Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Nexus Prime?) and Ice-Cream Sandwich
So you wanted to know more about the Nexus Prime? Say no more. Apparently, an anonymous 4chan user has decided to share the goods with all of us, and has posted a lot of details about the upcoming Nexus Prime, which he actually calls “Samsung Galaxy Nexus”. This sounds a little strange to me. If Google actually let Samsung name it like that, it makes me think this isn’t really a Google “designed” phone, but rather an improved variant of Galaxy S II, on which Verizon managed to get an exclusive (also the reason they didn’t want the GS2). The improvements, however, do seem significant.
It looks a bit like a Sprint Galaxy S II, has a metal chassis, and a 4.65″ display, dual core 1.5 Ghz CPU, and a 1280×720 resolution, 2000 mAh battery. The interface in Ice-Cream Sandwich seems to have gotten a major facelift, with the menus and icons looking much more polished with a glassy look, and with nicer animations. The phone was running fast and was very smooth, with no lag whatsoever. The browser has also been radically improved, having tabs at the bottom, more like Opera Mobile (I absolutely love Opera Mobile tabs!). But these are just some of the improvements. Check out his hands-on review below:
Alright so these Samsung representatives dropped by work today and gave our team a heads up about their mobile division and their flagship phones coming out in the near future. Basically they came in with the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. They said it was a beta model, but it looked like a proper retail version. They talked about that phone, their Galaxy S II, it’s success and the Galaxy S III next year which is already in R&D.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
– Samsung representatives showed a working a working model of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus but not the Galaxy S III. They passed around the Galaxy Nexus phone, and we got about an hour to play with it while they were here. The phone looks similar to the Sprint variant of the Galaxy S II, with a round-edged body, but also similar to the Nexus S with a curved screen. It’s a good size, not too big if you’re used to Android phones. It’s a monster compared to iPhones though.
– Reps said that Verizon passed on the SGSII to have an exclusive deal with Samsung to stock the Galaxy Nexus.
– The SGN will run on Samsung’s Exynos dual core CPU clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Super AMOLED Plus 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 HD display, 16 GB internal memory (with SD card slot). It’s 8.8mm thick with a metal body and a 2000 mAh battery (the same as the new one that’s being released for the Galaxy S II).
– It is heavier than the SGSII, weighing in at around 130g-140g because of the metal casing. It feels nice and has got decent weight.
– The phone is blazingly fast; I guess it’s as fast the SGS II. It has no issues with general use and opens apps, drawers, etc. instantly. No lag. I tried opening a whole bunch of apps, but it was still running smooth and would auto-kill once it got overloaded anyway, so you never feel the performance taking a hit.
Ice Cream Sandwich:
– Ice Cream Sandwich is very nice. It works like the current Gingerbread OS but has gotten a major facelift. The menus are a lot nicer and smoother, screens have a ‘glassy’ look to them. It just feels more polished with more animations (fast and smooth) when accessing things on the phone.
– On the demo unit, the Android version was 2.4.1, not 4.0 or whatever people were expecting.
– The app drawer has three sections at the top that you press and it goes to the drawer for your selection. There are sections for apps, games and widgets. The apps section is what we are all used to. Just a drawer for all the apps on the phone. The games section is just a drawer for all the games you’ve downloaded; the widgets section shows all the apps that have widgets available. The cool thing is you can click the widgets in the widgets section to get a view of what they look like. So you don’t have to screw around with applying a widget on a homescreen, seeing you don’t like it, deleting it, doing it again with a slightly different setting, etc. to see the difference. On ICS you get a visual representation of the widget, you can swap easily between the widgets the app provides, change the settings in real time, and then you can go ahead an apply it on a homescreen.
– Best of all with the drawers is that you can create and name your own app drawer if you want. I think the ICS comes with three standard drawers mentioned above (apps, games and widgets). The demo phone had app drawers created called “Sports” and “News” that contained all the sports and news related apps that you download. I’m not sure if the sports apps you download automatically go to the sports drawer (with some setting like auto push sports apps to drawer “Sports” or something) or if you have to put it there manually. Either way, it was very good and reduced the amount of searching for an app. With the Galaxy phones, if you didn’t know where the app was–which page it was on–it would take a while to search through it, because they weren’t in alphabetical order; they were just in the order you downloaded them. This is a LOT cleaner, more organized and feels more polished.
– I’m not familiar with Honeycomb, so I don’t know really what it pulled from there. I’m guessing quite a bit, because visually it’s quite different to current Android phones. I always thought that Android phone manufacturers made great phones, but the Android software lacked polish and user-friendliness. I was told the glassy look is from Honeycomb. There are a lot more blues and purples on the phone, rather than green. The icons look different, more shiny. The marketplace app is the same as the current one. Not sure if a new one is being worked on.
– The Gmail app is a lot better looking than the current one. If you flip the phone to the side, it has the preview pane, like how Outlook works, with the emails on the left and the message on the right. It looks really nice. Vertically, it works similarly to the current Gmail app, but looks a lot cleaner. In an email the reply button says “reply” rather than having that arrow. There’s a down arrow next to the reply button that has “reply all,” “save as draft,” etc. The threads are smaller (could be due to the higher resolution screen) and around 10-12 threads can fit on the screen. Other than visual tweaks, it’s the same thing.
– Calendar app is revised, a lot less cluttered, glassy bluish look. New calendar widget available.
– The internet browser is leaps and bounds better than what you currently get. It has a completely revamped interface, and the icon is no longer the blue earth icon. The icon is now an Android behind the earth, which is green and blue. Name is still “Internet.” But it’s really easy to use. I personally hated the stock browser for Android, but I’d actually consider using this. It has its tabs at the bottom of the screen now, similar to Opera Browser mobile. The pinch to zoom is better than before, the rendering is excellent, no checkerboards. Zoomed out the text is pristine. Really liking the browser app.
One thing that I find strange is that he says it’s Android 2.41 not Android 4.0. Does this mean ICS is NOT the version to unify phone and tablet versions? Does it also mean Google won’t make it open source like they said they will, and will they wait till Android 4.0 to do that? This could affect less known manufacturers who are still using Android 2.xx for their tablets.
And when is Android 4.0 suppose to arrive anyway? Will it come in February or so, like Honeycomb did? Or will we wait until Google I/O in May next year? There are a lot of unanswered questions and I hope Google clarifies everything in November when the Galaxy Nexus/ Nexus Prime is supposed to arrive.
What do you guys think about all this?