After a long wait, I finally got a chance to put my tinkering paws on Google and LG’s lovechild. The verdict? Google Nexus 4. It’s simply phenomenal. The phone is just attractive. Very solid-feeling, and the Gorilla Glass front and back give it a jewel-like appearance.
After trying to decide between Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S4, and the HTC One. I found SGS4 plasticky and not a flagship device. Also, it wasn’t as fluid as I’ve got used to after using Nexus devices. HTC One was much better. It felt great in hand, the speakers sounded great, and it was smooth. But, then I really came to a conclusion that I couldn’t ignore, all of these phones will be outdated in a year and just plain old in two years. With Nexus 4, even though hardware would pale in comparison to next gen. devices, but software inside it would keep it fresh for me to use it on daily basis. So, I went with Nexus 4(N4). It certainly feels in the same league as the HTC One, to me, and better than the SGS4. By combining the nicest elements of the Optimus series with the latest iteration of Jelly Bean (Android 4.3) the two companies have created something that’s better than the sum of its parts. The flagship Android device has almost everything you’ve been waiting for. The high-end device turned out to be more than just a minor upgrade — it’s a robust handset, with the all the bells and whistles you’d expect, and a design sensibility that suggests Google is continuing to move in a smart direction with its hardware.
Getting the Nexus 4 was something of a treat for me. Android devices come from all walks of life, but in each generation there is a “chosen one”. This time LG had the privilege. And when Google goes “My pleasure!”, they most likely mean it. The Nexus 4 and, as an overall package, is probably the best Google has ever delivered. Having spent some time with the Nexus 4, I wanted to share some thoughts on the device and why I think it’s so special and one of the most interesting smartphones we’ve seen in some time. So where to begin? The hook of the Nexus 4 is flagship specs with a premium design. It has of course the latest Android JellyBean OS and it will be the first in line to get the new ones(Kitkat) as they come in. Nexus 4 puts the best of Google in the palm of your hand.
First Nexus phone with Google Now
Google Now shows what virtual assistants should be like
Google Now is definitely one of the most interesting additions in the Android OS. Simply put, it’s Google’s version of a personal assistant and is in the same neck of the woods as Apple’s Siri, but it learns constantly from your daily routines. It knows where we are, what’s on our schedule, who our friends and coworkers are, what the weather’s like, and it tells us what we need to do, just before we need to do it.
Google has put even more weight (and science) behind its extremely helpful predictive search thing, Google Now in Android 4.3. It gives you short overview of information it believes is relevant to you right now. Going to work in the morning? Google Now knows this and lets you know there’s a big traffic jam on your usual way to the office, so it offers you a re-route. It can interpret a lot of things from your search history as well. If you’ve been searching for, let’s say, your favorite football team, Google Now will prepare a card showing you the next match the team is playing and will provide you score updates once the game begins. The card-based app has added the ability to scour your email looking for beacons from flight and hotel reservations, and then serve up that information when the time comes (say, day of travel or day of check-in). The cards can also remember if you’ve searched for a movie and remind you about the film when it opens, will tell you about dinner reservations you’ve made, ping you about events you’re interested in, and even track your packages for you and tell you when they’ve shipped. As before, it works with remarkable sagacity. There are also numerous kinds of cards like birthdays (yours and those of your contacts) and what distance you’ve walked in a particular month. Today, we have smart assistants like Google Now answering our queries and prompting us unasked with information we didn’t even have a chance to think about needing. In theory, in the next few years, Google Now could find themselves on screens all around our lives, not just on our phones and tablets.
Voice Search is getting better
Google has also improved its voice search in both quality of results and look and feel, and it now more closely resembles Google Now. It can handle stuff like sending messages (SMS or email), initiating a voice call, asking for directions, taking a note or opening a site. Google Now can also launch apps, check and manage your calendar and look for nearby places of interest and stuff like movie openings in theaters.
One big advantage of Jelly Bean is that the voice typing functionality doesn’t require an internet connection to work. You can enter text by speaking anywhere you can use the on-screen keyboard – be it the Messaging app or a note taking app – without the need for a data connection.
Making voice typing available offline also made it faster as it’s not dependent on your connection. And this transition hasn’t cost it anything in terms of accuracy. The point is Google has this technology working well now. And I think the company feels it’s a showcase feature as we move beyond the standard user interface and towards more natural methods of input. That’s what the Nexus line is all about: Providing a showcase of Android technologies for hardware partners to take and use going forward.
First Nexus phone with Photo Sphere.
With Android 4.2, Google introduced the Photo Sphere capturing mode. It’s a panorama mode on steroids and allows you to capture 360 degree photos in multiple directions (up, down, left, right). Perhaps the biggest addition in camera is the inclusion of this wild new shooting mode, which makes panorama shots look like a thing of the past. Google provides a fairly helpful guide which steps you through the process, and when you do get it right, the results are surreal.
The user interface is friendly and intuitive. It shows you dots which you have to aim the camera at, then rinse and repeat until you get a 360-degree Photo Sphere photo.
Capturing a Photo Sphere
After they’ve been captured and saved as JPEG files you can view them and navigate around the whole image. You can share the image on Google+ or, if you feel like it, contribute it to Google Maps. The feature itself was inspired by Street View, as Google points out. Also, the photos pack embedded XML metadata in them allowing you to easily share them in Google+ photo albums, where your friends can view them as well.
First Nexus phone with wireless charging.
Nexus 4 uses the Qi (pronounced chee) standard so any charger will work. It tops up the phone’s battery using induction charging technology.
