Review: LG Nexus 4

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INTRODUCTION

Google’s Nexus line of devices has always been a showcase of the best of Android. Buying a Nexus branded devices usually meant that you would get to see the latest update to the operating system way before everybody else does. This holds true till today, although Google has beefed up it’s Nexus line to include devices that were made to grab market share rather than just showcase the latest update to the Android OS. Curiously, the latest member of the Nexus smartphone line, the Nexus 4, doesn’t flaunt a new Android moniker – while it’s still rocking the latest Android version (4.2), it’s still technically Jelly Bean. In sharp contrast, almost all of the other Nexus devices before it carried a brand spanking new Android version – the Nexus One, Nexus S, and so on.

EXTERNALS

As is the custom with Nexus devices, Google has tapped an OEM to make the device for them. This time around, the company has enlisted the services of Korean electronics manufacturer LG, and make no mistake – the Nexus 4 is their best work yet. The Nexus 4 is one of the sleekest devices we’ve seen, and features a slightly curved bezel that is reminiscent on the HTC One X+.

The curved bezel on the left and right of the device is there to facilitate a smoother swiping movement of your finger when navigating through menus and screens. The edges of the back of the device is similarly curved, and feels fantastic to hold in the hand.

Unlike other similar smartphones (and like the iPhone 5), the Nexus 4 has a glass back with a sort of glittering pattern on it. We’re not quite sold on the pattern but there have been a few people who’ve gone over it and said that they like it, so your mileage may vary on this one. Also, because it uses a glass cover, you cannot hope to get access to the battery compartment within, unless you’re willing to risk your device’s warranty by busting out your screw set and doing it yourself. We’re going to state the obvious here and say that you will need to be careful when you’re holding it – once it slips your hand and hits anything solid, it’s liable to crack.

As expected, there’s not much physical buttons on the device (as most of the navigation is done via on-screen buttons on the display) – on the left side lies the volume rocker while the right side has the power button. On the top of the Nexus 4 lies a 3.5mm jack, while a USB charging port is located on the bottom. There’s a notification light that slowly pulses near the bottom of the device (right below the display) whenever you have a notification.

An 8-megapixel camera with AF and LED flash is located on the back, which should come as a relief to the people who struggled with the Galaxy Nexus’ 5-megapixel camera the last time ’round. A smaller, 1.3-megapixel camera is located on the front of the device.

The Nexus 4 uses a 4.7-inch, 1,280 x 768 True HD IPS PLUS display with a sheet of Gorilla Glass 2 covering it for protection. The Nexus 4’s display has a better visual punch this time around, and has around 320ppi pixel density. The overall quality of the display on the Nexus 4 is great, and is still readable even with the sun beating down full blast down on it. Even when put beside the relatively fantastic displays of similarly sized smartphones (the Galaxy S III and the  HTC One X) the Nexus 4 still manages to come out on top. We can’t really fault the display of the Nexus 4 for anything.

INTERNALS

Reading the spec list of the Nexus 4, you get the feeling that this device has everything – it sports a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, along with a Adreno 320 GPU paired with 2GB of memory. As far storage is concerned, there’s 16GB of storage on tap, which we think in not nearly enough for modern smartphone use.

The use of Qualcomm’s latest processor in the Nexus 4 is a great addition because in our experience, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor usually beats NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 offering by a large margin, especially when it comes to pure number crunching applications like gaming, for instance. Need for Speed Most Wanted for instance, sometimes has framerate issues in a higher spec’d 1.7GHz Tegra 3 device with 2GB of memory but works without issues on the Nexus 4.

Even on AnTuTu, the Nexus 4’s performance pretty much eclipses other devices in the same category, and is only bested by it’s spiritual sibling, the LG Optimus G. If you weren’t aware, the Optimus G is almost similar to the Nexus 4 (with some people even saying that the Nexus 4 is basically the Optimus G with slight tweaks) and carries similar hardware. A simple glance at it’s ranking will tell you just how powerful the Nexus 4’s hardware is.

AnTuTu’s test scores were pretty much confirmed with our own experiences with the Nexus 4. Apps loaded extremely quickly, and there was nary a hitch whenever we opened and used any app. Speaking of apps…