The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a smart phone sporting the very latest version of Google's Android Operating System (OS) - Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
The handset packs in some amazing features, such as a 720x1,280-pixel resolution 4.65" screen, a 1080p video camera and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor.
If you've already owned the Nexus S, chances are you already know if you need to go buy the Galaxy Nexus and have dutifully done the necessary.
The allure of getting the latest flavour of pure Android is temptation enough for many dedicated fans to purchase this year's Nexus device.
This handset is a truly fearsome contender.
Make no mistake, the Galaxy Nexus is a seriously impressive handset.
It trumps the Nexus S in every conceivable manner.
That 4.65" Super AMOLED screen has to be seen to be believed.
It offers a 720p HD resolution with unbeatable viewing angles.
We're blown away by the speed and slickness of the new Android Ice Cream Sandwich Operating System.
Android has a reputation for being a little slow and buggy, but Android 4.0 finally seems to have put those spectres to bed.
Actions such as sending an Email or posting a photo to Twitter take seconds to achieve. It almost feels as if the phone is one step ahead of you, such is the pace of the device.
While the Samsung Galaxy Nexus shames practically every previous Android phone in terms of usability, it struggles in some key areas.
The all-plastic design is disappointing when placed alongside the Apple's iPhone 4S and HTC Sensation.
Samsung has a habit of avoiding the use of brushed metal on its phones.
In this instance, we'd have liked to have seen a little more sophistication in the case design - especially when you consider that the Galaxy Nexus retails for around the same price as the aluminium and tempered-glass iPhone.
There's little doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the best Android device on the market right now.
How long that remains the case is open to debate.
Arguably, the biggest talking point of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the software it comes pre-loaded with.
Ice Cream Sandwich is Google's codename for Android 4.0 - the latest and greatest edition of the company's mobile Operating System.
Intended to unify the tablet and mobile versions of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich contains many enhancements that will be familiar to those of you that have used Android 3.0 Honeycomb on devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Motorola Xoom, among many other tablets.
For example, you can now see what widgets actually look like before placing them on your home screen.
Once placed, you can scroll through them - handy if you want to see the contents of your inbox without actually opening up the Gmail application.
The most glaring change in Android 4.0 is the dedicated buttons.
For starters, there aren't any.
Instead, an area at the bottom of the screen is reserved for your interface commands. Rather than being capacitive symbols, they only appear when the screen is in use.
The second big change is what these commands actually do.
In the past, Android phones have usually sported four inputs: Home, Back, Menu and Search.
Now only Home and Back remain. The latter two options have been removed in favour of a single multi-tasking command.
This is another feature borrowed from Android 3.0.
It brings up a scrolling menu showing the applications you currently have running.
Each one has a thumbnail image showing its current state and you can switch between apps with a quick tap. Killing an app is just as easy - you merely have to swipe to the right to remove it from the multi-tasking view.
Because the Menu button has been retired, Android 4.0 has a context-sensitive additional menu command that appears when required.
So if you're in an app that has features which can only be accessed via the old-fashioned Menu button, a row of three dots will appear on the right-hand side of the interface.
You'll also notice in Google-developed applications - such as Maps - that there's a new interface option:
The action bar.
This appears directly above the interface area and contains icons and settings that would usually be concealed behind a Menu button press.
It's clear that Google's intention is to streamline the Android OS and remove needless button presses - it's only a matter of time before third-party developers follow suit and incorporate the action bar into their apps.
Simplification could be the keyword for Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google has nipped and tucked wherever possible, changing the layout of the settings menu, tinkering with the way the application drawer works and generally attempting to make the entire OS more user-friendly.
On the whole, it's been an amazing success.
There are loads of neat little changes such as being able to decline a call with one of several stock text message replies.
You can also access your camera directly from the lock screen. This feels like the most intuitive Android yet.
However, there are still some little problems.
There's no native Android file manager in stock 4.0, which seems like a really odd decision when you consider that most third-party manufacturers are adding them to their own User Interfaces (UI).
Google's high-ranking developers have publicly stated that they want users to move away from messing about with files on their phones.
There are bound to be times when you need to access certain files and can't - unless you download a dedicated app like Linda File Manager or OI File Manager.
We're also disappointed that you can't mute the phone from the lock screen any more.
Instead, you have to unlock the phone and then long-press the power button to bring up a separate menu.
This allows you to silence the device, but it will feel like an incredibly long-winded process if you're an Android veteran.
This particular feature of Ice Cream Sandwich was given plenty of column inches when Google announced it not so long ago. Instead of using an unlock pattern or password, you can use your mug to gain access to your device.
The process is painless to enable, and merely requires you to point the front-facing camera in your general direction for a few seconds.
As a backup, you have to enable a second-stage unlock - such as a pattern - just in case you're not recognised.
Sadly, that happens all too often.
Even the slightest change in your facial expression seems to be enough to flummox the Face Unlock software. If you wear glasses for parts of the day, it also struggles.
Rather more worrying is the fact that anyone with a photo of your face can easily get past the security.
