I am excited to continue the look back at the past nexus-pixel phones by talking about the Galaxy Nexus. The reason I am excited about this phone is because it was the first nexus phone I have ever owned. 3 years in the making, I have been waiting for a Verizon Nexus, and it was finally available. But did it live up to the hype?
I remember this like it was yesterday, commercials for a special “Unpacked” event was being teased for October 11 of 2011. Fans knew what it was. The forums were buzzing of news that fans would finally get a nexus phone on Verizon. With Verizon (seemingly) locking every phone bootloader released since the Droid, fans wanted a phone that was free of bloatware (non-removable pre-loaded software) and had a bootloader that could be unlocked. But days before the press conference Steve Jobs passed, and Google decided to push back the date out of respect for him.
Two weeks later the phone dubbed by fans as the Google Nexus Prime was finally unveiled to the world. This phone had a curved 4.65 Super AMOLED screen, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 1850 mAh battery (LTE version), TI OMAP processor 4460, 1 GB of RAM, and running 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Also debuting with the phone was Face Unlock, and Google Wallet (later becoming Google Pay).
I remember waiting outside Verizon on opening day. Expecting lines based on all the hype this phones was getting on social media. I get to the door and see maybe one other person waiting for the phone. But that didn’t stop me. I could not wait to get my phone home to unlock the bootloader and root it. As that was the first thing I would do to my phone before doing anything else. But all of this excitement was short lived as this phone had some issues.
First issue was that Verizon got in the way by preventing their version from using Google Wallet. Of course that did not stop anyone, as this phone was purchased by people able to get around Verizon’s locks easily.
The second issue that really hurt this phone was the LTE radios. For awhile there was an argument among android fans whether the nexus was reading real LTE vs what the carrier was advertising, or if there was actually a problem. For many they did not want to admit the Galaxy Nexus had radio issues. So when a person complained of the issue, there was a herd of people ready to jump on them. I personally went though 3 nexus phones before finally trading it in for a Rezound. And the Rezound did a much better job with LTE, proving there was an issue with the radios in the Galaxy Nexus. I would eventually buy another Galaxy Nexus hoping an update would be pushed to fix the radios.
Other than the poor radios, I loved this phone. If you put the radios aside, I enjoyed the software, the screen, and the overall look and feel of the device. Despite me needing to put in an extended battery pack, this phone was awesome to use. But to be fair, early LTE phones all had an issue with short battery life. I wasn’t the only one loving this phone, as the overall reception was positive. With fans ready to name this one of the best phones available. The software was fluid and a major improvement for Android. The screen had these colors that just popped. It literally was like Google and Samsung took the Nexus S and added more power, a larger screen, and updated software.
This phone will always have a special place in my heart. I finally got my nexus, but unfortunately the radios made it unusable. And eventually Google would come out and admit to the Galaxy Nexus’ radio issues, going so far as to disavow the phone. The reality is the HTC Rezound was actually the best phone of that year. But because it was sandwiched in with other phone releases such as the Razr and other android phones, it slid way under the radar.
That said, there is a lot about the Galaxy Nexus that I admire. The software bringing Face Unlock and NFC payments years before Samsung and Apple. As well as the overall build of the device being iconic. Unfortunately because of the radio issues, some would place this as one of the worse nexus-pixel phones of all time.