Most of the core Android apps have been updated in Ice Cream Sandwich with some sweet new features. For example, Gmail gets a face-lift, with a new context-sensitive Action Bar at the bottom of the screen. The bar changes depending on where in the app you are. When you're looking at an email message, say, you'll see options to archive it, trash it, label it, or mark it as unread. And the browser in Ice Cream Sandwich is just about as close as you can get to a desktop one: You can set it to request full desktop versions of sites instead of the lesser mobile versions. In addition, you can sync your bookmarks from the desktop Chrome browser to the Browser app in Ice Cream Sandwich.
Unfortunately, the Nexus's camera just isn't as capable as the rest of the phone. The photos I shot with the Galaxy Nexus's 5-megapixel camera looked a bit flat. Colors seemed a touch washed out, and details were a little fuzzy. But even if your photos don't come out perfect, you may be able to salvage them with the OS's suite of photo-editing tools. You can apply an array of filters (similar to those in Instagram), adjust the image angle, remove red-eye, crop, and more. Any edits you make to a photo will create a copy, in case you want to revert to the original.
If you're tired of carrying a phone charger everywhere, check out the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx ($300 with a two-year contract). Practically identical to the Droid Razr, also on Verizon, the Razr Maxx offers one huge improvement: longer battery life. The original Razr's battery seemed to drain before your eyes, a common problem among the carrier's 4G phones. In PCWorld Labs battery-life tests, the Droid Razr ran for 6 hours, 49 minutes when connected to the Web via Wi-Fi. The Droid Razr Maxx, on the other hand, lasted 12 hours, 29 minutes--almost double the life!
Besides its insane battery life, the Droid Razr Maxx has a lot going for it. At 0.35 inches thick, the Razr Maxx is incredibly thin--on a par with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It has a soft-touch back made out of Kevlar, a material found in high-end speedboats, bulletproof jackets, and bicycle tires; Motorola says that Kevlar is five times stronger than steel. The phone also has a stainless-steel core, giving it a feeling of sturdiness and solidity. On top of that, a splash-guard feature protects the phone if you get caught in a downpour or spill something on it.