NEVER pay attention to the bars. The Galaxy Nexus is more accurate than other phones, but people are used to seeing what they see with their previous devices that they assume there's a problem.
The Galaxy Nexus displays 4G reception for the bars. If the 3G icon is up then it will show 3G bars.
Previous devices the bars show 3G reception regardless if you are on 4G or not.
I got my Rezound and so far I really like it. No signal issues now. My Nexus at my home had intermittent 1x data connection or no data connection at all. My Rezound has full time 3g signal. IMO the Nexus has more than signal bar discrepancie issues. Also the signal strength reading in numbers is stronger on the Rezound than my Nexus. On average 10-15 dBm. I'm glad I exchanged the Nexus for a Rezound and I can live with the Rezound for the next 2 years.
I bought the Nexus the minute the store opened on release day. Was all excited until I discovered two issue that were deal breakers to me. The first was the external speaker volume was too low. For someone who struggles with hearing to begin with, I really felt I would miss too many calls. The vibrate was not that strong either. The other issue was the poor signal strength. I live close to a tower, but was still only pulling 96 - 100 db. Sure ICS was nice, but my Rezound will have that soon enough, and the phone itself really rocks. Great volume and good radio pull.
The Nexus is reporting accurate signal strength. Some people on tech forums are saying that Verizon is selectively upgrading towers instead of upgrading all of them so that they have a baseline 4G coverage. The signal bars that appear on other 4G LTE phones are reporting 3G or 2G signal strength for the bars, even when you're on 4G.
inconsistent with my experiences. when i was experiencing little or no 4g LTE service I would do an ookla speed test with both my phone and my fiance's. in most cases the Samsung Stratosphere would have half full bars of 4G LTE and had +20mbps while the Galaxy Nexus would have half to full bars of 3G and would see 0.5-1.5mbps.
I too am having this same boat, budmonster. After having issues with my orginal GNex, I finally swapped it out with a new one earlier tonight. I was looking at the rezound while I was waiting for a service rep. Its got a nice screen and I kinda laughed when the other verizon employee who works the front door was telling me about how stoked he was on the rezound because it comes with a pair of Dre headphons. Thats sad, yet funny, because the beats branding is ish, Im sorry. I love the GNex formfactor, the google branding (or so I thought) and the available developer support and apps out there, if you take that route of things. The reason I took my launch day GNex back, aside from other annoying things like reboots, quirks, horrible battery life, etc, was the main fact that the radio is a POS. I thought it was a defective device and it may have been but upon getting home tonight I found that my new-NEW nexus cannot even lock onto a 3G signal, at all. The last one could (much more so than 4G) but it would lose the connection quickly. I dont like the rezound formfactor and the lack of un-openness per lack of google backing of the phone (they host the original restore images if your device bricks, etc). I dont wanna be forced into a rezound but on this, my 3rd try at the nexus, as others have stated, whats the point of having a phone if you cant get a mobile connection. My htc phone at my house gets full 3g signal, yet with this one I am stuck on 1X or wifi. Un-f'ing-acceptable. Just my two cents. I hope the next GNex works. It has the potential to be the best smartphone out there, in my opinion. Its just gotta have hardware that works with it.
TO budM: After waiting patiently over past months and researching which phone i wanted for features, I justed returned my 2nd GNEX, after just couple wks having them. Both couldn't provide good reception even with icl53f update-apparent fix to reception- NOT!!. In southern IL i'm in area where i travel in/out of 4g; Kept phone in 3g for battery life; I could be in same location one day and next would be different response as to reception; basically as long as phone was in solid dignal area great phone outperformed my wifes stratosphere. But when we were in same locale where signal strength became slightest issue her phone always outshined my gnex - keeping contact with service and clarity; also I had sound quality/connection issues from a caller- always broken up when signal iffy. Ironically, my LG octane which i switched from could stay online and good reception for my 30minute ride through country from one office to another, whereas, GNEx just couldnt keep connection and poor quality when it did; several times wife said "lets just talk when get home," my side reception broken, but she could hear clearly on her side. HTC rezound or RAZR your options in same c;aas near like features; as for me hav razr for 2days and not had reception issues and battery so far ok life for 4gphone for short time used it and becoming acquainted.. Transferred directly my computer albums via usb sync from media player and the onboard music motoplayer found all and played songs great; now wife intrigued with my phone.
I tried everything, the signal quality on the Nexus was disgraceful. I broke my Thunderbolt and expected so much more from arguably the 'best phone out there'. Paid the insane price and was immediately disappointed. Places where I would have three bars consistently (even in my house) were a struggle with 0 or 1 bar. Constant 3G to 4G hand-off. Beautiful phone, loved the development community, but reality and practicality set in. This is a phone and data device primarily. If you can't get reception, then the beautiful screen and slim profile are useless. Development community is catching up on the Rezound. Much happier with my Rezound so far, even with the restock fee. Sad that I had to go through this. For the price, you would expect a well polished hardware experience. Don't waste your time hoping you'll get a better device on a swap.