Jun 1, 2012

Try the Ubuntu OS on a Galaxy Nexus (GT-I9250) at best price

I received the Samsung Galaxy Nexus about an hour ago. These are my first impressions & I will add to the review as I become more accustomed to the phone.

SETUP

I've upgraded from another Android phone (the HTC/Google Nexus). All I needed to do was take the SIM out of the old phone, snap the back off the Galaxy Nexus, install the SIM and battery and refit the back cover (a little bit fiddly on first attempt).

Then I plugged it in using the supplied plug adaptor and micro-USB connector and powered it up. After entering wifi network details and the username and password for my Google Apps account, the phone was ready to use.

It immediately began installing the various apps that I had set to AutoUpdate on the old phone and, after a few minutes of that, it told me that there was a firmware update. This took about 3 mins to perform, including a reboot of the phone.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The screen is gorgeous - large, vibrant, and really easy to read. It's much larger than the Nexus One, but it's lighter too. The phone is much faster than my old Google Nexus - apps spring open, and flipping screens / navigating menus is near instantaneous.

One niggle is that the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android works differently to the previous versions. The app tray is swiped sideways rather than up/down - muscle memory/force of habit means that I've found myself performing the old gestures in this first hour or so. I guess that will fade pretty quickly.

I've taken some stills and video. Both are straightforward to perform, and the picture quality seems good (need to check it on a PC screen) but I seem to have put my finger over the microphone a few times while filming - need to work out the best way to hold it to avoid this in future. I have uploaded some photos to the product page. You can find them under the main product image.

The Gmail app is much nicer than on my old phone. Clearer, faster to use, and the menu options seem to be in a better place than the previous one. Calendar seems to have synched up correctly too, with multiple calendars from my Google apps account showing.

UPDATE: About 2 hours in

I tried out the Portable WiFi Hotspot. It works perfectly - managed to get my iPad 2 connected and accessing the outside world. Also, I've got an integrated Bluetooth hands free system in my car and the Nexus paired perfectly with it.

'Contacts' seems to have been replaced by a 'People' app that pulls together contact info from Gmail, Google+, Twitter & WhatsApp and attempts to consolidate each person's Connections under their contact info. It's possible to tweak this so that you don't end up with everyone you follow in Twitter clogging up your contacts. Noticeably, it doesn't offer to integrate information from your Facebook friends. I'm not sure how useful this is, or indeed if I am correctly understanding what info it is pulling together, but I can see a real danger of your genuine contacts being swamped by the profiles of online acquaintances. Consequently, I've chosen not to view any of my Twitter contacts in the People app.

The auto dimming screen brightness seems too low to me - I'll have to poke around to see if I can tweak it.

Call me a Siri Iriot, but I thought I'd try using the microphone icon to tell the phone to 'Call XXX YYY at home' and the speech recognition worked very quickly to find the correct contact details.

I made a call and the quality was perfect. No volume problems. If you have a picture associated with a contact then it takes up the whole screen background when you're talking. The in=call options (keypad, loudspeaker, hold..) appear at the foot of the screen.

UPDATE: 6 hours in.

I noticed that some of my photos and videos were crystal clear in the background, but not on the subject. The trick is to tap the screen over the item you want to be in focus. [Correction: tapping the screen focuses on a subject in camera mode. Doing the same in camcorder mode captures a still whilst the video is still being recorded. ]

Seek time for autofocus in low light is slow.

UPDATE: 3 days in.

I've got used to the different gestures in Android 4, which is great.

Tinkering around in the settings I found one that disconnects the WiFi connection when the phone is not being actively used - I've selected that as I think it might extend battery life.

Speaking of which, with normal use (more data access than calls for me) the phone has been running for 20h 14m since the last charge and is still showing 34% battery.

UPDATE: 5 days in

Generally I am delighted with the phone but there are some more niggles that are worth knowing about.

1. The phone has crashed twice and frozen once. The crashes were while opening a contact and while using the Facebook app. The freeze was when opening the app tray. I'm not so worried as I'm sure subsequent updates to the FB app and/or system updates will address such instability.

2. [This now fixed, as Flash for ICS is available from Android Market] There is no Flash support as Adobe has yet to compile a version for Android 4. This means that apps like BBC iPlayer, that depend on Flash, don't work. This is frustrating, but Adobe & Google recently announced that Flash and Adobe Air support will be rolled out soon.

3. Some apps are not yet Android 4 compatible. Again - this is something that should be addressed by publishers of popular apps.

UPDATE: 13 Jan 2012

There was an Over The Air update waiting to be installed this morning. It is a bug fix release of the phone operating system. Now running Android 4.0.2

If you have any specific questions, add them as comments to this review and I'll see if I can answer them.

UPDATE: 10 Jan 2013

After reading that Ubuntu is planning to release a smartphone OS, Ubuntu OS, and a few days ago I read that they released a beta version for our Galaxy Nexus. Now, is a good time to get it a low price just to try it. I will check it out soon.

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This post was published first at Put in your basket, 9:29 PM