The wait is over: The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be available in the U.S. starting Thursday.
The smartphone -- the first device to run Android's Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system -- will be sold at Verizon Wireless stores and online for $299.99 with a new two-year customer agreement, a Verizon spokesman said. It will run on Verizon's 4G LTE network.
Verizon, Samsung and Google said the Galaxy Nexus "brings an entirely new look and feel to Android," according to a news release posted on Droid Life. It offers customers a redesigned user experience with improved multitasking, notifications, near-field communications and a Web-browsing experience with "blazing speeds."
"The lock screen, home screen, phone app and everything in between have been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful and useful," the companies said.
Here are some of the phone's features:
-- Redesigned user interface: Software navigation buttons, a first for Android smartphones, and a dedicated recent apps button to make multitasking easy.
-- Face unlock: Use state-of-the-art facial recognition to unlock the Galaxy Nexus.
-- Android Beam: Share Web pages, apps, contacts and YouTube videos with friends by tapping two compatible phones together.
-- Redesigned camera: Introduces panorama mode, 1080p video capture, zero-shutter lag for instant photo capturing and effects such as silly faces and background replacement.
-- People application: Browse friends, family and co-workers, see their photos in high-resolution and check their latest status updates from Google+ and other social networks.
-- Cloud services: Keep email, contacts, photos, music, browser bookmarks and other data synced to the cloud, available across multiple devices so customers never lose important data.
-- Google Music: Upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud and stream it instantly on Galaxy Nexus and from the Web for free.
Customers who purchase a Galaxy Nexus will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan beginning at $39.99 monthly and a smartphone data package starting at $30 monthly for 2 GB of data.
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-- Andrea Chang
Photo: Models display the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone in Hong Kong in October. Credit: Kin Cheung / Associated Press