Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Android Ice Cream Sandwich launch ...

The CNET crew is poised to bring you complete coverage of the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone, along with Google's Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, from the companies' joint event tonight in Hong Kong.
There's hardly a need to guess at the design, thanks to a trigger-happy Samsung employee, who seems to have briefly published the top-secret Web page on Samsung's site hours before the event (see photo above). (P.S.: It looks like the preorder Web site will live here when Samsung publishes it.
Our hardworking team from CNET Asia in Singapore will be on-site with the rest of the news and hands-on impressions. Meanwhile, we follow along stateside with the official YouTube stream, embedded below. Join us here for all the news, and stick around CNET for plenty of finger-licking commentary.
The event kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. PT (that's 10 p.m. ET and 10 a.m. in Hong Kong).

So let's recap what went down in the world of Android yesterday.

At Motorola's New York City event, the company had two products to show. First up was MotoActv, a watch-like device that's all about fitness. It plays music to help motivate you, sure, but it also tracks your heart rate and how far you've walked, run or biked. On-board GPS will keep you from getting lost during those hikes in the woods (as well as keeping tabs on your daily routes). There's a website component ( to monitor your improvements and do the usual social stuff. You can add a wireless headset, too. An 8 GB model is $249 and 16 GB goes for $299.

So that was quite a surprise, but the other product, the Droid Razr smartphone, was pretty much just what everyone anticipated. Let's run down the specs: A dual-core 1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4430 processor, 1 GB RAM, a 4.3" Super AMOLED, 960 x 540 display (with Gorilla Glass to protect it) and a Kevlar backplate! Camera is 8 megapixel and capable of 1080P video recording. 16 GB of onboard storage and 16 GB additional on a MicroSD card. The phone is just 7.1mm thick (though a little thicker at one end where the camera is) and in the US it'll be on Verizon with LTE support.

The (potentially) bad news is that it's running Gingerbread, not Ice Cream Sandwich, and the battery isn't removable. The Droid Razr is going up for pre-sale on Oct. 27th for $300 with a 2-year contract, and it's expected to ship in early-mid November.

The Xoom was notably absent from the Motorola event.

So that was exciting, but then last night we got to watch (poorly, the video quality wasn't very good) the Google/Samsung event. As promised, this was the roll-out of Android 4, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich [ICS], and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first phone to debut with ICS installed. As with other Nexus phones you're getting stock Android without any kind of carrier-provided overlays or bloatware.

Specs for this device are once again a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor (this time the TI OMAP 4460), 1 GB RAM, a 4.65" Super AMOLED display running at 720P. Camera is only 5 megapixel but Samsung promises "zero shutter lag" and 1080P video capture. It isn't as thin as the Razr but it's still pretty thin: 8.94mm. Both 16GB and 32GB versions will be available but I haven't seen confirmation on a MicroSD slot yet. It's possible there isn't one. LTE here too, though there will also be an HSPA+ model.

A few nifty new features that come compliments of ICS are a facial unlock system (point the phone at your face and it recognizes you and unlocks) and "Android Beam," a way to share content by touching two phones together (this works via the NFC feature of the Nexus). Less sexy but extremely useful was a way to monitor data usage on an app by app basis and even turn off the ability of specific apps to use data unless the phone is on a WiFi network.

No official price was offered but the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is shipping in November. Earlier leaks say it'll be $299 with a 2-year contract on Verizon in the US. I'm going to guess that would be for the 16 GB model.

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