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Galaxy Nexus ICS vs. Nexus S ICS – So Many Differences

We are doing our best to forget about the fact that Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus will not be unveiled next week at CTIA, and have instead found ourselves analyzing the hell out of the two ICS videos that have popped up in the last week. There are so many differences in them that we just had to point them out to everyone to get community opinions.

The first video we attached is from the Nexus S running ICS that was reportedly purchased on eBay.  It looks almost exactly as we had all pictured in our minds – Honeycomb turned tiny.  The second video is from this morning’s mega-leak featuring the G-Nex. It’s almost like the grown up or more polished version of ICS that we had actually hoped for.  One looks minimal yet sophisticated and buttery – the other looks like stock tablet Honeycomb, which is not necessarily a compliment.

So let’s dive into the differences that we easily spotted and then talk about them afterwards.  

Nexus S video from last week:

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Galaxy Nexus video from today:

YouTube Preview Image

First, let’s take a look at the picture taken from earlier in the week that clearly shows a different set of home/back/menu icons than what was leaked today.

Lock screens (notice the camera icons and clock fonts):

Camera apps (menu and icon differences):

Home icons and launcher (completely new look in the G-Nex):

Notification bars (smaller and darker on the G-Nex):

Quick task menus (simpler, classier on the G-Nex):

Settings menu (again simpler and classier on the G-Nex):

And it’s impossible to grab this in a picture, but the screen transitions are different on both phones in both the app drawer and widgets menu.

So as you can see, the Android team has been working overtime on making ICS the next great mobile operating system.  Our sources confirmed to us that while they have had the Galaxy Nexus, that it has received a firmware update almost daily. They also mentioned that it received an icon overhaul at some point. Through these two videos, we have essentially seen the transformation of ICS from being Honeycomb for phones to a polished and grown-up smartphone operating system.  And then there is the suggestion by our friends at AndroidGuys that the Galaxy Nexus is actually running a skinned TouchWiz version…please don’t let that be true.

Your thoughts? Which version do you prefer?

Cheers Steven and everyone else who chipped in!

  • I actually completely agree with your opinion. It’s so perfect. I think it’s necessary for me. Thank for help!

  • I want to know one thing. What happens to the Menu Button?? It is a very useful button for most of the apps. Therefore they will not work on ICS without updating.

  • Travis Wuest

    I need help downloading the new ICS OS which has officially been released

  • Abdias Terveus

    the launcher for the video and pictures in the right is the samelauncher For sony’s roms

  • You have to remember that Google is still not quite done with Ice Cream Sandwich so what we saw on the Nexus S and what we see on the Prime could be different because of updates that Google has done to make Ice Cream Sandwich better.

  • Anonymous


  • Garrett

    Because Google would release a developer Nexus phone with with an OEM skin over it. This reminds me of the old “When pigs fly” adage.

  • Anonymous

    I much prefer the newer leak, although the font really doesn’t look like the standard font (most noticeable on the clock) so it might be skinned. Really hoping it’s not though.


    I like the newer version better.  Looks far more polished.  I like the outline buttons a lot, more in line with Android standard, but different enough that they look very cool.  The earlier S version is clearly a much older version of ICS.  The only thing I want to know is WHEN!?!?  Patiently (ok not so patiently) waiting.  

  • I gotta say, this was a very well put together article

  • Anonymous

    Will any of these device manufacturer’s ever realize that the stock android experience provides the best experience?

  • dropped my OG Droid at work today so this better be out soon…

  • Anonymous

    Why does the Galaxy Nexus say “No SIM Card at the bottom of the lock screen?” I mean unless that means 4G SIM Card.

    • Techee44

      If it’s for Verizon then it’s probably an LTE sim card.

  • Anonymous

    If this is ICS, then I would have to say that the launcher icons seem over-sized and reminiscent of Touchwiz. I’m hoping they’re not this large because it seems all too intrusive. 

  • Anonymous

    I prefer the version that comes out so people can buy it…that’s the one I prefer….

  • J Dub

    I just want a real deal Nexus device on VZW already. Yes, the OG Droid was a stock Android experience and also launched as the first device with 2.0, BUT it was not a Nexus device so updates were slower than the Nexus. I hope the whatever this first ICS phone is on VZW that is actually a Nexus device that gets updates from Google and not the carrier/manufacturer. I have been super stoked about this phone and now the announcement is delayed and there is so much speculation about the phone that you can’t keep it all straight. 

  • Anonymous

    In the Galaxy Nexus video, that guy is clearly having trouble using his left hand with the phone. lol

  • Zach White

    I honestly think the difference is being one phone has a 720p display and the home, back, and menu buttons are different too. I think the thought of it being touchwiz is insanely stupid because this is a pure google experience phone. I mean wasn’t the point of ICS to kill off some of the UI customizations OEMs put on the phones?

