Android 4.2 on Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

Last week, Verizon began rolling out the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update to its owners, the last Nexus device in the United States to get the software. The software replaced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as the device’s operating system and while an incremental update, the software brought a lot of new features to the table. Here, we take a detailed look at the brand new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

In November of last year, Google rolled out its latest Android update, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which replaced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as the company’s most current version of mobile software. Android 4.2, despite being a different version of Android, wasn’t a massive upgrade though, not like Android 4.1 had been from Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Almost immediately, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus GSM and Nexus 7 were updated with the new software, a piece of software that promised several new and intriguing features. However, as expected, owners of Nexus devices on specific carriers, were in for a much longer wait for the new features of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

As Nexus 7 and GSM Galaxy Nexus owners enjoyed their update to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Sprint and Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners could only watch and wait for the update. Earlier this year, Sprint owners were treated to the software upgrade through both a manual installation method and through an OTA update. That left Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners, like myself, as the last Nexus owners in the U.S. without Android 4.2.

Finally last week, several weeks after Sprint owners got their upgrade, Verizon approved Android 4.2 Jelly Bean for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and started rolling the update out to owners in phases.

After several days of waiting, I finally got the upgrade on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus. And after spending a few days using the software, it’s time to take a close look at how Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is performing on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

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Updating Android 4.2 Was Quick and Painless

While the wait for the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus spanned the course of many months, and included a multi-day wait from announcement to roll out, the actual process of updating to the new software was quick and painless.

The Verizon Galaxy Nexus Android 4.2 update finally rolled out.

The Verizon Galaxy Nexus Android 4.2 update finally rolled out.

As I typically do, I waited for Verizon’s OTA to roll out instead of updating to the software manually, and because of that, I didn’t even notice that the update had downloaded in the background until a few hours it had done so. The update prompted me to install the software, a process that it said would take around five to seven minutes.

It did not lie. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, despite being a new update for Android, is not a big piece of software, checking in at a little over 80MB in size. It did take only five to seven minutes before the update installed itself, rebooted, and brought my Verizon Galaxy Nexus up to speed with the rest of the Nexus devices out there.

Android 4.2 Performance

I’ve had Android 4.2 Jelly Bean installed on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus for a couple of days now. And while the original Nexus 7 Android 4.2 update had been a bit shoddy, containing a number of issues, the Verizon version of the update looks like a typical Verizon Android update, free from major bugs and offering high quality performance.

UI is Fluid

Android 4.2 keeps the fluidity that Android 4.1 brought to the Galaxy Nexus as the user interface is still extremely crisp and fast. Scrolling through my various home screens remains fast and opening and closing applications is as crisp as it ever has been.

Thus far, I’ve experienced no major slow downs with Android 4.2.

So far, Android 4.2 seems void of any major issues.

So far, Android 4.2 seems void of any major issues.

Wi-Fi Connectivity

So far, Wi-Fi connectivity is extremely strong. I haven’t heard about any complaints with Wi-Fi connectivity as far as the Verizon Galaxy Nexus or any other Nexus for that matter is concerned but it’s nice to know that Samsung, Google and Verizon did not break the connectivity that I, and many others, depend on when it comes to using the phone at home.

4G LTE Data Speeds

Like Wi-Fi, 4G LTE data speeds remain as fast as they were on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Typically, the 4G LTE data speeds that I pull down on my Galaxy Nexus at home are on par with my Wi-Fi speeds and that hasn’t changed. I’m still getting solid speeds and the trade offs from 4G LTE to 3G and Wi-Fi to 4G LTE to 3G have been seamless.

Bluetooth

One of the issues that Samsung Galaxy Nexus owners have had in the past are issues with Bluetooth. So far, so good with my Galaxy Nexus as the phone has been able to keep a solid connection when paired with my Bluetooth speakers.

Bugs? If So, Hard to Find

Thus far, I’ve been unable to find any major bugs with Android 4.2. The calendar issue that arrived and was fixed in Android 4.1.1 obviously isn’t there, my Galaxy Nexus charges fine – my Nexus 7 still charges extremely slowly on Android 4.2.2 – and I haven’t experienced any random reboots since installing the software.

I’ve heard from a few people who have experienced reboots though they don’t seem to be widespread and my Galaxy Nexus has, so far, managed to avoid the issue.

Android 4.2 Battery Life

I’ve never had much success with the battery life on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. In fact, it has been one of my biggest complaints about Verizon’s Nexus smartphone, especially now that I have an IPhone 5 and have used phones like the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD. It’s just simply not good enough for a flagship smartphone.

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean doesn’t improve on the Galaxy Nexus’ poor battery life in any way, but it also doesn’t impact it in a bad way either. Battery life seems to be as normal as it was before updating to the new software. That means far less than all day battery life and much less than the near seven hours of 4G LTE browsing that I get from my iPhone 5.

