WiFi

The Galaxy Nexus uses Broadcom’s BCM4330, which is starting to pick up steam and become just as ubiquitous as the BCM4329 it replaced. The Galaxy Nexus’ BCM4330 includes both 2.4 and 5 GHz WLAN connectivity, just like the SGS2 in fact. What’s particularly notable is that Android 4.0.x now includes the proper prioritization for each WiFi band, and also includes the ability to set preference for one band for the other. By default, when faced with the same SSID on both 2.4 and 5 GHz, the Galaxy Nexus correctly chooses the 5 GHz AP if the signal is favorable, then falls over to 2.4 GHz when its link quality on that band would be better. Other than this notable change, the remainder of the WiFi settings panes are unchanged. The WiFi sleep preferences and the main scan and connect page does get a minor facelift and change, however.

 

The Galaxy Nexus latched onto my 802.11n APs on both 2.4 and 5 GHz and used 20 MHz long guard interval rates at 65 Mbps the same as other BCM4330 based devices. Throughput is unsurprisingly very good on the Galaxy Nexus in our WiFi test, which consists of downloading a 100 MB PDF hosted locally over WiFi. Of course, since we can now control and choose which band the device uses, I tested on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, both with a negotiated link rate of 65 Mbps.

WiFi Performance

WiFi range on the Galaxy Nexus is good as well, I can make it to the same place before hopping off my network as other devices. I have gotten a few emails and read reports about power-save mode incompatibility with some APs that causes it to drop off when on standby mode. Since we've seen BCM4330 work just fine on other devices, I have no doubt this is a software issue which will be fixed soon. 

Speakerphone

As usual I also measured speakerphone volume on both variants of the Galaxy Nexus using a sound datalogger. There is apparently a difference between the two models, possibly from different acoustical chambers in the vibration unit and antenna. Also there’s possibly still a difference as a result of the different voice coders in use, and the different dynamic range.

Speakerphone Volume - 3 Away

Either way, the two test differently, and subjectively my experience backs those measurements up. I found the GSM/UMTS Galaxy Nexus a bit too quiet while using Google Navigation, and the CDMA/LTE Galaxy Nexus on the quieter side but totally useable for Navigation.

GPS

Just like the SGS2, the Galaxy Nexus uses a SiRFStarIV GSD4t for GPS. Subjectively the Galaxy Nexus GPS doesn’t lock quite as fast as some of the other GNSS solutions that are integrated into the cellular basebands in phones, but it does get the job done pretty fast. I see a time to first fix of between 4-7 seconds depending on visible sky swath presented to the handset.

I did receive a few emails from readers with reports of some Galaxy Nexuses shipping with GPS issues or taking too long to lock. One of my friends with a CDMA/LTE Galaxy Nexus also reported that he couldn’t get a GPS lock at all for Google Navigation. I’m not entirely sure what the deal is here since I never was able to encounter this behavior, although manually downloading the A-GPS data (ephemeris) using a tool like GPS Status seems to in general helps mitigate those problems when they do happen. This just manually re-downloads the xtra.bin file from http://xtra1.gpsonextra.net/xtra.bin as configured in gps.conf. I have to admit that I didn’t encounter any GPS issues in my time with the Google Nexus (CDMA/LTE or GSM/UMTS version) so far.

Audio

We’re going to do a more in-depth audio analysis with the Galaxy Nexus when we have our testing suite more fleshed out, and possibly bring you Francois Simond’s thoughts once more. For now however, we have some RMAA runs I talked about a while ago in another review, and my own impressions with Galaxy Nexus sound after using the device for a while now as my primary music player with some Shure SE535s.

 

First off, the Galaxy Nexus out of the box is pretty decent subjectively. The Galaxy Nexus uses TI’s TWL6040 low power audio codec for its DAC and other audio responsibilities, alongside the vibrator actuator. We’ve seen some other TI audio codecs (like AIC3254 in the HTC Sensation) but this our first time seeing TWL6040. Almost immediately I noticed that there isn’t any constant high frequency whine present like I’ve heard on so many phones lately (Bionic, SGS2, others), and it’s hard to hear any noise when the DAC turns on and off after music stops playing. Even plugged into USB power, the device also doesn’t pick up any more noise or change at all. There’s also almost no CPU noise, though if you listen very carefully you can indeed hear some state changes, but it’s very minimal and very difficult to pick out.

Though the frequency response isn’t entirely flat as shown, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t sound bad subjectively. Our testing here is just a RMAA run from line out on the devices to line in on an ASUS Xonar Xense sound card. In addition, testing is done at 44100/16 bit on the devices - Android will downsample anything more than this.

http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/gadgets/Motorola/RAZR/Three/fr.png
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz: +0.10, -0.62 (dB)

Noise on the Galaxy Nexus also isn’t bad, definitely better than the RAZR we tested earlier.

