This is my Wrap-Up: Galaxy Nexus


"It’s time. I’m making the jump to Android."

So I decided in early 2012. For years I’d been a loyal Apple user. First came the iPhone 3G, then my Macbook for college, then the beautiful iPhone 4, iPad, and finally the amazing Macbook Air. I lived and breathed Apple and was in a state of gadget bliss. But something changed in November of 2011, when Google announced the Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich. All of a sudden, there was a smartphone and OS that piqued my interest outside of Apple’s ecosystem. From the minimalist hardware to the Tron-like interface, the Galaxy Nexus looked downright futuristic. My intrigue evolved into lust, and soon not a week went by where I didn’t consider trying out Android. Finally, when the unlocked version of the Galaxy Nexus appeared on the Play Store, I knew it was time. With equal parts excitement and nervousness, I jumped into the Nexus.

Despite mixed hardware reviews, there’s always been something about the Galaxy Nexus I’ve found very attractive. The gentle curve made it a joy to hold, and it had refreshingly ample screen size (remember, I was coming from an iPhone 4). But I think the coolest part was probably its minimalistic front. A lot of people criticize phones for being nothing but a black slate, but I think the Galaxy Nexus was the first one to get it right. There was always something to break up the look of other "black slates," be it hardware buttons, a jarring earpiece, or worst of all a carrier logo somewhere prominent. The Galaxy Nexus, however, was actually a black slate—a beautiful minimalist front with nothing to break up the glass. I’ll admit the back was not very nice looking, and unfortunately over time the phone began to feel cheap, but to this day I still consider it one of the nicest looking devices on the market.

While the hardware was nice, the software was nothing short of a revelation. Android had always looked interesting, but ultimately I was content to keep it as a novelty to play with on someone else’s phone. However, with Ice Cream Sandwich everything was elevated to a new level that left iOS looking stale. Multitasking, for example, was an area that I had long used on my iPhone but always felt was tacked on. ICS, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. With a dedicated multitasking button and a sleek interface, I finally felt like I was meant to move around my phone’s OS with speed and efficiency.

The look and feel of Ice Cream Sandwich was another area of dramatic improvement coming from my iPhone. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever hated the look of iOS, but over the years its insistence on skeumorphic design has begun to feel dated. Ice Cream Sandwich opted for a different approach: beauty in simplicity. Apps felt cleaner, sleeker, and less concerned with being "cute." And what’s more, interacting with the apps felt like a leap forward. The emphasis on swiping and vibrant imagery kept the experience consistent with the sleek, efficient design.

From the start, the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich were a breath of fresh air, a phone and OS working in the future. But perhaps the greatest and most surprising part about my experience has been how I continue to see Android grow, mature, and improve. Ice Cream Sandwich may have served as the passage into Android-land, but Jelly Bean has cemented my stay here for the foreseeable future. Everything continues to look better, work better, feel better. New apps are added that consistently amaze me with their beauty (case in point: the 4.2 Clock app). And things like Google Now are so useful and intuitive that at this point I’ve stopped looking back. Tons of interesting non-stock Android phones have come and gone, beautiful Windows Phone 8 devices have arrived, and even the iPhone 5 has rolled out. But I was never tempted to switch. The Galaxy Nexus has served me that well.


Why, then, is this my Wrap-Up? My goodbye to my friend the Galaxy Nexus? Because of one phone that did manage to make me look twice: the Nexus 4. The successor to the Galaxy Nexus solves the only things that were missing from that phone: a processor and screen to reach parity with the competition, a solid camera, and world-class hardware.

So I must say goodbye to the Galaxy Nexus as its new sibling steps up to continue my relationship with Android. I’ll keep an eye out for the new iPhone and iOS7, but hardware design alone will no longer be enough to make me green with envy. The way Jelly Bean interacts with my world, coupled with the new Nexus 4, puts my experience on a level I never expected when I made the jump. I won’t say that Android has me forever, it would be foolish to think so. But for now, at least, it has my undivided attention. All thanks to the remarkable phone that first made me leap into the Nexus.