The Google Nexus smartphone, considered by many Android fans to be the “Jesus” phone by which all other Android devices should be measured. Google officially took the wraps off their Nexus 4 yesterday—yes we know we’re a bit late, we were busy with a Hurricane—which has been manufactured by LG this time, instead of Samsung, makers of the previous two versions. But is this new version of the Nexus worthy of its name?
Let’s look at the upsides of the device first. The Nexus 4 (yes, that’s the official name) comes with Android 4.2, still Jelly Bean, which updates Google Now with even more useful features like transit data, traffic (as in, when you leave work, it will show you how long till you get home), it can even give you points of interest depending on where you are, like photo ops, concerts nearby and reminders. Google’s also added “gesture typing” which is basically their version of swype, the popular alternative keyboard for Android. Also in 4.2, is a new photo features called Photo Sphere, with uses the same technology found in Google’s Street View camera, allowing users to take not only panoramic pictures, but taking pictures above and below the panoramic, giving users the ability move around the picture, a very cool feature that you need to see.
The Nexus 4 also received a new, 8-megapixel Sony camera sensor, meaning dramatically improved camera performance over previous versions, combined with Android’s zero shutter lag, should make for some really nice images. The display on the Nexus 4 is 4.7-inches with a resolution of 1280-by-768 for 320ppi which is covered by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2. Like previous versions, the glass on the Nexus 4 is slightly curved, but this time it’s around the edges of the display, making the interaction with the Nexus much more intuitive and natural.
Finally, the last big update to the Nexus 4 is the use of a of quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, by Qualcomm, which will also the Nexus to provide an extremely quick and responsive, as well as smooth, experience. Couple the processor with 2GB of RAM and games should play with ease.
Now the downside, there’s always a downside. The Nexus 4 will not work on LTE… yes, you read that right. The Nexus 4 will only support HSPA+ and will only be available on T-Mobile. According to Andy Rubin, head of Android, it will remain “only” on T-Mobile, because while Verizon’s LTE network has to remain open to devices, its fall back CDMA 3G network does not and that would require more work and money on Google’s behalf, something they apparently aren’t looking to spend. So because Sprint uses CDMA and AT&T’s networks is different than T-Mobile’s, we’re only going to see one carrier with the Nexus 4 in the States.
The design of the Nexus 4 is extremely similar to the Galaxy Nexus, in fact it’s too similar. While the back of the Nexus 4 is different, the shape, feel and look of the device’s front is almost the spitting image of the Galaxy Nexus. With Google selecting a different OEM to make the Nexus 4, it would have been nice to see something fresh.
Perhaps the biggest let down is the available storage sizes, Google is only making 8GB and 16GB models of the Nexus 4, no 32GB will be available. For a smartphone that is considered to be the benchmark device for developers, it seems odd that Google would limit the amount of storage to only 16GB max, especially with no external storage expansion.
The Nexus 4 almost improves every feature of the Galaxy Nexus, more RAM, better processor, better camera, a better display and a new version of Android. But it fails in the most important areas, like storage space, no support for LTE, which is the growing preference of customers, and helps “future proof” the phone and the design is unoriginal. If you don’t mind having to use T-Mobile’s network and being stuck with a maximum of 16GB of storage, then you may want to consider the Nexus 4 for $299 for the 8GB model and $329 for the 16GB version, otherwise, you may want to hold off for a more powerful device on your carrier, like HTC’s upcoming DLX/DNA on Verizon which will have a 1080p display, the Galaxy Note II on AT&T and Sprint.
(*Editor’s Note* I’d like to hear from some of you Android fans who bashed the iPhone 4S for looking like the 4, having no LTE and no removable storage. Everything you trashed the iPhone 4S for is now prevalent in the new Nexus 4, does it sting a little? Can you man up and admit Google dropped the ball or are you going to defend them for their decision because you can’t eat crow? Keep in mind, the iPhone 4S made big improves to the camera, processor, added Siri and improved services like iCloud. I’m not saying that Google didn’t add improvements to the Nexus 4, but they did exactly what Apple did, only they did it a year later, so are you going to defend them or own up?)