Google Nexus 4

Whether you want the latest Android updates first, or you just want a really powerful phone for a comparatively low price, the Nexus 4 is for you.


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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

It might be manufactured by LG, but the Nexus 4 doesn't look like any LG phone we've ever seen before. Its symmetrical curved bezel is strongly reminiscent of the Galaxy Nexus we saw in Australia earlier this year, but its glass front and back give the Nexus 4 a more premium feel than its predecessor.

As the iPhone 4S proved, glass on the back of phones isn't always a good idea. Google and LG have opted for Gorilla Glass 2 for both the screen and battery cover, but, even still, you might want to pick up one of the Nexus 4 rubber bumpers for that extra piece of mind. Also — something that we didn't expect — the handset can get really hot during use, and the glass conducts this heat. After playing Angry Birds Star Wars for 15 minutes, we found that holding the Nexus 4 was like holding a cup of coffee without a handle.

The glass on the back of the phone has a lovely sparkle to it, but it gets hot during use and is a magnet for fingerprints.
(Credit: CBSi)

The glass on the front is the real showstopper, though. Many will wonder why Google chose LG to partner with on the Nexus 4, and, if we could guess, we'd say it's because of the company's display pedigree. The Nexus 4 gets the best of this, with a 4.7-inch IPS LCD panel with a 1280x768-pixel 720p resolution. This really is one of the best smartphone displays we've seen, on par with Apple's Retina display for clarity and colour, and with far better white display than Samsung's AMOLED panels. The screen is impressively responsive to touch input, too, with as much credit going to Google's performance tweaking of the Android platform as to the hardware.

The exterior of the phone is pretty minimalist, however, especially without a microSD card slot on any of the edges. There are other common slots and ports missing, too. We'd have loved a micro-HDMI socket, but, without it, you will have to learn about Miracast and how to use it in order to connect your phone to your monitor or TV.

This micro-USB port is the only port available on the Nexus 4.
(Credit: CBSi)

Jelly Bean Plus

Great hardware is only half of the story in the Nexus 4. The handset is, don't forget, the Android reference device for Google; the one for all others to aspire to. As such, it comes with the absolute latest version of the Android platform, numbered 4.2 and referred to by some as Jelly Bean Plus. It brings a host of performance improvements, according to Google's official literature on the subject, but most of this is difficult to perceive. It is easy to see that this phone is silky smooth in operation, but you'd need a high-speed camera to tell by how much.

It's far easier to spot some of the handy new interface tweaks that Google has added since the previous major update. The lock screen is now several pages of space where the user can display specially coded widgets. Our review unit allows us to install calendar, clock, messaging and Gmail widgets, but this list may grow as third-parties recode their widgets to live in this new environment. You can also swipe from right to left on the default home screen to launch the camera.

Google has also added a Quick Settings panel, which you pull down from the top of the screen in the same way you'd access the notifications curtain. To launch the settings window, though, you use two fingers to swipe down the screen, rather than one.

You access the new Quick Settings menu by swiping down from the top with two fingers.
(Credit: Screenshot by CBSi)

Camera

The primary focus of this camera is pretty obviously speed, and LG does a good job of delivering a very fast camera, even if the final result isn't always spot on. The speed works well to remove most of the focus problems associated with hands moving while a photo is being taken, but we still found that our photos were just slightly out of focus all the same. Of course, these are fine for photos you will share online, but they won't look so great if you decide to have an impromptu photo-slide night using your 50-inch TV.

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

We'd also like to point out the new camera setting UI found in Jelly Bean 4.2. When you press and hold on the screen, a circular menu appears, showing the various options. To access any of these options, you simply slide you finger to it to reveal even more options, like exposure settings and picture modes.

This is what you see when you hold down on the touchscreen in the new Android camera app.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Google has also added a new Photo Sphere picture mode, which lets you take panorama photos along the vertical axis as well as the horizontal plane. Once rendered, you end up with a funky 3D view of your surroundings, which you can move around in when viewing on the phone.

