My take on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich after 10 days

Short story: I love the device and OS and think they’re the best available mobile combination. That said, here are some issues I’ve noticed over the past 10 days of ownership:


  • Short battery life while connected to Verizon 4G LTE (non-4G battery life seems fine to me). The Droid 1 had short battery life too when it was released, it was much improved via OS updates. Since the Galaxy Nexus is a developer phone like the Droid, I think this will be the case with it also. The good news is you can swap the battery out if it’s dead, so I’d suggest getting Samsung’s Spare Battery Charging Kit and rolling with an extra battery on hand.
  • Awkward rear battery access. The back panel requires fingernails to open, which is the biggest strike against the device. One has to wonder whether Samsung’s human factors department either exists or if they somehow overlooked the phone.
  • Feels very slippery in hand. I have yet to drop the phone, though.
  • Weak speakers. The phone must have been road tested in a some hermetic environment like a Lexus cabin, because I can barely hear navigation directions at max volume in my car.

Operating System

  • Lack of functioning Facebook integration with the Contacts API. This is the biggest strike against the OS, not only because it’s a gaping hole in functionality, but also because of how it manifests itself. Clicking on “Facebook” in Settings -> Accounts & sync -> Add account … *wait for it* … does nothing. That’s right, Google shipped an obviously broken product thanks to a philosophical disagreement with Facebook. Since this only adds to the (inaccurate) perception of some that Android is buggy and frustrates end users, it only hurts Google and consumers. Hopefully this issue is fixed in an OS update, but given some of Google’s other ridiculous tech decisions – e.g. banning PCs internally and then releasing MTP phones that connect better with PCs than Macs – a fix might not be forthcoming anytime soon. It’s possible to sort of fix the problem using HaxSync, but that only imports pictures and apparently doesn’t resolve duplicates.
  • Inconsistency between the Gmail and Messaging apps: swiping from left to right moves you between conversations in the former but not the latter.
  • Reducing the systemwide font size results in some characters being partially obscured by other graphics elements in Settings -> Apps. It doesn’t make them unreadable and that’s the only place I’ve noticed the problem, but it is annoying.
  • The GPS navigation voice. On one hand, it’s not as jarring as the one in Froyo. On the other hand, it’s so morose it’s nearly funereal.
  • Slight occasional rendering choppiness, usually during scrolling and switching. It’s not enough to slow the UX down, but it can be a bit unnerving for power users. My reading suggests this problem is endemic to Android in general. Hopefully the dev team will resolve it with time.

Blogosphere gripes I don’t agree with

  • Poor signal strength. Debunked here.
  • 4G LTE intermittent connection loss. Can’t say I’ve noticed this. Actually, if you configure your phone to connect to known Wi-Fi networks automatically when in range, your use of 4G decreases anyway.
  • The screen is too big. I have a 25.2 cm handspan, so it’s just right for me. My old Droid’s screen feels unusable for me now and I can’t go back to it.
  • Poor battery life shows 4G LTE isn’t ready for primetime. Garbage. Technology has always had bottlenecks and weak links as it progresses, and in this case the weak link is battery energy density. If I had to choose between uploading a picture in a minute on a 3G connection with 8 hours of battery and uploading it in a couple seconds with 4 hours, I’d chose the latter 10 times over.
  • Cheap feel. No, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t feel like a Mercedes in hand. But that doesn’t matter to me. I buy my devices for performance and specs, not “feel.” Besides, I’m only gonna use it for 1.5 to 2 years, and it has no moving parts. That said, I could foresee the rear panel’s tabs going bad from repeated opening and closing, but 1) that’s what warranties are for 2) you can always buy another rear panel cheaply if that happens.

Author: jdrch

ISTJ, Rice Owl, UF Gator, mechanical engineer. STEM, sports, music, movies, humor. Account mine only & unaffiliated.


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