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Review: Android 4.0, Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime

Review: Android 4.0, Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime

Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, ICS. Whatever you call it - what's all the fuss about? We look at Google's latest mobile OS and the hardware that came with it.

Not too long ago (and in our own galaxy, no less), Google revealed three important facts about the Android ecosystem: 1) There are a quarter-billion Android devices out in the world, 2) there are 700,000 new 3G/4G Android activations every single day (that figure does not include resold/reused devices, nor does it include WiFi activations), and 3) over 11 billion apps have been downloaded via the Android Market. As far as device activations are concerned, that’s well over 60 million new Android devices per quarter. Assuming my data and math are both correct, these figures put Google and its devices ahead of the 52.5 million iPhones and iPads sold during Apple’s most recent quarter, although the latter certainly made more money from its sales.

In 2012, there are three major versions of the Android operating system currently offered in various phones, tablets and other devices; Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) is a smartphone OS that occasionally pops up on tablets,  and Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) is a tablet OS that, as far as Tom’s knows, hasn’t shipped on a phone. While both pieces of software do an admirable job when it comes to design, functionality and style, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is the keystone that brings both sides of the Google OS arch together. Fragmentation has long been the bane of Android's existence, and version 4.0 aims to address that concern.

As of today, there are three four devices in North America that officially support Android 4.0: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the older Nexus S (also built by Samsung, and initially released in 2010), and the Asus Transformer Prime tablet. [Ed. Note: Apparently the Motorola Xoom has been graced with an ICS update as well!] What does the new operating system mean for Android fans? Is this latest round of hardware worth upgrading to? And how does 4.0.3 stack up against 3.X on a tablet? I think it’s time we go down the Roboto rabbit hole…

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  • 3 Hide
    stingray71 , January 27, 2012 9:18 PM
    You missed one major upgrade from Honeycomb to ICS, the Browser! Much faster, almost on par with a laptop. It also syncs with your Chrome bookmarks. It is so much better, I ditched the other two browsers I was using.

    Xoom Wifi now officially has ICS as well, the difference is quite nice in regard to overall speed and performance. The way it should of been a year ago.
  • 4 Hide
    house70 , January 27, 2012 10:12 PM
    Also, there is just no comparison between the S-Amoled display and the iP4S display in sunlight/outdoors. The former is easily readable, the later... well, let's just say you need to run for some shade. First hand experience here.
    If they look equally beautiful indoors, the S-Amoled is at least one class above the S-LCD of iP4S outdoors.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2012 11:21 PM
    My wife bought an Ipad2 for Christmas. She loved it.

    I got a Transformer Prime a few weeks ago.

    She loves it so much, she sold her ipad2 to her sister.

  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2012 3:32 PM
    The Prime is sooo good! It's like having 2 for the price of 1, a kind of mini laptop-pad hybrid. I've only had mine for a week so i'm still working out the features, but it's very easy to use. Highly recommend.
  • 1 Hide
    Lmeow , January 28, 2012 10:59 PM
    The Galaxy Nexus doesn't have an microSD card slot as far as I know. Just a correction.

    Phone is amazing though, and even though the camera is terrible in low lighting (in good lighting it can take really nice photos), the shutter speed is insane.
  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , January 29, 2012 4:10 AM
    LmeowThe Galaxy Nexus doesn't have an microSD card slot as far as I know. Just a correction.

    It totally doesn't, and I know as much, but I was writing that and the copy for the Prime hardware simultaneously, so it must have slipped in there somehow. (cough that's what she said) Thanks for picking up the error!

    -Devin Connors, Tom's Guide
  • 1 Hide
    cjtimes , January 29, 2012 2:19 PM
    My Prime is a joy to use, smooth and very fast. Upgrade to ICS if you haven't already Easily the best tablet on the market.
  • 0 Hide
    magicandy , January 29, 2012 3:36 PM
    HOLY CRAP I go to that arcade from the test pic! What a weird feeling seeing it in a Tom's article.

    Game Underground in Framingham, MA. Lots of Bemani games like DDR, IIDX, DrumMania, Pop'n, etc.

    Do you go there, Devin?
  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , January 29, 2012 6:30 PM
    magicandyHOLY CRAP I go to that arcade from the test pic! What a weird feeling seeing it in a Tom's article.Game Underground in Framingham, MA. Lots of Bemani games like DDR, IIDX, DrumMania, Pop'n, etc.Do you go there, Devin?

    I do! I live on the west coast now, but I'm originally from Massachusetts. Two of my close friends co-own that IIDX machine with some other arcade-goers (Steve and Kevin, they're in the picture). I usually stop in once or twice every time I make it back to MA.

    -Devin Connors, Tom's Guide
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