Google Nexus 4 review

Google Nexus 4 review

T3 4
  • The Google Nexus 4 by LG is the brand's new flagship smartphone but can it take on the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3?

    Google Nexus 4 review

    Love

    • Screen
    • Quad-core processor
    • PhotoSphere

    Hate

    • No 4G
    • Chunky
    • Dull styling

    Update:The new Google Nexus 5 is now on sale, sporting Android KitKat, a 5-inch screen, a new slimline chassis and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The Nexus 5 UK price is £299 for the 16GB model and £339 for the 32GB version.

    The Google Nexus 4 by LG was launched alongside two other products, the Google Nexus 10 tablet and the Google Nexus 7 32GB 3G tablet marking the company''s biggest hardware launch yet.

    Why now? With Apple having just released its Nexus 7 competitor, the iPad Mini, it seems as though Google is looking to take on the entire Apple ecosystem with a full range of products.

    With Android Jelly Bean 4.2 on board in its purest form, the Nexus 4 is the flagship for Google’s latest OS. However with an unassuming design and sub-£300 price tag you may be wondering then how Google is going to accomplish this, well read on and you'll soon realise that it's what's underneath that counts just as much as what can be found subtly lurking on the surface.

    Google Nexus 4: Size and build

    First thing we noticed was just how un-noticeable the Nexus 4 actually is, in fact if you just glanced with the screen turned off it could stand in as any number of nameless Android smartphones.

    Taker a closer inspection however and you begin to notice the more premium details which set this apart from the competition. The Corning Gorilla Glass 2 display is slightly curved at the edges letting the finger slide of the screen.

    On the back you’ll find a glass panel protecting a dark shimmering dot matrix pattern not unlike the wallpaper found on the first Nexus with a metallic band running around the phone. While the glass on the back is supposed to be scratch resistant we soon found that it was not invulnerable to the odd car key.

    Weighing in at 139g this isn’t a light smartphone however the Nexus 4 manages to distribute the weight in such a way that it adds to the sense that this is a smartphone that could survive day to day without instantly needing to buy a case (iPhone 5 we’re looking at you).

    Google Nexus 4: Screen

    The Nexus 4 sports a 4.7-inch 1280x768 display which we can confirm right now is brilliant. With 320 pixels per inch (the iPhone 5 is 326ppi) text is razor sharp while images are bright and vivid, even bright sunlight.

    LG has followed the display philosophy that by going wider you prevent the issue of not being able to reach the top of the screen with your thumb. At first this stubby display felt odd to use but after a while we have to agree, our thumbs aren’t growing any time soon so it makes sense.

    Video looks sharp and smooth with Play Movies offering up a huge selection of new releases and classics to rent.

    Google Nexus 4: Camera

    LG has included a much needed 8MP camera on the back of the Nexus 4, a sensor upgrade that was badly needed after the OK camera on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

    What you get in return is a superb camera that copes with outdoor light extremely well however on the low light images we did find that grainy haze begin to appear quite quickly. With a strong flash this is easily compensated for however it does mean it’s by no means up to the standard we’ve seen on the iPhone 5 or the Nokia Lumia 920.

    Features are basic but brilliantly accessible thanks to Android Jelly Bean; simply hold your finger anywhere on the screen while the camera is open and you’re presented with a simple easy-access menu of scenes and modes. Most notable of these is PhotoSphere the new 360-degree camera mode found on the Jelly Bean 4.2 update.

    Taking panorama one step further PhotoSphere lets you take a single image and then, following the instructions, build up a 360-degree tile of images which the smartphone then stitches together. It works beautifully and while it requires some patience it’s a welcome addition to Android.

    Google Nexus 4: Performance

    By now you’re probably beginning to wonder where the catch is, and to be honest it isn’t found here. Under the hood there’s a blisteringly quick Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor along with 2GB of RAM to help back up Google’s claim that this is the fastest Android smartphone available.

    Well Google and LG can hold their heads high as it is an impressively quick phone. Menu navigation along with processor intensive tasks never feel like a struggle with games making full use of the power and the display.

    Elsewhere in the internals you’ll find the standard fare of Bluetooth, WiFi and also NFC making sure that this is a smartphone that does not need wires.

