Nexus 4 is Google’s flagship smartphone that will give you the pure Android experience. This phone is also part of the small, but most likely growing Nexus lineup offered by Google. While it comes with the latest version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, it does lack certain features that some will wish for. With no support for 4G LTE, almost the industry standard, and no expandable storage, will this phone be the right one for you?
HARDWARE & SPECS:
LG and Google packs some decent specs into this phone, and is quite solid. The phone has 2 GB of RAM, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU. The front has a 4.7 inch display, with a 1280×768 pixel resolution at 320ppi. To compare, the iPhone 5 has a 326ppi, Galaxy S4 has a 441ppi, and the LG Optimus G has a 320ppi. It’s a nice display with an HD display, and can be put on par near most smartphones. Just don’t expect the Super Amoled display the Galaxy S4 offers. The phone’s dimensions comes in at 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm, and only weights 139 grams. It’s thicker than the LG Optimus G, and thicker than most major smartphones. But the difference is honestly minuscule, and doesn’t make that much of a difference to me. The Nexus 4 also has NFC built in, so it can use Android Beam. It will work on WiFi 802. 11 a/b/g/n networks as well as Bluetooth. On the right hand side of the phone you will find your power button. On the left hand side, you will find your volume rockers, as well as your sim-card slot. The bottom features your micro-usb slot in order to charge and sync your phone. On the top, you will find your 3.5mm headset jack. The buttons are relatively easy to press with almost no resistance at all. On the back fo the phone, you’ll find your camera lens as well as your speaker. The phone only comes in 8GB and 16GB storage options, with no expandable storage available. Google seems to want you to live “in the cloud”, so be careful how much you have on your phone so you don’t use up storage quickly. It’s one of issues I have with this phone, and is quite disappointing that Google and LG only offered these storage options. With more on-board storage options available in most smartphones today, as well as the ability for expandable storage though micro-sd, it’s really quite a shame that the storage options are so limited. The phone supports the Qi wireless charging standard, as well as traditional power brick charging. It’s nice to see the integration of wireless charging starting to come to specific smartphones. During our testing, the phone was pretty speedy when powered by the quad core processor. There was minimal lag, and it operated at decent speeds when I had multiple apps open. Our AnTuTu Benchmark read at 17123.
The build of this phone is quite nice, with Corning Gorrila Glass 2 covering the front and back. The front has a beautiful 4.7 inch display that comes close to an edge-to-edge display. The back has a nice curved design with round corners on the device. On the back of the device is this intriguing pixelated design that’s quite shiny. However, the side of the phone uses what feels like a cheaper material similar to rubber, which takes away from the premium feel of the phone. It’s a shame that they chose to use this material, when they could have gone for a more premium material. There are no physical buttons on the front for navigation, and instead ops for touch screen buttons. While I prefer this, I know some consumers prefer the more traditional physical buttons. As well, the back of the phone is a fingerprint magnet, due to it being glass, so make sure to wipe it regularly. The design of the phone is nice, especially the backing, which makes it unique. Just make sure your carrier doesn’t post the MEIE number on the back like ours did (I can no longer show off the awesome backing). With Gorilla Glass 2, it will provide decent protection, but I still recommend getting a case. We will be having some case reviews coming within the next few weeks, so be sure to check them out.
NO 4G SUPPORT:
One of the biggest disappointments of this phone is lack of 4G LTE. With many Canadian and American carriers offering the 4G LTE option, it’s quite disappointing that this phone cannot utilize the 4G networks. The phone supports:
- Unlocked GSM/UMTS/HSPA+
- GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
- 3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz)
- HSPA+ 42
The phone is powered by Google’s latest software, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The Android UI is great, as I was coming from being an iOS user for a few years. The ability for more customization from app placement to widgets really does create your own personality embedded on your phone. The font Roboto is great, at it is appealing to the eyes, and quite simple. The biggest changes are the ability to add custom widgets to your lockscreen, something I love to see added. For example, I can see my unread text messages, calender events, and unread emails. There are apps starting to be added to the Google Play store that can enhance these features. Google Now is a great feature, allowing you to view information such as weather, stocks, and movie showtimes for me. Google Now coreesponds to what you search, giving you personalized search results. Swiping down from the top with one finger reveals your notification center, similar to iOS. But with a double finger swipe down, you are able to access settings such as brightness, WiFi, network information, battery power, airplane mode, as well as Bluetooth. It’s a great quick way to access basic settings. It also has features a new swipe keyboard, which will allow the user to swipe letters on a keyboard to form a word. While some words aren’t present, this feature is quite good if you’re on the go and looking to type a message out quickly. And because this is a Google device, you can expect software updates to the latest version sooner than most other smartphones.
I’ll admit, the camera is ok, but not phenomenal. On the back, it has an 8MP camera, and has a 1.3MP camera on the front. The phone features a variety of options when shooting, including falsh, geotagging, 3.9x digital zoom, white-balance modes, the ability to choose photo size, HDR options, as well as exposure that starts at -2 and goes to +2. On the phone, the photos look worse then when actually viewing them on your computer. The camera produces horrible results when zooming in, as it creates this awful grainy picture. So I recommend taking photos from just the basic 1.0x zoom. Also, I found the photos don’t “pop”, and seem a bit dull to the eye, but for the average person the quality should be fine for them. While it does take decent photos, they’re not the best, as I thought the photos did lack in colour. The phone also has a new 360-degree panoramic feature, which is actually quite cool to look at. However, taking these photos are painful, as the precision and accuracy to create the perfect 360-degree photo is frustrating. It’s a nice feature, but not something I would use. The phone also records 1080p video. Again, it is flawed when zooming in again, as it produces that grainy image quality. It also lacks the ability to autofocus, something that most smartphones should have in today’s market.
CALL QUALITY AND BATTERY LIFE:
Call quality was decent on the phone, as it was clear and concise when tested. It my vary depending on your carrier, but the overall quality is decent. There were no dropped calls, and overall, it was quite good. Some users may just want to increase the volume on their phone when calling, but that just may be a preference for some. The phone features a 2100 mAh lithium-ion battery. That’s the same battery as a Galaxy S III, and more powerful than the Droid 4, HTC One, and other smartphones. Basically, the phone will get you through a day, or even two if you don’t use your phone occasionally. But to keep up your battery life throughout the day, we recommend having the brightness setting lower, as the screen does use the most take up the most power on the phone. Also, turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use, as these features use most battery consumption.
While this phone is quite decent, there are improvements that could make this device even better. First off, the lack of 4G LTE may deter some potential buyers, as 4G networks are becoming more common. While some may not mind, those on data plans may not be happy with slower 3G speeds. As well, the lackluster storage options in only 8GB and 16GB will not make buyers happy. With no expandable storage, it’s the biggest gripe I have about this phone. As well, I would like to see camera quality improved, as zoom quality is quite horrible. Finally, I really do not prefer speakers on the back of a phone. I feel that it muffles sound, such as music, when being placed on a surface. Similar to my complaint about the iPad 3rd generation, I prefer speakers that are on the front of the phone, as it gives sound waves directly to the front of the user.
Overall, the Nexus 4 is a great phone for the everyday user. If you love Android, the plain stock Android software, this phone will even entice you more. It has a decent battery, a decent camera, and a swipe keyboard to name a few, this device is really solid. But with the lack of 4G LTE, low storage options, and lackluster zoom quality on the camera, these factors may deter a potential customer from buying the phone. But if you’re looking for a decent phone that’s not heavily packed with features you’ll never use, this phone is definitely the phone for you.