We tested this by snapping a mug-shot on another phone and then pointing the phone's screen at the Galaxy Nexus - amazingly, it worked first time.
Face Unlock is an impressive trick to show off to your mates.
When it works it's a real time-saver, but we honestly doubt you'd want to rely on it to properly secure your handset from prying eyes.
Samsung has a reputation for producing predominantly plastic phones.
That hasn't changed with the Galaxy Nexus.
There's no trace of brushed metal or aluminium anywhere on the casing.
While this makes for a surprisingly lightweight phone (135g, in case you were wondering), it also creates an unwelcome impression of cheapness.
When you consider that the Galaxy Nexus is contesting the same turf as Apple's gorgeous iPhone 4S - and that it costs roughly the same SIM-free - you can't help but feel that Samsung's challenger isn't quite dressed for the fight.
That's not to say it's an ugly device - far from it.
From the front is looks like an enlarged Nexus S, while the back panel calls to mind the Galaxy S II.
There's also that trademark Galaxy bump on the back of the phone towards the bottom. This aids grip and makes the Galaxy Nexus comfortable to hold.
Although the Galaxy Nexus has retained the distinctive curved profile of the Nexus S, it actually feels a lot less pronounced this time around.
The curve is supposed to make the phone more comfortable to use for calls, but we can't say we felt any tangible benefit.
The slightly rubberised battery panel also takes inspiration from the Galaxy S II, and snaps away from the main body of the phone with considerable click.
Although it's made from super-flexible plastic, getting it back on again is harder than it should be.
You have to line it up perfectly before the panel will locate, and even then there's some serious massaging required to get it to lock into position.
Like the Nexus S, you'll find no physical buttons on the front of the Galaxy Nexus.
However, unlike the previous Nexus handset, there are no capacitive inputs either.
As we've already mentioned, the face buttons are actually part of the screen itself.
When it's powered down, they vanish from sight.
In this state, the Galaxy Nexus resembles a slab of black plastic.
Thankfully, there's a notification LED at the bottom of the screen and this springs into life when you get an Email or text, reminding you that your device is fully functional.
Physical inputs are at a premium on this handset.
Aside from the power/lock button and volume rocker, you won't find any other keys to press anywhere on the phone.
In keeping with its rather cheap feel, these two buttons appear to be a lot less robust than their equivalents on the Nexus S.
The only other items of note from a design perspective are the micro-USB port located on the bottom of the device, the 3.5mm headphone socket placed alongside the charging port and a row of metal dots on the right-hand side of the handset.
These allow you to charge the Galaxy Nexus when it is placed inside the dedicated dock - which, of course, is sold separately.
Remember the first time you witnessed the iPhone 4's retina display?
Brace yourself for an even more jaw-dropping experience with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
With an HD resolution of 720x1,280 pixels and a pixel density of 316ppi, this is effortlessly one of the best screens we've ever seen on a mobile phone.
It's not just the number of pixels that impresses - the Galaxy Nexus uses Samsung's world-beating Super AMOLED technology to give an unparalleled picture quality.
Colours are bold and bright, while viewing angles are fantastic. You'll also notice that dark areas are especially convincing, because AMOLED screens actually turn off pixels to represent black.
The only negative thing you could possibly say about the Galaxy Nexus' screen is that it doesn't use the Super AMOLED Plus tech seen in the Samsung Galaxy S II.
Instead, PenTile tech is used. This gives the display a dot-like effect when viewed very closely.
The reason for this is that Super AMOLED Plus isn't currently capable of achieving the HD resolution required for the Galaxy Nexus' screen.
Processing power and internal storage
When the Nexus S launched with a single-core 1GHz processor back in December 2010, there were wails of discontent from some sectors of Android fandom.
The next wave of dual-core handsets was on the horizon, so going with a 1GHz CPU - the same as the one seen in the previous Nexus model - understandably ticked a few people off.
There's a 1.2GHz dual-core processor in the Galaxy Nexus, which is roughly the same power as the one inside the Samsung Galaxy S2 - a phone which is now six months old.
The Galaxy Nexus purrs along nicely.
We didn't witness any of Android's usual stuttering during our test period.
Scrolling between home screens is smooth and app performance is swift. In general it feels like the entire OS has a particularly large rocket shoved up its backside.
If you're used to a single-core Android device, then the Galaxy Nexus will feel positively turbo-charged.
Benchmark tests show off the raw processing power inside the Galaxy Nexus, as well as the improvements factored into Google's Android 4.0.
The only device that's faster off the mark right now is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which has a quad-core CPU as opposed to the Galaxy Nexus' dual-core chip.
Like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus doesn't have a microSD card slot.
That means the internal flash storage - 16GB on the unit we tested - is your lot.
A 32GB version is also in production but it looks as if Europe may not be getting it.
On the upside, all of that 16GB is available as app storage space because the phone shares your internal storage between media and apps.
This is another feature that has been carried over from Android Honeycomb.
It's a big step in the right direction - Google lovers will recall that the Nexus S was also blessed with 16GB of memory yet only 1GB of apps were permitted.
