The Galaxy Nexus - Hardware and Aesthetics

The evolution of Google’s Nexus line is an interesting one. Each year, Google choses both a silicon partner and an OEM to make a unique hardware archetype which it caters a specific build of Android to. We’ve now seen three Nexus handset designs from two OEMs and three silicon vendors - the Nexus One (HTC and Qualcomm’s QSD8x50), Nexus S (Samsung and Samsung’s S5PC110 ‘Hummingbird’), and today the Galaxy Nexus (Samsung and TI’s OMAP4460).

Looking at the hardware of those three handsets gives a great survey of the course the Android ecosystem has taken over the last couple of years. The Nexus One started things out with a 3.7” LCD, capacitive buttons, and hardware trackball. Nexus S then removed the trackball, added a curved 4.0” display, and ditched the microSD card slot. The Galaxy Nexus continues in that direction, increasing display size to 4.65” and resolution to 1280x720, and finally removing the capacitive buttons all together. Instead, the Galaxy Nexus uses a 96 x 720 region at the bottom of the display to visualize the navigational buttons, a move that has the consequence of also keeping the display interaction area aspect ratio close to that of WVGA.

It’s interesting to see how many of the design motifs set by the original Nexus One still have been thoughtfully preserved on the Galaxy Nexus. The notched chrome ring around the camera aperture has continued as a thread for three generations, as has the overall lightly rounded shape. The Galaxy Nexus also retains the chin from Nexus S backside where the speakerphone port and primary cellular antennas are located. In addition, the volume rocker, power/lock button, headphone jack, and primary microphone position from the Nexus S is unchanged.

The Galaxy Nexus’ backside is no longer the extremely slippery and scratch prone plastic that the Nexus S (and original Galaxy S) adorned, instead it’s a textured, lightly soft touch material. I’m always surprised by how much of a difference changing the backside texture makes on the overall in-hand feel impressions I come away with, and in this case it’s a major positive change. It’s clear that this is an evolution of Nexus more than a huge departure from what’s come before - if anything the Galaxy Nexus is like a larger, thinner, more refined Nexus S.

We’ve taken a look at both the CDMA/LTE (codename mysid/toro) and the GSM/UMTS (codename yakju/maguro) Galaxy Nexus variants.

The two differ beyond just the air interfaces they support slightly in the physical department as well, though the two share all the same other features (SoC, display, camera, etc.). The CDMA/LTE Galaxy Nexus is ever so slightly thicker than the GSM/UMTS Galaxy Nexus, though the difference is enough to be perceptible.

In addition, the two have the same exterior “titanium silver” color, no doubt the differences we saw earlier can be attributed to the difference between renders and the real deal. The other small detail is that the two use very different, non-interchangeable batteries - the GSM/UMTS variant uses a 6.48 Whr battery, the CDMA/LTE version gets a slightly larger 6.85 Whr battery. Both of these include the NFC antenna patterned the outside surface of the battery, just under the sticker. 

Other than those subtle differences, Samsung has done a good job masking the challenges which underlie having two superficially similar phones with different cellular architectures. The two variants do feel different in the hand, but the difference isn't dramatic. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4S Samsung Galaxy S 2 Samsung Galaxy Nexus (CDMA/LTE) Samsung Galaxy Nexus (GSM/UMTS)
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 125.3 mm (4.93") 135.5 mm (5.33") 135.5 mm (5.33")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 66.1 mm (2.60") 67.94 mm (2.67) 67.94 mm (2.67)
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 8.49 mm (0.33") 9.47 mm (0.37") 8.94 mm (0.35")
Weight 140 g (4.9 oz) 115 g (4.06 oz) 150 g (5.3 oz) 135 g (4.8 oz)
CPU Apple A5 @ ~800MHz Dual Core Cortex A9 1.2 GHz Exynos 4210 Dual Core Cortex A9 1.2 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 OMAP 4460 1.2 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 OMAP 4460
GPU PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ARM Mali-400 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 512MB LPDDR2-800 1 GB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 32 GB NAND 16/32 GB NAND
Camera 8 MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP AF/LED flash, 2 MP front facing 5 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1080p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1080p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.27" 800 x 480 SAMOLED+ 4.65" 1280x720 SAMOLED HD 4.65" 1280x720 SAMOLED HD
Battery Internal 5.3 Whr Removable 6.11 Whr Removable 6.85 Whr Removable 6.48 Whr

