Camera, Battery Life, Conclusion

Camera

The camera app in Android also received a major update, even if the Galaxy Nexus camera only features a 5 megapixel sensor. The camera is super fast, making it possible to fire off shots in rapid succession as long as the phone's decent built-in flash is not being used. Images look quite good, and there's a built-in panorama mode. In camcorder mode, the camera can record 1080p Full HD video, but the video can become a bit choppy. It also offers a number of cool effects that can be used in videos, such as "big eyes."

The forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, which lacks autofocus and flash, can record its own 720p HD videos. All of this functionality is controlled through a new user interface that is a vast improvement over the old one, and the photos and videos the phone creates are of good quality.

What more could you ask for, really? Oh, an HD video editing app. You could ask for one of those, and you'd get it, too. It's a little awkward to edit video on a phone and the rendering can take its time, but having the ability to do it is cool no matter how you look at it. All that's left to ask for is more resolution, and Google's partners will certainly fill that gap when they release their own Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones.

Music

The Galaxy Nexus features an Ice Cream Sandwich version of the Google Music app, which supports Google's cloud music service. It lacks the fancy 3D rendered look of the Honeycomb app, but it is otherwise very similar in look and function. It offers music controls in the notification area and lock screen, and comes with home screen widgets as well. Audio quality is outstanding with a good set of headphones, and exactly what you'd expect without. Enabling the 5-band graphic equalizer, let's you tweak the sound the way you like. Users have the ability to mark a track as liked or disliked and there's a convenient link into the Android Market's music store (which is somewhat limited at this time).

Battery

The Google Galaxy Nexus features a high-capacity Samsung 1850mAh battery that includes an NFC antenna. In spite of the reception issues people are experiencing with the phone, I still managed to get an easy work day out of a full charge as long as I wasn't goofing off too much and kept the screen's brightness set to automatic. That is, quite honestly, much better than I expected. Verizon claims that the phone's battery is capable of powering it through up to 12 hours of talk time or 6.25 days of standby time.

Final Thoughts

While all of the early reviews of the GSM/UMTS version of the Google Galaxy Nexus out of Europe were full of superlatives and the written equivalent of high-fives, I had only modest expectations for the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. I dislike Android 3.x Honeycomb that much, but I'm floored by Ice Cream Sandwich, to be honest.

I'm also in love with the the HD resolution display on the Galaxy Nexus. I could certainly do with better reception, but I have some hope that Verizon's promised software update will deal with that. I'm also pleased that the battery life seems to be basically as good as most non-4G Android smartphones, even if that still falls somewhat short of what I really desire.

At $299.99 on contract, it's a pricey affair and the reception issues bug me a bit, but I have not had so much fun playing with a smartphone in a long, long time.

90

Pros: Big and beautiful display, slick new user interface, fast camera with good effects, LTE data speeds.

Cons: Quite large, LTE reception issues, relatively low resolution camera.