Verizon Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean Update: Final Impressions and Performance

On Monday, I finally got my Verizon Galaxy Nexus equipped with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an update that had I been waiting for since Google announced the software at Google I/O. And, after spending a week with the highly anticipated update, it’s safe to say that Jelly Bean was well worth the wait.

When I first received the update on Monday, I was thrilled because, as I’ve said, I have been using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean since I picked up the Nexus 7 back in August and I think that Jelly Bean blows Ice Cream Sandwich out of the water. So I was extremely excited to get Jelly Bean up and running on my Android smartphone.

Read: Verizon Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean Update: First Impressions and Performance.

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After a week of putting through Jelly Bean through the paces on my Galaxy Nexus, I can safely say that this an update that I am going to enjoy for the next year while I wait for Google to cook up something new.

Here is what I found after using the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update on my Galaxy Nexus for the past week.

Overall Performance

After a week of using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, I can say, without a doubt, that it’s a vast improvement over Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in just about every single way, including overall performance. With Android 4.0, there were times when I’d experience some sluggishness in the user interface whether it was moving about home screens or tapping on apps. With Android 4.1, that doesn’t exist.

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In the past week, I’ve experienced virtually no slow down on my Galaxy Nexus, even when I had tons of applications open. The software remained smooth and fast, just as advertised.

Again, there is a noticeable different between the speed and fluidity of Jelly Bean as opposed to Ice Cream Sandwich and fortunately it’s the former that blows the latter out of the water.

Battery Life

After the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich bug fix update, my battery life improved to the point where it actually made sense to bring the phone out with me. With Jelly Bean, over the past week,  I haven’t noticed any serious changes to the battery life which actually isn’t such a bad thing at all.

In fact, I feel like the battery life might be a little bit better. Whereas with Android 4.0 I would get around 10 hours of usage out of the Galaxy Nexus, keep in mind I am an average not a power user, I get around 11 or so with my Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It could be that some of my habits have changed, I play far fewer games, but I’d like to think they are about the same.

While I probably have a little bit to do with the increased battery life, it probably has to do with the CPU improvements that Google has included with Jelly Bean.

Bugs

On Monday, I told you that I hadn’t found any serious bugs in Jelly Bean. However, a Verizon Galaxy Nexus owner brought one to my attention earlier this week and while I was unable to reproduce it 100 percent of the time, it did happen a few times.

The bug affects Google Voice Search when the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is paired with a Bluetooth device. The user who sent in the bug says that his Google Voice Search becomes unresponsive and useful when he pairs his Jawbone with the Galaxy Nexus. I paired the Galaxy Nexus with Bluetooth in a car and when I tried to use Voice Search most of the time it worked.

However, there were a few instances where it kept saying Initializing over and over again. I don’t use Bluetooth often so this doesn’t bother me but it could definitely be a bug that affects plenty of owners out there.

Samsung is apparently aware of the bug and is working on solving it while Verizon has yet to acknowledge anything.

In addition, I feel like speakers on my Galaxy Nexus may have gotten a bit softer but that may just be my imagination. I have seen other Jelly Bean users experiencing a similar issue but it’s certainly possible that they are just as low as they were in ICS.

Features I Love

Instead of going over all of the new features, there are many in Jelly Bean, I wanted to talk about the features that I found myself using the most since getting the new software on Monday. These are the features in Android 4.1 that I like the most and the ones that many of you are probably enjoying as well.

Expanded Notifications

Easily the best feature included in Jelly Bean, in my humble opinion. I find myself using the expanded notifications on a very consistent basis and the luxury of being able to respond to emails, texts and phone calls right from the Notification menu is a gift from the Android gods.

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They not only save me time but they ensure that I get back to the people I care about much quicker. I have a feeling that this is going to end up being my favorite feature in Jelly Bean and the one I use the most.

Improved Browser

Now I’m not saying the browser in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was bad, but the browser in Jelly Bean absolutely flies. The HTML5, CPU and Java improvements that Google made are noticeable and they make using the default browser a much more enjoyable experience.

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I find myself using it more than I use Chrome at this point though that could definitely change over time.

Offline Voice Dictation

Another feature I love in Jelly Bean is the offline voice dictation feature that allows me to take notes and dictate posts, like the one you are reading, when not connected to the internet.

Several times this week I have been able to communicate notes to myself when not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular and because of those notes, my productivity at work increased.

Camera App

Google made it clear that it was giving the camera app a major overhaul in Jelly Bean and it wasn’t lying. The application is extremely impressive now and the new navigational gestures make me actually want to use it rather than avoid it.

Features That Fall Short

Let me be clear. There aren’t any features that I’ve found so far in Jelly Bean that are horrible. Useless, maybe. But not horrible. Google Now for me, at this point, is useless because I didn’t sink up my Google searches until Monday so the feature hasn’t really delivered anything to me yet. And that’s why you don’t see it anywhere here because I can’t decide if I’ll wind up using it.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some features that I know I won’t be using in the future.

Face Unlock Improvements

Plain and simple, I’ve never used Face Unlock and the new features which include faster animations and the ability to detect blinks, clothing and glasses won’t change that.

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Until that first warning is removed, I won’t use Face Unlock.

Face Unlock, to me, is a gimmick and I feel a whole lot more comfortable using one of the other security pass code methods that Google offers in Jelly Bean.

Android Beam

Even with the ability to beam photos and video to my friends, I still find the feature to be extremely useless and will continue to opt for the more prehistoric way of sending content to my friends. Through MMS or email.

Final Word: Should You Install Jelly Bean on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus?