Performance and battery

Making sure that it all runs as smoothly as possible, LG packs some truly powerful hardware into the Nexus 4. Starting with a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, with Adreno 320 graphics and 2GB of RAM, this is true class-leading hardware, and it shows in the performance across the system. Multitasking is especially impressive, switching between tasks as seamlessly as you might expect on a PC. Unlike our experience with some other Android products, this really does feel like hardware designed to work perfectly in unison with this build of Android, the way the iPhone works with iOS.

Third-party app performance has been flawless during our review, too. Even apps like Flipboard, for example, which are often sluggish on our phones, worked perfectly with the Nexus 4.

Curiously, the Nexus 4 doesn't blow past its competition in the benchmark tests we run on all new Android phones. It does exceptionally well in our OpenGL 3D graphics benchmark, thanks to the Adreno 320 GPU, but it is off the pace in other areas, like some of the web browser-based tests we run. This shouldn't worry a prospective buyer, though. The reliability of these benchmarks is so hard to gauge, and there is nothing else in the performance of the phone to suggest a deficiency.

LG is banking on a 2100mAh capacity battery being sufficient to keep all of this hardware running, and, for the most part, it is adequate. The Nexus 4 is not capable of any serious marathons of usage, but it does manage between four and five hours of consistent use, like web browsing, and between a day to a day and a half of standby charge, with services auto-syncing in the background.

Compared with the rest

If you had decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a plan to buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 or an iPhone 5, the Nexus 4 should give you pause. For AU$399 for the 16GB version, there is no doubting that this phone is a bargain, and at a price only Google can offer, because the web search giant is subsidising the rest of the cost of the phone. You will have to buy it outright, though; the telcos are not interested in ranging the Nexus 4 at the time of writing, and it is unlikely that they will be in the future. Instead of taking up a phone with nothing to pay upfront, you will need to find the cash.

There are a few key features missing, too. There's no microSD card slot, and only 16GB of storage will be a deal-breaking limitation for some users. There is no 4G networking, either, which may not seem unusual now, but it will be something of an oddity by next year. We're guessing that Google opted not to go with 4G to preserve battery life, but doing so may give you the impression that this phone isn't as future proof as it could be.

In its favour, the Nexus 4 has a best-in-class screen and fantastic hardware, putting it on par with, or bettering, its competition. Side by side, the screen on the Nexus 4 clearly represents colour much better than Samsung's AMOLED screen, which washes everything in a slight blue hue, especially whites and lighter-coloured elements.

Overall

It's not without flaws or absent features, but the Google Nexus 4 supersedes these oversights in its design with truly stand-out performance. We do wish that the camera was better, and that the handset wouldn't heat up quite so much while we use it, but there is no better handset for web browsing, multitasking and apps in the Android ecosystem. Though some, like the Samsung Galaxy S3, are just as good, none are faster or as nice to use.

There are two great reasons to buy this phone, and if these make sense to you, then we suggest that you stop reading and start the ordering process. Firstly, you will get the latest Android updates first on this phone. For some, this is the only reason to buy a Nexus, and we totally understand this. The other is the crazy price. There is no other phone with this much power that can be bought for under AU$400, and if you love value for money, this is it.



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wertay2
10
Rating
 

"cheap, high quality, efficient, fast, well designed and mapped but below average music playing system"

wertay2 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:everything

The Bad:bad music playing system

This phone is probably the best thing i have ever used and much better in comparison to an iphone 5, it's cheap, efficient, good battery and fast. The only negative i find with this phone is the music playing system which isn't very sleek or easy to understand, the speakers however are very high quality, the mapping of the phone is great and easy to understand. overall this fun is very very VERY good. I also really enjoy the swipe typing feature because i suck with touch typing otherwise.

 

BingL posted a comment   

This phone has a delay in notifying you when you receive a message if the screen is off. The delay ranges from 1 minute to not at all until you turn the screen on. This has been reported to Google since Jan 2013 and is still not fixed. This is one of the most basic function of a smart phone and it does not work on Google's proudly promoted phone. It is a real shame for Google. You can see details of this problem in the Groups.google.com and search for "Delayed Push Notifications When Screen Is Off on Nexus 4" cheers

JoL Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Super awesome phone"

JoL posted a review   

The Good:everything

The Bad:lack of accessories available at the moment

This is a brilliant phone, considering the price for somethings thats at least on par with the SG3 but almost half the price!
Great battery and quality screen. Very snappy phone and decent camera.
No expandable memory, boo hoo, its cheaper than a SG2 from Dick Smith (at the moment)

barca1
3
Rating
 

barca1 posted a review   
Australia

had been waiting for this for ages but turns out a)wifi doesnt work and b)keeps restarting several times in the day for no reason. have had to send it off for repair in less than a week. very disappointing.

