can quickly swipe to get to your images from the camera itself.
The panorama mode is also excellent. Camera-wise it's not at all bad, just a bit behind the S3 in terms of features and functionality. The Gallery app is extremely nice, being a series of squares holding your images and videos. Not a skeuomorph in sight.
Free on contract (from £21 per month). Around £300 sim-free.
Specs: Samsung Galaxy Nexus
- Size: 135.5x67.9x8.9mm
- Weight: 135g
- Screen: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 720x1280 pixels, 4.65in, 316ppi pixel density
- CPU: Dual core 1.2GHz
- Camera: 5MP, video at 1080p at 30fps
- OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
- Storage: 16GB
- Micro SD card slot: No
- UI: 10/10
- Design: 7/10
- Apps: 8/10
- Features: 8/10