In one word: absolutely. There is no reason why you shouldn’t upgrade from Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich if you haven’t already. Jelly Bean is far and away a better operating system than Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and you will stand to gain a much better experience on your Verizon Galaxy Nexus if make the switch.

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I’m impressed Google, now bring on Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie.

Comments

  1. Bobby says

    Way to pad an article. What’s the point of this? Can/do people ever actually *not* take updates to their phones?

    • Brian Brooks says

      I know many people who choose not to update their phones and tablets. How is giving a point of view “padding an article”? Off with you, troll boy!

  2. Brian Brooks says

    Agree with Roxie. Past that I love JB. Still don’t care for the camera. In my opinio HDR Camera app is hands down the add on that cannot be beat. Turns this rather bland cameras picts into ones that rival the pictures I thought couldn’t be beat by the Infuse’s 8 meg. Still don’t like Chrome, be it home PC, tablet or droids, too many bugs and other issues. Google Now cannot be beat once it’s utilized to it’s full potential. I’ll just say this, I love the Samsung branded Nexus. When and hopefully if Samsung continues to produce them, I’ll push for the wife and kids to aquire one too. :-)

  3. mike jasko says

    Still trying to figure out whats good but one serious bug that came with the up date is that my Nexus periordically startes “ringing” but not with the chosen ring tone and not for any reason that I can determine. the only way to turn it off is to silence the sound. Needless to say this limits my ability to receive incoming calls since I have to keep my phone on vibrate only. Still working to find out whats buggie..anybody got a suggestion

  4. Al Garcia says

    With all the awesome reviews and results that the Galaxy Nexus is getting with the new JB update, I feel very compelled to buy a GSM G-Nex for myself. Thanks for the awesome break-down Adam.

  5. Adam G says

    Would be nice if my nexus didn’t reload my homepage every time I open up the browser, my data usage has skyrocketed since switching from my last galaxy phone

    • Shannon says

      That’s one issue that is bothering me, I see the web page opened in recent apps, but as soon as I click on it, it goes to google home page. To the person who asked about signal issues, ever since my phone switched to Jellybean my phone FINALLY holds a 4g signal with no drops, I still drop a call here and there though, my battery seems to be worse but the good outweighs the bad.

  6. FJ says

    no one is talking about the issues w/ 4.1 upgrade? I’ve noticed worse battery life, some of the transitions aren’t working as smoothly as they did upon upgrade, my phone doesn’t vibrate while on vibrate and after checking settings when I get a text…some bugs in here that have been logged at code.google.com, just hope they get on top of a 4.1.2 or whatever OTA bug fixes get pushed out in….oh, six or seven months?

    overall though, in all seriousness, awesome update. lot of things are better, loving google now.

  7. Charles says

    I’ve had JB 4.1.1 now since it was pushed out, and I give it an A-,or 9/10. The main thing is the battery life, which is inferior to that of the G S III…even with the 2100 extended battery in the Nexus…BUT, the Nexus battery life is not nearly as bad as some other 4G phones, so SGN with 4.1 is still well worth having. I really prefer this phone over the S3, in terms of function and intuitive action…it flows better at least for me.

  8. Edward Cating says

    I am a long haul truck driver. For me, a conviction for using a handheld cell phone could land me a total of $14,500 in fines and penalties. Bluetooth voice dialing is absolutely broken in Jelly Bean. In ICS, the voice dialer app was about 95% accurate. In JB, it is less than 5% accurate. Useless. I am appalled that people are touting gee-whiz improvements to this OS, while the telephonic capabilities of this Smart PHONE OS has arguably been degraded. The fact that this degradation in the phone functionality is one involving safety, leading to less capable hands-free operation while driving, is almost unimaginable. This should have been caught before Jelly Bean was released!

  9. JB says

    I have been enjoying my Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean since July. Amazing phone really.

    I love the design as. Clean screen without button, not brick like iphone, not pebble like S3. I even like the bump at the back bottom. (I put Zagg Invisible shield Maximum Protection)

    I think Google or Samsung should keep the current design including screen size.

  10. Charles says

    I will add to my review above that having compared the screen and image quality of the Nexus and the S3 (by installing the same HD wallpaper on both phones and setting the brightness levels to the same settings)…well, believe it or not, the Nexus home screen and lock screen images looks much better than the S3′s,. Never would’ve guessed the Nexus would’ve won that category but it definitely has a sharper, richer image…too darned bad the Nexus camera is sub-par.

  11. Andrew says

    Another longhaul truck driver here, with another bug. Since the update to JB, my nexus no longer respects the “Data roaming” option in the settings.

    I called Verizon’s “technical support”, and was advised that, apparently, you’ve always had to disable data completely when crossing an international border. News to me and I hope across the U.S., Canada border two to three times per week. Every other phone with data capabilities had, and respected, this option, including the Nexus running ICS.

  12. Ron says

    I would NOT update to JB knowing what I know now since I did accept the update. It absolutely kills my voice dialing by bluetooth. I used to press my earpiece, say “call so-and-so at home” and it would place the call. Since updating to JB I have not been able to place a single call using bluetooth. I randomly dials whoever it wants instead of the person instructed. For me, this one thing alone would have kept me from updating to JB if I had known in advance. Verizon “technicians” were of no help except offering to sell me a new $100 blue tooth device with its owns software. Uh, no thanks
    .

    • Kat says

      I completely agree Ron! Voice dial with or without Bluetooth nonexistent on Jelly Bean. Sucks and I did not get to choose to update or not. Wouldn’t have found this bug without update tho. Extremely disappointed and hope it gets fixed soon especially since hands free required by law in my state.

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