Galaxy Nexus battery life still leaves something to be desired.

Galaxy Nexus battery life still leaves something to be desired.

As you can see, my Galaxy Nexus drained 13% in about 40 minutes with extremely light usage over Wi-Fi. That’s about par for the course with this smartphone.

New Features

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean also comes with a number of new features, some of which I really like and some which I am not so keen on. Here is a look at a few of the biggest features that came with Android 4.2.

Photo Sphere

One of the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean features that didn’t come with my Nexus 7 is called Photo Sphere, a camera feature found in the Camera app that allows Galaxy Nexus owners to take 360-degree panoramic photos. I was pretty excited about the prospects of Photo Sphere but thus far, my experience has been mixed.

Android 4.2's Photo Sphere interface.

Android 4.2′s Photo Sphere interface.

Photo Sphere isn’t too tricky to find its one of the options in the bottom left corner of the stock Camera app. Once opening it, it will bring you to a screen that makes you align your photo with the middle of the circle. Once there, you’ll need to essentially connect the dots to form your panoramic photo.

It’s little tricky to get the photo exactly how you want it to look and most of my photos have ended up looking like this shot from CES wherein it’s not a seamless photo.

Photo Sphere sample.

Photo Sphere sample.

I think after some practice, I’ll be able to get it down, but thus far, the quality of photos, even my best ones, make it seem like it won’t be a feature that I use on a regular basis.

Quick Settings

This was one of my favorite features on my Nexus 7. Quick Settings is a menu that can be found by dragging down the Notification Bar. In the upper right corner, there is an icon to click that will bring owners to a screen where all the essential Settings of the Galaxy Nexus can be toggled.

Android 4.2's Quick Settings is extremely useful.

Android 4.2′s Quick Settings is extremely useful.

For instance, Airplane Mode can be switched on and off with ease, Wi-Fi can be adjusted with a long press shutting it off completely, clicking on the Verizon Wireless icon brings you to a menu that displays mobile data usage – fantastic for those that are on tiered data, and Bluetooth can be turned on or off as well.

This may seem like a little feature but it’s probably the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean feature that I use the most.

Gesture Keyboard

I’ve never been a big fan of gesture keyboards. I never got into Swiftkey or Swype or any of the keyboards that allow you to swipe around to complete words and sentences for things like text messages and emails. So the gestures that Google added to the keyboard in Android 4.2 weren’t too exciting to me. They still aren’t.

That said, they function as advertised and the few texts and emails that I’ve used using gestures have been sent out accurately and efficiently. I probably won’t use it on a regular basis but at least I know it’s there if I need it.

Lock Screen Widgets

The update also brought new Lock Screen Widgets to the table for Galaxy Nexus owners. This means that users can add widgets like Email, Google+, Calendar and more to the lock screen to get a preview before opening up the real deal inside the phone.

For me, they’re extremely useful. I can peek at the highlights of Google+ without having to open my phone or even take a look at text messages and all it takes is a simple swipe to the left or right to do so.

Lock screen widgets are a quick way to see information.

Lock screen widgets are a quick way to see information.

I’m hoping that Google adds more functionality with Android 5.0 as there is a bit of promise here but so far, these have been extremely useful to me and function quite well.

Daydream

As I’ve said, while Google and Verizon might be hyping up the Daydream screen saver as a big feature in Android 4.2, I find it to be incredible useless. Others, especially those who have shot gorgeous photos on their Galaxy Nexus may feel different, but I still haven’t found the need to use it

Should You Upgrade to Android 4.2?

Verizon is known for extensively testing their Android updates before releasing them and that generally means that they are bug free. So far, Android 4.2 for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus seems to be without any major bugs. It also keeps the battery life the same while adding new features that should help to enhance the experience.

That said, it’s at this point safe to install the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update on the Galaxy Nexus and start using its features. Those that haven’t received the update should see it arrive soon.

What’s Next for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus?

The last update that the Verizon Galaxy Nexus received, prior to Android 4.2, was Android 4.1. It got nothing in between. This means that if the Galaxy Nexus does get another update from Verizon, and there is no confirmation that it will, it will more than likely be Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, which is rumored for a May debut at Google I/O.

android-key-lime-pie-evolution-of-android-640x128-575x1151

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie could arrive in May.

The Galaxy Nexus is approaching its two year anniversary which means that there is a chance that Verizon could leave Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie off the menu, but if I had to guess, I’d imagine that the Galaxy Nexus will get the update at some point down the road.

Just don’t expect it to arrive soon after Google makes the announcement.

  

Comments

  1. Ted Kidd says

    Nice article. Cool nexus update, crappy on razr hd.

