I recently had the opportunity to play with the incredibly in demand and very hard to get Google Nexus 4 phone and wanted to share my point of view. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review but rather a quick summary of the positives and negatives.
There is a reason why the Google Nexus 4 is sold out in most Google Play stores around the world. It is a great phone at an incredibly competitive price.
The Google Nexus 4 is a solid and well built device that won’t disappoint. The front is very resilient Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and the back is a nice soft touch plastic. The entire kit feels rock solid and well built. Inside you’ll find a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor (better GPU/CPU than the Samsung Galaxy SIII), with 2 GB of RAM and full RGB strip IPS Plus screen.
The Google Vanilla experience
Each Android manufacturer adds its own secret sauce to its devices like multiview, updated apps, hand-written note app, but nothing compares to the upgradability of a stock Google branded phone. The Nexus 4 comes with a vanilla version of Android 4.2. Since it’s a Google device, you can expect updates for many years to come (unlike other manufacturer devices that get updates up to 1 year late and some that never get updates at all). In my book, Nexus devices (phones and tablets) are the only way to go.
There is no denying that the Nexus is a wonderful phone but it does have some flaws. And some of these flaws are enough to make this device a no-go for me:
- Disappointing camera – Unfortunately the Nexus comes with a plain old run of the mill 8 MP camera. I tested it out and was disappointed. My iPhone 4s often took much sharper pictures. When comparing the Nexus 4 pictures to those of an iPhone 5, the difference is glaring. The Iphone 5’s 8MP sensor, optics and software deliver a more realistic and enjoyable pictures.
- Storage – The Nexus comes in 8GB and 16GB varieties and I am convinced this was a cost control decision. With some podcasts, apps and light data, I can fill up a 16 GB device in no time. This is an even bigger problem when you realize the Nexus 4 doesn’t support SD or Micro-SD cards.
- Connectivity – Officially the Nexus 4 only supports HSDPA. We have heard stories from non-US users who have been able to trick the phone to an AWS band LTE network but this can be turned off by Google at any time via a software update. I can’t imagine buying any new device today without LTE.
- Battery - No user replaceable battery. With normal use, I can kill my smartphone's battery mid-day and being able to simply replace it is a really nice feature. I carry around a Mophie Juicepack Air on my iphone with adds weight and makes the device much bulkier.
Should you get it?
That depends on what you are looking for in a phone. This is a fantastic phone and is perfect for most users. Unfortunately I find its shortcomings too important to ignore and I won’t be plunking down money to buy this device. I am hopeful that Google’s next device will address these issue and make me buy it the day it is released.
I am trying to get my hands on a Samsung Note 2 for testing purposes. The more I think about the concept of a phablet, the more I like it. When I get a chance to "play" with the Samsung Note 2, i'll report back.