There are literally hundreds of Android phones out there, but Google's Nexus line is the flagship range.
The Galaxy Nexus, manufactured by Samsung, is the latest Nexus phone to come down the pike, being launched at the tail-end of last year.
Now, with quad-core behemoths the Samsung Galaxy SIII and HTC One X being launched, you have to wonder whether the Galaxy Nexus can still hang with them...
First impressions last (or whatever that phrase is), and upon unboxing, we found ourselves one pretty device.
The Nexus hardware
The phone is made out of plastic for the most part, but we're okay with that thanks to the texture and quality of the materials used. For example, the plastic back cover has a great mottled texture to it, making you almost forget the fact that it's not glass, Kevlar or any other exotic material.
The design of the Nexus is pretty much the same as other devices, looking like a plastic block, albeit with rounded edges. Of note however, is the notification light, a practical addition and one we unfortunately don't see very often.
But the star of the hardware show is clearly the 4.65-inch glass display, with a 720p resolution. The screen has a neat curve to it as well, giving the phone an ever-so-slight "chin".
Colours are wonderfully vibrant, with Samsung's Super AMOLED technology producing some deep blacks as usual. Multimedia content such as photos and video are suitably sharp as well.
Possibly the weakest side of the hardware department is the camera, which weighs in at a solid five megapixels.
Despite the seemingly low megapixel count, the camera is capable of taking some great pictures, giving a decent amount of detail and vibrant colours in all but the lowest of light.
What makes the camera special however is the zero shutter lag, snapping photos as soon as you hit the button.
The camera features a number of options as well, such as a panorama mode,
Of course, the device is capable of shooting sharp 1080p video as well, while the 1.3MP front-facing camera shoots at 720p.
Delving into Android
On the software side of things, this was the first phone to run Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich. And there are a bevy of improvements to behold as well.
Android 4.0 simply looks better than previous iterations thanks to a new font, pretty icons and other aesthetic changes here and there.
But the real improvements are under the hood, with a new multitasking manager inspired by Android Honeycomb, for one. Multitasking on an Ice Cream Sandwich handset is miles better than Gingerbread and quicker than iOS too, with users simply flicking apps off the screen.
Then there's the super useful data usage monitor, tracking your mobile data while also letting you set a cap for yourself. It's extremely practical, especially with the likes of MTN offering a meagre 75 or even 10MBs per month.
The Face Unlock feature is another addition we quite like, letting you unlock your phone using your ugly mug only. It works pretty well for the most part, with users able to refine the procedure by scanning their face multiple times (in low light, outdoors, etc).
There are times when it's simply too dark for Face Unlock to work though, so in those instances, the phone will default to the lock pattern security feature.
The lockscreen has been inspired by Windows Phone, at least to an extent, letting you go directly to the camera by flicking the lock circle to the left. It's a neat feature, allowing users to promptly take snaps without missing too much.
Powering all of this is a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, providing some snappy performance.
Browsing the web, watching HD video and playing 3D games was no problem for the Galaxy Nexus, with barely a hiccup to be had. We did notice a bit of juddering on the odd occasion that we brought up the app menu though, but nothing to detract from the experience.
To buy or not?
The Galaxy Nexus was a AAA-quality smartphone upon its release - but that was more than six months ago. With the quad-core superphones out now, choosing it over those more powerful devices is a hard task.
However, the Galaxy Nexus is still a fantastic device, with a lovely design, sharp screen and fast performance. So wait until a price drop or special deal before splashing out.
Score: 9 out of 10
To view a selection of photos taken with the Galaxy Nexus, visit this Flickr page.
To watch a sample video clip taken with the phone, click here.