Verizon Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean Update: First Impressions and Performance

After what seemed like an eternity, Verizon finally started pushing out the Galaxy Nexus Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update on Friday last week, meaning the last Nexus device in the United States finally was updated with the latest software from Google.

To be quite honest, I thought that it might have taken Verizon longer. The carrier is notorious for being slow to updates and the fact that it took five months for it to roll out the first bug update to the Galaxy Nexus made me think that it might take longer to get it to Jelly Bean.

Luckily, Verizon took far less time to roll out Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for the Galaxy Nexus.

As it stands, many Galaxy Nexus owners are still without Jelly Bean. Some got it OTA on Friday over the weekend, others were able to update using the trick I told you about earlier.

I decided to wait, just to see how long it would take, and finally got the software this morning. And per usual, I wanted to share my quick, initial thoughts about the update.

I’ve already been using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7 and from that experience, I expected Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to be a massive improvement over the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich experience on my Galaxy Nexus.

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Thus far, the software is everything I hoped it would be.

Overall Performance

One of the biggest features that comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the improved user interface. And I’m not talking about cosmetic changes. I’m talking about improvements to its speed and to its fluidity.

There were times when I would lag when switching between home screens in Ice Cream Sandwich. I also experienced sluggishness when trying to open up applications. It was never horrible but there certainly was room for improvement.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is that improvement. With Jelly Bean and Project Butter, the overall speed and performance of Android on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus has improved immensely. Seriously, there is a noticeable difference between the UI in Ice Cream Sandwich and the one in Jelly Bean.

For example, now, when I tap a widget or switch between home screens, it’s virtually instant. Thus far, I’ve experienced very little lag while opening up apps or moving between my different home screens.

Battery Life

I’ve only had Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus for a few hours now but fortunately, I haven’t seen any sort of a dip in battery life yet. And trust me, I’ve been putting it through some intense testing.

The battery life on my Galaxy Nexus, which was once terrible, became adequate with the arrival of the bug fix update and doesn’t seem phased by the new software.

I’m still hoping for an improvement but at this point, I can’t tell.

Bugs

I’ve been just about everywhere in and around the new software with my Galaxy Nexus and thus far I’ve not found any major bugs. I’ve been hearing that some people are experiencing even lower volume with their speakers but as of right now, I can’t say that I’ve got a similar issue.

Bugs tend to show themselves as time goes on so I may stumble upon a few in the days ahead.

Google Now

Google Now is one of the new, highly touted features in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Based on Google search history, it’s going to help inform you of events, activities and more. It also now includes Emergency Alerts and sports scores and it should get more updates as time goes on.

For example, if I were to be flying out of LAX for Frankfurt, Germany, it would let me know if my flight was delayed. It’s also useful for those who commute to work as it stores information for traffic alerts.

I’ve found it to be useful on occasion with my Nexus 7 but it’s not necessarily my favorite feature in Jelly Bean.

Expanded Notifications

Maybe my favorite feature in Jelly Bean, besides the super fast UI, is the expanded Notifications that Google has included along with the new software.

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Expanded Notifications just might be my favorite feature.

When I pull down my Notifications from the top of my Galaxy Nexus, I am now treated to a host of expanded Notifications that show me the first few lines of emails or if I get a missed call, I can call or text back directly from the notification. It also shows me some of the cards I’ve set up when using Google Now so I have quick access to things I care about most.

I am constantly checking on my Notifications and this expanded functionality is extremely useful to me, and it likely will be for you as well.

New Google App Drawer

Something else that’s often overlooked in the Jelly Bean discussion is the new Google App Drawer that Google places front and center on your home screen.

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The new Google app drawer is key for me.

While many may move it to a distant part of the phone, I actually enjoy it on my first home screen because it offers easy access to the features that I use the most. Chief among those, Gmail and Google Talk.

The new app drawer also helps to keep clutter on my home screens down.

Browser

Plain and simple, the browser zips over the previous version. While there might not be support for Flash anymore, I really haven’t noticed. What I have noticed is that it’s much faster than the Ice Cream Sandwich browser and even sites that are content intensive are handled without a problem.

Scrolling around is smooth and fast and of course, content looks great on the HD display.

Other Features

Other features that I enjoy in Jelly BeanĀ  so far include the new Camera app functionality which allows me to easily navigate and take photos with simple swiping and pinch gestures.