    I’m starting to understand what “nexus experience” means, and would switch back to gnex if not for terrible battery.

    The razr experience really surprises me, can’t believe how little Verizon cares about or values goodwill.

    Google, listening? I want you as my wireless provider.

  2. Mu-Lin Cheng says

    One thing missed is that the quick settings menu can actually be accessed quickly by dragging down the slide down menu with two fingers instead of one.

  3. PB says

    MANY users are experiencing bluetooth issues with this update. I was not able to even get BT to turn on, after the update. Several other personal acquaintances and coworkers had the same problem. Restoring to ‘stock’ did not help either. I ended up going custom rom and updating the radios separately in order for 4.2.2 to work properly. After calling Verizon, regarding the issue, I received no help (not surprisingly) and was only told to restore the factory image (which, at that point is the same update…)

    • Kstat01 says

      I agree – I can’t get my Bluetooth to work after the update. It will not pair. Any ideas?

      • PB says

        If youre off warranty, you might as well unlock, root, and install a custom recovery with custom rom. Thats probably the ONLY way to get bluetooth back.
        Look for Nexus toolkit program, by WugFresh. Easy to use, fairly easy to understand too.

  4. Random483 says

    Every time my phone gets a new system update I have to disable Exchange. I usually get about 12 hours of battery life. After the last update, and again this morning after updating last night, my battery died in 3 hours. Last time I did a factory reset on my phone. I’m hoping today that deleting my Exchange accounts and re-adding them will take care of the problem, but I’m not overly hopeful.

    • roken says

      Exact same issue here. After taking the update this morning Exchange munched 82% of my battery in under 3 hours.

      • Random483 says

        Since deleting my Exchange account, my battery life’s back to normal. I’m going to try re-entering it tomorrow and see what happens.

  5. Borinkito says

    After installing this Update my phone charges super slow and on the car, after like 5 minutes of charging with a usb plugged into an outlet converter, the phone stops charging. When I unplug the charging cable, it says phone needs to be charged. I plug it back in and message disappears, but the phone is not charging according to the battery menu. My phone is slow and lagging agree this Update…. Help!!!!

    • Borinkito says

      And…I had to unpair my blue tooth and then pair it again. Seems to work fine now though… Still man, this phone is slow…I want my old gnex back!

  6. Sandy says

    Where can I find/access the Lock Screen Widget? Don’t see it in my widgets, apps, settings…

  7. Sandy says

    And the update seems to have made many changes to my camera, not just photo sphere. Any way I can go back to the way my camera used to be? I am a brand new user of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. Have had the phone for 3 days. Just mastered it, now I am confused!

  8. Mansoor says

    My camera takes terrible indoor pictures now! The flash is just terrible. Gives, really dark pictures. I use the phone camera a lot and always took pride on how good it was. I think I will have to revert back unless you have a fix…

  9. AndroidPBC says

    Samsung Galaxy Nexus no longer connects with HANDSFREE profile in car after 4.2.2 installed. Anyone have a solution? Anyone else experiencing the same problem?

  10. Mauricio says

    Dis completely messed up the sound of my nexus… i cant listen to music like i use to.. i hope they change that ASAP

  11. marilyn says

    HATE the CAMERA…SUCKS! LOST THE SMALL WINDOW WHICH SHOWED WHAT PICTURE WAS JUST TAKEN…HATE THE CAMERA SETTINGS….I HATE THIS PHONE SO MUCH NOW THAT I AM GOING TO SWITCH TO ATT AND GET A NEW PHONE

  12. DannyD says

    Recently purchased the Nexus on Sprint even at this late date with 4.2.1 update pre-installed. I really like this phone and battery life is more than adequate with the extended battery.
    I’m able to get through an entire day of moderate use, texting, email, calls, some browsing.Sometimes 13 hours or more.
    However…I don’t play games and don’t use live wallpapers or stream movies.( I know…I know…why did I get this phone then?) I use it as my PC on the go for business and it works REALLY well for that. I actually like the solid black background with just the time displayed.
    Added bonus? NO bloatware on Sprint just pure Android…and with the rebate, I got it for $25!

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Danny Descalzo says

      That’s all up to your particular carrier. The only reason I got 4.2.1 is because it was preloaded as mentioned….it’s going to take forever to get 4.2.2 from Sprint….I just got lucky in that regard.
      All new updates…even with Nexus…unless bought directly from Google will have to go through the same mundane process.
      I know this wasn’t much help to you…but hopefully explained the process.
      The only other route is to root your phone…I’m not rooting mine.

  13. fred says

    Why my phone always in charging status and battery goes out double faster than before update. Help..

  14. Bobby says

    My Galaxy nexus does not Update it remains in android 4.1.1…. any help please would gladly appreciate it…

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