We couldn't help but notice people standing outside a Verizon store this morning waiting for it to open. And now that we've played around with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Verizon, we don't blame them. This handset combines the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software with 4G LTE speeds and a vast and gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus display. Read on for our first impressions.
So what's different between the Verizon Galaxy Nexus and the unlocked version? For starters, the 5.2-ounce Galaxy Nexus for Verizon is heavier than the GSM model (4.9 ounces). It doesn't sound like a lot but we immediately noticed the extra heft. By comparison, the Motorola Droid RAZR weighed a light 4.6 ounces on our scale. Though it sports the same elegant arc-shaped lines, the Verizon Nexus is also slightly thicker than its unlocked brother. However, it retains the same wonderful 1280 x 720 HD screen.
In our original review of the unlocked Galaxy Nexus, we told you all about Google's new OS. But in a nutshell, it's more attractive, socially connected, and intuitive. We especially love how easy it is to multitask with the new recent apps button. Want to close an app? Just swipe it off the screen. There's also a new People app, an address book on steroids that pulls in updates from Twitter and Google+. Fortunately, Verizon takes a very hands-off approach to its Galaxy Nexus--for the most part. There's only My Verizon Mobile and VZ Backup Assistant. The rest is pure Google. Too bad Verizon isn't supporting Google Wallet on this phone (at least not for now).
We've only tested in one location thus far (downtown New York City) but the Galaxy Nexus brings the heat when it comes to data speeds. It took the phone only 4 to 5 seconds to load mobile sites like ESPN, CNN, and NYTimes, and a mere 10 seconds to load the full Laptopmag.com site. Using the Speedtest.net app, the Verizon Nexus averaged 4.7 Mbps downloads and 794 Kbps uploads in our office. The wireless strength in our building isn't great, so we expect to see much faster speeds elsewhere.
By comparison the HTC Rezound was much faster though in the same spot, pulling down 5.3 Mbps and average 3.1 Mbps uploads. The Droid RAZR brought up the rear in this test, averaging just 2.3 Mbps down and 919 Kbps up.
One of our beefs with the GSM Galaxy Nexus was that the camera is so fast that many pictures turned out blurry. So far, the Verizon version seems slightly sharper, so perhaps Google and Verizon have done some tweaking leading up to launch. Check out our photos in the gallery to see if you like what you see. The low-light performance continues to be strong. However, the flash on the Verizon version still tends to create a green cast on the background in photos.
We're working on our in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Verizon, but there are a lot of people who want to know whether they should but the Galaxy Nexus right now. Based on our initial impressions, we say this is the Android phone to beat, and a better choice than the iPhone 4S for those who really care about data speed. The Droid RAZR is thinner but has older software and slower data speeds. And while the HTC Rezound has better sound and even faster 4G, it's design is bulky and dull by comparison.
What we don't know yet is how long the Galaxy Nexus for Verizon lasts on a charge, which is a big factor because 4G LTE radios suck down a lot of power. Stay tuned for our full review.