The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is compromised as a music player because it doesn’t let you expand upon the 16GB of internal memory built into the phone. By the time Ice Cream Sandwich has had its way with this 16GB, you only have around 13.5GB to use – equating to around 135 albums at decent quality (256kbps ). This won’t be enough to satisfy many big music fans.
Output from the stereo headphone jack is clean and clear, and unlike some phones the maximum volume is loud – some Android devices make you max out the volume for a decent listening experience. Standard stereo headphones had no problem with the jack either, where others can garble up the channels. Transferring music is as simple as connecting the Galaxy Nexus to a computer, then drag and dropping the files you want. The internal memory shows up as a media player within Windows 7 as soon as you plug it in.
Ice Cream Sandwich has seen the built-in music player get a re-vamp. The user interface is functional rather than glorious, but makes plenty of right moves, including placing playback controls where your thumb is likely to be. Google has also packed-in a new Sound Effects section.
This is comprised of a 5-band equaliser, bass boost and “3D effect”, which is more than you get built into any other phone. You also get 11 music-style presets, including a single user-customisable one. As usual with these kinds of sonic customisation options, it’s possible to make the output sound awful, but it’s flexible enough to make subtle, worthwhile changes. Predictably, the 3D effect is best left alone. It doesn’t add much, but takes away plenty in fidelity terms.
Google’s music offering starts and ends here, unfortunately, because Google Music is yet to make it to the UK. Google Music is the tech giant’s answer to iTunes Match and Spotify, and is currently only available to US residents.
Video playback is, as in most previous default Android iterations, pretty limited. There is a dedicated Video player app in the Galaxy Nexus, but it’s geared towards getting you to rent movies from the Android Market rather than playing those you own. Oddly enough, the secondary “Personal Videos” part of this app refused to play vids that would play when selected within the Gallery app – a general repository for photos and video clips.
In the dedicated Video app, virtually no files beyond the basics of H.264 and WMV would play, while Divx and XviD clips worked within Gallery. Not well, mind. Standard definition Xvid files dropped plenty of frames, and MKVs refused to play at all. A 1.2GHz dual-core processor should have no trouble with these files.
There are plenty of third-party solutions, available from the Android Market, to improve upon this disappointing performance. Using the popular MX Video Player app, virtually all file types played back at full speed – using either hardware or software decoding – including 1080p MKV files. High-resolution video shows off the 720p Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy Nexus wonderfully, with brilliantly detailed, vivid images.