Why I returned the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Sitting unused, the Nexus battery inexplicably lost 15% of its charge in less than an hour.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Droid
For now I've switched back to trusty Moto Droid. I miss ICS, and the speed of Nexus, but am hoping for a better Android Q1 2012.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Droid
For now I've switched back to trusty Moto Droid (on the right). I miss ICS, and the speed of Nexus, but am hoping for a better Android Q1 2012.

Battery life. The battery life on the brand-spanking new Samsung Galaxy Nexus is atrocious. So much so, that I could not make it through a normal workday without the premium Android smartphone dying on the vine. That’s most unfortunate. Because, aside from that major issue, Nexus is pretty darn sweet- especially thanks to the slick gloss that is Ice Cream Sandwich.

I’m not alone when it comes to lamenting the phone’s inability to give us enough juice.

Others are also reporting that it’s simply unacceptable, or suggest that crappy battery life is the price you pay for owning a Nexus.

Forums are lighting up too. The “official battery life” thread on Android Central has no less than 30 pages of mostly woe and agony.

Googling “battery life nexus” will get you pages worth of two types of articles: (1) those that tell you how to get a full day out of your Nexus (popular suggestions across the web: shut off wi-fi, turn off bluetooth, kill all the background apps, turn off the phone, etc.); and (2) those that are ranting, raving and crying in their beer (like me, as much as I’d prefer not to).

Some are resorting to a multiple battery strategy; one each in the car, office and home.

I realize this irksome weak battery situation is not specific to Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich or even Android in general. It’s a problem with virtually all modern day smartphones.

Recently, after a local concert here in Silicon Valley, a bunch of us stood around after the show to make plans. All of my friend’s iPhones were dead in the water. This was early evening. Fortunately my trusty Moto Droid (not exactly a Lithium Ion champion itself) had just enough juice to hook us up with the rest of our party.

Samsung appears to indirectly acknowledge the issue by offering a $50 extended battery for the Nexus.

There’s a lot to love about Nexus and ICS, but battery life is certainly not one of its finer attributes.

So I returned it.

I explained to the Verizon guy why I was reluctantly returning Nexus and he said, “Yeah, Android runs hot.”

Now I’m back on OG Moto Droid. Always the workhorse, albeit quite slow now. With CES just around the corner I’m hoping for something better. Plus quad-core is coming. Maybe even flexible displays? And by then ICS will have the bugs ironed out (and hopefully I’ll be able to sync Facebook and not just Google+ … !).

Theories abound as to why we’re living in an age when an iPad with a 10-inch display can get over 10 hours of battery, but a smartphone less than half its size can’t even come close. Yes, 4G LTE has something to do with that. Again, almost every 4G handset has underwhelming battery life. Or maybe it’s a software glitch that Google will patch shortly. Or it could be an antenna issue. Or those pesky background processes and apps that drain non-stop.

Regardless, I’m less interested in finding out why, and more interested in getting on with work.

Manufacturers need to figure this out if these fantastic devices–Nexus, HTC Rezound, Droid RAZR, and, yes the iPhone too–are to deliver on their promise as productivity tools (and as social networking playthings).

For now unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus doesn’t make the cut.

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