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Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Most ambitious smartphone yet

Samsung

Google and Samsung announced the Galaxy Nexus, the first LTE-enabled smartphone to feature Android 4.0 — better known as Ice Cream Sandwich — on Tuesday night.

The Galaxy Nexus will offer a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1280 x 720 resolution — more properly described as 720p. (Yeah, that's a big, bright screen and — even though your eyeballs probably won't be able to tell the difference — it's certainly superior to the Motorola Droid RAZR's 960 x 540 qHD resolution display.) There will be a 5-megapixel camera in the rear of the device and a 1.3-megapixel camera in the front — for video calls, of course. 

On the inside the Galaxy Nexus will have a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, and your choice of 16 or 32 GB of internal memory. There are also an accelerometer, compass, gyro sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, and barometer lurking in there as well. The device will be offered in LTE and HSPA+ versions, depending on each market. (We're hoping that the LTE-support means that we'll see the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon — who is essentially the major LTE carrier in the U.S. right now.)

With a thickness of only 8.94mm, the Galaxy Nexus is one slender gadget (though it's worth noting that the LTE-version of it might be a tad thicker). But the folks who've been keeping a close eye on today's product announcements will note that despite its tiny measurements, the Galaxy Nexus will still look chubby in comparison to Motorola's Droid RAZR — which is 7.1mm at the thinnest point.

Of course those same folks will also be quick to realize another one of the key differences between the two newly announced devices: The insanely thin Droid RAZR will initially be running Gingerbread — also known as  Android 2.3.5 — and not its vastly improved successor, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google made it a point to say that Ice Cream Sandwich will be a "pure Google" experience — meaning there'll be no skins? — on the Galaxy Nexus. According to the software maker, just about everything related to the mobile operating system and how it interacts with the new device has been rethought and redesigned to "make Android simple, beautiful, and useful."

These thoughts and design changes are evident in the brand-spanking-new user interface, the improved multi-tasking setup, and the updated browser. There are also little touches such as a "People" app which shows you photos of friends, family members, and coworkers along with their social networking status updates. Thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy Nexus will also offer a feature called "Face Unlock," which will use facial recognition to unlock your mobile phone.

There are no specific details regarding pricing or availability just yet, but we do know that the Galaxy Nexus should appear in stores mid-November or so.

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