November 27th, 2011

I’m complaining, so how can the Galaxy Nexus be the best smartphone I’ve ever used?

Yesterday, I posted some quick thoughts on the Galaxy Nexus in The Verge’s Android Army forum after having received the phone on Friday. Some commenters have pointed out that my long list of complaints (I dock the screen, camera, and battery life, among other things) is at odds with my assessment that it’s the best smartphone I’ve ever used.

It’s a fair question. How can that be?

I think it’s a testament to the fact that we’re a long way from “the perfect smartphone.” In fact, I don’t actually believe we’ll ever get there, since our expectations keep moving. If you had debuted the Galaxy Nexus in 2008, it’d be considered a perfect 10, for instance — but today, our official review scores it “a mere” 8.6. This time next year, it could be a 7.5. Who knows? Everything is perceived in the context of current technology, of the competition, and of how heavily we’ve come to rely on our mobile devices.

Now that I’ve had the phone for about 48 hours, my opinion hasn’t changed: this is the best phone I’ve used, period. It’s a photo finish with the iPhone 4S, but I’d give the edge to the Galaxy Nexus. Most users would be delighted with either phone (excluding Android and Apple loyalists, of course). My complaints also haven’t changed: the screen is a little funny, the battery life concerns me, the battery cover is finicky, and the camera could be quite a bit better. But the holistic experience — the overall experience of using the phone for an entire day, for productivity and entertainment alike — is as good or better than any phone I’ve ever used. And that’s ultimately the measuring stick that I need to use to judge it.

Could the Galaxy Nexus be better? Yes. But if it couldn’t, that means I’m out of a job.

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