  • Bill Morrow

    I wonder if maybe they ship with the ability to select different themes, maybe explaining the differences in icons and lock screens?

  • Donnavon Hallgren

    AOSP and Blur merge… Go figure 🙂

  • blublublub

    It’s weird, at first glance I liked the Nexus S version better because it has the same basic styling as android has had along, kind of a lighthearted feel. But this new version of ICS shown on the Galaxy Nexus is a lot classier for sure but feels different. I think I can warm up to it. 

  • Here’s a thought:
    You mention that engineers are seeing ICS updates “daily” – perhaps Google is making it more polished and sexy (theme wise) every update?  Like “Hey, let’s make that menu a little cleaner”

  • Toney

    the bottom quicklaunch buttons look very reminiscent of WebOS. 

  • Anonymous


  • Mfein28

    Will Droid 3 get ICS?

    • Anonymous

      maybe if your lucky you will have it in less then a year lol

  • If it bears the name Nexus, I don’t see how it could be skinned. Google has been working to make Android look so good that it does not need skins, and I just don’t think they would let someone skin a device the name Nexus on it.

  • Anonymous

    Angelface77 reminds me of richard yarrell. Funny he praises anything bionic and puts down everything else and dick yarrell praises evo 3d and says everything else sucks. Wonder if they are brothers?

  • Anonymous

    So much for pure vanilla lol

  • KidPhat

    It could very well be that phone customization will be limited to icons and fonts going forward.

  • Cwzrd23

    New version looks better old one looked to cartoony and cheap love those virtual buttons thou but where the menu button?

    • Cwzrd23

      Never mind I thought that was an app switcher :0

  • angermeans

    I hate to say it and I am sick by this as I really liked how this looked this morning, but look at the messaging icon on todays leaked Nexus (whatever) shots. It has that ridiculous bright green messaging icon that is only found on the Samsung Touchwiz phones, it’s like a horrible mock of the original one found on Nexus and NexusS. Why would Google let Samsung skin the opening version of Android 4.0. I just refuse to believe it. I have to think we at Verizon will get a vanilla “Prime” (if you will), but the one we see today is skinned. 

    • Anonymous

      maybe they are mixing the green and blue like shown in the teaser video?

  • WalkingDead

    IMPO I really like the newer GNexus version, I think it looks clean, refined, and minimal which I dig. I actually think android has come sooo far its amazing to look at when compared to the early days and this is the cleanest and nicest version of it I’ve seen and makes me want it so much more. Ice Cream Sandwich looks sweet!!! (pun intended) 

  • Kixofmyg0t

    I hope, wish, dream and PRAY that the Galaxy Nexus comes riddled with touchwiz and all the VCAST bloat that could possiably fit on it.

    • Anonymous

      u mad?

      • Pardes33

        He is made bro!

  • Anonymous

    I love the HTC Flyer that I picked up when the price dropped to $300 but I love to use this all the time when Nexus prime is released. I’m taking the Flyer back.  

  • Cant wait

    Thanks for this recap/comparison.  It actually has gotten me more excited to see specifics pointed out like this 🙂

  • Kierra

    Really not that impressed.

  • Hary

    FURTHERMORE…. thank you Googy.. Sammy 🙂  Keep it real, keep it interesting, keep it useful!

  • Hary

    NO DAMN TOUCHWIZ, SENSE, BS!  I want to DEV with the damn phone and need to update ASAP when such avail.. crap!

  • Anonymous

    If the phone is a Nexus there is no way for it to have a skin. So that rumor has to be false. 
    And the phone has to be a Nexus since it’s their first launch at a revamped operating system. The point of this one was no hardware buttons, so that’s something completely different from Google’s end. Meaning it’s a Nexus device for sure. Nexus is pure google, vanilla Android. Beauty at it’s peak. There will be no touchwiz

  • timmy13

    I really don’t care if it comes with a hint of touchwiz. Just release the damn phone already. I understand that there are people that want the full stock experience and I would love it too but Verizon has taken so long to get anything like this. And I am for everyone that wants to root or do whatever it is you want to do to your phone. You bought it so I believe it’s yours to do whatever with. I just haven’t rooted before and to me personally it’s not that BIG of deal. There are plenty of launchers and other things to keep me happy.

  • ImNotKellex

    I like the fact that people are saying its fake. Ummmm….. no its not fake. 

  • Tom

    Off topic, but is it safe to say this will have Verizon LTE or that it won’t be on Verizon because it says “no sim card?”

    • Anonymous

      its a nexus s with a ICS rom, the galaxy nexus is supposed to be bigger.

      • ImNotKellex

        U mad Bro??

      • Etg2120

        I was looking at the images from the video of new Nexus device, not the Nexus S.