Another feature that works as advertised and will come in handy for me while writing on-the-go is the offline voice dictation feature that lets me talk out posts or notes to myself, even without an internet connection. It’s also especially useful for when I am working out of the office and in a place where internet is spotty.

I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my home screens and the new resizable widgets help ease my anxiety by automatically adjusting when an icon might be in the way.

I’ve never used Face Unlock so the new functionality there doesn’t concern me and I’ve yet to use Android Beam, even though it’s a feature that Google hyped up in the past.

Should You Upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

If you are using a phone that is capable of upgrading to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and are thinking about upgrading, my simple response to you is yes, do the upgrade.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is a very good operating system but Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is a great operating system, improving on just about everything in Ice Cream Sandwich while adding even more.

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Yes, you will want to upgrade.

Simply, this is Google’s best Android operating system yet and you won’t want to miss out.

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How are you liking Jelly Bean thus far, Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners?

Comments

  1. Nexus Galaxy S3 says

    Got the update a few days ago. Liking it very much, but for two issues it has not, and probably cannot, change: the Nexus’ inadequate 5 megapixel camera and the poor battery life, as compared to the S III. I think it is worth noting that with the 2100 mAh battery inserted in the Nexus, it runs the same battery power as the S III….but the S III uses much less battery…is that a hardware or software issue? IDK…If you can live with those two issues, it is a great phone with Jelly Bean.

    • jeff says

      No kidding. I got the extended battery for my nexus and I can’t tell a difference from the original! A guy I work with bought the s3 and gets through a 12 hour shift with 50% left. I hardly touch my phone and I lose 50% 4 or 5 hours into the shift. Makes me want an s3 that much more

  2. Shannon says

    Jellybean arrived on my phone Saturday morning when I checked updates. I was afraid to force push it and screw up my Google related apps possibly. My phone FINALLY holds a 4g signal! Since Saturday I have been on CDMA/LTE and haven’t dropped signal once! My speaker volume also increased. I swear! I love my phone with jellybean now especially since it was a FREE upgrade from Best Buy last month. Great deal.

  3. gelfud says

    Anyone else not able to send or receive SMS msgs since updating? I was going fine, (updated yesterday) but now I keep getting “message not sent” every time that I hit send

    • Kim says

      I updated last night and can’t send texts either.. I keep getting “message not sent”. Any ideas on how to fix this?

  4. WG says

    Yeah my battery life is worse was hoping it would improve but no cigar. I went from 100% to 10% in less than 6 hours

  5. Michael says

    Too bad Verizon hates me and I still have not gotten my update! Also I spoke with them to find out what was taking so long and they explained to me that it is Samsung’s fault that I have not received my update yet. So not only are they taking forever they are also lying to me about it as well.

    • Bryan says

      it depends who you asked. If you asked a sales rep in the store, they don’t know anything about s/w updates or who is responsible, so take that with a grain of salt.

      As far as battery, my battery life is worse. I use to get through my work day just fine, now, my battery is dead maybe 2 hours before I’m done my work day. Other than battery life, love everything else about the update.

  6. Charles says

    I just tried an experiment with my Nexus running the 4.1.1 update…charged the battery to 100%. Disabled all but one of the GPS apps. Wifi connected. Screen off and simply put it aside. After 10 minutes, with NO other activity, it had gone from 100% charge to 98%. The Galaxy S III would take over an hour, if not more, to do that. Anyone want to buy my Nexus?

  7. Ec says

    I’m glad that you have a positive post for once. As a technology advocate, the road to progress is paved with whiners. If dealing with tech was a piece of cake, you’d be out of business and so would I.

  8. Lesa says

    I got the update this morning. Since I had to work, I haven’t played with it much but do like the expanded notifications. My problem is the former mute button doesn’t seem to be around anymore. I know I can put the phone on vibrate or airplane mode but there are still notification sounds and the vibrate makes just enough noise to be heard and thus cannot happen at work.

  9. DJ HazMat says

    I find it extremely funny that Adam would state that you won’t miss Flash when the videos in this article require flash to play! I use Amazon Prime Instant Videos a lot, streaming movies and tv series through my Nexus to the big sceen TV in my living room through the MHL – HDMI connection. Not having Flash or another way to sideload it for AIV is keeping me from upgrading. I have no complaints with the ICS OS except that the built in clock is lame and thus I have to down load an ADWARE packed clock just to use a countdown timer. THat’s it though, otherwise, I love my Nexus.