DylanH Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Lightning fast for a great price"

DylanH posted a review   

The Good:The aesthetics, screen, speed

The Bad:The battery life

I became impatient and bought the Nexus 4 from eBay for 550AUD (incl. shipping). From the day it arrived from the US, it has been an awesome phone - just about all apps load up instantly, the screen is the best I have seen, and everything is just so dam fast! Not only that, but Nexus 4 is of a quality build. Compared to the plasticy SIII my friend has (not to mention buggy and sometimes slow), this has to be almost more aesthetically pleasing than the iPhone! Some people complain that it doesn't have LTE. I honestly can't complain. Typically I get about 7Mbps, and other times I get above 14 - which is actually faster than our ADSL2+ internet at home on a typical day. I can't yet see the need for 40Mbps download speeds ON A PHONE with less that 2GB quota. I think the only flaw I can find is the battery life. Under what I would consider typical use (some may consider it excessive), it lasts about 8hours. If you turn off Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and data, and leave the screen off most of the time however, after 36h it will still have more that 40% battery.

 

The Stav posted a comment   
Australia

Looks like this phone is going to be extremely difficult to purchase. The first release sold out within hours worldwide.The Google Play Store might accept pre-orders. $349 for the 8GB and $399 for the 16GB. $100 or more anywhere else, again if you can get one.If I can't get my hands on one of these before the end of December then I'm going to 'eat a bullet' (joke) and buy a Nokia Lumia 920 from Telstra at $696 which is cheap for the pinnacle of smartphones.I'm currently using a Windows 4G phone that has a great 16 megapixel camera. However the Nexus 4 also had me salivating after having read reviews and looked at YouTube videos.I have owned several iPhones and it's the same old same old.

 

MaxL1 posted a comment   

I've just jumped from an HTC One X to a Nexus 4, and I can tell you categorically that the screen is not the best in class.The viewing angles are nowhere near as good with brightness and colour temperature fading significantly compared to the One X's screen.Also, those worried about speeds should rest easy.  The radios in the Nexus 4 are amazing.  Wifi strength is almost as good as the more powerful Nexus 7 and where I couldn't get a 3G signal on my desk with the One X, I get one with the Nexus 4.Speed tests that I've run indicate nearly double the speed that the One X achieved in the same location.

 

Jeffrey FarrarD posted a reply   

MaxL1, what are your thoughts on the "Galaxy Prevail"?

 

denniski posted a comment   
Australia

nah, really liked it but this is not the phone i'd like to show off and grab some attention, look standard, i'm getting a yellow lumia 920 instead, that one will definitely make me stand out in the sea of iphones and androids out there, still waiting for my pre-order though, HN again pushed back the delivery dates due to non-availability and telstra is still out of stock, can't wait

 

RoddC posted a comment   

Two corrections.The phone does support HDMI but you need to buy a $30 single that plus into the USB port. You can then plug into a TV with HDMI and your USB charger. Not a bad option if you need HDMI.Google left out the 4G because it's a pain in the neck to support and causes massive slow downs with updates. It may ask be on the same spectrum, but each phone company does it differently and it's a nightmare. Just look at the iPhone5 in the US which doesn't support all the LTE features for the phone companies and you get the idea.

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

The interesting thing is, the phone is capable of 4G. The CPU has the 4G modem in it, it's just not turned on. I'm sure some modders will get it up and running soon enough.

 

nivlac posted a reply   
Australia

It's not, it needs an LTE antenna which requires a hell of a lot more than simple "modding".
http://phandroid.com/2012/11/19/nexus-4-teardown-reveals-lte-chip-we-pine-for-what-could-have-been/

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

Apparently it is as simple as putting in a code to get it up and running.
http://www.gsmarena.com/lte_can_be_enabled_on_the_nexus_4_works_on_canadian_networks-news-5116.php

 

ResoLite posted a comment   
Australia

I can live without the HDMI connectivity on my mobile, and for that crazy low price I can just about convince myself to survive without a microSD slot too (16gb version is a must though). My main query of the nexus 4 is regarding 3g connection speeds.

