The Nexus 4 is the first Android phone that combines all the disparate parts of a phone--interface, options, ease of use, speed and smoothness, depth of features, quality and number of apps--in the right way. It is the best Android phone I've ever used, sure, but it's the only Android phone I've ever used that feels as intentional as the iPhone. It feels like it was put together with a vision of how this phone should work as a whole--not just "add this feature, add this feature." It's probably the best smartphone on the market, period.
It's the newest Nexus phone. The Nexus line is the ideal of Android--it's what Google wants Android to look like, without the skins and app bundles and rearranged buttons and all kinds of garbage that, left to their own devices, Samsung and HTC and Motorola and LG just can't stay away from. This particular Nexus is made by LG, a riff on the older Optimus G, with a 4.7-inch screen, a very fast quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, NFC (read more about that here and here), and wireless charging. It also has the newest version of Android, 4.2, which is mostly a refinement in terms of feel rather than a full overhaul. (This is mostly obvious in the smoothness of the OS, the speed, and lots of little touches.) But the camera has been re-done, and Google Now (this year's Innovation of the Year in our Best of What's New package) has some new features.
Well, pretty much everything. But most important, I think, is that everything works in concert, and that everything feels right, and that's largely due to the smoothness of the operating system on this obscenely powerful hardware. The Nexus 4 is the very first Android tablet that responds to touch as well as an iPhone. It's kind of crazy it's taken that long, but it was a little shocking when I first used it--no more lag, no more trouble tracking, no more weird swipes or unexpected virtual friction. It is, at long last, correct. This is a huge step forward for Android.
The key Android features are finally ones that I think most people will use, and that are both exciting and totally unmatched on other platforms. Google Maps on Android is so far ahead of the competition it's not even fair; this isn't new, but it bears repeating, because a location app is one of the most important tools on your phone. It has offline caching, public transit, traffic, and bike directions, overlays with information from Wikipedia, turn-by-turn navigation, coupons, and the best search of any maps app (meaning, it hardly ever steers you wrong). It is outrageously good.
Google Now has gotten a little boost as well. I was very excited to name Google Now our Innovation of the Year; it's gone almost completely under the radar, compared to something like Siri, but, here's the comparison. Google Now is more innovative, more capable, and more useful--most importantly, the thing actually works. Tap on the search bar to bring up your "cards," which are little snippets of information tailored specifically to you, what you want to know right now and right here. Right now, mine is telling me the weather, subway closings for the train nearest me, that a thing I bought from Amazon is shipped and in transit to my apartment, and when I need to catch the subway to get to my next appointment. I didn't ask it to do any of that; it looked through my email to snag the tracking number from Amazon, and found weather for my location. The appointment thing is even crazier: it looked through my calendar for the appointment, routed me based on my current location (using the subway schedule), and learned that I take public transit rather than drive. Complicated! But all I see when I go to Google Now is "hey Dan, you should leave in 12 minutes to catch the C train to get to your appointment on time." That is amazing.
The app selection is finally up to par; iOS has better games and some apps will always go to iOS first, but there certainly aren't any major apps available on other platforms that aren't available here. And Android has always had an excellent selection of stuff for tinkerers--power management tools, alternate browsers and media apps, easy ways to take back your data plan by tethering or totally change the way your phone looks and behaves. But that's all expert stuff, not stuff for most people, and Android has finally gotten pretty much everything normal people would want.
I love love love the way Android 4.2 helps you get things done. It makes iOS and Windows Phone seem incredibly inefficient. Switching between apps is done by hitting one of the three permanent "soft" buttons on the screen, which presents you with a list of open apps. Tap on them to go there, or swipe it off the page to close. Same thing for the pull-down notification shade--tap to go, swipe to close. It's such a fast and intuitive way to manage everything that's going on with your phone, especially compared to iOS's tricky little notification shade, with its tiny "clear" buttons and no way to clear individual items. Oh, and the power controls are great, too--pull down the shade, tap one button in the upper right, and there's your key settings (brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, battery, signal strength, and a link to the full settings). It's a really fast and clean way to change frequently adjusted settings without going into some dumb settings app.
The camera's been overhauled, too: the camera on the Nexus 4 I found to be pretty decent in low-light and very bright and colorful and detailed with good light. And the way you control it is new, too--you tap and hold your finger on the screen, and a ring of options (HDR, flash toggle, white balance, ISO) blossoms around your finger. It's super convenient and smart; I wonder why nobody's ever thought of it before. The coolest other new feature of the camera is called "Photo Sphere," which is like a hyper-panorama. You move your phone not just in a straight line in front of you, but above you as well, like you're moving it along an invisible giant hamster ball. It's great for showing your parents your new apartment.
The hardware is not attractive. I don't mean it's unattractive, I just mean it is not attractive. It is blah. It's a rounded black rectangle of, mostly, cheap plastic. (It is nicely thin and light, though.) The back is some kind of clear panel that has a slight glitter to it in the right light--it is, thankfully, not gaudy, but I also am not particularly enamored of it. Worse is that it's kind of slippery.
The Nexus does not have an SD slot. That wouldn't normally be a big deal, but it's only available in 8GB and 16GB models, so you might find yourself wanting some extra space.
The screen is really bright and clear and crisp, but only indoors--I found it much too reflective in direct sunlight. I've tested worse screens; the Nexus 4 isn't unreadable outside, but I'd prefer it was less reflective.
Battery life is only adequate. It'll make it through a day with light use, at most. Others have been reporting that extensive use of the camera will slaughter battery life, which is too bad, because the camera's very nice.
