Verizon's Samsung Galaxy Nexus has the distinction of being the first and only phone at the moment to be offered with Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. That alone is reason enough for some to open their wallets, but those of you scrutinizing the specs have no doubt noticed that the Nexus' hardware, while respectable, doesn't knock your socks off.
Does that mean you should pass on the Galaxy Nexus?
Sure, the Nexus has a capable 1.2-gigahertz dual-core processor while other phones have processors clocked as high 1.5 GHz already. Other top-shelf smartphones have an 8-megapixel camera sensor, but the Nexus makes do with just a 5-megapixel sensor.
So what makes the Galaxy Nexus so special?
Well, the Galaxy Nexus is large where size matters. The super AMOLED display spans 4.65 inches with a 1280-by-720 pixel resolution. And it's fast -- on Verizon's LTE network. The curved design is subtle, and despite being a large device it feels light. It's going to require two hands for most users.
But even the gorgeous screen isn't the best reason to get the Nexus.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a substantial step forward for Android. Many other current Android phones will get an update, but not all. The question of when exactly could be an uncertainty that will deter some users. And what about updates?
Being one of Google's Nexus devices means it will likely get the best software support of any Android smartphone. If you missed the graphic that blipped across most of the tech blogs a few weeks ago, check it out now.
Google's HTC Nexus One had more updates than any other Android phone. Second best is not even close.
Sure, it is fun to have that sock-knocking experience at first, but maybe it's time to think about the long term. You may have some apps not working until they are updated, but I have yet to encounter an unhappy user myself.
What doesn't last so long is the battery, which is not uncommon among dual-core LTE beasts.
The camera hardware is good if not ground-breaking. Ice Cream Sandwich brings some software tricks to the game. Panoramic images can be captured in a single fluid sweeping motion. You can also employ a rapid fire mode. There are plenty of settings like white balance and such in the menu to occupy photo geeks long enough to evade their capture.
The latest Nexus is priced at $299, which puts it in line with other 32-gigabyte devices. On the surface it might not seem like anything special compared with other Android phones. That is mostly because there are some great devices out there.
If you've been frustrated by Android software issues and updates in the past, the value of the Nexus becomes very clear.
The Nexus may not have the most megapixels, best battery life or fastest processor. What it does have is Google's vision.
That may be why the Nexus is the best Android phone.