January 21, 2012, 7:05 AM — The scoop: Galaxy Nexus smartphone, by Samsung (Verizon Wireless service), about $300 (with two-year contract, plus voice and data plans).
What is it? The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the latest Android smartphone from Samsung, utilizing the new Ice Cream Sandwich (Version 4.0) operating system from Google and running on Verizon's 4G LTE network. The phone has a very thin 9.47mm profile and a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display, making it larger than the Apple iPhone 4 or 4S smartphones. The Nexus is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and includes 1GB of RAM to run apps that can be downloaded from the Android Market. The phone can store 32GB of data files, including music, movies and photos. An 802.11n connection lets you connect to a Wi-Fi network if you don't want to utilize the 4G or 3G network.
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Why it's cool: The new OS has some redesigned features, including a lock screen, homepage screen and an improved phone app. The 5-megapixel digital camera includes 1080p video capture and a panoramic photo mode that lets you take almost-360-degree photos. A front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera allows for video chat or self-portraits.
If you or your users are completely in the Google camp with its apps (Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Music, etc.), the smartphone completely integrates with those offerings -- after signing in with my Google account, each of the Google apps quickly synchronized with my data from those services.
In my tests of the Verizon 4G LTE network (with the Speedtest.net app) in a few different locations, I achieved an average of 18.13Mbps of download speed, and 6.48Mbps of upload speeds. This is super-fast compared with existing 3G phones, and even surpasses some home broadband speeds (especially my lousy cable service at home). In addition, you can use the phone as a mobile hotspot, allowing up to 10 devices to connect to access the 4G network.