    • Nexus Galaxy S3 says

      Verizon does not allow for the Wallet app to work on its Nexus phone, so no Wallet. I do have it on my Google Nexus 7 tablet and it is a very good app.This is yet another example of how the Verizon phone is definitely NOT the “pure Google phone” it was billed as being.

  10. Barbara says

    Has anyone who had the dropped calls and Internet disconnect with the nexus, found that issue solved with the update?

  11. J.B. Pacheco (@JBpacheco_94) says

    ive had it for a couple of days and battery life is worse then ever im a senior in highschool and through out school i dont use my phone very much but on 4.0.4 at the end of school i would have around 65 percent battery left now with jelly bean only 3 hours into my day my battery life will be at 40 percent it only last around 5 hours and thats just sitting in my pocket all day

  12. kn says

    Please note if you have the unlimited data plan and use foxfi for free wifi the update will kill the foxfi. My work around has been easywifi.

    • darkSurge says

      This is the one issue that irritates the ever living daylights out of me. Was so happy to get the update and everything seemed to be running very nicely. Then I go to use FoxFi and it craps out. Ugghh….Still happy with the update though. As mentioned, my UI seems more fluid and quick, and my LTE drops have pretty much been eliminated. Guess I will check out easywifi and hope it is as good as FoxFi.

  13. dave says

    I don’t think the “Google app drawer” the author refers to is a new feature at all. I had it on my nexus with ICS. Its simply a folder with Google apps in it. U could create it urself if it wasn’t there.

  14. JR says

    JB is awesome. I never had issues with my GN on ICS, so just enjoying the upgrade. Only dislike so far is the reduced ease in saving web pages for offline reading, something that I do quite often.

  15. Doug Snably says

    I had a verizon tech at the store update my galaxy nexus to Jelly Bean , but when I check my ” about phone ” it sows Android Version 4.1.1. Is that what I should have to be current ??
    Thank you !
    Doug

  16. Vince Carrino says

    Received the over the air update from Verizon on Thursday. The update took less than 5 minutes to complete. I’ve been using my phone since March and it is easily twice as fast. The battery life is no worse than with ICS so I can’t complain. I would push a little kid out of the way to get this update. JK…
    Seriously, all GN owners should get it immediately!
    Google has finally surpassed Apple with this release!

  17. Dan Galloway says

    September 29th and still no JB update available. Tried the force tricks and I might as well be trying to use the Force itself. No Go. The only difference is where it used to say “Wifi only until Oct XX” mine used to say Oct 1 and then Oct 8 and now Oct 9. I think they hate me and put me at the end of the line.

  18. Rachel says

    My battery life is terrible since the update – not using the phone any more that I did before, and seems like I am also only getting 3G instead of 4G. Have turned off everything I can live without and it’s still just horrible – runs out completely in a few hours.

    • Andy says

      I’m having the same problem. I have to keep my phone plugged in all day or it dies in hours. Before the update, I could leave phone unplugged for 12-16 hours and would be fine. Very frustrating.

  19. Ali says

    “Google App Drawer”? …The folder that clusters apps/icons according to your drag-and-drop choice? ::consterned face::
    The drag and drop icons-to-folders feature (that was already available with Ice Cream Sandwich) is what you’re actually referring to, and that is indeed an EXCELLENT feature that other launchers should leave alone because I have seen nothing even half as efficient as Android’s stock icon folder system.
    Also, +1 @Dave.

  20. Redskin Rob says

    just got the OTA update to jellybean. Not sure how great or horrible it is…. Battery life seems at least the same…12 hours off the charger and still 55 percent battery left…moderate use… anyway… The one thing us notice that is awful is the voice dialer… The ICS got nearly every vice dialed number right. The JB hasn’t gotten one nunnery correct on voice dial…not one…tried 20 numbers and not one right. How did the voce dual go down the crapper with JB? Any ideas?

  21. Kathy says

    I lost my contacts and my signal. I took the phone down to verizon and they had no clue how to fix it. I am being sent one via my warranty. Sucks!

  22. jim says

    Avec flash vous ne pouvez utiliser chrome et donc firefox, mais les upgrades le rendent instable. Merci google car malheureusement HTML 5 ce n’est pas pour demain.

  23. jim says

    The new upgrades of the nexus7 affect the stability of the firefox ap thus the flash option which we all know is a pain in.. for google and it really bugs me because chrome is really not secure for reservations on line because it keeps most of your info. Html5 is not for tomorrow and not used around the world. So lets see who controls more Microsoft or Google?

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