Well, I got up yesterday and got my Nexus.
Here is my critical review:
1) Android still lags. If you were like me, you were hoping for a phone that is just butter-smooth all the time. It's close, it's really close. It's responsive, it's fast. It's not butter-smooth at all times though, as much as I wished I could say it was, and trust me after waking up early and going to get my Nexus I WANTED it to be perfect in terms of transitions and screen scrolling. It's not much of a downside because its barely noticeable (and only at certain times it's barely noticeable, through normal use you CAN'T notice it) but it's still there. 8/10.
2) Screen. The screen is beautiful, hands down. I couldn't be happier, and I don't know how it could get much better. 9/10 (only because I don't know what a 10/10 is)
3) Size. It's pretty big. It's almost "too big" compared to my wife's iPhone. For me, I love it. I can fit more apps on my screens and web pages and youtube videos look better than good, they look downright awesome. Size, along with the screen I mentioned above, is a positive, not a negative. That being said, if it doesn't fit in your particular favorite pockets in a jacket or whatever, it's on you. Everyone knew the size of it when they bought it, so there is no real room to complain. Personally, I love the new screen real estate. 9/10.
4) Camera. The camera just flat out isn't that good. It's not bad, especially for my purposes, but it's far from good. I would say it's "acceptable" for non-professional camera types. I don't take many pictures, but when I do I want them to look at least decent. This barely meets that. The speed of the camera is really great though, but I'm not judging this on speed, it's quality. I would rather have a slower camera that takes better pictures personally, but whatever. 5/10, with a 10 being a real digital camera.
5) Button/input placements. I'm not used to the volume rocker on the left side. For some reason I keep missing it because I'm used to it being "higher" on the phone, but that's a personal annoyance. The real annoyance is the inputs on the bottom. The audio jack and the power cord are on the bottom, which I dislike. It's by no means a deal breaker, but it IS annoying because I'm so used to the exact opposite. I've had 3 phones, the Original Droid, the Fascinate, and now the Nexus, and they were placed on the side, top, and bottom. Without a doubt I liked the top the best. I'm unsure how to rate this, because it's simply a personal preference, but my personal rating would be 1/10. I just hate the power cord on the bottom, they should have just put it on the top.
6) Speaker Volume. I was really concerned when the alarm went off this morning. It was VERY low. Played some music through the speaker, it seemed acceptable, but by no means "loud". When I mean loud, I mean putting music on speaker and taking a shower and being able to hear it while in the shower with running water. That's what I would consider "good", as I distinctly remember doing that with my OG droid and it sounded great. The Nexus just doesn't have a loud clear speaker. That being said, it's not the end of the world, and not something that really bothers me, but it's still a 6/10.
7) Speed. It's a fast phone as far as processing goes. You can really tell the difference between this and my Fascinate. Installing apps is fast. GPS lock/load directions is fast. Everything is fast. It's just a well performing device as far as these aspects go. Very happy with this, but I'm sure when quad core processors come out next year they will be even faster. As of right now, I'd have to give it a 9.5/10, simply because there isn't much to benchmark it against (except for the Galaxy SII). Unforunately as time goes on this rating is simply n/a, but like I said, for now, it's really fast.
8) ICS. ICS is just flat out great, but I come from the ROM community and miss little modifications. The biggest thing I miss? Changing the brightness level through the pulldown menu. I didn't realize how often I use it. That being said, ICS is really really nice. It performs well except for tiny almost unnoticeable "hiccups" once in a while, but that's to be expected when you have apps installing in the background and other things going on. Many of the dramatic differences in speed could be attributed to either the hardware or the software, in all honesty it's hard to tell. As far as the user experience goes, it is a very good experience. ICS is really nice, and I think it's just flat out better than the iPhone OS in every single way except for "smoothness". 9.5/10.
9) 4g. People are reporting a mixed bag, but I'm really happy. I noticed the signal strength seems low, 1 bar, or 2 bars it seems most of the time. This hasn't affected my performance however. Speeds are great almost all the time. I rarely drop out (had streaming music on for an hour drive to work) and it dropped out only once, in a very bad signal spot through trees/hills. While in the city (Philadelphia area) it works flawlessly. I'm very happy with the speeds/signal I'm getting. That being said, it's no where near as reliable as having a plugged in cable modem, so don't think the experience is just as good as being plugged in. If you stay in one strong signal spot (coffee shop?) it almost feels like it is, but if you're in transition/travelling, of course you'll get a little choppiness in internet connection. I'd rate this a 9.5/10 if in a strong signal area.
10) Phone calls. Clear, crisp phone calls. Sounds great. Very very happy with it. 10/10.
Overall? Considering everything together, I'd give the phone an 8.5/10 overall rating. It's a great phone, it really is, I'm extremely happy with it. I would have given it even a 9.5/10 if the camera was better and the speaker was a little louder, or if you don't care about those things, it IS a 9.5/10. But I have to give a real assessment and not be biased about how much I love the Android and Samsung combo (which in my opinion is the best combo out there).
They did a great job on this phone, and it's really worth buying.