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Samsung Galaxy Nexus hits Verizon. Spoiler alert: It's pretty great.

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(Read caption) The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first handset to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich, is winning rave reviews from critics.

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This week, Verizon Wireless officially launched the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone to run Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. (The phone was temporarily delayed, reportedly while Google and Verizon wrangled over the Google Wallet functionality.) 

The Galaxy Nexus is a powerhouse, from the 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display to the 1.2-GHz processor and dual cameras. The handset retails for $299.99, with a contract. 

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So how does the Galaxy Nexus stack up to its competitors? Well, in a four and a half out of five star review this week, Kent German and Jessica Dolcourt call the Galaxy Nexus a "step forward" for the Nexus line. 

The Galaxy Nexus is "unmistakably an Android phone," they write. "It's powerful, you can tinker with it down to its core, and it offers some features the iPhone can't touch. Without a doubt, Android fans will see the Galaxy Nexus that way and they're likely to savor every morsel of Ice Cream Sandwich. Without ICS, the phone is more or less just a Nexus device, but with it you're looking at a sleek and powerful smartphone that soars on Verizon's network."

Not that everyone is completely sold on the Galaxy Nexus. Over at ZDNet, Matthew Miller runs down a full ten reasons to choose the newly-released iPhone 4S over the Nexus. Among them: the proliferation of malware in the Android eco-system, the superior camera on the iPhone 4S, and the allegedly bad speakers on the Galaxy Nexus. But most of all, Miller thinks that Android remains too "complex" for many users.  

"Ice Cream Sandwich is clearly the best version of the Android operating system," Miller writes. "It is not perfect and lacks some polish, but there is more cohesiveness than before and more standardization. That said, it is still a rather complex and non-intuitive OS that can be overwhelming for some. I think it is way too much for someone like my mother-in-law and I actually just helped her order her first smartphone, the Apple iPhone 4S."

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