Nexus Prime launches as Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung introduced the newest flagship Google (s goog) Android phone, the Galaxy Nexus, at a Hong Kong press event on Wednesday morning. The smartphone, long rumored as the Nexus Prime, will be the first handset to run the next version of Android: Ice Cream Sandwich.

J.K. Shin, Samsung’s head of mobile communications, explained the cutting-edge nature of the Galaxy Nexus with its “Super AMOLED screen, curved design and LTE support; in certain markets, the Nexus will be available with HSPA+. It’s a premium user experience combined with Samsung’s best in class hardware.”

Samsung says it focused on four aspects with the Galaxy Nexus: speed, screen, design and OS. Speed refers to the LTE support for fast mobile broadband and the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, which the company says is perfect for online video consumption. The large 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen with 1280×720 resolution offers a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and uses the standard 16:9 aspect ratio used for high-definition video.

The same contour display from the Nexus S carries over to the new phone and is only 8.49mm thick with a small bezel of 4.29mm, so the larger screen doesn’t make the phone too wide. The back uses Hyperskin, a textured design for improved feel.

Remaining specifications correspond to those leaked a few weeks ago, meaning the Galaxy Nexus uses a 5 megapixel rear camera for stills and 1080p video capture. While I can’t comment on image quality, camera demonstrations showed the phone to be fast (zero shutter lag) with numerous software features: auto-focus, face detection, a panoramic mode and new editing tools.

A new barometer sensor is available for developers to use, as is an integrated NFC chip for mobile payments and sharing information with other phones via a bump and tap. This feature, called Android Beam, is one of many new functions in Ice Cream Sandwich; stay tuned for our overview of what’s changed in Google’s mobile platform.

Samsung says the Galaxy Nexus will launch in November, first in the U.S., Europe and Asia, then in other markets.