Dec 26

Last week I bought one of the new Galaxy Nexus phones that had just become available here in Finland. After using it for a while I realized that the screen sported, for some reason, a yellow tint. Having used my Galaxy S for about 18 months now, the difference was quite a stark one, even to my eyes. I snapped a photo of the Nexus next to my Galaxy S, both at full brightness.

I find it hard to believe that Super AMOLED technology would have gotten worse in the last year and a half. Granted, the resolution is significantly larger (480×800 vs 720×1280), but the difference in quality (pixel density notwithstanding) was too tremendous for me to bear.

I posted the above photo to a couple of websites I frequent, and sought for opinions. I had, by that time, already arranged for my Nexus to be RMA’d, so what I was looking for were reassurances that I would, with high probability, get a better device as replacement. I didn’t get many replies, but the ones I did indicated that I might in fact have had a defective screen. I then proceeded to pack the device up and sent it back to the store.

Since it’s Christmas, it’ll take a few days more to make the trip to the store (which is in Sweden), and for the new unit to be shipped back to me. I could, in fact, pick another device from my local store, compare the screens, and then sell off the one I like less. Nexus being sold for 650 euros at my local store, this plan might prove too expensive in the end.

I have the tracking code for the package I sent back to the store, so I can start asking questions about the replacement (in case they don’t contact me first) once they receive the shipment.

In all honesty, I don’t have high hopes for the screen of the replacement unit either. I’ve got the impression that the Nexus screen is supposed to be somewhat yellow, and also feature a blue tint when looking at it at an angle. Still, having used Galaxy S for 18 months I had expected something at least as good. My initial unit seemed clearly a step backwards what comes to the screen quality.

In all other respects, Galaxy Nexus didn’t disappoint. I was actually a bit uneasy when the specifications were released, because I had expected a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor paired with the Mali-400 GPU at least. That would have made it a bit better than Galaxy S II. It is obvious, however, that Samsung wants to keep the Galaxy S line as the pride and joy of the company. It doesn’t take a lot to figure out that The Galaxy S III, presumably available in April-May 2012, will blow Nexus out of the water. Nexus will probably sell about 1-2 million units in its lifetime, while Samsung is likely expecting the S3 to sell 10+ million units before the end of year.

The most important thing for me in buying the Nexus phone was vanilla Android 4.0. When I got the phone I found it difficult to put down. It wasn’t primarily about the hardware but the latest version of Android, which was truly a joy to use. Certainly it was a different feeling from using Eclair, which was my initial foray into the world of Android.

The Nexus devices are supposed to get updates from Google/Samsung (depending on build) quite soon after they are released, which, as a developer, was a major point to consider. I want to play with the latest and greatest as soon as it becomes available, instead of having to wait for months until the manufacturer releases their newest atrocity of a skin on top of the OS. There are ROMs, of course, but there’s really no beating the original, vanilla experience — to use the device just as Google intended.

Edit — My replacement unit arrived yesterday (10 Jan). It’s a different device all right (based on IMEI), but I can’t tell any difference from the unit I sent back. It seems that people who got a “flawless” screen either don’t know what they’re talking about, or just got very lucky. I think my Galaxy Nexus is just as good as it’s supposed to be. Were the screen any better, it would be a manufacturing fluke.

I’ve used the teamhacksung ICS port on my Galaxy S in the meantime, and I have to say that it rocks. Unfortunately, it has also made the woo factor of ICS wear off. When I got my Nexus replacement, it didn’t feel at all like the first time I got my hands on the device. Now it’s just the best phone I’ve ever used, although not significantly so.

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