Galaxy Nexus release date confirmed; ICS Android flagship sails soon

Galazy Nexus

Samsung Electronics, the self-styled "top smartphone maker", has now confirmed the Galaxy Nexus release date in Europe, but is being slightly fuzzier about the U.S. date. However, we should see the long-anticipated reference Android Ice Cream Sandwich design on Verizon within weeks. While JR Raphael's on vacation, here's what we know, in The Long View...

Greetings from a sunny England, where Samsung's been holding its launch party this week. You may remember that Samsung delayed the launch in deference to the death of Steve Jobs (or perhaps in honor of the all-powerful news cycle -- you be the judge).

Amongst the announcements were the latest details on Google's flagship smartphone for the new version of Android -- version 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Formerly known as the Nexus Prime -- at least by fandroid rumor-mongers -- this has been an eagerly awaited announcement, coming as it does, hard on the heels of Apple's iPhone 4S introduction.

We now finally have a hard date for European availability, but still a slightly fuzzier U.S. date; we do know it'll be on Verizon initially, though. In Europe, it'll be out on November 17; in the U.S., well, sometime in November.

The European version will support the über-fast 21 Mb/s HSDPA, but Verizon's will get a "true 4G" LTE upgrade. Rocking a dual-core, 1.2GHz OMAP 4460 SoC from TI, based on an ARM Cortex-A9, plus a 384 MHz PowerVR SGX540 GPU, and 1GB of RAM, it's expected to be a scorching power-house.

Rear camera is 5 megapixels, which can record 1080p30 HD video; front snapper is 1.3. It even has NFC and a barometer, just in case you want to predict the weather... or something.

It weighs 4.8oz, and it's got a 4.7" Super AMOLED, oleophobic screen (OK, 4.65", if you want to be really pedantic) with a better-than-HD, WSVGA resolution of 1280x800 an HD resolution of 1280x720. The bezel's pretty thin, so it doesn't seem as bulky in your hand as you might imagine. 

The form-factor reminds me of the much-underrated Dell Streak (a/k/a the Mini 5). I bought a mint one of these on eBay recently, for $240; it's a wonderful little toy. The Dell doesn't quite have that resolution, being WVGA, but that's still pretty dense for a 5" screen. Perhaps Dell was just ahead of its time?

Speaking of 5" form-factor tablets, Samsung also announced its Galaxy Note device.

Same resolution as the Nexus, but

1280x800 WXGA resolution, with a 5.3" screen. Amusingly, it comes with a stylus, which should bring back "nostalgic" memories of poking at Palms and iPaqs of old... Anyway, back to the Galaxy Nexus: I see the 16GB version advertised for pre-order in the UK at around the £500-to-£525 mark -- that's including the UK's ludicrous 20% sales tax, which works out around $650 plus tax. This is, of course, unsubsidized, unlocked, and SIM-free; it'll also be available in the UK via the O2 network initially. No word yet on U.S. pricing, but I can't see it coming to these shores

unlocked

sans-contract this year, can you?  

Want one? Leave a comment below...

Richi Jennings, blogger at large

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. As well as The Long View, he's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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