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There’s a New Challenger in the Smartphone Battle

This week, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Samsung (SEO: 005930) announced a new joint smartphone offering: the Galaxy Nexus.

Available in the United States in November, it will be the first in Google’s popular Nexus line to deliver the latest version of the Android operating system: Ice Cream Sandwich.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, this device has serious potential in the smartphone market.

With a slick, intuitive and elegant interface, it seems Android has finally figured out the formula that’s given Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) so much success in the user experience department.

In fact, once you break down the features, the Galaxy Nexus actually packs a much bigger punch than Apple’s new iPhone 4S in some key areas.

Let’s take a look…

Game-Changing Features

Like the Samsung Galaxy S II – which we crowned champion of the smartphone market last week – the Galaxy Nexus is thinner, faster, more efficient and lighter than the iPhone 4S.

Where this new phone really distinguishes itself is in these three unique features, giving it an even bigger edge over competitors.

~ Feature #1: Face Unlock

If you’re nervous that your phone isn’t secure enough, but you don’t want to fuss with pin codes, Face Unlock is for you. This new application allows you to unlock your phone using facial recognition technology via the phone’s front-facing camera.

~ Feature #2: Mammoth Screen

Size isn’t everything when it comes to smartphone displays. But the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t sacrifice image quality for size. It boasts a massive 4.65-inch screen, which offers 1.15 inches more screen real estate than the iPhone 4S. Better yet, it’s easily on par with Apple’s display quality.

~ Feature #3: Data Monitoring

Anyone who has had to pay overage charges before will surely appreciate this app.

Google developed an advanced data monitoring application that lets you track your 3G or 4G consumption. It sends you a warning when you’ve crossed a data threshold and shows you what’s hogging the most bandwidth. That way you can shut down certain apps to keep usage to a minimum.

All told, the new smartphone and operating system seem very impressive to say the least.

But if Google really wanted to deliver a blow to the competition, it should have used the announcement to highlight what I consider a very valuable Galaxy Nexus feature…

What Google Needs to Clarify ASAP

With Google Wallet picking up steam, I was surprised to see that Google didn’t play up the mobile payments angle as much as it could have. Especially since the Galaxy Nexus – with an NFC chip built in – is fully capable of supporting Google’s mobile payment application.

Of course, the fact that Google and Samsung haven’t officially announced which carriers will support the device might be an issue.

But considering that Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile have their own competing mobile payment platforms in the works, the window to ramp up adoption of the app could be closing sooner than Google thinks. So it better start plugging away.

Bottom line: With all the right features in place, the Galaxy Nexus smokes the current competition. If Google just clarifies that its Wallet application is – without a doubt – supported on all of the device’s carriers, there’s nothing stopping this phone from finding its way into the hands of millions of users across the globe… including mine.

Heck, it could even be powerful enough to (gasp) convert some of Apple’s devoted followers.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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