The launch of the Galaxy Nexus, the newest Google Android phone, has been shrouded in mystery. One feature that will not appear on the Nexus is Google Wallet, according to Verizon. As Hayley Tsukayama reported:

Those eager to buy the Google Galaxy Nexus in order to use its near-field communications chip for their shopping needs may be disappointed. Verizon — the only official carrier for the phone — has said that it will not support Google Wallet in its phones. Google confirmed that Verizon asked the company not to include the feature in the Galaxy Nexus phone.

Verizon is denying that it’s “blocking” the app, however, and said that it is in “commercial discussions” with Google on the matter.

In a statement, Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said that Google Wallet requires different considerations because it’s simply different from other apps.

“Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications,” Nelson said in a statement. “Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones.”

Others, however, say that Verizon isn’t supporting Google Wallet on the Galaxy Nexus because the company is working with AT&T and T-Mobile on its own contactless payment service, ISIS.

Media reform group Free Press said Tuesday that Verizon’s decision is hurting consumers, competition and innovation, and illustrates a need for stronger consumer protections from the Federal Communications Commission.

Even the price of the new Galaxy Nexus is under wraps, as the phone nears release. Some reports have put the price at $299, yet Verizon has not confirmed it. As Hayley Tsukayama explained:

The Galaxy Nexus, the highly-anticipated flagship phone of Google’s next Android operating system, has been a bit of a mystery. Not only has Verizon been quiet about when customers will be able to see the brand-new phone on store shelves, it’s also been mum about how much the phone will cost.

A report from Dow Jones Newswires, citing “people familiar with the matter,” pegs the phone’s cost at $299.99, which seems to be Verizon’s new standard for its premium smartphones.

The Droid RAZR, which the company is pushing hard in advance of the Galaxy Nexus announcement, is priced at $299.99, as is the HTC Rezound. Given the speed and power of the 4G phones, the report said, Verizon may feel more comfortable pricing the phones at the same range as high-demand devices such as the iPhone.

The Galaxy Nexus is certainly seen by some analysts as the most credible competitor to the iPhone so far, even outstripping it in some respect because it’s capable of running on Verizon’s 4G network. The phone has a bigger screen than the iPhone and, of course, has the distinction of being the first phone to run Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

The new system has quite a few experimental perks and features, such as the ability to unlock the phone using facial recognition and an NFC chip that will let users exchange information by tapping their phones together. One of the Galaxy Nexus’s functions, however, will not be a part of its U.S. release: the ability to pay with Google Wallet by using the chip. A report from the Associated Press said that Verizon is not enabling Google Wallet on its phones, likely because the company is involved in Isis, a competing payment system that uses NFC technology.

While the release date and price are still unknown, analysts have given the Galaxy Nexus strong early reviews. As Hayley Tsukayama reported :

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus — Google’s next flagship phone — has been getting strong early reviews ahead of its as-yet unannounced U.S. launch date. The phone hit stores in Britain Thursday, and reviewers are calling it the best Android phone yet. The Galaxy Nexus will launch in the U.S. on Verizon’s LTE network, but the review units handed out by Google run on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network — the international version.

Mashable’s Charlie White said that the hardware and software on the phone are fantastic, though he cautioned that the 4.65-inch screen may be a bit too big for people with smaller hands. The on-screen buttons that are baked into Google’s latest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, also eliminate the need for a bezel on the phone, apart from the space needed for the camera.

Edward C. Baig at USA Today called the phone a major upgrade, though he said that he doesn’t feel as if he’s had the phone long enough to give it a thorough review. His early impression, though, is favorable. He likes the phone’s camera, which shoots without lag thanks to Google’s new camera functionalities. He said that the phone is snappy and light, though he thinks the battery life will be short. Baig did, however, like that the phone gave him information on what was draining the battery (no surprises here: it’s mostly the screen) and on data consumption.

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