Samsung Galaxy Nexus could hit stores this Friday, Dec. 9

by Kristen Nicole

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is arguably the most anticipated Android smartphone of the year, having been unveiled just days after the latest iPhone, and hailing a completely revamped operating system. And while the Nexus has been available to UK consumers for weeks, there was little word on a US launch until now. Emerging reports indicate the US arrival of the Galaxy Nexus on Friday, Dec. 9, based on an email and PDF posted by RootzWiki. Look for Samsung’s latest handheld in Verizon stores, though nothing has been confirmed by Samsung or Verizon.

We know plenty about the Nexus, with impressive specs and the all new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The US Nexus will cost $299.99 with a two-year contract, and will be a slightly different version from the handset sold in the UK in its support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. We also know that the Nexus won’t come with Google Wallet, which is interesting when you consider the status of this phone and the hopes Google’s pinned on its first ICS handset. They’ll get Isis instead, Verizon’s forthcoming NFC payment system expected to launch in mid-2012. That’s a loss for Google Wallet, as Isis is a joint effort between the carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon).

European regulators investigate Carrier IQ

Something else you’re not likely to find on the Galaxy Nexus is Carrier IQ’s software, the controversial program that gathers information on certain key presses, browsing history, SMS logs and location data without the users’ knowledge. Verizon lays no claim to Carrier IQ, though other carriers admit to using the software. The aftermath has been swift, with two Class Action lawsuits having already been brought against Carrier IQ, and now European regulators are investigating the methods behind the tracking software.

Organizations from Germany and other European countries have started looking into the use of Carrier IQ’s software to ensure mobile vendors and operators aren’t violating user privacy. And while Android phones have been the focus of most Carrier IQ discussions, it’s Apple that’s being questioned by the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection regarding their prior use of Carrier IQ. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office is also looking into the matter, with plans to contact mobile phone operators to see if Carrier IQ or similar software is on customers’ handsets and, if so, what steps are being taken to ensure privacy.