The best smartphone to roll in town

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TRUTH be told, when Google released the Galaxy Nexus, I wasn't 100 per cent sure I would be getting "the best smartphone" ever made, because of other contenders like the Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy Note, or even the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Getting the right size on a smartphone is tricky. Surely, anything smaller than a four-inch is unacceptable now, especially for those who have been using phones that particular size. If you try going back to a 3.5-inch or a 3.7-inch, it's like... you're Tom Cruise and upon hearing your mission read to you from a payphone, it sounds ridiculous.

Sure iPhone users will argue this, but I'm pretty sure 90 per cent of Apple users have not spent at least a month with a beautiful big screen.

Samsung, who manufacturers the Galaxy Nexus, has the screen at 4.65-inches. I'm not saying this is going to be the perfect size, but a market filled with four inch, 4.3-inch phones, HTC's new line of 4.7-inch, and the Note's 5.3-inch, this Nexus screen feels like its right in the middle.

Holding my current phone, the HTC Sensation in one hand, and the Galaxy Nexus next to it, my display looked like a bland piece of printing paper.

Amazing displays:

The best of the pack, the Galaxy Nexus has a 1280x720 (720p) high definition screen, and this thing is so beautiful it's borderline indescribeable. When I look at it held at arms length, it's like the display is floating under the screen. With our current (inferior) phone screens, the display and screen looks like it's all one piece, but it's not the case with the Galaxy Nexus.

Samsung's HD Super AMOLED sure is something special, gorgeous doesn't even describe it. The fonts are so sharp, and colours just jump out at you.

Back to the size, as more reading and surfing get done on gadgets, a bigger screen has become one of the top demands of smartphone users, but how big is big? The Note is unacceptable for a number of people at 5.3-inches, yet there are more and more Bruneians buying the almost two-year-old first generation Samsung Galaxy Tab to use as their phone. That's a good seven-inch, and I'm sure there are some who are crazy enough to consider the upcoming Galaxy Tab 7.7 as their daily mobile phone (I know I would be open to that).

So the Galaxy Nexus, at 4.65-inches (similar to the HTC Titan), I think just manages to avoid that "ridiculous" tag by some users.

The fastest camera EVER:

If you want to see a mobile phone camera mimic an SLR, check out the camera on the Galaxy Nexus. I've got no idea what Samsung's put in this phone but the shutter speed is definitely on steroids. Granted it's only five megapixels, you'll never have experienced a faster shutter on a mobile phone.

Quality-wise, it shows that megapixels (mp) doesn't always mean a better camera, you'll get a better resolution for bigger screens with higher megapixels, but for a phone, five mp will still give you high quality shots.

The camera app is very much revamped as well, giving you features like face-detection, zero-lag and panorama.

Video is recorded up to 1080p, whilst the front facing camera can do 720p, and still pictures can be taken at the same time whilst video is being recorded.

Software:

The first ever Ice Scream Sandwich (ICS) equipped phone from Google, this is the ultimate Android refinement. A completely new font, modernised look, and numerous improvements.

One of the more interesting additions would be Google's face-unlock. I've had a good two-days with face-unlock on my HTC Sensation (which I've rooted and installed ICS for testing purposes), and it became more of a novelty than a security feature for me. Then again, I've never been one to put a lock on my phone, whether it's face recognition, a pattern or passcode.

Also for the first time with the Galaxy Nexus, a lack of hardware keys. There are fixed buttons on the phone, so whatever app you go into, the buttons will change accordingly to serve that app. There were a few awkward moments where I found myself asking how do I go back, because the on-screen keys hides until you tap on the area where they reside in.

Hardware buttons are replaced with the three on-screen keys: Back, Home and Recent apps.

The recent apps button brings up a screen just like Honeycomb, with a screen shot of each and every app open, and if you swipe across the app, it gets killed, a very handy feature.

Unlike other Android devices, the Galaxy Nexus' bottom tray has five shortcuts, which are fully customiseable. You can replace them with different apps, or add a folder to it.

The notifaction pull-down menu, has also some improvements done, there's an immediate access to the phones settings and as notifications come in, you can swipe across each of them to kill it as well.

Other goodies like a built in data manager, Near Field Communication (NFC), which enables Android Beam, Google Wallet and so on, are included.

Conclusion:

Definitely the best Android phone out there right now, hands down. What I dislike is the built of the back panel, which is plasticy, and very typical of Samsung.

I also dislike the prices it's selling at in Brunei, about $1,200, as compared to $870 online, so I definitely won't be buying locally.

The Brunei Times


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