My Galaxy Nexus Review After Almost A Month Of Use


In late 2009, like many longtime Verizon Wireless subscribers I jumped into the world of proper smartphones with the original Motorola Droid (after a short stint with the awful Windows Mobile based Moto Q). I had wanted an iPhone, but Verizon didn’t have one. I thought about a Blackberry, but Android was quickly gaining a cult following and I have always been a fan of Google and devout user of Google services. After the iPhone’s awful data issues on AT&T, the Droid was branded by Google, Motorola, and Verizon as the anti-iPhone with the memorable “Droid Does” commercials (voiced by master thespian James Vanderbeek), and it was the first iPhone contender on the reliable and fast Verizon 3G network.  If AT&T had their shit together for the iPhone with their data and customer service, Android’s rise to power might never happened. I was in love with the Droid and had a good honeymoon period with my Droid. But then the Nexus One & Nexus S (not on Verizon) and many other newer, better, faster Android phones came out. I rooted my Droid to keep up. Overclocked it. Moved my apps to the SD card because I kept running out of space. It currently have it running gingerbread, but with each software and app update geared toward newer phones my Droid seemed to slow down, get hotter, buggier, and have ever worse battery life. A friend of mine gave me his old Droid battery (after he upgraded to a Droid X) so I always had a spare with me toward the end. All of that being said, I still love/loved my Droid. It still works and will live on at home as a WiFi music player with a few apps.

Then the iPhone 4 came to Verizon in early 2011. As my Verizon 2 year contract counted down I was debating an iPhone 5 or the 4G LTE Droid Bionic. Ultimately the iPhone 4S came out and wasn’t all that exciting to me. The Droid Bionic came out late and I considered it, but then there was the announcement of the Galaxy Nexus. A pure Google Nexus phone. Dual Core. Android 4.0 Ice Cream sandwich. On Verizon 4G LTE. So I lived with my Droid a few months more, and after a big unveiling in China, more rumors, more delays, early reviews, and a European launch, it finally landed in the US December 15th.

G-Nex meets OG Droid

G-Nex meets OG Droid (from

Launch Day & Initial Impressions

I had a meeting in Cleveland on launch day and afterward I found the nearest Verizon store where I snatched up the phone, and an extended battery (I just wanted a spare & it was only $25). In the parking lot not 15 minutes after logging into my Google account and syncing up most of my apps, the Galaxy Nexus got a system update from Google. After the horror stories of waiting months for OS updates to other Android phones, I was experiencing first hand, one of the big reasons I wanted a Nexus phone in the first place. And a big reason for Android over iOS. Even the iOS5 WiFi updates on my iPad are annoying. Why should I need a computer AT ALL to update my device? But I digress. The Galaxy Nexus feels leap years faster and is so much more polished in both hardware and software compared to my Droid.  The phone itself is super fast. The screen is large and gorgeous. A high quality video on YouTube or Netflix looks amazing. Those software buttons fade away and you get all of the beautiful screen’s real estate. With all the talk about phone sizes, even though it’s big, it’s not too heavy and feels good in my hand. One handed use is not an issue.  Ice Cream sandwich is really polished and very smooth. ICS is not necessarily as spartan as iOS, but I WANT widgets and options. It definitely feels like Android is finally maturing. A unified OS for phones and tablets is a good plan moving forward. In that regard iOS excels, and Google knows that.

Galaxy Nexus
Galaxy Nexus login screen...last known photo taken with my Droid (North Olmsted, Ohio Verizon store)

4G LTE Signal And Signal Issues

The Cleveland area where I first setup the phone has really good 4G reception (although I did no speed tests), but as I got out of Cleveland to Norwalk, Ohio where we were staying with my in-laws, there was no 4G connection to be had. Same in Muskegon, Michigan when we went to stay with my family for Christmas. I really love the phone, but I had early issues with signal. The lack of 4G coverage seemed to throw it into a sort of confused state. 3G was always pretty good in both of these more rural areas on my Droid, but when it got into 3G areas, it lost ALL data connections at random times. Even WiFi stopped working. The only fix was a reboot, or switch airplane mode on/off to reset the signal. I spent some time in the sticks, but still think this issue needs to be dealt with ASAP as it is their flagship phone. I also now know that over the holidays, Verizon has had several NATIONAL 4G LTE outages. Some of my problems coincide with those outages, but I can’t be 100% sure. Also here is a tip. If there is no 4G signal to be had, turn it off in your data network settings. Nothing is worse for the battery than being on the edge of a 4G/3G network area. You’ll burn it up in 4 hours. We came back to Nashville on the 28th of December and other than 1 of the Verizon outages, I’ve had solid and unbelievably fast 4G LTE service. When connected to a solid 4G signal, I’ve clocked 10.5 hours of battery life with normal use with the stock battery. 13.5 with the extended battery (phone calls, browsing, apps, light video use). I have since been told that my signal problem is mainly because Android baseband problems. It’s not perfect, and is therefore why there is not an LTE iPhone yet. But I can deal with this sometimes if my speeds are almost 20x faster than 3G as seen below:

Ridiculous 3G vs. 4G LTE Speed Difference

 Phone quality and clarity is very good, but there is a low volume issue. There is an app called Volume+ that fixes it, however Google should release an update. Also sometimes I hear a vibration. Don’t know for sure if it is the speaker or software. All of the Google apps look and work better on the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich. Games, Videos, everything looks amazing on this HD screen.

