That last result may reflect a rare bug in the Nexus's software, to judge from reports on Reddit. Plus, my brother bought one and hasn't had this issue.
The $199.99 Nitro HD won an unfair edge in Vegas: a glitch kept it off AT&T's new LTE service, prolonging its battery life. But having to try online tasks again and again on a maxed-out 3G network often negated that advantage, requiring a recharge by early afternoon.
Back in the Washington area with LTE engaged, the Nitro allowed 4 1/2 hours of Web radio with its 4.5-in. screen lit, then had 64 percent of a charge left after 24 hours idling. That's still bad.
On both phones, LTE drove shockingly fast downloads - usually at least 10 million bits per second, maxing out at 26.6 Mbps on AT&T. But it's often hard to discern that extra speed on the screen.
Software set these phones apart more than anything else.
The Nexus is the first U.S. phone to ship with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. That change may confuse Android veterans: ICS replaces the traditional back, home, menu and search buttons with a new lineup of back, home and recent shortcuts at the bottom of the screen.
That simplifies multitasking; just tap the recent button to see and switch among thumbnails of open apps. But since apps must now provide their own menu and search commands (sometimes, ICS wedges a tiny menu shortcut next to the three main buttons), Android feels less consistent.
TOTAL COVERAGE: Smart Phones
On the Nexus, ICS was also less than stable. Twice at CES, I had to remove the battery to reboot an unresponsive phone.
The Nitro HD avoided crashing but suffered from LG's clumsy customizations to Android 2.3: The company combined the menu and search buttons, overlaid proprietary home and app screens and even subbed in an ugly system font.
Verizon left ICS's interface alone and inflicted less bloatware than usual on the Nexus. But the carrier indulged in a different sort of interference by keeping Google Wallet off it: Blocking that pay-by-phone system renders the Nexus's near-field communication (NFC) chip useless for now.
As on other phones, the Nexus and the Nitro's cameras delivered mediocre results that belied their 5 megapixel and 8 MP resolutions. I enjoyed the Nexus's clever instant-panorama mode, but not its bizarre failure to time-stamp several photos.
The Galaxy Nexus does retain one lingering advantage over the Nitro: As the latest in Google's flagship Nexus line, it has better odds of getting updates to future Android versions than most phones running this operating system.
Credit: Rob Pegoraro/Discovery