Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

We've updated our Galaxy Nexus review to reflect the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update

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The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was a brave foray into the mobile world with a stonking new OS that delivered in a lot of ways.

Even now, a year on, lots of handsets still aren't running ICS, while the Samsung Galaxy Nexus storms ahead with Android 4.1: Jelly Bean, keeping it as relevant as ever. But Google and Samsung have spent so much time on the software and the look, that in some places, they've taken an eye off attention to detail - mostly on the hardware.

We liked

There's something great about having a 'pure Google' phone. It's got a fantastic screen, a superb new OS and extra elements like Android Beam for sharing photos, contacts or connecting to peripherals.

And as a smartphone or even a mini computer, it's a great size with a nice weight that doesn't feel too cumbersome to carry or use.

Multitasking and improved widget management make this a much improved option for Android fans and we cannot fault call quality which, as always, is the basis of any phone experience.

Rather than ditching it for a new Google phone, Samsung and Google have shown their support for the handset by making it the flagship Jelly Bean phone too. In doing so they've let it rocket even further ahead of the competition, at least in terms of software.

We disliked

But this is a premium handset – and though prices have dropped it's still around £300 sim free. So with that in mind, we are completely dumbfounded to see no option to expand the memory, which ultimately means you don't get the best out of what could be an incredible handset.

We also found an issue with the battery: sure, it's on the large side at 1750mAh, but that big screen and high performance processor saw a much larger battery drain than we'd expected from a flagship device, sometimes leading it to not even last the day.

The complete absence of Flash is a shame too. It's not Google or Samsung's fault- it's a future all phones face, but while it's still a major presence on the web its absence here (and soon on other Android phones) will be mourned.

Plus, for a PMP as well as a phone, we'd have liked to have seen a better camera – this one has very limited options despite taking some excellent snaps.

Verdict

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We had real high hopes for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and genuinely expected it to take the place of best smartphone on the market when it launched. But it didn't. In the year since its launch it has understandably dropped even further behind.

That's not to say it's not a good handset because it is a fantastic piece of kit. With the launch of Android 4.1: Jelly Bean it has also become relevant again, soaring ahead of rivals in software terms. But if you were to take away Jelly Bean, hardware-wise, you'd not have much to write home about compared to what else is out there, beyond the beautiful screen.

Jelly Bean refines Android and makes it smoother and more responsive than ever before, as smooth even as the iPhone 4S. Right now the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the only phone running it, and in the short term that's a big selling point.

But its hardware, which was always its weak link, is really starting to show its age. A 5MP camera belongs on mid-range phones, not the flagship Google handset, while its dual core processor has been dwarfed by the likes of the quad core Samsung Galaxy S3.

Its screen still holds its own, both in size and pixel density, but it's no longer as stunning as it once was, as competitors displays have become bigger and higher quality than they were when the Samsung Galaxy Nexus launched.

The fact of the matter is that we think it still lags behind the Samsung Galaxy S2, and now especially the S3.

Put it this way, if we were to find one wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning, we wouldn't berate Santa.

But unless you're a massive 'Pure Google' fan, we'd suggest you call St Nick up on Boxing Day, ask if he had the receipt still, point out you'd been exceptionally good this year, then go swap it for a Samsung Galaxy S3 - or wait to see what the rest of the manufacturers manage when their creative bods get cracking with Jelly Bean, or of course, there's always the iPhone 5.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyHSPA+, HSDPA, HSUPA, EDGE, GPRS
SAR Value0.30 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Nexus
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 850
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time8.30 Hour
Screen Size11.8 cm (4.7")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density315 ppi
Height135.5 mm
Width67.9 mm
Depth8.9 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time270 Hour
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy Nexus Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineGalaxy Nexus
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeProximity Sensor, Gyro Sensor, comfortmeter, Accelerometer, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberTHRGALAXYNEXUSBLK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

With the latest Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 operating system and brilliant 4.65" HD Super AMOLED screen, the Galaxy Nexus is without doubt the next-generation Android™ smartphone. New applications, such as Face Unlock for extra security and Android Beam for enhanced content sharing, will utterly blow your mind. The curved and stylish design also packs in a powerful 1.2GHz dual core processor for PC-like performance while on the go and a 5mp camera with fast image, panoramic shot and HD video recording. The Galaxy Nexus - Simple. Beautiful. Beyond smart.