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.


6 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy Nexus: my review”

  1. Kate on March 29th, 2012 23:38

    Have you tried Spotify? Will that do what you want it to?

    I love my droid. I have an HTC Desire which is stuck on Froyo as they wouldn’t guarantee newer Android versions on it without a lot of messing about. My only problem now is that I am finding the internal storage restrictive and I’m running out. That’s the one thing about Android that bugs me – I don’t understand why so many apps have to be installed in the internal storage and not on the SD card.

    I have not seen the Galaxy Nexus but I like the look of the SII. Being on the latest version of Android is a big plus – you seem to need to keep on the latest version to get the best experience but I do love my phone. And it has yet to break, my iPhone owning friends seem to have lots of problems with phones breaking or dying on them.

  2. Liz on March 29th, 2012 23:58

    This is timely, I’ve just ordered the SII although I am worried its too big (but thiner).

    If I translate this to my world though I’ve always wanted to be taller and thinner so perhaps it is the phone for me over the short dumpy iphone.

    Anyway, I digress.. I shall report back whether the parcel contains disappointment or happiness!

  3. Corey on March 30th, 2012 00:19

    i’ve had my SII for about 9 months now and having moved on from an iPhone 4, i have to say that i completely agree with the points you’ve made. I’m very much looking forward to my ics upgrade which i should have got about 2 weeks ago but i’m still waiting on.

    As far as the music situation goes i finally cracked it a couple of weeks ago. I found that the best way to get music onto the device is to use winamp. By installing the desktop and mobile app, you are able to import your library directly from itunes and then wirelessly sync it with your phone. Personally i created a playlist to sync to my phone as its 16gb memory card wouldn’t cope with my entire collection.

    My issue with winamp is that i don’t really like the mobile app as far as being my primary music player. I don’t know what the ics music player is like but the gingerbread player also isn’t great so instead i use poweramp. This will automatically scan your library so any music transferred onto the phone using winamp appears in poweramp as well. The app costs about £3 but is well worth it as it just works so well, has a great selection of eq tweaks as well as being highly customisable in general and also finds album art work really well which i know isn’t a big deal but is a nice touch.

    As you can probably tell google doesn’t currently have any stock software to match itunes in terms of simplicity however when used together these couple of pieces of software make the music experience almost as easy and just as, if not more enjoyable than the iOS equivalent.

  4. Sean on March 30th, 2012 02:20

    Apple. The original and the best

  5. Stefan on March 30th, 2012 09:29

    I’m with Corey on winamp as the most straightforward way of managing music across devices – but I find it entirely adequate by itself as an android player.

    My real party trick is to have set up my galaxy tab as a squeezebox controller, which makes it a big screen remote control for music I play at home on anything, and also gives me perfect streaming of everything on my home network.
    In theory, I could open a port to give remote access to that, but haven’t bothered to do that yet.

  6. Galaxy Nexus | DavePress on April 4th, 2012 00:09

    […] Dan wrote up his views on his Galaxy Nexus on his blog. […]

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