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Here's everything you need to know about Samsung's latest smartphone

Verizon Wireless may be the most expensive carrier when it comes to traditional smartphone data rates, but its double data holiday promotion has transformed it briefly into one of the cheaper carriers.  Add in its industry-leading customer satisfaction and you have what seems to be a winning combination.

I. The Galaxy Nexus is Upon Us

Today the carrier is at last, after much anticipation, launching the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930). Priced at $299 with a new two-year contract, the phones are expected to be a hot seller.

Here's what you need to know about the phone's hardware specs:

Galaxy Nexus
  • 1.2GHz OMAP 4460 ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor from Texas Instruments, Inc. (TI)
  • 4.65" 720x1280 HD Super AMOLED (only 2 subpixels)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB of memory (optional 32GB)
  • 5MP rear camera with LED flash plus a 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 1080p (30fps) video recording
  • LTE
  • NFC hardware
  • 1850 mAh replaceable battery
Here's some of the improvements you'll get with Android 4.0 ICS:

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Drastically refined GUI
  • New camera app with improved image stabilization, facial recognition, and one-motion panerama shots
  • Improved default Webkit browser.
  • Better auto-correct
  • Upgraded contacts app
  • Fancy graphical data manager app for dealing with life on capped connections.
  • Quick access to text message response to incoming calls
  • Swipe-dismissal of notifications
  • Facial recognition unlock
  • Universal voice typing
  • Wi-Fi Direct (allows faster, easier connections)
  • Google Beam/Near-Field Communications (NFC)
(A full list can be found here.)

Many bemoaned that the Verizon opted not to pick up Samsung's sleek flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S II.  Well fear not, the Galaxy Nexus is more or less the Galaxy S II with a slightly different feature set.  It has a lower resolution camera and lacks the microSD expansion found in most Galaxy S IIs.  But on the other hand, you get a slee, gently curved packaging that screams distinctive.

If you can get past the Prime's strong battery life, (temporarily) exclusive Android 4.0 support, and sleek packaging, there's a couple of other phones you should consider.  Take a peek at the world's thinnest Android -- the Motorola Droid RAZR.  It features a lower resolution display, but the world's best form factor and weight.  Also check out the Rezound from HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).  It features improved audio hardware/software, a faster (albeit older) CPU, and a better 720x1280 display that has the proper 3 subpixels, as opposed to Samsung's slightly gimped 2 subpixel version.  It's all about the tradeoffs -- your personal priorities, what's in stock in your region, and which phone's design calls to you the most.

Yes, for now ICS gives the Nexus a key edge over the competitors as the OS dictates smartphone usability, and the Nexus could enjoy near-exclusive access to ICS for a month or two.  That said, within three or four months expect most flagship models to have jumped to ICS or be preparing to.  So one of the phone's biggest selling points will soon be a pedestrian feature.

II. Verizon Bumps LTE Coverage to 200 Million Americans

In related news Verizon has now expanded [press release] its nationwide LTE network to include multiple new regions.  It writes:

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the company will turn on its 4G LTE network in Dover, Del.; Lafayette, Ind.; Fitchburg/Leominster, Mass.; Duluth, The Rochester Area and St. Cloud, Minn.; Manchester/Nashua, N.H.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Findlay/Tiffin and Youngstown/Warren, Ohio; and Indiana, Pa. The company is also making expansions on Dec. 15 in San Diego and San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Chicagoland, Ill.; and Baltimore and Hagerstown, Md.

Verizon is winning the coverage battle with AT&T, Inc. (T), the other current U.S. proprietor of LTE 4G coverage.  AT&T, who got a late start, offers faster service in most of its regions, but will  cover only about a third of the number of Americans that Verizon does by the end of the year.

AT&T hopes to cover 70 million Americans, Verizon already now covers 200 million Americans.  Which service is better depends on where you live, but for the majority of buyers Verizon is the best carrier to experience next-generation 4G on.