And it's curious that battery life is a problem, because it lacks 4G LTE, which is typically the feature that kills battery life fastest. The Verge said a modern LTE-less phone is like a "muscle car with no wheels," but I think that's an overreaction. The Nexus still supports T-Mobile's very fast HSPA+ network, and it worked fine on 3G with an AT&T SIM card. Like, yes, 4G would be good, and I am not really sure why it was left out, but not one time did I ever find myself demanding a webpage load 0.75 seconds faster. Not a dealbreaker for me, at least.
Here's something interesting: phones are typically sold subsidized, with a contract. Your $199 iPhone actually costs a whopping $700; you're just getting a deal because you've agreed to pay Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint a few thousand bucks for the next two years. But the Nexus 4 is being sold contract-free: the 8GB model costs $300, and the 16GB costs $350. That's surprisingly cheap, considering you're not locked into a contract, though you may not care about being locked into a contract. Or you can grab it for the usual $200 at T-Mobile.
If the Nexus 4 worked on Verizon, I'd probably drop my iPhone and grab it. That's how good this phone is. Android has never been so put-together, so thoughtful. Many of its best points are completely unmatched on any other platform--the one-two punch of Google Maps and Google Now is unbeatable. The hardware is above average--I like the inclusion of wireless charging and NFC, and it's a nice size for your pocket (unlike some phones). If you're in the market for a new phone, and looking for something on T-Mobile or AT&T, this is pretty much the tops.
Nice write up. I agree that it'd definitely be a great phone to get, if it were in fact on Verizon. unfortunately, Google & Verizon are going to be in a stalemate for quite some time. Those who are not sucked in their grasp(contracts), I also recommend jumping on this phone asap :).
"Its a rounded black rectangle, of mostly, cheap plastic"
"The back is some kind of clear panel"
So, apparently you haven't heard of a new substance called glass?
Good review and it is true that HSDPA+ is fast and is comparable to lte. I like the nexus because it is pure google and will get the lasted version first
Um, I hate to burst the bubble for anyone who takes the advice of this article, but you won't be picking this up on Black Friday unless you want to pay double-price on eBay.
For those who have been living under a rock for the last couple weeks, the phone sold out internationally in minutes, and is not expected to go back on sale until mid-December. Combined with shipping times (during Christmas), no one is expected to hold one in their hands until 2013 (through Google, at least... for those willing to lock in a contract to save $150, and embrace the joys of pre-installed carrier software, the situation at T-Mobile may be different).
my friend's mother-in-law brought home $14556 the previous week. she is making cash on the internet and bought a $504600 mini mansion. All she did was get lucky and the clues uncovered on this web site....BIT40.COM
To elaborate on what st4t3x posted. the back is made of Cornings new gorilla glass 2 and the "glitter" is a 3D design made using a LG patented process. Nothing is cheap about this phone except the price, which has been subsidised by Google otherwise the it would be at the $500 dollar mark given the hardware it has, and the fact that LG is trying to sell it at 599 euros in European countries that don't have access to the Google play store.
Nexus 4 is undoubtedly one of the, or probably the best phone overall considering the build, aesthetics, power, large super high definition screen and so on.
But more importantly it is a game changing device strategically being rolled out by Google to level the playing field. The unlocked no-contract nature with a low price for such a high end device will shake up mobile phone service in the world, except may be in US. In USA as all other things, mobile industry is controlled by the Telecom mafia. That combined with uninformed/lazy to research population will line up to buy a high end phone like S3/Note 2/iPhone 5 etc with a 2-year contract paying hundreds per month. But of course these morons will snatch the great deals hawked at them during this holiday season: $0 for the device with a contract.
People don't get it that over the two year period they will be paying thousands to the Telecom mafia.
Of course the whole mortgage crisis happened due to such stupidity: zero down, interest only mortgage with no paperwork needed to move into the mac mansion for people earning next to nothing.
The Nexus 4 appears to be a phenomenal phone, and I can't wait to get one for myself. I use Pandora for music and Netflix for movies, so I don't need a big micro-SD card. And now that I've got a truly unlimited service plan (including 4G data), this unlocked GSM phone is exactly the hardware upgrade that I need! Here's a quick 1-min video of the no-contract plan that I'm enjoying - and hope to use the Nexus 4 on soon! www.PenniesOverDollars.com
i love gorilla glass. ive dropped my atrix2 several times and its never cracked or chipped. i wont buy another phone that doesnt have it
More Facts about Scienifics Faax
This appears to be a nice phone and I hope it makes a good competition with the iphone and others. Good competition makes for better products!
No thanks, Nokia Lumia 920 for me.
The Nexus 4 DOES have LTE, it takes only 5mins of your life to enable it, thats all
and reading this feels like you're comparing this phone to android 2.1! 4.2 and the nexus 4 aren't that big of an improvement over the previous nexus phone (GNex), in fact the screen is an astounding 0,05" larger!!! and the design is almost identical with the GNex, well except for the backside.
Regarding the touch lag, I haven't experienced any such thing since the release of 4.1 on the Gnex
Also there are a couple of issues that could be added to the "What's bad" section, such as the bolted on battery, that isn't meant to be removed by the end user, this means also that an extended battery will probably not be available and if it is, it means voiding your warranty. The Nex4 also uses spring antenna connections, which are much more likely to fail that those that are soldered on. Since the device is made by LG and not Samsung, there is a lack of "impact zones" on the motherboard, meaning that there is a higher risk for hardware failure if the device is dropped. The phone is also held together by tape on the inside, I personally would consider a device that is taped together to be "unfinished".
oh, you also refer to the device as a "tablet" in this article
(samsung)gooogle nexus made up the necessary demand ever,appreciable!