So, I bought a new Galaxy Nexus to replace my old Galaxy Nexus.
A week ago, my volume button failed on me. This development caused a few problems for me. One, I got stuck in in Safe Mode after a reboot and couldn't get out of it for about 5 hours. And after multiple reboot where I had to press the up volume section as hard as I would like to squeeze the neck of my enemy, I was successful. Two, lack of immediate access to volume controls make listening to music or watching movie a very interesting experience, natch.
I've had the phone since the beginning of its launch on VZW, and it's been rooted and ROMed since then, running through many iteration of AOSP-based developments, from CM9, to the very awesome AOKP, Jelly Belly, CM10, Xenon, CNA, AOKP, to the currently genius ROM of ParanoidAndroid. All these would help to explain that, beside the non-working volume sensor, the power button is permanently detented. And I press these things way too hard.
So here are the reasons why I got my new Galaxy Nexus
1. Unlimited Data on Verizon Wireless 4G LTE.
I've been using it since the beginning of Verizon's 4G Launch, with the Thunderbolt (a phone that was way too maligned for issues beyond HTC control). My company's discount also allows for the grandfathering of the Unlimited-ness to extend to any upgrade and all phones in my plan. This is how VZW will have me for as long as my company keeps this option.
2. Stock Android/AOSP/PA.
I. LOVE. IT! I came to Android from WinMo (using the Samung Omnia). I got on the Thunderbolt due to Sense. I didn't like Google's UI up to Froyo. And I was a fan of HTC's UI all the way back to its TouchFlo 2D day. I liked Sense up to 3.0 when I finally got tired of its UI inconsistencies and gimmicky 3D effects, and found CM7's GB work to be a satisfying reprieve from all of the heavy skinning. It was amazing to boot from cold into the lock screen in less than 1/3 of the time it took with Sense. It was just a revelation. And when Matias announced ICS, and Android with a soul, and Holo UI and Roboto and Verizon as a carrier, I was sold. It took me 15 minute to root and run CWM recovery on it and I was in love.
Sure, the choice of running TI OMAP with Qualcomm 4G in a Samsung provide hardware wasn't a great choice. But the experience of stock/AOSP-based Android has so far outweighed the experience on every phone I touched since. The on-screen navigation buttons allow for so much more flexibility for customization that I'm really surprised that few manufacturers uses it. In fact I'm really surprised that HTC didn't jump on it with the One X, really bringing their sensibility to it.
I've been running ParanoidAndroid for a while now, since 2.53 (4.1.2) and now on 2.99B9 awaiting 3+ and it has supplanted AOKP as my ROM of choice. Battery life isn't great, but I LOVE the experience of running tablet UI on a phone, and the awesome way I can customize the UX of most apps. Game changing in how made me love my phone all over again.
I love the form factor of this phone. Yes, the plastic body is completely unbecoming of a flagship Android phone. But design is exceptional, with excellent ergonomic when held in one hand, especially so with the 2100 mAh battery/cover. The curved body and screen combo is lovely and rarely been seen before. The fact that it doesn't have any capacitive keys to clutter the bottom of the face, rendering the display a simple slick piece of dark glass, is brilliant. Power and volume button being on either side of the phone is a win in my usability book.
4. The Galaxy Note & TouchWiz
One of my replacement choices is the Galaxy Note. I was looking to go for something more than dual core (MORE CORES FTW, YO!), and this was an excellent option, with Quad Core Exynos and 2GB ram. It's certainly very fluid and responsive in the many times I used it at the VZW store (Geesh! you start to feel really self-conscious after 45 minutes).
However, the biggest hurdle has been TouchWiz. I hate it! I hate the UI choices and how dated the graphics generally are. It's colorful yet muted. Feature-filled yet lack the design polish and visual finesse that I like to see. It hasn't changed since the Gingerbread day and that's completely a turn off. And the interface for S-Pen input is ugly, and unrefined. Bleh.
The other thing that I didn't like is the small screen resolution. The Galaxy Nexus has 720p resolution but that works really well for the 4.6 size display. The 5.5" display of the Note 2 is so huge, at the same 720p resolution, with the same UI from the S3, thus everything looks blown up, like large print books for older folks or the visually impaired. If the screen was 1080p, and the workspace was scaled to fit proportionately, then it would have been more pleasing for me.
Another big downside has been ROM development for it, but I'll address that below.
5. HTC DNA & Sense
Okay, I love HTC's design. It feels really good in the hand. I don't mind the fact that the battery is inaccessible. The only time I might have to worry about it, is if I get the SOD from UV or something. I love the fact that it's only a bit taller than the GNex, which makes it easy to hold in one hand. But the fact that HTC decided to put the power button on the top is asinine. But it really came down to Sense being the ultimate detractor. Let me say that I'm hoping that HTC will simplify/overhaul Sense so that it's more matured looking and be less of a design exercise in excess.
6. ROM Development.
I think that most manufacturers' UI is unnecessary for the most part. So if was to get either the Samsung or the HTC device, I wanted to run an AOSP ROM on it. With the NOTE's status as a phablet, the only ROM out there that fits is ParanoidAndroid. I love that ROM to death. It only rival AOKP for an absolute level of excellence on my GNex. However, the two ROMs based on CM10 PA (PACman and teamBrissen's effort) are unofficial and still in Alpha. So unless MolesAreComing and his team will be supporting it (YES? Please?), and/or those ROMs come into maturity; I'll be staying away from the Note.
With HTC products, I've learned that AOSP support is a hard-earned battle that's not often fought on VZW's HTC devices. And there's only so much I can handle with HTC skins and themers' variations on those.
7. 50 bucks
After rebate and 30 dollar activation fee, of course, for an excellent stock Android phone with iffy battery life. This is in comparison to $300 for the Note 2 and $200 for the DNA, both of which I wouldn't be happy with due to lack of stable AOSP ROM (in the case of the Note2) and nonexistent support of AOSP ROM (in the case of the DNA). With the price being so cheap, I get to be happy with a device that I know I'll be happy with, and could always switch to anything new if the condition fits.
Anyway, thanks for reading, if this get read. I've been thinking a lot about upgrading but found much of the options on VZW lacking out there. The Nexus4 really was the only feasible replacement for the GNex, but I like my data plan too much to switch.
So, I'm done.