Verizon Wireless has finally started sales of the eagerly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first mobile device in the U.S. to run on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, on Dec. 15. The flagship Android smartphone is selling at Verizon stores and through its online network for $299.99 with a two-year contract and will on its 4G LTE network.

The Samsung smartphone marks the beginning of the Android 4.0 era - an operating system that claims to be a combination of the earlier Gingerbread and Honeycomb software. Its features include widgets in a new tab, a customizable launcher, Gmail with offline search and a two-line preview, a new action bar at the bottom, better voice integration, improved copy-and-paste functions and a new tabbed Web browser that allows up to 16 tabs.

The Galaxy Nexus features a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display with 1280x720 resolutions, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and an HTML5 Web browser, putting it at the top of the list of smartphones that support the emerging Web standard. It also features a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.

Samsungs' Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, on the other hand, a Long Term Evolution (LTE) version of the Galaxy S2, debuted on Nov. 6. The Skyrocket runs the Gingerbread software (Android 2.3.5) and a Scorpion dual-core processor, as well as an Adreno 220 GPU, a Qualcomm APQ 8060 Snapdragon chipset. It has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) Plus display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, 4G LTE support, an 8 megapixel rear-facing LED flash camera with 1080p video capture and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls.

The Nexus vs. the Skyrocket:

Size: The Skyrocket, weighing 130.5 grams, has a dimension of 129.8 x 68.8 x 9.5 mm. On the other hand, the Nexus has 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.9 mm dimension and weighs 135 grams.

Display: The Skyrocket sports a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and about 207 ppi pixel density, while the Galaxy Nexus has a contoured glass Super AMOLED display and uses a larger display area - 4.65 inches. The resolution has also been increased to 1280x720, giving the device a pixel density of 316ppi.

Processor: The Galaxy Nexus will feature 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU, TI OMAP 4460 chipset with 1GB RAM. Skyrocket is powered by a 1.5 GHz Scorpion dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm APQ8060 Snapdragon chipset with 1GB RAM.

Operating System: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will run Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich. The Skyrocket runs on Android 2.3.5 software. It will, eventually, receive an update, sometime in early 2012.

Camera: The Nexus has a 5 megapixel camera rear camera, which is accompanied with an LED flash and supports 1080p HD video recording at 24 frames-per-second, as well as a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. The Skyrocket features a rear-facing 8 megapixel LED flash camera with 1080p HD video capture capability and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video calling.

3G/4G: The Galaxy Nexus has HSDPA 21 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps and 4G LTE support. On the other hand, the Skyrocket comes with HSDPA 21.1 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps and 4G LTE support.

WLAN/Bluetooth/USB: The Galaxy Nexus supports Bluetooth 3.0 version with A2DP along with micro USB 2.0 version, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA and Wi-Fi hotspot. The Skyrocket supports Bluetooth 3.0 version with EDR stereo along with mini USB 2.0 version, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Storage: Samsung's Nexus will have fixed 32GB internal storage capacity while Skyrocket has internal memory to the tune of 16GB and offers MicroSD card support up to 32GB.

Battery: The Skyrocket comes with a standard Li-ion 1850 mAh battery that gives up to 7 hours of talk time and up to 256 hours of standby. The Galaxy Nexus will also come with a standard 1850 mAh battery.

Pricing: The Galaxy Nexus is available from Verizon for $299.99 with 2-year contract. The Skyrocket is priced at $149.99 with a two-year AT&T contract.