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Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Hands on pictures and first impressions

It might be all about Nokia and the Lumia 800 this week, but we’ve not forgotten about Ice Cream Sandwich and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus already. We were given the opportunity to have some quick hands-on time with the Galaxy Nexus courtesy of Vodafone and so off we went to meet up at a secret location.

The flagship Ice Cream Sandwich phone is due to touch down next month so we thought you’d like a little look-see before it’s on the shelves.

In a word, it’s huge. Perhaps a little too huge; we found that getting to the notification bar and the buttons at the very top and bottom of the screen was a bit of a stretch, even for this writer’s big hands. The resolution of that Super AMOLED screen is of course an eye-wateringly high 1280×720 (720p) and app icons, text and the animated wallpapers simply look gorgeous.

Like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Nexus also boasts that ultra-light airy feel that’s become the trademark of the Galaxy range, ditto the textured mesh weave effect of the back.

We were told that the version of the software on the phone wasn’t finished yet and certain things like Android Beam we couldn’t really test – it needs another NFC-enabled Android phone that’s running Ice Cream Sandwich and, well, we just had the one Galaxy Nexus to play with.

November the 16th has been mooted as the latest arrival date for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which would see it launching at the same time as Nokia’s Lumia 800.

We’re expecting our review model soon but until then, have a gander at these hands on shots in the wild.

Like the Galaxy S2 before it, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is large but lightweight.

Though it has a curved back like the Nexus S, the curve is more subtle, dare we say it more elegant.

A micro USB port and a 3.5mm jack sit at the base of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

No connections up at the top, just a little catch for you to lift the battery cover off. Again, like the Galaxy S2, it’s got a textured pattern on the back and is incredibly thin.

The 5-megapixel 1080p HD video recording camera of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus might not be a huge as the Galaxy Note that’s due to be unveiled in London tonight but with a 4.65-inch screen it’s not far off. When you consider that Ice Cream Sandwich features built-in stylus support, the Galaxy Nexus may well be a viable (and possibly cheaper) alternative.

Side by side with the HTC-made Google Nexus One, the first Nexus handset. When the Nexus One came out we cooed over the ‘big’ 3.7-inch screen; if only we knew how big things were going to get. Trackballs and separate soft/hard keys for Android commands look to be a thing of the past too.

Instead of relying on separate keys for Menu, Home and the rest, Ice Cream Sandwich allows for these commands to sit at the bottom of the screen in a separate action bar, similar to how things are on Honeycomb. This doesn’t rule out manufacturers building keys onto Android phones however.

Though there’s no fourth button for Search on the Galaxy Nexus, there’s the trusty Google Search bar sitting at the top of the main home screen. We love the neater, cleaner look of Ice Cream Sandwich’s Google Search bar compared to how it looks on older versions of Android.

Similar to iOS’s folders and Sony Ericsson’s custom Android UI, a default feature of Ice Cream Sandwich is the ability to create folders by dropping and dragging icons on top of one another, giving you a bit more elbow room on your homescreens.

This folder named ‘Google’ naturally comes stuffed with tons of Google goodies. Tapping on the blue text at the bottm there brings up the option to rename the folder.

We had a quick play around with the camera of the Galaxy Nexus and were impressed by the smoothness of its autofocus and how the on-screen controls for things like the digital zoom worked. Note the icon in the bottom right corner; that’s the panorama option.

Another Honeycomb feature that’s made the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich is the ability to tap on the Menu icon, call up a list of recent tasks and jump to them from any of the Galaxy Nexus’ homescreens.

The gizzards of the Galaxy Nexus; no microSD card slot, sadly. This was something absent from the Galaxy Nexus S as well; we’re not sure why Samsung has omitted this in its Nexus phones. Yes there’s Google Music which ought to sort out your music storage needs and at least 16GB for everything else.

There’s also the possibility of a 32GB version, though we’ve heard that it might not get green-lighted for the UK. Still, no install to SD option might be a deal breaker for some.

We’ll let you know how we get on with our Samsung Galaxy Nexus, microSD or not in our review.

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