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The Globe and Mail

Five Galaxy features you won't find on the iPhone

Models display Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Nexus smartphones, running Google Inc.'s Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system, in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011.

Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

The Apple iPhone 4S shattered records with 4 million sales in its first weekend, but the popular smartphone may have a little more competition from another new release, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The phone, which Samsung and Google unveiled Wednesday at an event in Hong Kong, will be the first device to run the latest version of Google's Android operating system (known as "Ice Cream Sandwich") and boasts several promising hardware features, including a wider 4.65-inch screen and a faster 1.2-gigahertz processor.

Some of the changes with this latest phone are identical to those found on the latest iPhone – recording video in 1080p, providing access to the camera from the lock screen, offering voice-activated typing – but the most striking features on the phone are those that aren't available on the iPhone 4S.

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1. Face recognition unlock

Have you ever wished you could unlock your phone just by smiling at it? Neither have we, but it's still a cool feature. Rather than password-protect your phone, the Galaxy Nexus uses face recognition technology to let customers lock and unlock the phone just by looking into the camera. Of course, that could pose a problem to users on Halloween – though that likely won't be an issue this year, since the phone isn't slated to go on sale until some time in November.

2. A true 4G network

The iPhone 4S has been billed as having a 4G-like network speed, but the device is not actually on a 4G network despite all the rumors in the lead-up to its launch that it would be. The Galaxy Nexus, on the other hand, will have genuine 4G connectivity (LTE or HSPA+), meaning the browsing experience may be faster than on the iPhone 4S.

3. Mobile payments

Google launched the mobile payments option with its previous Nexus model by adding a near-field-communication chip to the phone. The new Nexus sports this same chip, meaning consumers will be able to store virtual versions of their credit and loyalty cards on this phone to use the phone to make purchases. Once again, this was a feature some thought Apple would introduce on the latest iPhone, but it didn't happen.

4. Automatically respond to calls with a text

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It may sound like a minor add-on compared with the others on the list, but it's one that could prove incredibly useful. With the new "Quick Response" feature, users will have the option to decline an incoming phone call and have an automatic text response sent to the person calling. This feature will come in handy during meetings and movie screenings when you can't answer the phone but want to let the person calling know what you're doing in as few steps as possible so you don't cause too much of a disruption or miss too much of the movie.

5. A wider screen

As mentioned, there's a wider screen – a potential game-changer for anyone who uses their phone to watch movies or play video games. At 4.65 inches, the screen is more than an inch larger than the one on the iPhone 4S but still small enough it should fit into your pocket. In effect, it's enough to make the smartphone feel just a little bit more like a tablet.

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