14 Dec: Galaxy Nexus to launch in Australia


news Korean manufacturer Samsung has confirmed it will officially launch its highly anticipated Galaxy Nexus handset in Australia on 14 December, although details of carrier availability remain absent for now.

The company today invited journalists to a hands-on briefing session for the launch of the handset on 14 December. However, it didn’t provide any further details of which mobile carriers will stock the device in Australia or what price it will be offered at.

The news comes after local Android site Android Australia reported that the Galaxy Nexus would launch through Optus just before Christmas on 20 December. The site has at various points also reported that the smartphone would launch through Telstra and Vodafone.

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.

Independent online retailers Mobicity and Kogan have already started selling the handset, ahead of any planned Australian launch by Samsung itself or any mobile carrier partners.

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.

Image credit: Samsung