 

Settings & File Transfers The SoC - TI's OMAP 4460
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  • Jingato - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Why even bother posting a review of a phone that is over a month old? If you want to be a real news /review site you should of had a review the next day. There is no reason not to. period.

    get your shit together
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Because they go more in depth than most reviews out there. The ones that post reviews the day after a product launch don't find nearly as many flaws and details as the AT team. There are plenty of other sites for quickie reviews, I like Anandtech for in-depth. Reply
  • Omid.M - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link

    That's unnecessarily harsh. If you're used to the same day "reviews" of Engadget--i.e. NOTHING technical, totally subjective measurements of everything, in the name of being the "first" with a review--then go ahead and keep reading Engadget.

    Brian and Anand review EVERYTHING in depth: basebands, screens, software, they even have supercurio who is well known dev in Android community for his take on audio processing. Plus, Anand and Brian were covering CES.

    Anand, Brian,

    Great job as always. I have a chance to pick up a Nexus LTE for $500 (since I don't have an upgrade) but will hold off; might go with iPhone 4S until Krait or iPhone 5 comes out and (hopefully) blows me away.

    -Omid

    @moids
    Reply
  • Harbler - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link

    Why even bother posting a comment if you're not going to read the review? A cursory perusal of the index alone would have answered your question.

    Anand & Co. take the time required to turn in top-notch, in-depth reviews, and they've been doing it for longer than your favorite gadget review site has even been in business. Anandtech is, in every sense, a *real* review site.

    If wholly subjective reviews of devices (provided within hours of launch) are your idea of informative reading, then please return to Engadget or whatever site you strayed from. Unlike Anadtech, sites of the sort you're looking for are a dime a dozen, and you'll find them substantially better suited to your attention span.
    Reply
  • vortmax2 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Can Brian or Anand comment on why they believe Samsung used an OMAP 4460 when they only clocked it to 4430 levels? Also, devs at XDA are having a hard time overclocking it to the 1.5GHz/384MHz max values. Any ideas? Thanks! -Jamie Reply
  • Tripp1717 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Ive had it for over a month now and i upgraded from a galaxy s (epic 4g on Sprint). Watching Blue ray movies i put on my phone are simply amazing. Ive never seen anything better and i work in the electronics dept at sears. Its better than the samsung 7000 led screen. Overall it took a few weeks to really get used to Andriod 4.02 but it is an amazing improvment from 2.3.5. I cant think of too many flaws here. LTE is SOOO much fater than WiMax! i get about 25-30 MB/s when using speedtest. Upload speeds are very fast too, ave. is around 10ish MB/s. Battery life is fantastic compared to my epic 4g. At work i set my ohone to data restrict so i only get calls and texts because in my store there is NO signal at all and after 8 hours from 100% it will drop to 85%. My Epic wouldnt make it through the work day. 720p Super AMOLED+ really makes this phone a winner. Google and samsung working together is a great combo. My ONLY complaint is i wish i had an 8 or higher megapixel camera. But with the added features its pretty darn decent. No complaints except there are a few programs that are still not compatible with 4.0+ (HBOGO). I highly recomend this over any phone out or anything slated to come out for awhile anyways. Reply
  • Amit P - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    I'm waiting for my THIRD Nexus to come in. I had screen problems with the first two. The screen wasn't as bright as my brothers Nexus with the same settings. The colors weren't as vivid either. Reply
  • Bristecom - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Thats why I didnt exchange mine. Even though it has a dead pixel, aside from that, the screen looks great. So I fear getting one with no dead pixels but poor brightness or colors. This screen is the best Ive ever seen. Other super AMOLED plus displays Ive seen have off colors that bother me. Reply
  • Bristecom - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    I have to say, mine has a dead green subpixel and it is very clear to me even from a distance with green or white screens. Regardless, I didnt bother exchanging it. -Sent from my Galaxy Nexus Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, January 21, 2012 - link

    A question, I have Galaxy S so can't compare.
    Could you please comment on whether black is actually black on Nexus as it is on Galaxy's?

    I'm asking because dear objective Anand managed to make a photo of it that makes it look gray ("Display" page)
    Reply

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