    Google Nexus 4: Battery

     

    With the same size battery found in the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Nexus 4 should be able to manage a days usage without too much hassle.

    Unfortunately this was not the case. While with standard usage (texts, browsing and the odd call) we were able to get through until mid-evening, intensive usage quickly downed much of the juice.

    It’s not an uncommon problem with modern smartphones however it was alarming to note how quickly it dropped after just a few hours heavy usage.

    Google Nexus 4: Verdict

    As we mentioned in our initial hands-on review the Nexus 4 is a new type of smartphone which takes the physical device and treats it as a portal to the feature presentation; Android.

    While the design is unassuming, turn the screen on and you’re instantly greeted with your own creation thanks to the customisation that Jelly Bean affords.

    The fact that they’ve then given you a smartphone which has a specs sheet to rival the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 for under £300 should only reinforce the fact that this is Google at its best, taking the best hardware and then offering it at a price that will have you head-scratching for days.

    Google Nexus 4 release date: 13 November 2012

    Google Nexus 4 price: £239 (8GB), £279 (16GB)

     

  • The Google Nexus 4 by LG is just one of a new line-up from Google which includes the Nexus 7 with 3G and the Nexus 10

    Google Nexus 4 review

    Love

    • Screen
    • Quad-core processor
    • PhotoSphere

    Hate

    • No 4G
    • Chunky
    • Dull styling

    Launched alongside the Google Nexus 10 tablet, the Google Nexus 4 by LG is Google's answer to the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia Lumia 920. As part of the Nexus range it is described as being 'Pure Google' . Of course the question is, can 'Pure Google' square up to the latest smartphones or have we reached the point where vanilla Android just isn't enough anymore.

    Google Nexus 4: Build

    When we first picked it up the most immediate thing we noticed was how solid the build-quality was, it's not as heavy as say, the Lumia 920 but it does feel like you're holding a product that could take a beating (iPhone 5 we're looking at you).

    With a glass back and large glass display on the front the Nexus 4 certainly looks like a premium smartphone, if a little unimaginative. Whereas the Galaxy Nexus had the gently curved body the Nexus 4 feels like it's somehow missing that winning design element.

    Google Nexus 4: Screen

    Boot up the screen and you'll quickly realise that this phone isn't really about how it looks but more about what's lurking inside, namely a stunning 4.7-inch 1280x768 display with 320ppi.

    Colours are vivid and text is wonderfully crisp however if you want to get the full effect we suggest you head to YouTube and play any movie in Full-HD, when we tried it the results spoke for themselves.

    Google Nexus 4: Camera

    In the short time we've had to play with the Nexus 4 the 8MP snapper on the back seemed more than adequate. We did have some problems getting it to focus however the images it took seemed to be clear if a little grainy when zoomed in.

    That said the new camera software on the Nexus 4 is great to use. Swiping from the top or bottom gives you different quick-access menus while zooming is a piece of cake with Google clearly making sure you're not lost in a sea of settings menus.

    Google Nexus 4: Performance

    Boasting the new quad-core S4 processor from Snapdragon along with 2GB of RAM the Nexus 4 is immensely powerful as smartphones. As far as using it goes we saw no point where the phone appeared to be struggling in the slightest however prolonged use may reveal more on this.

    Google Nexus 4: Battery

     

    Featuring a 2,100 mAh battery we found that the Nexus 4 handled a day easily however this was with very limited use so wait for the full review to find out if it can cope with an average days use.

    Google Nexus 4: Verdict

    The Google Nexus 4 is Android, and we do mean that in every sense. The smartphone is merely a device which contains the real show. Jelly Bean is now brilliantly refined and hugely customisable. The additions of wireless streaming and NFC make this a true Android powerhouse.

    Taking into account that we've only been using it for a short time our main impressions are that while the smartphone itself is nothing to shout home about the combination of the powerful hardware and Android Jelly Bean makes this a smartphone that, on paper, can easily compete with both the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5.

    Google Nexus 4 release date: 13 November 2012

    Google Nexus 4 price: £239 (8GB), £279 (16GB)

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