First Ice Cream Sandwich phone ships

The Galaxy Nexus, best known as the first device to feature support for version 4.0 of the Android operating system, is ready for prime time.

The device went on sale in the UK; the US launch is a few more days away. But if the overseas crowd is any expectation, it could be one of the more popular launch day phones in Google’s once-niche Nexus product family.

The Galaxy Nexus has a 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB of built-in memory, front and rear cameras, an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometer. The display is made of a Super AMOLED screen and measures 4.65 inches. It’s capable of displaying 720p HD video.

Ice Cream Sandwich is one of the biggest updates to Android yet, and includes such features as scanning your face to unlock the phone, a much more robust speech-to-text software program, and an entire platform of data sharing that focuses on Near Field Communication (NFC).

NFC so far has been mostly focused on using your phone as a payment device in retail stores, but with Ice Cream Sandwich’s Android Beam, it can also allow users to easily share contact information, Youtube videos, or website addresses simply by waving two phones next to each other.

The newest version of Android, as expected, also updates the interface and makes the whole experience sleeker and better looking than ever.

The Nexus brand is Google’s baby. Since the launch of the original Nexus One, any phone with the name ‘Nexus’ in it has been the first to get Google’s latest and greatest Android updates.

Several other manufacturers have pledged support for the new update, and a bunch of phones currently running an older version of Android will be eligible to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich beginning next year.