Path 2.0

My favorite new app which looks gorgeous on the Galaxy Nexus is Path 2.0. Path is a mobile based “private” social network (as you are limited to only 150 friends). Path was created by former (early) Facebooker Dave Morin, and lets you share photos, location and status. Now that’s not necessarily new, but this really feels like a more human social network. Check it out at:

Path App
The Beautiful Path App. Hey look it's @Shirls!


Another app that’s new to me is It’s a task/to do list/reminder app that syncs seamlessly with Google Tasks from Gmail. It has voice commands, and it will add tasks automatically. Say if you miss a phone call, it will auto create a task that says to call that person back. And it looks great. You can choose a dark or light layout. And when you’re done with a task, you just swipe through it. I know that this will really help me become more productive. It feels like the Google Tasks app that Google should have built. And apparently so does Google’s Eric Schmidt who is an investor in and advisor to Find out more at: task list with the dark layout

Google Wallet

Another app that I consider revolutionary that takes advantage of the Near Field Communication feature of the Galaxy Nexus (also on the Nexus S) is Google Wallet. Basically you connect Google Wallet to your Google Checkout and bank account or credit card (also select gift cards plus loyalty cards from retailers and restaurants). The app is blocked by Verizon because of some bullshit reason related to a mobile payment alliance they are building. But if you do some searching you can find it on some of the popular Android blogs and forums. If you download the app, and signup, Google will preload a gift card with $10.  Once setup, you can use your phone to pay for stuff simply by waving it at a NFC friendly pay terminal. Most commonly those terminals are known as Mastercard “Pay Pass” terminals which have been around for a few years.

Just before starting our annual New Year’s resolution of healthy eating (lost almost 20lbs last year), I made a late night fast food run around the corner to Jack in the Box. I noticed they had a pay pass logo at the drive through window credit card reader. Now I just installed Google Wallet last week & got a $10 gift for signing up so I told the girl at the drive through that I wanted to test something out. I got out my Galaxy Nexus , put it up to the reader. It vibrated, beeped, and opened Google Wallet without me clicking anything. I entered my pin, accepted the charge and payed for my food in seconds. The girl running the drive through was all like “I’ve never seen anyone do that before. What phone is that?!” I felt like Marty McFly. So thanks for making me the cool kid at the drive thru and for my final holiday cheat meal Google. Which BTW was a Jumbo Jack, curly fries and diet Dr. Pepper (and ultimate cheeseburger for the wife) Very cool. I love technology 🙂 Check it out at

Google Wallet Receipt
Google Wallet Receipt. Thanks for the Jack In The Box Google 🙂

Google Music

Google Music has been around for a while now, but it just recently came out of beta. My Droid was so slow when not on WiFi (and from running my tons of apps it couldn’t really handle), that I couldn’t make good use of it outside the web interface on my computer. 4G LTE , Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus changed all that. For those not using it yet, Google Music lets you upload up to 20,000 songs from your own collection to Google Music which you can then listen to from the web or your Android device. I’m not sure but I think Apple has it blocked from iOS devices, unless it can be done from the browser. Anyhow I set up the Google Music Uploader to monitor my iTunes folder and it automatically uploads all my music to Google for safe keeping and easy access. Set it and forget it Ron Popeil style. Now I just open the app and all my thousands of songs are right there in the app to stream. 4G LTE streams instantly with no hiccups. WiFi does too. 3G gets choppy. Also Google sells music through the Android Market, and they’re doing some really neat stuff with Artist pages. The app looks amazing on the Galaxy Nexus and I really like how you can create “Instant” playlists based on any given song you might be playing. I also really like how you can control music from the lock screen, which is new to Ice Cream Sandwich. I was using Amazon MP3, but this is now the best Music app I’ve used on Android.
You can signup at:

Google Music at Lock Screen
Google Music Controls At The Lock Screen

Final Verdict

If you want the latest and greatest from Google, do get the Galaxy Nexus

Some people love iOS and their iPhones and the Apple experience. I was on the fence, but am a fan of both OS’ for different reasons (I do own an iPad and love it). I heavily rely on Google services like GMail, Docs, Calendar, etc., but the things I’m addicted to in Android are Google Voice Integration and Maps Navigation. Giving those up for iOS were a hard sell. And honestly the iPhone 4 was disappointing to me outside of that great camera. Siri isn’t all that impressive to me, and people are falling out of love with it every day. So overall I’m glad I held out for the Galaxy Nexus. It’s a seriously impressive piece of hardware. Ice Cream Sandwich is a nice step forward for the Android OS, and the issues I have been experiencing, I’ve been assured will be resolved. Verizon has the iPhone now, so their hard hitting ‘Droid Does’ advertising campaign is long gone, but if you’re like me and are an original Droid guy that wants to stick with the stock crapware free Google experience (on Verizon), then this is the phone to get. It’s been said by some (non Apple loyal) tech journalists that this is the best phone out there and I would have to agree.

Published by

Jeff Lee

Jeff Lee is a technology entrepreneur and car enthusiast living in Nashville, TN

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