So for those that know, I have been a Thunderbolt user, a Bionic user, and a RAZR (still am) user. The Bionic and Thunderbolt, along with the Xperia Play I got for gaming, are going to be sold whenever I get the time to actually ship them to back to T-mobile. Would do the Best Buy trade but they don't take the Bionic in stores and it's $300. Meh.
Anyway, I had an early upgrade on my Mobile Hotspot line so I figured I would take advantage of it since I don't use the hotspot anymore. It was either the Nexus or the Rezound...and try as I might, I simply could not get past the sheer unattractiveness that is the Rezound. So I decided to give the Nexus a whirl as I quite frankly was not impressed the first time around, and the RAZR is a dependable phone that has managed to impress me in everything except its battery life overall. What I discovered was surprising...and not surprising.
First the not-surprising. The screen. It's definitely superior to the RAZR in terms of fine details, fonts, and general definition, but more importantly it seemed more accurate with the touches than the RAZR. This didn't surprise me, as it seems the Nexus has a slimmer glass panel than the RAZR does, which likely lends itself to better contact with the capacitive layer than with the thicker glass of the RAZR. Also, ICS is certainly a refined operating system that feels like a true evolution of the platform in many ways; there is a degree of control here that falls just shy of perfection with its implementation, failing only in terms of the fact that parts of it feel "developer" in nature, which I suppose is the point. It'll be interesting to see how phone manufacturers modify ICS to suit their devices. I wouldn't want to see the exact same OS on every single phone, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine ICS being butchered with Sense or or TouchWiz. Then again, I suppose that if they all used the same OS, they'd be forced to use the design of their devices and the battery life to differentiate.
Now, the surprising. And I need to tackle this with bullets based on my reading about the device since before its release.
- The Galaxy Nexus has terrible battery life. Indeed, it did not last as long as, say, the Samsung Fascinate or the iPhone, but the reality here is that it's a 4G phone. Its battery won't be epic. But that said, the phone actually managed to last LONGER than the RAZR, and I don't mean under identical conditions, because that would be too easy. No...the RAZR was mostly left alone all day, except for two text messages. 4G was on but I wasn't actively using the device. To be equal I left 4G, GPS and Wi-Fi on for both devices; so the only then differentiators would be screen brightness (since the RAZR was off), and Bluetooth (since the Nexus is not connected to my car). I actively used the Nexus all day as though it were my only device. For me that's some maps, emails, one phone call, and a whole lot of web browsing...and by the time 3pm rolled around, the Nexus was at 50% and the RAZR was at 40% - and again, I hardly touched the thing. So if people say the Nexus' battery is bad, they really should skip the RAZR.
- The Galaxy Nexus experiences data drop outs. I never encountered this, not once. The data stayed connected the entire time I used it, in fact it never even dropped to 3G and I was in multiple cities all weekend - two parts of San Diego, and 4 cities in the Washington State area, and 4G remained active the entire time. The RAZR was on Mobile Hotspot duty most of this time, and it only had one drop where I had to restart to get it to come back again.
- The Galaxy Nexus has a weak 4G signal radio. First let me clarify. In San Diego the Nexus had full signal the whole time. That was odd, because even the RAZR could never achieve such a milestone. But in Washington State, where it's literally saturated in 4G and the RAZR remains at full signal except if I'm in a parking structure, the Nexus got weaker. I could visibly see where the signal was lower than the RAZR in the exact same area. But like right now, in my townhome, both phones show maximum signal. So I know it's definitely possible to get strong signal on this phone; I think it's got something to do with how many people are actually accessing it from whatever tower it's connected to. In this area most people are on Sprint (why, I have no idea).
- The Galaxy Nexus has terrible build quality. Yes, it's plastic. No, it's not metal and glass like another fruity phone. No, it's not metal like the RAZR or the Bionic. No, it's not ruggedized like the Rezound. But it doesn't rattle. There are no loose parts. There are no separate "pieces" to lose. The battery is replaceable. In fact the worst part of the build is the battery cover, and that seems to be a growing trend these days for some reason - flimsy battery covers, likely in an attempt to save on weight. The phone feels solid. It doesn't feel like something easily damaged, though some rough types have managed to do just that. It's not bulky like the Rezound, no hump like the RAZR.
- The Galaxy Nexus' speaker is pathetic. Here's one where I actually agree. The volume level of the speaker is for the birds and that surprises me - the Fascinate, for example, had a great speaker that was loud and easily heard, so to have Samsung go all this way for a Nexus device only to stop short at the speaker volume is rather appalling for a device that is this expensive. But what's really surprising is that the speaker only swallows when you're NOT in a call. For calls the volume is at least acceptable, for other speaker-type stuff there is just no comparison to other devices on the market today and that's really disheartening.
- The Galaxy Nexus does not come with Swype. It most certainly does not. A guy hacked a version that does 50% work, but what you'll find is that in certain fields Swype will not add the data. Until and unless Swype themselves release a keyboard for the Nexus I'm afraid this may remain a dealbreaker for some.
So that's just a few things that I've observed. Once I figured out how to disable the animations and add widgets (and I was bothered to see that not all of my preferred widgets were supported), I started to like the phone just a bit more. It certainly has issues. And I haven't had a chance to test Mobile Hotspot with it as I am waiting to run it through its paces for a couple of days for any jarring things. But I can see how it would be appealing for some. I have no intention of rooting or ROMing the Nexus, I think it's fine as-is. I know quite a few people have posted the dreaded "returned Nexus for Rezound" over the past two weeks...but honestly, the Nexus is totally not that bad. Maybe some prefer Sense, I can't stand it personally, and I think the RAZR still has the lean when it comes to out-of-the-box "work" and general beauty, but the Nexus should not be overlooked.