We heard rumors, we waited. I for one, didn’t expect all that much from it… but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was excited to own my first Nexus device. I had no reason to change devices, and on paper the Nexus had specs I was less than impressed with, but I figured it’d be worth it just to have an OEM unlockable bootloader. Well, I was wrong, it’s not worth it, this phone sucks, and here’s why….
First and foremost.. a Nexus is a pure Google experience device. Did Google make “My Verizon Mobile”? No? .. Is it on the phone? Yes? … Then it’s not a Nexus. Period. It’s just a phone borrowing the Nexus name to help cover up it’s mediocrity.
For those that haven’t seen it before, it’s large. Really large. Too large. It’s clunky to hold and the width and slipperiness of the device make me know it’s going to take more than a few tumbles on the asphalt. That happens, and usually I’m alright with it.. bummed, but alright. Since any new device is eventually going to be dinged and knicked… I try to not obsess about it.. because nothing stays pretty forever. In this case however, the chinsy plastic and huge glass surface area is sure to make for an unhappy day in the event of a spill. Whatever. It’s a phone. It needs some kind of chassis, and it needs to be somewhat cost effective. I get that. So… no big deal.
The screen blows. Period. I don’t understand all the freaks on the internet going off about how this is the greatest screen ever on a mobile device because it’s 1280×720 Super AMOLED. Know what that means to me? Nothing. I don’t care what kind of screen it is or what the resolution is if the display looks like crap, and in this case… it looks like crap. Solid whites look like textured grays, and solid grays look like a coffee stained gray flannel. This is the case whenever the brightness drops to around 40%. I found the screen to be infuriating in lower brightness conditions, and really nice at higher brightness. “That’s just the way it is with these pen tile AMOLED screens” … well, then they suck, and shouldn’t be used on high end phones. Who’s going to run an LTE device with that sized screen and that battery at high brightness. Anyone that does can use their phone for about 13 minutes.
Next up on the list of reasons this phone is a turd cream sandwich is the lack of an SD card and no USB Mass storage. I get the reason for this. I really do.. and it is NOT because google thinks it’s an intelligent design decision to better the lives of developers and make a better end product by removing the dependency on mount locking and multiple storage locations. That may be a minor side effect in some cases, but it’s pretty clear… There’s no USB Mass storage because Google doesn’t want to pay Microsoft for licensing FAT32. You’re douchebags for not just coming out and saying it. Nobody blames you. But instead of coming up with a new filesystem, or a universal driver…We’re supposed to use MTP to transfer files to the phone. Seriously Google? MTP? It never, EVER worked correctly and everyone knows it. Still doesn’t. It might work out of the box for Windows 7 users… kinda, but that’s it. Are you running windows XP at work? Better hope you have admin rights to install Windows Media Player 11, because if you’ve got WMP10 you can only transfer media filetypes. Infuriating.
Have you heard of linux Google? You kinda use the kernel in android, how about some consideration for the people that actually use the OS. Ever try MTP on linux? It sucks. Part of the reason I switched to android was that I got tired of messing around with libimobiledevice and libgpod or depending on a Windows VM to communicate with my device reliably. Android gave me that simple, reliable connectivity but you took it away. Now I can fiddle around with libmtp, which is even worse. (this isn’t a dig at the developers of these libraries, you’re doing great work, but you shouldn’t have to be). You guys run your own custom Google Linux, you’re more than capable of contributing some driver/library to support a nonlocking filesystem.
Yeah, you can use ‘the cloud’, webdav, ssh, cifs, ftp, or any other network protocol… but try that when you’re stuck down in a datacenter without a USB key and no signal. There will come a day when you need that UMS support, and it’s not there. The storage situation is a joke and I hate it.
Which brings me to reception. What’s to say really? The radios are atrocious. I never saw > -100db.
As for the camera.. I’m not a photographer, but generally I can point a phone, snap a picture, and it comes out decent. Not so on this phone. I did see some impressive shutter shots by @koush of his dog though.. I certainly couldn’t produce anything of that quality. Regardless … No big deal.
It did have some good points. Having an OEM unlockable bootloader is fantastic and I truly appreciate it, though that’s the way all phones should be, so I don’t really know if Nexus should be considered a better phone because of it. They managed to fit in a respectable battery in my opinion. It doesn’t last long, but really, how could it with a screen that size that requires a brightness that high. I think they did the best they could to keep the phone light and thin, and it’s acceptable.
ICS is nice, but it’s still android. It’s not the giant revolutionary OS of your dreams, it’s just an incremental evolution of a java stack running on top of a linux kernel. It’s still wonky. Things like the “Menu” button aren’t uniform.. sometimes the menu button is in the button tray, sometimes it’s randomly placed within the app…oh, and have fun sifting through a hundred widgets page by page 4 at a time in the app drawer.
Any one of these things would be annoying, but not a deal breaker. Taken together, it’s easy to see… this phone is just plain not good.
So.. in short, here’s my review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
As far as hardware goes.. it sucks.
As far as software goes.. it sucks, just less than the alternatives.