It's also worth pointing out that USB mass storage mode has been removed from the Galaxy Nexus.
This doesn't present much of an issue if you're using a Windows PC, but if you're a Mac user then you'll need to install additional software to access files on your phone using a USB cable.
Camera and video recording
On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus' camera seems like a disappointment.
It has the same megapixel count as the cameras seen on the previous two Nexus devices.
However, before your start massing the angry mob and polishing your pitchfork, you should know that this is a much-improved snapper.
Proof that megapixel counts are almost irrelevant when you have a good sensor, the camera on the Galaxy Nexus produces hugely encouraging results.
Some shots can look a little washed-out, but most of the time the sensor does a decent job of capturing colour and brightness - although not quite to the extent of the Exmor R cameras seen on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S.
It's also one of the fastest cameras we've seen on a mobile.
It allows you to take multiple shots with almost no delay between them. This proves to be incredibly useful if you're trying to capture a magical moment - such as a baby's first steps or a relative tripping down some stairs - and need several snaps to ensure you get the photo you want.
You have options for exposure, scene mode and white balance, and it's also possible to shoot a panoramic mode with relative ease.
The Galaxy Nexus supports video recording in HD with both 720p and 1080p resolutions.
It achieves absolutely glorious results.
Image quality is super-crisp and the colours look wonderful. Even the front-facing camera is capable of hitting 720p, which is impressive in itself.
Watching your movies back on that 720p HD screen is a wonder to behold.
The Android Web browser has undergone a transformation in Ice Cream Sandwich.
It supports tabbed browsing although in reality it works in very much the same manner as the separate windows in Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
You can now open incognito windows - just like on the Google Chrome browser - to protect your privacy and conceal your surfing habits from anyone else who might use your device.
Another cool feature is the ability to save pages for offline viewing, which is handy if you know you're going to be without a decent net connection for a period of time.
We also appreciate the ability to force the browser to display the desktop version of a particular site.
This is especially useful if you come across a site which defaults to a disappointingly lightweight mobile-based edition when viewed on a phone.
Backed by the 1.2GHz dual-core processor, the Galaxy Nexus' browser runs superbly, showing significant performance improvements over its 2.3 forerunner.
There's no stuttering when scrolling around a page. Pinch-to-zoom is as smooth as a baby's bottom.
The most glaring omission is the lack of Adobe Flash support - an amazing event when you consider that this feature is often cited as one of the main reasons to pick Google's platform over Apple's iPhone.
You might assume that this decision has something to do with Adobe's recent revelation that it is ceasing support for Flash on mobile devices.
The truth is more mundane. Flash hasn't been updated for Android 4.0 yet.
Adobe will be launching it for Ice Cream Sandwich as soon as it is complete.
With the power needs of a massive 4.65" screen and dual-core processor to accommodate, you'd expect the Samsung Galaxy Nexus' battery life to be dismal.
In fact, we were impressed with how the phone's 1,750mAh power cell coped.
Naturally, when we first got the handset we really took it to the cleaners, pushing all of its features to the limit and barely leaving it alone for a second.
After around 8 hours of near constant use with the screen on maximum brightness, the Galaxy Nexus was gasping for air.
However, when we adopted a more typical pattern of usage, the battery was capable of lasting over a day.
That's something we rarely managed with our Nexus S.
The biggest drain on the phone's power is definitely the Super AMOLED screen.
Dropping the brightness down a touch is a good way of prolonging its stamina. Enabling auto-brightness is tempting, but we found it was a little overzealous and dimmed the screen so much that it looked very dull.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is possibly the biggest Android launch of the year, offering impressive hardware and a brand-new Operating System.
If you're making the purchase for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, you're unlikely to be disappointed.
Google's changes - which are cosmetic as well as functional - are commendable, and we have no hesitation whatsoever in declaring this the most intuitive and user-friendly iteration of the OS yet.
From a technical standpoint, the Galaxy Nexus also impresses.
That 720p HD screen is a masterpiece. It makes browsing the Web and watching videos an utter joy.
Because it utilises Samsung's brilliant Super AMOLED tech, it provides the most striking picture quality you'll ever witness on a phone.
The design of the Galaxy Nexus is less enticing though.
The plastic casing doesn't exude the impression of luxury that we crave from a phone of this stature. The power and volume buttons feel like they're about to break at any moment.
Of course, when you're talking about a phone with a 4.65" screen, there's also the question of whether or not you want a device of this size in your pocket.
We noticed that the Galaxy Nexus' dimensions caused it to peek out of the top of our pocket on several occasions, which could potentially lead to unwanted mobile loss.
While the Samsung Galaxy Nexus doesn't quite smash the ball out of the park, it remains a fine showcase of what the next generation of Android is capable of.
As many Fandroids will tell you, that's exactly what the Nexus line of phones is for.
- Amazing HD screen
- Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is fantastic
- 1080p video recording
- Only 5-megapixel camera
- Design is a little uninspiring
- Memory can't be expanded