Samsung Galaxy Nexus: my review
It’s a little over three weeks since I made the bold decision to sever links from the iPhone in favour of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Here’s a brief account of the reasons, and my experience thus far.
So first of all, why? I was previously on an iPhone 3GS. Each iOS upgrade came with new functionality but degraded the speed, and towards the end, the operating system became unacceptably slow to the point that a hardware upgrade was necessary. (When did we start talking in this way with respect to phones?)
My immediate question was this: should I upgrade to the 4S or should I wait for the next Apple phone release? Decisions, decisions. But then I realised how stupid I was being. Apple had brainwashed me, or perhaps I’d brainwashed myself, into thinking there were no alternatives to the iPhone. So I searched beyond the walls of the mothership.
Before doing so, I double-clicked the iPhone Home button. This told me which apps I used, in the order in which I’d last accessed them. And it soon transpired that the vast majority of apps I accessed had Android equivalents, most of which were free. My only area of concern was mobile music. More on that later.
The only viable alternative to me seemed to be an Android phone. And it soon came down to a toss-up between three phones: the Galaxy SII, the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus. Without having seen a Nexus beyond the odd billboard ad, I opted for this. It was new, it was cool, and it had Ice Cream Sandwich, whatever that may mean.
And so far, I adore it. Here’s why.
First, navigation. There is a three-button screen-based navigation bar that comes with the operating system. It sits at the bottom (or to the side in landscape mode) of each app, and allows you to do three things: go back; go home; or go to a screen allowing you to scroll through your open apps. The back button works within the app you’re in; the other two take you beyond that app. And they sit together beautifully. They make sense.
Next: sharing. The operating system is beautiful for sharing stuff. In-app buttons invite you to share using the apps and accounts you’ve connected to the phone or the technology that it comes with. Clicking on a tweet, I can immediately share it using: Bluetooth, Facebook, Gmail, Google+, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Note (a Post-It app), Twitter itself or WordPress. For me, photos have further options of Picasa, Flickr or Send to BBC News. It’s just so simple and accessible. And I use it lots.
Next: notifications. They’re reliable, obvious yet unobtrusive. They sit in a little bar at the top of the screen and you can ignore them or investigate them. They just work. I found that beyond email and calendar, iPhone notifications were unreliable. And the grouping of apps that came later versions of the OS didn’t sit well with the red dot that appeared when apps had notifications. Android seems to have this nailed.
Now: the camera. Comparing it to the 3GS camera, my early view is that the photos are a lot clearer. And there’s a lush feature that allows you to capture panoramas from the onboard camera app. Here’s a rather good example that I took at the weekend.
Finally: Google. I find using Gmail is a dream compared to the iPhone equivalent app. That said, the Google Calendar app. is appalling and needs an overhaul. I’m sure that’s on its way. And somewhat oddly, I don’t enjoy the Google Maps app. quite as much as I did the iPhone equivalent. But the difference here is minimal.
The only big drawback thus far is music. I’ve tried using Songbird, but haven’t yet had sufficient time (nor inclination) to figure out whether this is my solution. Early tests suggest that its conversion of AAC files to MP3s can chop off a bit from the start and end of the track. But there’s more work to be done on this front.
Thus far, the experience has been utterly pleasurable. I urge you to think outside the box.
Update: the only specific comparison I made between the 3GS and the Nexus related to the camera. This is somewhat unfair, as the iPhone 3GS had a three megapixel still camera, while the iPhone 4 comes with an eight megapixel one. (The Nexus camera is five megapixels.) All other comparisons are valid, as they refer to the operating system and apps, rather than the hardware itself.