This may feel all too familiar and that’s because the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has already been lucky enough to receive and update to Android Jelly Bean, except this time Jelly Bean has been improved. Rather than Jelly Bean being better than Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean is now better than, well, Jelly Bean.
The 4.2 Jelly Bean update which arrived to coincide with the launch of the new LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Nexus 10 also made its way onto the Asus-made Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Nexus at the end of 2012. Although the jump isn’t as significant as moving from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean 4.1, there are a few notable additions which change the way you interact with some of the primary functions of the phone.
To quickly recap on the specs of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it packs a 1.2GHz dual-core processor along with a vibrant, sharp 720p PenTile Super AMOLED display. There’s a 5-megapixel camera and on board storage comes in 16GB or 32GB varieties. With NFC and all the usual connectivity options, it fares well on paper from the offset despite its relative age.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus also packs a pretty distinctive design. Buttonless fascia meets curved screen in a bid to perfectly complement the Android operating system, then Ice Cream Sandwich and now, Jelly Bean. When the phone is on, all your buttons appear on the screen itself, disappearing when watching movies and using other applications that benefit from a full screen experience.
Moving onto Jelly Bean 4.2 and the operating system update brings with it some real gems. For starters, changes are apparent from the moment you turn the screen on. The main lockscreen now features a new clock and the unlock circle, now allows you to unlock the phone by swiping any direction. The camera shortcut, which used to feature on the lock wheel is no longer present and instead the user simply swipes to the left to quick launch it.
Swiping on lockscreens isn’t confined to the camera either, swiping right will let the user add lockscreen widgets, a variable range of apps which support access without unlocking the device. Stock widgets include a clock, a Gmail Inbox viewer, a Google+ feed and a text message viewer.
Once you’ve passed the lockscreen there are a number of UI refinements, our favourite definitely being the treatment Google have applied to the notifications bar. This delivers a more detailed preview for notifications which can be minimised and expanded with a two finger slide up and down, as it did on Jelly Bean 4.1, but in addition users can now access quick settings by swiping down with two fingers instead of one from the top of that 4.65-inch display. Should you wish to switch between both screen types one-handed, there’s also a button in the top right of the notifications panel which also lets the user jump from notifications to quick settings and back again.
Google have also baked a few new functions into Android 4.2’s user experience; gesture typing: which lets the user type simply by dragging their finger across the keyboard and Daydream which serves as a sort of screen saver displaying a clock, soothing colours, Google Currents or a photo slide show when the Galaxy Nexus is docked or charging are just two examples. The camera too now features a reworked UI so that settings can be changed simply by pressing, holding and dragging on the screen also features as well as the new PhotoSphere 360 mode, which serves as an evolution of the Panorama mode built into Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Although some of these features like Daydream and Photosphere 360 might seem a little gimmicky, the user experience is still fantastic and the enhancements brought on by the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 update only make using the Samsung Galaxy Nexus a more fulfilling handset to use. One that offers a little more to a device that comparatively looks somewhat long in the tooth. The Nexus 4 might be a year younger, but the gap between the two isn’t anywhere near as large.
See our review of the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update below: