Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

Summary: The Galaxy Nexus is the flagship Android device running Google's Ice Cream Sandwich OS and is a very powerful smartphone. It supports HDMI out and VoIP calling as well.

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My Galaxy Nexus arrived on Friday and I posted some first impressions on Saturday. I have been using my Galaxy Nexus extensively since then and trying out some different functions and testing lots of apps. I am very pleased to say that HDMI out works like a champ and learned you can make calls with a data-only SIM.

I purchased an ACCELL MHL adapter inn September and hearing that the Galaxy Nexus supported HDMI out I figured I would try the two out together. The MHL adapter plugs into the bottom microUSB port on the Galaxy Nexus and then has a microUSB power port in the side of the adapter that you must also plug in. This will both power the adapter and connection while also keeping your Galaxy Nexus charged up while you enjoy the HDMI out experience.

Often when you connect a mobile device to an external video source you will find that the device software limits the ability to play this video, I assume for digital rights management reasons or something. Google Videos has several 99 cent rental options so I rented Conan the Barbarian and downloaded it to me Galaxy Nexus to test out. I am very pleased to tell you that there appears to be no limitations with HDMI out and I was able to watch the movie in HD on my 37 inch LCD from the Galaxy Nexus. When you plug in the HDMI MHL adapter, connected to an HDMI cable, to your Galaxy Nexus you will see everything go into landscape orientation (the only way to get landscape in the home screen on the device) which is what you want since your TV is in landscape already. Everything you see on your device appears on your TV so you can watch rentals or purchases, view YouTube videos, play games, work with documents and more on the big screen.

As discussed this weekend on MobileTechRoundup show #254 Kevin Tofel also purchased a Galaxy Nexus. He started out using it with the data only SIM card from his T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Tab and discovered that he could use it for phone calls as well as data. Kevin pays $40/month for this unlimited data service with this SIM so the ability to also use it for VoIP calling is a very appealing alternative and gives you a glimpse of the future. Like Kevin, I don't make a ton of calls and most of my smartphone interaction is data related so going with a data only model and using VoIP for occasional calling is a very attractive option.

I am working on responses to questions from my original Galaxy Nexus post and am also testing out the camera, Gmail, and many other functions and features to put in a more detailed review post. If you have any questions (as many in the US wait for the unknown Verizon launch date) please let me know and I will provide responses in this upcoming post.

Topics: Samsung, Google, Smartphones

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17 comments
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  • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

    Just got an e-mail from Samsung. This phone launches in Canada on 7 December. Virgin Mobile and Bell. US launch can't be far
    oskar401
  • Is the camera a true disappointment?

    I'm glad it takes photos FAST, in rapid order, but is the quality -- say -- superior to my old Blackberry Bold?
    intriguedbytech
    • Camera is just fine, especially in good lighting

      @intriguedbytech The camera is the only disappointing spec on the device, but that said it is just fine. It takes good photos outside and in well lit places and so far is acceptable to me. It is not as good as the iPhone 4S. I plan to post a comparison that includes images soon.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Thanks

        I've gotten so used to being beaten down by my ever-fading/non-responsive Blackberry that I'm truly looking forward to a new beginning with the Nexus. @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
        intriguedbytech
    • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

      @intriguedbytech yes
      m4nc1n1
  • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

    If you're away in a hotel room and the TV happens to have HDMI I can see a value for HDMI out but otherwise, what's the point? In my experience hotel TVs tend to be CRT not LCD/Plasma anyway, so are unlikely to offer HDMI.

    There are other more convenient ways to watch movies and youtube at home. Possible buffering issues aside, DLNA is seems like a better option than having to plug your phone into a TV screen. You cannot exactly use it at the same time this way.
    bradavon
    • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

      @bradavon
      You can record in 1080p on the GN. So you would want to play it back on your TV via hdmi much like you take a picture and want to show it to your family when you visit for xmas or something like that. And for people with just 1 computer that is not accessible to their flat screen and the tv has no wifi or bluetooth, the best way to playback 720p movies would be from your GN to your TV via hdmi. I personally use my ultra portable laptop because it can play any video format i throw at it without any stuttering. But your phone takes up a lot less space than a laptop even an ultra portable one.
      rengek
      • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

