LG Nexus 4 - Coming of Age

Launch SRP: S$668

Overview and Design

Overview

The LG Nexus 4, just like the Apple iPhone 5, will go down in the history books as one of the worst kept tech secrets in recent memory. The first leak occured on 5th October, DigiTimes and AndroidandMe claimed that LG was selected to build the Nexus phone this year. A day later, MoDaCo obtained information on the specs of the LG Nexus phone, which turned out to be pretty accurate.

On 9th October, the first images of the device surfaced showing off a design that resembled LG's latest flagship model (the Optimus G). The next day, a screenshot of Carphone Warehouse's inventory system was taken with two entries titled, "LG Nexus 4 Black" and "LG Nexus 4 White". At that point in time, it was almost certain that the LG Nexus 4 device is the real deal since unannounced devices such as the 32GB Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi) and black variant of the Samsung Galaxy S III were leaked in a similar fashion.

Even though its existence was confirmed, more images continued to leak over the next couple of days (and weeks) leading up to Google's announcement of an Android event on 29th October which was eventually cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Just an hour or so before its official unveiling via Google Official Blog, an almost two-minute long YouTube video was uploaded by a Swedish telco which gave a preview of its new software features. 

Not daunted by its failed attempt to sell the Nexus One through its online store in 2010, Google adopted a similar strategy to sell the LG Nexus 4 on its Play Store in the U.S, U.K, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada from 13th November. Of course, this decision was only possible because Google regained its confidence from the tremendous success of its Nexus 7 tablet. Indeed, Google might have struck gold again with the LG Nexus 4 as the phone was sold out in the U.S, Europe and Australia just minutes after it became available on the Play Store.

Besides being the flagship bearer for the Android 4.2 mobile operating system, we intend to find from today's review if the LG Nexus 4 possesses any other unique attributes to warrant such a high demand. Before we begin, here's a quick look at its specs, and how it stands in the family of Nexus phones: -

 

  Key highlights of the LG Nexus 4

  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS
  • 4.7-inch Super IPS+  / 1280 x 768 pixels
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core 1.5GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8 or 16GB internal storage (no memory card slot)
  • 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera / LED flash
  • 1.3-megapixel front facing camera
  • 2100mAh battery (non-removable)
  • 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • 139g
     
  • Price and Availability: US$299 (8GB), US$349 (16GB) from Google Play Store.

 

Specs Comparison
Specifications LG Nexus 4 Samsung Galaxy Nexus Google / Samsung Nexus S Google Nexus One
Operating System (At Launch)
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread 
  • Android 2.1 Eclair
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core 1.5GHz
  • TI OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Hummingbird single-core 1GHz
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz processor
Built-in Memory
  • 2GB RAM
  • 1GB RAM
  • 512MB RAM
  • 512MB RAM
Display
  • 4.7-inch Super IPS+
  • 1280 x 768 pixels / 320ppi
  • 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED
  • 1280 x 720 pixels / 316ppi
  • 4.0-inch Super AMOLED (Google Nexus S)
  • 4.0-inch S-LCD 
    (Samsung Nexus S)
  • 800 x 480 pixels / 233ppi
  • 3.7-inch AMOLED
  • 800 x 480 pixels / 252 pixels
Camera
  • Rear: 8-megapixel / Autofocus / LED flash 
  • Front: 1.3-megapixel
  • Rear: 5-megapixel / Autofocus /
    LED flash
  • Front: 1.3-megapixel
  • Rear: 5-megapixel / Autofocus / LED flash
  • Front: VGA
  • Rear: 5-megapixel / Autofocus / LED flash
  • Front: N.A
Storage
  • 8 / 16GB
  • 16 / 32GB
  • 16GB
  • 512MB ROM
  • microSD support up to 32GB
Battery
  • 2100mAh
  • 1750mAh
  • 1500mAh
  • 1400mAh
Dimensions
  • 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • 139g
  • 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.9mm
  • 135g
  • 63 x 124.74 x 11.5mm
  • 140g
  • 119 x 59.8 x 11.5mm
  • 130g

 

Design 

If you haven't noticed yet, Google molds each generation of Nexus phone after a flagship model of an Android vendor. As a recap for those who are unfamiliar with Google's Nexus strategy, the Nexus One was modeled after the HTC Desire. The Nexus S bore a striking resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S while the Galaxy Nexus has some design traits of the Galaxy S II

The Nexus 4 is no different. Not only is its design inspired by the LG Optimus G, it looks very similar to its predecessor (Galaxy Nexus). In fact, some readers shared the same sentiments when we posted a photo of the LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus on our Facebook Page.

To conclude that the Nexus 4 is a carbon copy of the Galaxy Nexus will do the design teams at Google and LG great injustice. Although there is no denying that both phones look similar on first looks, the differences between the two phones are apparent when you explore the Nexus 4 further.

Taking a leaf out of Apple's book, LG equips the Nexus 4 with two pieces of Gorilla Glass 2 - each on its front and back. While this marks a change in design strategy from the previous Nexus phones, we could not help but wonder if the Nexus 4 will suffer the same fate as the iPhone 4/4S. When Apple launched the iPhone 4, one of the main criticisms leveled against the new design was the alarming rate at which its glass broke. Since it's using Gorilla Glass 2, we reckon the Nexus 4 is able to rough it out in the handbags of ladies and jeans' pockets of men. Time will tell as it's still too early to find out if this design choice bodes well for LG.

Our only gripe with the glass back panel is its tendency to pick up dirt, smudges and fingerprints. After using the Nexus 4 for a few minutes, we found smudges and fingerprints splashed across its glass back panel. This ruins the futuristic and aesthetic appeal of the Nexus 4 to some extent. Though having a casing will eliminate this issue, it will also conceal the beautiful design. Such are the choices you would have to make if you are considering to get the Nexus 4.

The rest of the phone that's not covered by the Gorilla Glass is a matte material that provides a secure grip of the Nexus 4 in your hands. What separates this and the hardy Gorilla Glass is a rubbery band that wraps around the phone. Coupled with the smoothness and solid feel of the glass back, the handling of the Nexus 4 is definitely better than today's top Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S III.

 

The location of the ports and buttons on the LG Nexus 4 remain mostly identical to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus device, except for the 3.5mm audio output jack which is shifted to the top left corner of the device. As the Nexus 4 sports a non-removable battery, the SIM card slot is housed below the volume controls on the left.

Most high-end Android smartphones such as the HTC One X+ and Samsung Galaxy Note II have notification LEDs at the top whereas the Nexus 4 has one in the middle below its 4.7-inch display. Fortunately, it's not like the ASUS PadFone 2, which is one of the few modern phones that does not have notification LEDs. We find that bizzare since it helps to inform users of new messages or missed calls.

8.5
Design
8.5
Features
9
User-Friendliness
9
Performance
7.5
Value
9
The Good
Lightning fast Android 4.2
Attractive price point
Good build quality
Great design
The Bad
Below average battery life
Subpar imaging performance
Lack of memory card slot
No LTE