Google Nexus 4 review

Google Nexus 4 reviewThe LG-built Google Nexus 4 is one of those devices sure to delight geeks. Google’s annual unveiling of its latest handset is always a big affair and gives us the latest pure Google handset.

It’s teamed up with HTC and Samsung in the past but this is LG’s first crack at the whip. The difference here is the price. It’s being sold so cheaply, it's already been widely reported that Google is actually shifting the Nexus 4 at a considerable loss (on Google Play, at any rate).

Design and build

The Nexus 4 is a solid device. It puts us in mind of the iPhone 4 with its glossy piano black glass on the front and back. Even the edges are taken care of with a dull rubber to maximise the grip.  It’s a beautiful phone and blows away the theory from some that Android devices are like toys.

It’s not the thinnest or smallest at 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1mm but it’s certainly no bigger than most others of a similar screen size. Tipping the scales at 139g, it’s also not the lightest but hits the perfect balance at not being too heavy and feeling like a classy product. The only issue is it's a real fingerprint magnet.

Display

The screen on the Nexus 4 is what sets it off. When not on, you can’t see it because its pitch black and disappears into the design. When it’s on, your heart skips a beat. It measures 4.7in and is seriously sharp, looking just as good – if not better – than the display on the iPhone 4/4S/5. Colours are bright and vivid and blacks look deep and perfect. LG’s not left a gap between the screen and the glass so it’s also uber responsive to the touch. It's of the True HD IPS Plus variety.

Interface and OS

The Nexus 4 runs Android’s newest OS, Jelly Bean 4.2. It’s beautiful, fluid and elegant though it's not hugely different from Android 4.1. There are minor changes - like a new keyboard that brings in swipe functionality and an updated notification bar that has shortcut toggles.

You also get access to Daydream - which is a screensaver function and the ability to display your screen wirelessly. Plus, don't forget Google Now has been updated and will even tell you how long it’s going to take you to get home from work in current traffic conditions.

Camera

You get two cameras on the Nexus 4 – an 8MP one round the back and a 1.3MP one on the front. The latter is just for video calls or self portraits and is OK but not amazing. The rear camera shoots well in good light and even comes with HDR mode which combines elements from two pictures shot together to give you the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, shutter speed is slow and occasionally, the snapper didn't even take the photo.

Other features include the ability to shoot panorama images and sphere shots (like a panorama but goes up and down as well as left and right.) The photo app comes bundled with loads of filters so you can easily save your photos afterwards and make them look like old vintage snaps and so on. Think Instagram.

The camera also allows you to shoot video in a number of resolutions including full HD. Fun elements include being able to take photos at the same time as shooting a movie and film in time lapse mode. Google’s even good enough to bundle a Movie Studio app so that you can edit your efforts together like Spielberg.

Performance and battery life

The Nexus 4 is no slouch. Running the show is a Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon chipset. There's also a quad-core 1.5GHz processor indoors and on top of that, Jelly Bean furnishes you with Project Butter. There was nothing we could do to make this baby slow down and believe us, we tried.

The battery is sealed in so you can't remove it, but it is a fairly chunky unit so all is not lost. At 2100mAh, it manages to match the Samsung Galaxy S3 and power levels are on a par. We managed a good 12 hours of moderate to heavy use before the Nexus 4 was gasping for juice. Be frugal and you'll get even more out of it.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Beautiful design
  • Good battery
  • Amazing screen
  • Latest Android OS

Cons

  • Camera could be better
  • Battery is non-removable
  • No expandable storage
  • No bundled headphones in the box
  • No 4G LTE connectivity

Verdict: The Nexus 4 was one of those handsets we expected to be OK but not revolutionary. It looks like the last Samsung Galaxy Nexus on paper and it's made by LG which hasn't had the best record over the last few years. And yet, when we took it out of the box, we were blown away. This is a beautiful device, which works perfectly and has an amazing screen. You'd expect it to be expensive but it's actually cheaper than last year's model currently is. For that price, value could not be higher and we highly recommend it.

More info: Google Nexus 4 spec

Price: From £239 (8GB)/£279 (16GB)

Google Nexus 4 review

Add a comment
11 comments

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 17:44

No earphones. Phew... high time!!!! The most pointless object in any phone box: cr*p earphones. Worse than 512MB Sd cards....

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 17:51

No earphones. Phew... high time!!!! The most pointless object in any phone box: cr*p earphones. Worse than 512MB Sd cards....
Erm, have you used the earphones Samsung have been giving out for free for the past couple of years (at least since the S2 and they've improved them further for the S3/N2)? They're in-ear buds which are actually really good, I've been using mine as my main earphones ever since my Sennheiser CX500s had an accident with my Dyson.

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 17:52

Also, guess I don't need to write an N4 review any more :p.

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 17:59

Phil, the link in the second paragraph's broken.

lcurdie / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 18:09

Fix-ed! Cheers :)

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 18:12

Also, guess I don't need to write an N4 review any more :p.

Why, of course you must!
And, actually, you are right-ish (I'm righter in a general sense)... Samsung's earphones tend to be above average. (like the old N-series ones Nokia used to ship).
But generally speaking....

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 9, 2012 at 18:30

Also, guess I don't need to write an N4 review any more :p.

Why, of course you must!
And, actually, you are right-ish (I'm righter in a general sense)... Samsung's earphones tend to be above average. (like the old N-series ones Nokia used to ship).
But generally speaking....

I knew what you meant, I was just being pedantic...as usual ;). To be fair, Samsung's earphones are the only ones I've ever used which are actually good, even Apple's are shockingly bad (and uncomfortable), don't even make me think about HTC's...

I've never used the headphones from an N-Series Nokia device, probably because I never owned one.

Pondlife  Nov. 9, 2012 at 21:36

Also, guess I don't need to write an N4 review any more :p.

Why, of course you must!


Agreed.

Definitely getting one then Matt?

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 10, 2012 at 00:31

Also, guess I don't need to write an N4 review any more :p.

Why, of course you must!


Agreed.

Definitely getting one then Matt?

Yeah, might as well. After I sell the S2 it'll only be ~£100 to upgrade.

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 10, 2012 at 07:19

"the theory that Android phones are like toys"
Not really a theory - mostly fact-ory.
You'll find it very difficult to find a good, in-depth review of an Android flagship that doesn't contain a line or two about the not-quite luxury feel or look of the device it dissects.

I take your word for now as to the N4's build, but of the 1800 or so Android devices how many have the quality feel and appearance of the iPhone or N9 or an oldie like the E71 etc...?

Same goes for tabs.

I'm not saying it's all-important or deal-breaking. But it stands out. Clearly.
HTC, Samsung and others have all had non-Android phones with 'better' materials and a more 'luxurious' feel than what they offer their Android customers. fact.

ian2606  Nov. 10, 2012 at 12:52

I agree about the Samsung in ear phones been quite good. Got some with my note and they have good sound quality .

Email:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.

Comment: