Samsung Announces Android Flagship ‘Galaxy Nexus’ Smartphone

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The world got a peek at Android’s new operating system late Tuesday night in Hong Kong, when Google and Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus in all its gooey, Ice Cream Sandwhich glory. The phone, which will launch sometime in November, will be the first to sport the deliciously-named Android 4.0 software.

The Galaxy Nexus will feature HSPA+ and LTE support and sports a giant 4.65″ screen—it’s seriously gigantic. The phone is also equipped with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and the choice of 16GB or 32 GB built-in storage.

(MORE: ‘Nexus Prime’ Rumored for October, Just in Time for the iPhone 5)

In addition to having two cameras—one 5-megapixel camera in the back, and one 1.3-megapixel front camera—the phone will also support 1080p HD video which can be gloriously displayed on its 1280 x 720-resolution Super AMOLED screen. Along with standard Wi-Fi, it also supports NFC in what’s being touted as “Android Beam” (think of it like the “Bump” app) something that, well, not even the current iPhone 4S has.

But that’s not to say there is a gap between Apple’s latest flagship device when taking into account the differences (although there are some hardware dissimilarities). In fact, both launches for Samsung and Apple have relied on a significant software upgrade to boost their products—something that matters more and more as progress in hardware becomes more common.

(MORE: Apple Announces iPhone 4S: Old Design, New Specs, Siri Assistant)

Apple’s iPhone 4S design was essentially the same as its predecessor, but includes a decent hardware upgrade. Most importantly, it was with loaded iOS 5. The software introduced iMessage and to top it off, a really sassy personal assistant that might be related to Tom Cruise’s kid. The Galaxy Nexus’ success and main attraction is the newest version of Android. Android only recently overtook iOS 4, but things between the two platforms could heat up drastically again.

Aside from the 4.65″ screen, the nuts and bolts of Samsung’s device are similar to what other high-end phone manufacturers are pushing out these days. But beyond all the numbers, it was clear that the highlight of the show centered on one thing: Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s latest iteration of the Android platform. Andy Rubin, the SVP of Mobile for Google, has noted that the Ice Cream Sandwich will be available for both phones and tablets, unlike its Honeycomb platform which was developed exclusively for tablets.

The Galaxy Nexus was expected last week, but the unveiling was postponed on account of Steve Jobs’ death. Samsung will release the phone and software as-is, without any modifications so it will be a “pure Google experience” for ultimate Android fanboys (and girls). The phone will be available in November on a U.S. carrier, (Verizon, we dare say?) presumably on a two-year contract, though further details haven’t been made available yet. Check out Google’s blog post for more info.


Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.