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First?
By joedon3 on 12/15/2011 11:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
Lol, I've been running ICS on my Captivate for about a month now... Gotta love Open-Source!




RE: First?
By JasonMick (blog) on 12/15/2011 12:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lol, I've been running ICS on my Captivate for about a month now... Gotta love Open-Source!

True... first official. But I'd imagine the Galaxy Prime's firmware/vendor software has been reoptimized for ICS, so might be a tiny bit different.

But true, jailbreakers can have their cake and eat it to.


RE: First?
By TheRequiem on 12/15/11, Rating: 0
RE: First?
By Black1969ta on 12/15/2011 12:30:32 PM , Rating: 1
That may be the best compliment anyone has given Verizon since the original iPhone came out on AT&T.

Verizon finally has a Sheeple phone!!!!! they should be so proud!


RE: First?
By SublimeSimplicity on 12/15/2011 2:36:01 PM , Rating: 5
Got mine. If wanting an android phone that's carrier app free, has an unlocked bootloader, and lacks unremovable vendor UIs (looking at you Sense) makes me a sheeple... well I say, "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah"


RE: First?
By Black1969ta on 12/20/2011 5:51:30 AM , Rating: 2
That is what I meant! This is a good thing, I hate that it take months for an update to be released to phones after Google releases it.


RE: First?
By InfinityzeN on 12/15/2011 12:39:56 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the lack of a Micro SD slot.


RE: First?
By Spuke on 12/15/2011 12:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
I have a HTC Incredible and will be upgrading to this phone very soon. I don't even have my 16GB uSD card filled up so 32GB will be more than enough for me. Go buy something else if you don't like it. Me and the rest of the people that are buying or will buy this phone, we will be very happy customers.


RE: First?
By SublimeSimplicity on 12/15/2011 2:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly, most new smartphones today offer 16GB internal + 16GB via SD. Unless you're constantly rotating through SDs, what's the complaint with it all being internal?


RE: First?
By kleinma on 12/15/2011 12:45:48 PM , Rating: 3
Someone is mad that their iPhone 4s isn't what people are drooling over anymore???

First of all, many, many people who have existing smart phones are on unlimited data plans with Verizon. When they upgrade to this phone, they will keep their unlimited data plan. In addition to that, 2GB is actually plenty for the majority of people, especially if they use wifi when available. Whatever Verizon apps are on the phone can be removed since that is a feature of ICS now. There is no google wallet, so if you are going to strip the phone of it being a "google phone" because 1 program is missing then I guess you can have that opinion. For just about everyone else who ends up with this phone, they will likely love it.

I have a 4s and a droidx right now, so I don't really have a NEED to upgrade. I am sure it is a very nice fast phone though.


RE: First?
By darkhawk1980 on 12/16/2011 8:11:00 AM , Rating: 1
Funny, I have a Galaxy Nexus from Verizon and I have unlimited data...dunno what you're talking about limited data.

Also, I can use Google Wallet just fine. Haven't really read up on it yet much, have you? Just went with what all the sheeple said, eh?


Opinion
By augiem on 12/15/2011 12:35:29 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
[razr]... the world's best form factor and weight


That's totally a matter of opinion. I happen to be one of those who thinks trying to hold phones as thin as credit cards is a pain and makes it easy to drop. So the race to paper thin phones is meaningless to me and little more than an effective marketing gimmick.




RE: Opinion
By mcnabney on 12/15/2011 1:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree with you... until I played with the Razr at a Verizon store. It isn't just thin. It is the perfect weight, light, but not too light. The kevlar on the back, textured sides, and coated glass on the surface make it natural to handle and unlikely to accidentally drop. The width is just right for me, but I have average-sized adult male hands. Maybe the ladies might think it is to wide. I don't know. I just wanted to mention that despite the Razr's large screen, it had great hand feel. A store rep even let me put one in my pocket (the demos are on wires) and it fit in the front of my jeans better than I would have expected. Haven't seen the Nexus Prime yet.


