Enter the Nexus: How Jelly Bean saved my life


I like being right on the cutting edge of whatever is happening in the Android universe and the only way one can do that is by using a Nexus device. I recently acquired my second Nexus, and have had to say goodbye to my trusty Nexus S.

When I got my Nexus S it was running Gingerbread and it ran it very, very well. Then the jump came to Ice Cream Sandwich and I was left slightly underwhelmed, but I am happy to report that my brand new Galaxy Nexus has shown me just how good Ice Cream Sandwich really is.

ICS, always amazing

The Galaxy Nexus was designed with ICS in mind; it was built to run it and a few versions after it as well. As you may know, there’s a developer preview of the next Android version, 4.1 or JellyBean, available for Galaxy Nexus users to flash. I’ve tried it and for what it is, it’s amazing.

I received my Galaxy Nexus the morning after the Google I/O keynote and discovered that a JellyBean Over The Air (OTA) update was available online. Needless to say, I instantly unlocked my bootloader, flashed a custom recovery and installed the JellyBean update. I won’t share too many details about it here now, what I will say though is that it’s fast, slick and gorgeous. It’s also the first Android version update to really blow me away, but I’ll do a proper review once the source/factory images/OTA arrives. For now, I’d like to talk about the Galaxy Nexus running the 4.0.4 factory image which is available here.

You can always go back

I went back to stock ICS for two reasons, firstly, the Jelly Bean update isn’t the final version and I’ve suffered enough Beta type flashing for a lifetime, and secondly, how can I judge what my new device is capable of, without ever using it the way Google intended?

At first I was sceptical of the MASSIVE screen on the Galaxy Nexus, coming from the Nexus S’ 4.0” screen, the 4.65″ seemed unmanageable, for about 10 minutes. Normal operation has resumed and I’ll happily admit that I am a convert; I only questioned (read: hated) the bigger screens because I had never used one properly, and I definitely can’t go back. (Had to restore my Nexus S to factory and even though I love that display, the size difference and the Galaxy Nexus’ HD screen just makes it feel, well, obsolete.)

Nexus, the ultimate cure

So far though, I am happy to report that the Galaxy Nexus has cured me of constantly flashing a new OS, or “crack flashing” as it’s known in the Android world. Simply because my previous devices, the HTC Desire and Nexus S, both sported single core processors and regardless of what anyone said, or claimed, I always thought they underperformed slightly. I only noticed that underperformance from the Nexus S once I’d used the Galaxy Nexus for a few hours, the experience is very, very different.

Transitions are slick, input is instant and it has a notification light. I cannot reiterate how important that annoying little flash is. It’s another thing I never missed while I didn’t have it, but now that I’ve become accustomed to it again, I definitely can’t use a handset without it again. ICS is a dream on the Galaxy Nexus, sure, people report all sorts of bizarre problems, from signal drops to borked volumes, I have experienced none of these things, and I’ve been actively checking and testing to try and catch it off guard, all I’ve managed to do is fail, WINNING!

Sure, notification area toggles (possibly the main reason for me rooting in the first place) are really nice to have, however, I don’t miss them at all. I’ve learnt to use my phone as a phone and not as a device for testing developer’s capabilities, and that is the best part of my new Galaxy Nexus. I get to use the product the way Google intended it to be used, and that is a massive step for the search giant. It’s finally got Android polished up, fluid and ready for the masses; I honestly believe everything up to now was just warming up.

Strong like bull

The Nexus range is going from strength to strength, and with a final product as slick as Jelly Bean, on a device as awesome as the Galaxy Nexus, I see no reason for non-adopters to avoid checking it out next time an upgrade comes along. You may mock the little tablet I call a phone in my pocket as much as you want, but I can assure you of one thing, it beats the pants off anything with a smaller screen.



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