Noise Level
Noise Level: -96.2 (dB, A weight)

Dynamic range shows the difference in level between the maximum output and minimum output on the smartphone. This is limited by voltage swing and system noise. Galaxy Nexus again here looks pretty good, minus a few spikes.

Dynamic Range
Dynamic range: 96.0 (dB, A weight)

The two total harmonic distortion charts are next, which are the summation of integer multiples of the test frequency and expressed as a ratio of the input signal (in this case at 1 kHz). THD+Noise gives all frequencies except the input signal. The Galaxy Nexus is pretty good here, but still has some spikes at a few noteworthy integer multiples, plus some odd spikes at high frequencies.

THD + Noise
THD %: 0.0088

Intermodulation distortion is similar to total harmonic distortion, however it applies two input signals and then measures the signal at all frequencies except the two inputs. In this case, the two signals are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Galaxy Nexus ends up not looking too bad here although there are disconcerting spikes above 1 kHz that I can’t explain.

IMD
IMD + Noise %: 0.013

Finally stereo crosstalk is pretty flat on the Galaxy Nexus.

Stereo Crosstalk
Stereo Crosstalk: -87.4 dB

Again, this isn’t meant to be a totally comprehensive analysis of the Galaxy Nexus’ sound characteristics, just some educated impressions. Subjectively the Galaxy Nexus sounds nice and clean, and is absent of the annoyingly audible background noise and whine that’s present on some of the other noteworthy phones we’ve tried as of late. Francois (supercurio) has expressed a few times that the Galaxy Nexus has good audio potential, and that alone should tell you something.

Cellular Performance and Call Quality on Galaxy Nexus Battery Life Analysis
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  • roedtogsvart - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Finally! Reply
  • prophet001 - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Just had one of this hit my desk today :D very nice phone. Reply
  • Owls - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    No offense but I'm kind of pissed after reading this article with what amounts to a masturbatory article about the iphone 4s.

    For example on an ipad 2 and iphone 4s there is plenty of lag here and there using the UI on par with gingerbread. On ICS? It's pratically nonexistent.

    The camera? The only issue I found was that on Auto the shots didn't always come out great. Some manual adjustments fixed that and after comparing the shots to my dad's iphone 4s there's virtually no difference.

    I pretty much stopped reading after the camera section.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    What kind of lag are you talking about? The A5 SoC is one of the most powerful out there and it's already been noted in several reviews how the older A4 SoC plus iOS 4 and 5 outperformed Gingerbread. You're saying the lag on ICS is somehow better than an A5 plus iOS 5 by saying the A5 + iOS 5 is as laggy as a CPU bound unaccelerated Android 2.3? Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Why, do you think, anand is using 720p "off-screen" in benchmarks, why not try it directly on screen?

    PS
    Oh, and why "black levels" aren't present on screen comparison? And why iphones dissapear from charts where they are wtfpwned by other phones?

    Sigh. Disgusting.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    All the phones and tablets would go up in number if they used native resolution, but then you can't actually compare the HW because each would be constrained by different resolutions. By using 720p offscreen you get to judge all the HW on the same scale.

    Also, Anand has definitely reported black levels:
    http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/4215?cPage=4&a...

    I don't know of any places where the iPhone disappear so much as the iPhone doesn't run the app. You'll notice that the rankings appear congruent; 4S followed by S2 with the Nexus and 4 on the bottom. Nothing changes, except that certain apps aren't available for the iPhone. Rightware Basemark is an Android app, silly.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    And "actual HW number" tells you what? That GPU X is faster than GPU Y? Instead of saying "phone X would render faster than phone Y"? How is first more appropriate mesurement than the latter?

    @Also, Anand has definitely reported black levels:@
    Are you kidding me? Where is vs amoled comparison in your link? How is it related to the article in discussion?

    Not only do they skip "black levels", they somehow manage to make a picture of AMOLED screen where BLACK looks GREY. Wow, great job misleading readers.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    Yes, GPU X is faster than GPU Y is a perfectly valid comparison. You would have to ask Anand why he thought comparing GPUs was a valid benchmark, but given the long track record of how responsive the iPhone has been compared to Android, I don't see how that anything else is relevant. The fact that offscreen performance favors the iPhone 4S doesn't change that it doesn't favor the iPhone 4!

    Also, why would he compare to amoled when in fact there are no amoled tablets to compare to?

    You're a baseless and pointless critic.
    Reply
  • doobydoo - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    There is no lag at all on the iPad 2 or the iPhone 4S, what are you talking about?

    I think you're more pissed off that the Nexus came with an average camera and a 2-year-old GPU.
    Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Monday, January 30, 2012 - link

    Well, iPhone 4 came with a 2 year old GPU, too in 2010, and much lower FPS than the competition, if you remember those GPU charts, where the iPhone 4 was the last at the bottom. Not too many people seemed to care about it. Reply

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