November 25, 2011, 7:15 AM — In the world of Android, we see a lot of new phones -- and inevitably, some of them are destined to be forgotten. Samsung's new Galaxy Nexus is not one of those devices.
The Galaxy Nexus, available now in the UK and coming soon to Verizon Wireless, is an exceptional phone, arguably the finest Android handset to date. It's the first device to run Google's just-released Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich, and will serve as the flagship phone for the platform. The Nexus name means Google had a close hand in developing the device, and that level of involvement certainly shows.
I've spent several days using the global HSPA+ version of the Galaxy Nexus, which is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile. Neither carrier has announced plans to sell the phone so far, but you could theoretically buy it unlocked and use it on either network, provided you're willing to pay the unsubsidized off-contract price.
Verizon, which will sell the Nexus, will sell a slightly different model made to run on its LTE 4G network; that version was not available for review at the time of this publication. Thus far, no U.S. pricing specifics -- on contract or off -- have been announced. There is also no official release date yet.
Body and display
First things first: The Galaxy Nexus is no small gadget. The phone measures 2.7 x 5.3 x 0.4 in., thanks in part to its jumbo-sized 4.65-in. display. Despite those daunting figures, I haven't found the new Nexus to feel the least bit bulky; the phone is sleek, thin, and light -- weighing in at just 4.8 oz. -- and perfectly comfortable to hold and carry around.
It's worth noting that the LTE version will differ somewhat in its dimensions: Google lists that version of the phone as being 0.02 in. thicker and 0.5 oz. heavier than the HSPA+ model I've been testing.
Size aside, the Galaxy Nexus has a look reminiscent of Samsung's Galaxy S II phone -- in particular, the Sprint GSII model. The Nexus has more rounded edges and a contoured display, but those distinctions aside, the phones could almost be brothers.