        @rengek: Good point about playing back family videos on a TV screen. Most people tend to share pictures/videos through e-mail/Flickr in the case of pictures and Facebook in the case of videos though.<br><br>But it is still a good point. I guess you're right on the other point. I see most people buying a dedicated device if they're going to do that a lot though. You can get some cheap ones, maybe not with 1080p though.
        bradavon
  • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

    The VoIP is interesting. Do you get a phone number with it or is the number dynamically chosen? If the former, it would seem to me that some people could ditch their minutes plan and go with only a data plan. Am I correct in thinking that?
    kindofblue
    • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

      @kindofblue
      Yeah you can always use google voice so you can get your own number and bypass your carrier for voice and text. In fact, unless you have a unlimited plan with verizon they will charge you for text. I will choose just data and integrate texting with google voice. Its seamless anyway.
      rengek
      • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

        @rengek: Does Google Voice offers SMS too then? It's not taken off at all in The UK (it's not been out "that" long). Data only sims here are roughly the same price as those with a decent amount of sms/minutes anyway too.
        bradavon
      • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

        @rengek
        I was just thinking the same thing, but I'm still wondering when they'll start charging for Google Voice. When I signed up and got my number earlier this year, it said "Free for domestic calling, until the end of this year." Yeah, THEN what? It's a cool service, so I'm hoping it'll still be minimal in comparison with carrier voice service.

        Of course, then you have to consider how well it transcribes voice messages. Will all of our calls be transcribed and stored in a searchable datastore? Creepy.
        Bit-Smacker
  • Portrait-only dock (and launcher!), but landscape on external display?

    The image in your review here shows a landscape-oriented launcher on the external display. Is that orientation fixed? Or does it flip as you hold the phone differently?

    Other reviews of the GNex have shown that the ICS launcher is portrait only (which matches the experience with other stock Android launchers). Also, people have been pissed that the Samsung HDMI dock is a portrait dock. If the external display is forced to be in landscape orientation, then that means the portrait HDMI dock won't be a problem.

    Also, did you try streaming video from other non-Google streaming-based apps (i.e., not just gaming apps -- apps that stream movie- or TV-like content)? On the iPad2, the external display [b]with an analog dongle[/b] only works for iTunes. If you try to stream from the iOS NBC app, the app says it's not configured for the external display. Supposedly the HDMI dongle gives you full wired streaming. I think the reason the analog is limited is because the iPad2 doesn't have the processing power to do the D/A required to stream video from every app (??)... or maybe the apps aren't configured to use the D/A abilities of the iPad2.

    Finally, do you think there would be a way to get a data-only 4G SIM from Verizon to take advantage of a data-only GNex? Do you think that would only be possible with an unlocked GNex and that all Verizon-branded GNex's will be forced to have a voice plan too? Or do you think you'll be able to cancel your voice plan and get a data-only GNex from Verizon?
    TedPavlic
    • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

      @TedPavlic:<br><br>"The image in your review here shows a landscape-oriented launcher on the external display. Is that orientation fixed? Or does it flip as you hold the phone differently?"<br><br>Read the article ;). It's spelt analogue btw :). GNex good name, calling it the SGN confuses it with the Galaxy Note.
      bradavon
      • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

        @bradavon lol
        m4nc1n1
      • I actually read the artice...

        twice, to be truthful. Once when I did not find out if you can toggle the android display between landscape and portrait, and twice when I shared the opinion of TedPavlic and you passive aggressively did not answer his question. I can only assume you are referring to this run-on sentence:

        "When you plug in the HDMI MHL adapter, connected to an HDMI cable, to your Galaxy Nexus you will see everything go into landscape orientation (the only way to get landscape in the home screen on the device) which is what you want since your TV is in landscape already. Everything you see on your device appears on your TV so you can watch rentals or purchases, view YouTube videos, play games, work with documents and more on the big screen."

        ... which I have read many times and have decided that perhaps the answer lies here:

        "(the only way to get landscape in the home screen on the device)"...

        But I am not sure what that means. So I ask (for myself, as well as TedPavlik), is there a way to toggle between landscape and portrait using ACCELL MHL adapter with or without a supporting app? If the latter is the only true case, do you know which app I can use in order to toggle the display? I have portrait only applications that I would like to present on an overhead projector and I would like to be able to view the entire app on screen.

        Thank you for your time.

        Brian.
        InspectorSlap
  • RE: Galaxy Nexus experiences: HDMI out and free calling with data only SIM

    Does video calling work when device is connected to HDMI
    and
    Does capture image/record video work when the device is connected to HDMI
    a234test