Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More notes on the Galaxy Nexus

About a week and a half ago, I gave my first impressions of the Galaxy Nexus. I've come away with a few more observations about the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 on a whole.

Software

As I said in my initial observations, Android 4.0 continues to impress me. Automatic application updates are a great leg up in iOS, which lacks that ability. I like that it also allows updates to happen only on Wi-Fi, if you choose.

I'm mixed on the home screen. On the one hand, I like how it is very customizable with live widgets; news headlines, tweet composers and network settings are easily accessible without having to launch an app. It's easy, at-a-glance information. On the other hand, while application shortcuts do auto-populating the home screen, they show up on the left-most home screen–one I'd prefer to keep empty. It's an issue of preference and organization.

I like the keyboard on Android 4.0. My one gripe is that the punctuation button is awkwardly placed; I haven't gotten used to how it works. However, the quick-access punctuation button that appears after pressing space is a good way to mitigate the pain. But it makes me rewrite how my brain is programmed to not put a space before punctuation, even if the software eliminates the space.

I never once accidentally hit the home button instead of the spacebar, I think that point is moot, for a few reasons. When the keyboard displays, a few rows of black pixels also show add the space. Also, the target for the home button seems to be significantly smaller, in my non-scientific observations. One way Android could also mitigate this issue, if there is one, is to interpret brief presses of the home button as spaces. iOS does this for the dictation key and Mac OS X ignores accidental caps lock presses.

The back button on Android still confuses me. As Shawn Blanc noted in his review, the onus is on the user to figure out what the back button will actually do. That's not user-friendly, but it's something that is easily learned.

Hardware

After using the Galaxy Nexus for a week and a half, I'm relatively unchanged on the hardware side of things. I think the phone, while undoubtedly huge, is something I wouldn't mind getting locked in a two-year contract with. There were a few times when I'd reach across the screen and accidentally trigger something, be it a scroll or a button press.

A note on battery life. I used it sparingly over the holiday weekend and left if off the charger. The phone lasted about 48 hours on a single charge with very, very little use. Plus, it stayed on Wi-Fi. It goes without saying that I was impressed, but once you're on the faster, 4G network, it's a different story.

My speedtest.net speeds topped out at an astounding 14.93 mbps, but battery life takes quite a hit. My morning and evening commutes are about 35 minutes each and are almost all in a continuous 4G range (with one pocket devoid of LTE signal). Considering all this, the Galaxy Nexus drops in battery life significantly when combining music listening with light Web browsing. All told, my phone begged for a charger when I got home from work. LTE has great benefits, but it comes at a huge cost–an unusable phone after 12 hours.

The Galaxy Nexus' display continues to impress me. It displays great in sunlight and while other reviews have noted the automatic brightness adjustments as "aggressive," I find it hard to complain about.

Virtual equals

After using an Android phone for quite some time, the thing I come away with is that there really isn't all that much that could get me to switch full time to Android. It's not because I'm "locked in" to Apple's ecosystem, it's because the platforms are both so similar that it's hard to compel me to jump to another platform. If Android brought a killer feature and not a gimmick that Apple couldn't somehow provide down the road, consider me a new customer. I would imagine it's the same way for Android users looking at iOS as a viable alternative, but might not want to leave the ecosystem or learn a whole new operating system.

In other words, you'd have to be brainwashed to not see the advantages of the Android platform.