Android this week: Nexus S gets 4.0; Galaxy lands on Verizon; Widgets monitor data use

Much of the past few weeks focused on the new Galaxy Nexus, which is no surprise: The hardware pushes some new limits with a screen that rivals a high-definition television. Hardware is only half the story, however, as Android 4.0 addresses many of the user interface issues found in prior Android versions. This week, Google announced that last year’s Nexus S handset will start to get the new software; the GSM models first over the coming month.┬áSprint(s s) Nexus S is a CDMA model and won’t see Android 4.0 in this round of announced updates, but it’s likely to follow soon.

Those who can’t wait for Android 4.0 on a CDMA smartphone can now buy one as Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus with LTE support launched this week. The handset costs $299 with a two-year contract or $649 without. Various reviews have mostly mirrored my own experience with the unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus I’ve been using for a few weeks, although there are some slight differences.

Due to the LTE radio, it appears that most testers are getting less battery life on Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) Galaxy Nexus than I am, even though the battery for the CDMA version has a little more capacity. Some reviewers have also noted that signal strength for voice calls isn’t optimal; again, something I haven’t seen on my GSM Galaxy Nexus, although I’ve mainly been using VoIP calls over Wi-Fi or a mobile broadband network.

Overall, however, the review community has generally found the Galaxy Nexus as the Android phone to buy now, with a few folks suggesting Motorola’s RAZR(s mmi) as a slightly better alternative, even though it doesn’t yet have Android 4.0.

With fast LTE or HSPA+ speeds, it’s easy to hit a bandwidth cap on any smartphone these days. Android 4.0 has some native features that help set bandwidth limits, but most handsets don’t yet have this version of software. This week, Onavo added some excellent widgets to its free bandwidth monitoring application for Android phones to help. The three new widgets show real-time and historical mobile broadband use, plus you can view data usage at the individual application level.