The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is Official, and it Feeds on Ice Cream Sandwich

While we were all safely tucked up in bed last night, Google and Samsung were holding an event in Hong Kong, where they unveiled the long-awaited Galaxy Nexus smartphone and the equally long-awaited Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Known over the past months as the Nexus Prime, Samsung and Google have chosen to merge their Nexus and Galaxy smartphone brands to create the new device, Samsung’s second all-Google phone after the Nexus S.

Nexus hardware is Google’s showcase for Android, which always appears without any manufacturer UIs or carrier interferance, thus providing a pure Android experience. Not only is this great for developers, but it’s also welcome for fans who want to use the software Google designed without compromise.

Android fans may recall Motorola gave us their ‘best smartphone on the planet’, the Droid RAZR, yesterday; so how does the Galaxy Nexus stack up against it?  While some aspects of the Galaxy Nexus beat the RAZR on paper, there are others which don’t quite stack up.  Here’s the feature list:

  • A 4.65″ Super AMOLED HD touchscreen with a 1280 x 700 pixel resolution.
  • 5 megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, plus a 1.3 megapixel video-call lens.
  • A 1.2Ghz dual-core processor.
  • 1GB RAM.
  • Either 16GB or 32GB internal memory.
  • Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi.
  • NFC.

In the USA the Galaxy Nexus will run on an as yet unconfirmed network, while in the UK and elsewhere it’ll connect to fast HSPA+ networks, just like the iPhone 4S.  The chassis is another of Samsung’s exercises in squeezing as much cutting-edge tech into the slimmest design possible, and at just 8.9mm thick, they’ve done another amazing job.

The Galaxy Nexus retains the Nexus S’s curved screen design, but does away with screen mounted buttons entirely, using instead a system called ‘hyperskin’ where the usual Search, Back and Home keys are software-driven and part of the screen.  The design itself is very similar to the Nexus S, just a little bigger.

The massive screen should look good though, as Samsung are renowned for producing sharp, clear and bright displays, and that HD resolution should make the Galaxy Nexus perfect for video.  Inside is a 1.2GHz processor made by Texas Instruments, which is slightly more restrained than some expected, especially given the appearance of 1.5Ghz dual-core chips recently. The 5 megapixel camera may sound very 2009, but thanks to some new software it could perform very well.  Judgement will be reserved until it arrives.

But few will be basing their purchasing decision on the hardware alone, and it’s the presence of the newest Google Android OS which will make the phone desirable. Android 4.0, named Ice Cream Sandwich, has seen a redesign over Gingerbread and comes with a host of tweaks rather than a lot of brand new features.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will go on sale in November, and it’s going to be very interesting to see whether the software and massive screen is enough to entice Android fans away from the wafer-thin RAZR.

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