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Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the latest collaboration between Samsung and Google, and is the first smartphone to ship with the new Google Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") operating system.
Android 4.0 combines elements from the Android 3.0 OS that runs on tablets and Android 2.3 from smartphones to create a unified operating system that can be used on either type of device. On immediately obvious change is that the Galaxy Nexus no longer has any physical buttons on the front as these have been replaced with on-screen virtual keys instead.
Nexus handsets have always been a bit special. The original HTC-built Google Nexus One was initially a bit of a sales disaster, but Google re-focussed it as a handset aimed at developers and Android enthusiasts where it would always be the first handset to have the latest version of Android made available.. and this turned it into a niche success. This was followed up by the first Android 2.3 device, the Samsung Nexus S, and now we have the third generation Nexus device which opens a new chapter in the Android story.
Apart from several cosmetic changes, Android 4.0 offers better task management, advanced NFC support (including file sharing), voice typing (although probably not a patch on Siri on the iPhone 4S), Google+ integration and an unlock feature that uses facial recognition. We don't know if any manufacturers intend to offer an upgrade path to Android 4.0 for existing handsets, and as we said yesterday the OS is a key differentiator between the Galaxy Nexus and something like the new Motorola RAZR.
Samsung have a good reputation for producing powerful handsets at the moment, and the Galaxy Nexus is certainly an impressive beast when it comes to hardware. Perhaps the screen is the most impressive component - a large 4.65" 1280 x 720 pixel Super AMOLED panel that is both larger and with a higher resolution than almost every other smartphone announced to date, apart from the Samsung Galaxy Note.
Inside is a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. Internal flash memory is either 16GB or 32GB depending on model, but there is no mention of a memory slot. One the back is a 5 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording plus a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Although 5 megapixels doesn't sound like a lot, Samsung have added their own magic to it including a continuous shot panorama mode and all sorts of clever effects.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is available in two sort-of-4G versions, an LTE version and an HSPA+ version. For GSM/HSPA users the maximum download speed will be 21Mbps, if your carrier supports it. 802.11b, g and n WiFi is supported, as is NFC technology. Inside is a large 1750mAh battery, and the whole handset measures 136 x 68 x 9mm and weighs 135 grams.
All the usual Android feature are here too, including GPS, DLNA support and a wealth of applications. And because this is a Nexus phone you can expect to be among the first for new releases of the operating system as well.
This is quite an expensive device, Samsung's recommended retail price is around €600 when it starts to ship in November. Carphone Warehouse will be offering it in the UK for about the same price at the Apple iPhone 4S when taken with a new contract.
For that sort of money we would expect the Galaxy Nexus to be a bit more of a looker - it's a fairly typical Samsung design and it's nowhere near as attractive as some rivals. Still, most people interested in owning a Nexus handset will be more interested in the operating system and brilliant display.. looks are not everything, after all!
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