news Independent online retailers Mobicity and Kogan have started selling Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus handset, ahead of any planned Australian launch by Samsung itself or any mobile carrier partners.
The phone is the first smartphone to run version 4.0 of Google’s Android platform, dubbed ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’, which features a number of improvements over the previous ‘Gingerbread’ version of the platform — ranging from an improved user interface to better multitasking, system and application notifications, to the ability to respond quickly by text message when an incoming call arrives, a voice recognition engine, better camera, voicemail and calendar handling and facial recognition features for unlocking the screen.
The Galaxy Nexus features one of the largest touchscreens on the market — with a size of 4.65 inches, and it runs at a resolution of 1280×720. It features a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 1024MB of memory, a five megapixel rear camera which can shoot 1080p video and an in-built near field communications chip for mobile payments.
US gadget site The Verge, in its review of the Galaxy Nexus, hailed the phone as the best Android phone ever made and possibly the best smartphone ever; even giving Apple’s popular iPhone 4S handset a run for its money. “Ice Cream Sandwich easily gives iOS and Windows Phone a run for their money, and in many ways it’s a superior operating system than either of them,” the publication wrote in its review.
The Galaxy Nexus is the latest Google-branded Android handset in the ‘Nexus’ line which has also included the Nexus One and Nexus S handsets. The Nexus line sees manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC work closely with Google itself on what many have viewed as a ‘reference’ handset to set the standard for the next generation of Android phones.
Both of the previous Nexus handsets launched in Australia over the past several years, and the Galaxy Nexus has gone on sale in the UK, with launches planned for Canada, the US, Japan and India. However, no Australian carrier partner has so far been announced for the Galaxy Nexus.
On its web site, Melbourne-based retailer Kogan has made an unlocked version of the Galaxy Nexus available for $799. The handset is compatible with all of Australia’s major mobile networks (including Telstra’s Next G network). It doesn’t come with a warranty from Samsung, as it has been imported from an international distributor, but it does come with a warranty from Kogan itself.
Mobicity is similarly selling the Galaxy Nexus for $799, marked down from what it said was an initial price of $999. The company noted that customers who pre-ordered the device will receive it first and new customers will be supplied on a first-come, first-served basis. Mobicity recently noted on its Twitter account that it expected to receive the first batch of Galaxy Nexus handsets on the 23rd of November this week — yesterday — and the second batch on the 29th of November.
I don’t personally believe the Galaxy Nexus has that many advantages over existing great Android handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S II, which continues to sell strongly in Australia and may just be the most popular handset of 2011, and HTC’s Sensation XL, which just launched through Vodafone. In addition, there’s always Apple’s stellar iPhone 4S handset, which is an awesome buy — although not subject to discounts and with a smaller screen than the top-level Android alternatives.
However, on Delimiter, we continue to see strong interest in the previous Nexus S handset, also developed by Samsung, despite the fact that it’s been out in Australia for yonks. I think perhaps one of the main factors is the involvement of Google in the design process. There’s just something very … nice, smooth and integrated about the design of the Nexus line. Something which we think Steve Jobs’ aesthetic design sense would appreciate greatly ;)
Because of this, and the levels of hype around the Galaxy Nexus internationally — especially associated with the Ice Cream Sandwich release — I expect to see very strong levels of demand for this smartphone. If Samsung can get it out there in sufficient quantity, it should be one of the top phones of the next six months.
Now … if only we could get it on a decent plan from Telstra; Delimiter’s mobile carrier of choice at the moment.
Image credit: Samsung/Google