Galaxy Nexus on Verizon: Hands-on impressions

The Galaxy Nexus has landed on the Verizon LTE network and my first impressions are good and not so good.

The Galaxy Nexus has landed on Verizon today and I have been using one for a few hours. While the phone has been available in the EU for a while, the Verizon version is the only one currently available in the U. S. It is state-of-the-art in every way, including operating on the 4G LTE network of Verizon. I haven't had it in my hands long enough to offer a detailed review, but have formed some first impressions about the Galaxy Nexus that are worth sharing.

I should qualify my impressions as they are the basis of my belief that the Galaxy Nexus is currently the best Android phone available. It is packed with good hardware, and the inclusion of Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is just icing on the dessert.

What I like about the Galaxy Nexus

Display. The huge (4.65") Super AMOLED display is simply gorgeous, and it is as good as you will find on any smartphone. The high-resolution (1280x720) screen is true HD and as snappy as that on any Android phone.

Camera. The 5MP camera is not the biggest on phones, but the zero shutter lag is impressive. This is the first Android phone I have used that allows taking multiple photos in succession with no lag. Picture quality is decent, too.

Weight. Even with the big display, Samsung has kept the weight of the Galaxy Nexus nice and manageable for long-term use in the hand. While a little plasticy, the phone feels pretty sturdy.

Performance. There are no complaints in the performance department, as the phone is as fast as any Android phone I have tried. Tapping an icon makes something happen instantly, and the LTE network keeps things humming along nicely.

OS. ICS is a good evolution of Gingerbread, which is the previous smartphone version of Android. Everything looks crisper and cleaner, and the overall appearance of ICS is an improvement over other versions.

What I don't like about the Galaxy Nexus

Size. Even though the large display is nice for browsing the web, the width of the Nexus is just too darn wide. Even in my big hands the phone feels awkward to hold, especially while making phone calls. I've always felt that 5-inch phones are overkill, and trimming off just a little bit for the Galaxy Nexus is not enough.

Phone back. The flimsy battery cover on the back of the phone is as bad as I have seen on any phone. It literally must be peeled off to get to the battery, and putting it back on is an exercise in futility. I wonder if Samsung decided this was a good way to avoid any design claims from Apple? I can't think of another reason why it would approve such a bad design.

US only. As the most advanced Android phone, I would expect, no demand, that it be usable when traveling abroad. Unfortunately the CDMA version on Verizon is not a world phone, so it is a brick when traveling outside the U. S. A very expensive, state-of-the-art brick.

OS. Yes, ICS is both something I like and don't like about the Galaxy Nexus. While the things I like about ICS are nice, I am still horrified to find the occasional stutter and lag in simple operations like scrolling pages. This hardware is first-rate, and it still can't handle Android as smoothly as it should.

I will be using the Galaxy Nexus heavily to offer a detailed review soon. Until then take these first impressions with a grain of salt and enjoy the photos.