Galaxy Nexus: Slightly disappointed...

Ok, before you go off on a rant in the comments, please actually read this.

A friend of mine asked me today what the Galaxy Nexus was missing, since it seemed to have everything you would want. I had just played with one in a store, so I wrote quite a substantial response. I thought some of you here may be interested in it as well. Please keep in mind that this is based on a very short time with the phone and is simply a first impression.

My response

Ok, so I actually played with the Galaxy Nexus today, so I can probably give an answer there.

First off, I overlooked it the first time I walked by because I was looking for a phone with a curved screen, thinking it would stand out. Let me tell you, it doesn't. The curvature is hardly noticable, and from the front it looks pretty much like any other smartphone at the moment. That also means that it isn't too big. The lack of physical buttons and small bezel really helps keep the size of the device to very acceptable proportions. So acceptable in fact that I kind of wish they went for 5" instead of 4.65".

First thing I noticed though is that after using an HTC phone with an incredible build quality for almost two years, this one unfortunately felt more flimsy and weak. This has always been a big gripe for me with Samsung phones and unfortunately it hasn't been completely fixed. The store I was at had an electronic theft prevention cord attached to the back and when I picked it up I had noticed that the back cover had been partly pulled off by it. Not a daily use case obviously, but when I clicked it back into place it didn't feel very secure and the phone made a very soft cracking like sound when squized. Something that after even two years of use, my HTC Desire does not.

Now it is by no means a bad build quality, but it's always annoying if you have to take a step back and I actually think this could bother me.

Now playing with the OS, I have to say, running the dev version on my Desire didn't represent the OS in a way close to how it actually should be. It's incredibly smooth and fast and I didn't see a single stutter or freeze or anything. The effects look very slick and smooth and it was very responsive. I played with the camera too and the instant pictures are so damn instant, it's a good thing it makes a sound or you wouldn't have noticed it even took the picture. It's cool, but it isn't a killer feature and after every few pictures it'll autofocus, meaning that if you take another picture immediately, it'll be very blurry. So you CAN take pictures very fast, but you definitely shouldn't.

Unfortunately I couldn't test the browser since their wifi wasn't set up correctly on the phone.

The on screen buttons feel very natural and it's nice to be able to have that extra screen real estate when watching videos.

So is it a good phone? Yes, yes it is. It's fast, it's pretty and it is the first time Android feels like a fully featured OS. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of the hardware design, it's definitely passable. However, your question was, what is it missing. And I think for me personally, I do have a kind of disappointing answer.

What I think it is missing is that one killer and innovative feature that will make it do something substantially more than my current phone. I mean, don't get me wrong, stuff like beam is cool, but you won't be using it daily. Face unlock is just a gimmick and the OS may look very nice and much nicer than before, but it doesn't really do much more. The bigger screen is great, but it's not enough of a difference to make it a completely different experience. (Like the Galaxy Note is)

In the end the features all feel kind of iterative, even though the design overhaul has been a giant leap. I guess my point is that when I switched from my Samsung F700 to the HTC Desire, it was a completely different device and opened up a new world for me. Making this switch right now, won't be nearly as big and though I am excited about it, it just doesn't wow me as much as I had hoped.