The 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.
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.
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.
- Beautiful design
- Good battery
- Amazing screen
- Latest Android OS
- 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)