Yes, America, there is a Santa Claus. Almost two months after the official Hong Kong announcement, and nearly as long since Verizon put up a generic signup page, the US carrier has finally announced availability information for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. We've confirmed the information with a Verizon representative. Customers on a new or renewed two-year contract can pick up the first Ice Cream Sandwich phone on December 15th, tomorrow, for $299.99.
Verizon is the first carrier to make the CDMA/LTE model of the Galaxy Nexus available. Like all Nexus phones, the LTE model will be unlocked, but because Verizon's wireless bands are unique, it won't work on any other carrier. $299 gets you the 32GB version, an important consideration since the Galaxy Nexus does not feature a MicroSD card slot.
Other differences from the GSM HSPA+ model that's been available oversees for weeks are a slightly thicker 9.47mm profile and a larger 1850mAh battery, presumably to deal with the larger power drain from the LTE radio. The LTE model has slightly different styling as well, with a darker side panel and Verizon branding - a first for the Nexus line.
On the inside, Verizon's Galaxy Nexus runs the same Android 4 operating system that Americans have been lusting after since October. Verizon has pre-loaded at least two carrier apps, but thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich's built-in app disable feature, it's easy to get to a completely stock experience quickly. Retail units may already be updated to Android 4.1. The rest of Ice Cream Sandwich's features, like facial recognition, a new launcher and user interface, Android Beam and the rest, should all be intact.
For those Verizon customers who aren't eligible for an upgrade, the off-contract price is still up in the air. AT&T and T-Mobile users are still in the dark as far as availability is concerned, but imported versions of the phone should work with United States SIM cards - if you're willing to pay the steep price.
Still not convinced? Then check out our hands-on coverage of the HSPA+ version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
UPDATE: Check out some sweet press shots below!