It packs in a blazing fast quad-core processor: a state of the art Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked to 1.5GHz, a whopping 2GB of RAM, a glorious 4.7-inch display and the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, which boasts some really cool new features. However I will deal with the elephant in the room right off the bat. The Nexus 4, like the Galaxy Nexus before it, is a five band (850/900/1700/1900/2100) HSPA+ device, with a step up to 42Mbps speeds. It’s also quad-band (850/900/1800/1900) GSM / EDGE, which means this phone will work with virtually every GSM and HSPA carrier in the world. But there is no LTE support and whether they need it of not many will think twice about such a powerful phone that doesn’t support the fastest networks. More on this later.
Out of the box it is a stunning device. The Nexus 4 is a kissing cousin of it’s sibling the LG Optimus G with the curves or the precious Samsung Nexus. It is made mostly from Gorilla Glass. The screen goes smoothly from edge to edge. The back is flat glass with a holographic pattern which you can’t always see, but looks sort of futuristic in the right light. The two glass surfaces are joined by a soft touch band which wraps around the entire device, giving it a solid, weighty feel in your hand.
Lights out it is a slab of black glass but, power it up and you see a stunning 4.7-inches of True HD IPS Plus beauty. That’s 768 x 1280 pixels with a pixel density of 318. It is razor sharp – and blows Retina out of the water. A truly terrific screen. The Nexus 4 is 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm and tips the scale at 139g, a bit on the heavy side but it adds to the feeling of quality and with the sticky sides this smartphone is a delight to hold in the hand..more comfortable than most at this screen size.
The Nexus range of devices are designed to showcase the latest version of Google’s Android operating system. So, it’s loaded up with the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Google’s newest OS introduced a few neat features such as improved frame rates for smoother swiping and the live information service Google Now. Both these features seem to be a bit better (maybe it’s the fast processor) and Google Now has been given a couple of updates. It still brings you information based on your day to day actions without needing to search for it, but it’s added extra info for nearby events and notifications about flights. It will take a while for this to be useful as it learns from your habits.
The notification bar is unchanged from the first version of Jelly Bean but it has added a new button where the settings button used to be in the upper right that gives immediate access to settings such as WiFi, Bluetooth and screen brightness that I tend to use more often than settings.
The Nexus 4 performs well as a phone. Voice quality in both directions is good. Data performance on Telus’ HSPA+ network is pretty impressive with strong downloads that are however less than half a LTE capable phone would deliver on the Telus network. Is this a big deal? It depends. If you are the average smartphone user you probably won’t even notice the difference..emails, casual surfing even videos perform well. However if you do a lot of downloading, play multiplayer games or watch a lot of GD movies you might consider the lack of LTE a deal-breaker for this phone. I do not.
The front 1.3 megapixel camera is fine for video calls but not much else. The rear facing 8 megapixel camera is another story. For snapshots under good lighting conditions it stands up to the other high end phones.
You might find the viewfinder a bit sparse, even more minimalist than the previous Nexus. Photo options can be reached through a radial dial that you can access by either tapping on the circle on the right-hand corner, or tapping anywhere on the viewfinder itself.
I did find the Photo Sphere feature pretty cool. It builds on the existing panorama function, allowing you to take photos in a 360-degree circle, creating a 3D ball around you, as you swipe around on your phone in every direction. It takes some time to take all the photos, but the resulting image is fun.
Access to the video function is buried in a menu in the viewfinder but once you get it going the Nexus 4 shoots very good 1080p videos..I prefer 720p as it is almost as good and doesn’t chew up a lot of memory which is especially important if you plan to share.
Overall, the Nexus 4 is an excellent phone with plenty of good features and a good enough camera that you can count on in most situations. I don’t miss the absence of LTE and I don’t think you will either unless you download huge files on a regular basis. You can’t beat the price either $309 for the 8Gb version and $50 more for the 16Gb model at the Google Play Store and that is for an unlocked version that you can use on just about any carrier.
The Google Nexus 4 is also available from Videotron, Rogers and Fido at prices ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the contract. Wherever you shop you will find these phones to be in short supply.