I understand it supports DC-HSPA , which means a theoretical maximum of 42mbps or real world average of maybe 6 to 16mbps (?), provided the network supports it. But from what I've read Optus and Vodafone only have patchy support for this connection type at present, which means you're generally stuck with HSPA (theoretical max 21mbps or real world average of 1 to 8mbps at a guess). The Dual Channel speeds seem to be more than sufficient for any data use I'd care for on a phone (video/music streaming

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

I guess its like having a Lamborghini and running it on e10. Obviously telstra will give you the speeds you want but i'm guessing your not with them. Music streaming should be fine on anything around 3mbps, but video you'd be looking at low quality or a bit of time buffering.

 

ResoLite posted a reply   
Australia

Ah, you cut me off in the middle of my TL:DR post. Yep you're on the money regarding my views on Telstra - they're just too expensive compared to the competition. The question remains of whether Optus or Voda have the better network for a DC-HSPA+ phone. As the networks are continuously upgraded, it seems quite difficult to predict which one is better.

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

I agree with you that $50 a month is a bit steep for the telstra network, but have you considered the pre-paid option.

I'm on a $30 recharge every month. Get free calls and text for 6pm to 6am, plus $220 extra credit to use any other time, plus 400mb. And if i need more mb, i can used the original $30 to purchase data packs. Effectively i get about 1.1gb of data and free calls and text for $30, which i decent.

 

trebor83 posted a reply   
Australia

Well after my experience with Vodafone over the past almost 2 years (though not almost enough) where I get practically no reception at home or at work and other reception blackhole exist all over the country side for no obvious reasons, I'm going to be more then happy to pay the extra $8 a month for Telstras much better network come the end of January

 

ResoLite posted a reply   
Australia

& web browsing), but the HSPA+ speeds seem limiting.

Telstra has DC-HSPA+, but their plans are too expensive (min 50$ for a BYO plan? no thanks!). And word on the street is that voda is upgrading their network to DC-HSPA+ faster (http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2007674). But Optus is a cheaper option with for BYO than voda with Live Connected. So I'd say the question for anyone buying this handset is; Optus or Vodafone? Seems like a tough choice.

 

sfamoy posted a reply   
Australia

I'm in no way a tech expert so this is not regarding the Phone itself but I do feel the need to comment about optus vs vodafone. I highly recommend optus over vodaone any day!! I started a contract with Vodafone at the start of this year before moving to the top end of SA, they assured me I could get recetion there. Before moving, I had reception issues in the city and sure enough, get to the desert, and absolutely no reception. I cancelled my contract (which cost me nothing and you can do it if your provider can't offer what they promise) I switched to Dodo who run off optus mobile networks and get perfect reception where I live. The reception isnt as broad as Telstra but it's exceeds my expectations. I live in a mining town so our services are amazing compared to many rural towns so if vodafone cant even offer reception there, they're hopeless in my opinion. Everyone I know who are with vodafone (in the city), have major issues with their service. It's not a tough choice at all! Don't touch vodafone. With Dodo, I get unlimited calls, text (all day) free social media, 500mb data allowance (the same plan now has 2.5) unlimited internation text and all I pay is $49.90 per month. I also got a free phone (not the best but hey it works :) No body has been able to come close to what Dodo offer!! And I have never had any issues with reception drop outs or internet speed. I highly recommend checking them out!




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User Reviews / Comments  Google Nexus 4

  • wertay2

    wertay2

    Rating10

    "This phone is probably the best thing i have ever used and much better in comparison to an iphone 5, it's cheap, efficient, good battery and fast. The only negative i find with this phone is the mu..."

  • BingL

    BingL

    "This phone has a delay in notifying you when you receive a message if the screen is off. The delay ranges from 1 minute to not at all until you turn the screen on. This has been reported to Google ..."

  • JoL

    JoL

    Rating10

    "This is a brilliant phone, considering the price for somethings thats at least on par with the SG3 but almost half the price!
    Great battery and quality screen. Very snappy phone and decent c..."

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