Galaxy Nexus hit by volume-sapping hardware flaw

Google's newest hero-phone, the Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' powered Galaxy Nexus, is causing a few heartaches for early adopters, with a volume flaw rumoured to be the result of a hardware - rather than software - fault.

Those who queued up at Phones4U - the first retailer in the world to start selling the Samsung-built device - were pleased as punch to be the first to try out an official install of Google's latest Android mobile platform, but cracks soon started to show.

Missing functionality was first to irk buyers, with Adobe's Flash Player yet to be updated for Android 4.0 and the much-vaunted visual voicemail functionality not available until mobile networks themselves decide to write an app that can access Google's application programming interfaces for the feature.

The latest reports are somewhat more concerning, however: multiple users have reported an issue with the device's volume control, with in-call sound levels fluctuating wildly for no readily apparent reason.

While it was, at first, believed to be a software bug in Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' users on the XDA Developers forum have uncovered details that suggest the flaw is rooted in the device's hardware itself.

"For a fact it is known that majority of Galaxy Nexus phones seem to suffer from a 'SAV Ghost' or 'Volume Bug', where the device volume is automatically adjusted (usually lowered, but not always) when it gets radio interference from itself or a nearby device, that is transmitting on 2G and GSM 900 (900MHz,)" explains XDA Developer member kristovaher in a post detailing the flaw.

"It is very common for the device to lower its volume during phone calls on 2G network or when using 2G data. While it does not only happen during data connection, one can detect phone itself causing interference When the phone itself is using 2G data by the icon E (for Edge) or G (for GPRS) and volume rapidly changes while that happens."

The problem, it transpires, occurs even when the radio of the Galaxy Nexus itself is switched off but another 900MHz-transmitting device is brought near the handset, and even when downgrading to Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' - meaning it's certainly not a software fault.

It is not yet known whether the flaw is restricted to a single faulty batch or extends throughout the UK supply chain. Retailers including Clove and Handtec report that they are unable to reproduce the fault on SIM-free devices from their stock, but until a wider number of devices are in end-users' hands it's difficult to gauge the scale of the problem.

Launch-day glitches appear to be increasingly common in supposedly high-end smartphones these days: the iPhone 4 had its 'antennagate' woes, while its successor the iPhone 4S reportedly suffers from battery draining bugs, voice echo problems and, in a patch designed to address that problem, a flaw in the address book.