RE: Opinion
By Sazabi19 on 12/15/2011 3:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you 100%. When I got my Bionic (love it BTW) and held it I didn't really care for how thin it felt. I got the extended battery for it (also to extend the life of the phone to be more useful) and now it feels great. I can't stand trying to hold some tiny thing phone in my hand, it's just not comfortable for me. Maybe I just hold my phone differently?


I...
By Grimez on 12/15/2011 12:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
Just got home with my phone, this thing is everything I'd hoped it would be. The screen is awesome, the build quality feels great. Couldn't be happier so far. I'm just a casual phone user, replaced my original Droid with it. ITS AWESOME.




RE: I...
By steven975 on 12/15/2011 1:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
My contract is up 12/30 and this will most likely be my next.

OG Droid here on CM7.1. Even overclocked to 800Mhz...it's slow with the 256MB RAM.

I will miss the SD, but the space is enough. I also really only put media files on it, so the lack of USB mass storage shouldn't be too bad. As long as WMP can put my MP4s on there I'm good.


RE: I...
By Alexvrb on 12/18/2011 1:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
My dad just did the same exact thing - replaced a Motorola Droid (original) with this bad boy. The 4460 is an all-around good performer, and the display is freakin' awesome.


By drycrust3 on 12/15/2011 4:20:18 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Verizon Wireless may be the most expensive carrier when it comes to traditional smartphone data rates,

quote:
AT&T hopes to cover 70 million Americans, Verizon already now covers 200 million Americans.

Not being an American, I don't think it is coincidental that the network with the best coverage is also the one with the highest charges.
The simple fact is the network, and expanding or improving upon it, has to be paid for by the paying customers.
In addition, there is the argument that if you have to spend money on catering to the demands of your heaviest use customers, then that gives you have less money to spend on expanding your network. Thus, it seems as though Verizon, with their higher prices, have done a better job at containing the demands high end users place upon their network than AT&T.




By Omega215D on 12/15/2011 4:55:18 PM , Rating: 3
Yes they do, and this also helps another US carrier called Sprint as they rely on Verizon's network for roaming in various areas. Verizon isn't that much more than AT&T in terms of cost, at least when comparing my bills from both companies when I had them simultaneously.


What?
By adiposity on 12/15/2011 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It has a lower resolution camera and lacks the microSD expansion found in most Galaxy S IIs. But on the other hand, you get a slee, gently curved packaging that screams distinctive.


Wait, wait. Did you just suggest that a poor specs can be mitigated by having a "sleek" style? That sounds like someone bought into the marketing.

Verizon has a history of doing this: taking a phone that everyone else has, reducing the hardware feature set, and selling it for the same price in a slightly different exterior. It sucks, and having a "distinctive" phone is not going to change that.

Hell, if I want a "sleek" phone lacking a microSD upgrade, I can always get an iPhone.




RE: What?
By adiposity on 12/15/2011 2:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
err, "that poor specs"


Impressed!
By ZoSo on 12/17/2011 5:40:20 AM , Rating: 2
I must say I'm very impressed with the GNX. It's just about everything I've wanted in a smartphone. I've owned a few Moto's and the GNX feels just as solidly built. Quality is very good too. I was never concerned with a non-removable sdcard, as I barely filled 16GB on previous phones, and never had a need to change out the card.
The new ICS GUI is awesome, love the flow of it and the overall improvements are excellent. It runs smooth as silk too.
As far as the lower MP camera, no biggie, especially when you factor in the speed at which the GNX takes pictures, it's almost instantaneous and the pictures look great. If I want anything better, I just grab my DSLR.
Let's not forget how easy it is to unlock and lock the bootloader, and also the development capabilities of this phone, which is why it is a Nexus phone.
It's only been 3 days and there's already quite a few ROMs, overclockable and low voltage kernals. There's also a new launcher which improves on the ICS already great launcher.
AOSP + Galaxy Nexus, Got to love it!!




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