- Ratio of the price and what it provides
- Exceptionally fast processor
- Solid and robust performance
- Android 4.2, plus fast and easy upgradeable to upcoming versions
- Insufficient screen contrast
- Poor back-facing camera
- Not enough data storage
The Nexus 4 is an above-average smartphone that presents Android well to everyone willing to try it, at a low cost.
The feature which makes the Google Nexus 4 interesting is the exceptionally enticing combination of affordable price ($300 without a contract) and features which can compete with the most powerful smartphones available. For the first time, LG has manufactured a device for Google that offers the best technologies it has, equal to LG’s own flagship, the Optimus G. The only difference is that the Nexus 4 boasts with an absolutely pure version of Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).
The smartphone comes with a 4.7-inch 768 x 1280-pixel IPS Plus screen, a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait processor with Adreno 320 graphics, an 8 megapixel back-facing camera which can record 1080p videos, either 8 or 16GB of data storage, and an non-interchangeable 2100 mAh battery.
The fact that this is part of Google’s Nexus line guarantees that future updated versions of the Android operating system will appear faster for this device than for any other smartphone. This is a real advantage.
Build and Design
The appearance of Nexus 4 is very much like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Actually, its slightly rounded upper and lower edge and the domineering black color is reminiscent of somewhat older smartphones by manufacturers who have not (yet) invested a lot of funds into design peculiarities. Still, even though it is nothing special or highly recognizable from the front, it looks very atypical seen from the back. Its entire back is made out of glass (like an iPhone 4) and is covered with a 3D pattern that changes its appearance, depending on your viewing angle. Plus, it has a huge “Nexus” logo engraved in the glass.
Both the front and the back are covered in Gorilla Glass 2, which means the Nexus 4 is very resistant to scratches. It seems exceptionally solid, polished up and convincing when held in the hand, leaving the impression of a flagship, i.e. a more expensive product than it actually is. The back glass is entirely flat, while the front is slightly rounded on the edges, which facilitates using the phone when you flip through the contents with your finger, and makes it easier to turn the device on the right side while picking it up, without even looking at it.
The phone feels great in hand, and is neither too light nor heavy, weighing 139 grams. Its dimensions (134 x 69 x 9.1 mm) are also just about suitable for a 4.7-inch display smartphone. It is evident that LG has made sure not to make the device too wide, so there is almost no room between the display and the left and right rim, which seems a bit unnatural at first, but this is why Nexus 4 fits easily even in smaller hands.
LG has prepared a 4.7-inch 768 x 1280 HD IPS Plus screen for Google Nexus 4, resulting in a pixel density of 318 ppi. On paper, this sounds like an excellent display, but in reality, there are a few flaws. The imaging is exceptionally sharp, in line with the great pixel density, with very precise slanted lines and without any teething or blurring whatsoever, making reading texts with tiny fonts very pleasant. In addition, the viewing angle is very wide, with steady contrast, regardless of the way the user looks at the screen. Warm colors are very vibrant, while colder hues are slightly ‘washed out’, i.e. insufficiently saturated.
This would not be a problem if it did not reflect on the color black, The Nexus 4 does not offer sufficiently powerful contrast due to the ‘pale’ black color, which is particularly evident when the device is exposed to direct sunlight. Still, the emphasis on warmer tones does have its advantages: the display brightness is above average.
As far as everyday work goes, in the end, this is a screen of above-average quality. However, it still represents Nexus 4’s weakest link: it does not rank with the top models like the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, or the Apple iPhone.
Other Buttons and Controls
There are no keys on the front, just the display. Above it is a speaker for making telephone calls, a couple of sensors, and a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. There is a notification LED under the display which lights up every time the user receives a text message, an email, a Facebook notification, or to signal a missed call, while it can be reprogrammed with Play Store applications.
The sides are constructed as a double frame made from metal and plastic, which seems like rubber when held — this is what mostly contributes to the feeling of solidness and hardiness. There is a microSIM card slot on the left side, as well as a volume control switch, while the right only includes the Power key which is set at an appropriate thumb height when the device is held in the right hand. It is a shame that there is no camera key here as well.
The upper edge has a 3.5-mm headphone port and a secondary microphone. The bottom includes the primary microphone with a micro-USB port for battery charging and TV connection support, not via MHL, but SlimPort technology. There are also two screws securing the back surface to the telephone, however, the battery is nominally interchangeable.