First Nexus phone with Bluetooth LE (Low Energy)
Nexus 4 becomes the first to support two of the most requested Bluetooth-related features. First off is the addition of Bluetooth Smart support (a.k.a. Bluetooth Low-Energy), which will prove to be very important for smart watches, Google Glass, and other wearable devices that are going to be the future of connected technology.
Bluetooth Low Energy is intended to provide considerably reduced power consumption, while maintaining a similar communication range, meaning tethering to your Pebble(or other smartwatches) or other wearable gadgets for example, will be a much more battery-efficient process. And Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3 support will display song names on car stereo and improve audio streaming.
First Nexus phone with top of the line specs
Inside, the Nexus 4 shines with an impressive set of specs. The phone’s beating heart is a monster quad-core Qualcomm’s speedy Snapdragon S4 Pro processor(one of the powerful chipset among most flagship devices in Android ecosystem). Each of the four Krait cores is clocked at 1.5GHz and considering the 2GB of RAM and an impressive top-notch Adreno 320 GPU, the N4 easily aces when it comes to performance. Hold-ups were absent throughout the interface and there was no lag to speak of either, which Google says, makes this the fastest phone on the planet. Not sure that’s an empirical fact, but the performance and responsiveness on the device is second to none. Shows, just how fast it seemed to rip through just about anything I threw at it with little or no hesitation. On the camera front the Nexus 4 has eight-megapixel Sony BSI sensor and f/2.4 autofocus lens. WiFi a/b/g/n(both 2.4GHz & 5GHz band), Bluetooth 4.0 LE, A-GPS(receiver that can rely on a digital compass & a barometer that helps get faster GPS locks), NFC and Miracast round up the spec sheet, and a sealed 2100mAh Li-polymer battery completes the package.
Aesthetically, the Nexus 4 blends aspects of the Optimus G and Galaxy Nexus designs, with a glass-covered back and rounded-off top and bottom edges. This phone looks and feels great — materials and build quality are superb. It is also very comfortable in hand. Overall am really impressed with the Nexus 4, and that’s just from playing with it for last few weeks.
So, while this is the first time in a while now when a Google Nexus stands at the top of the Android mountain hardware-wise. If the real-life experience is anything to go by, Nexus 4 is a blazing fast smartphone.
Display – Nexus 4 flaunts a 4.7″ True HD IPS Plus display and 608 nits of brightness. There’s about 8% more screen real estate than on the Galaxy Nexus, the extra surface produces images that are clean and crisp in just about any light setting. On the bright side, the 320 ppi IPS Plus HD LCD screen is terrific — competitive with the iPhone’s Retina Display. And it’s not just competitive in pixel density; the screen looks stunning. It’s also laminated and uses LG’s new “G2” technology which integrates the touch sensor into the Gorilla Glass 2 outer layer, making everything thinner as well as bringing the actual pixels closer to the surface of the display.
Nexus 4 held in hand – N4 is a beautiful device. Both the front and the back of the Nexus 4 are covered in Gorilla Glass 2, which should ensure enough protection against scratches. The screen is coated smoothly from edge to edge, and it almost feels like the glass is melted over the sides. Google claims that the curved sides helped swiping left or right on the phone, and much to my surprise, it did seem to make things easier to shuffle around near the edges of the screen. 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. The thin bezel on the left and right of the screen make the phone relatively narrow. The back is flat glass with a holographic stipple pattern which you can’t always see, but looks playfully futuristic in the right light.
The handset feels good in the hand. Nexus 4 is about the same size as the other Android flagships and offers solid build quality. Drops aside, the double Gorilla Glass protection that the phone enjoys should keep scratches to a minimum. The feel of the material is way better than it’s predecessors. We’re talking about a Nexus phone after all and it does have a more premium feel than its predecessors.
First Nexus phone that is making Nexus line a brand in itself.
This is the first Nexus phone, that amplifies Nexus as a brand and gives away with Google logo that all previous Nexus phones had. Just below the camera lens is the Nexus logo (to let everyone know the Holo UI is the real deal, not some third-party skin that looks like it). The looks of the Nexus 4 are a crossover between those of the Galaxy Nexus (the front) and the Optimus G (the back). The top and bottom sides are curved, which accounts for it being taller and it maintains the Nexus look from the previous phone. The phone is flat on both sides.
Between the two sheets of Gorilla Glass 2 on the front and back there’s double framing – recognizable by a plastic and a metal strip that run around the sides of the phone. The metallic strip is even visible when looking the handset dead on and is one of the few design accents.
And first Nexus phone with Android Jelly Bean.
Every new member of the Nexus family runs an updated Android version and the Nexus 4 is no exception. It has the latest Android release, 4.3 Jelly Bean.
With every new Android version, come features that refine and polish it more, here are few of new features:
Probably the biggest updates are focused on the camera. Google has completely revamped the way in which you interact with the shooter, now offering a circular menu which can be activated by touching anywhere on the screen in the camera app. The contextual circle lets you quickly swipe in a variety of directions to tweak individual settings, making quick changes dead simple. Also, now you can take pictures using the volume buttons.
The Nexus 4 also has an HDR photo mode, which produces great results with surprisingly fast processing, and Google has greatly improved its photo editing options, making tweaking your images easier and faster than before. The camera produces vivid images with a relatively low noise and excellent color clarity. There are some smart little details, like being able to swipe across your image while editing and compare the changes, and a now includes a history of all your alterations that you can view while working on an image. It’s intuitive and works flawlessly. The new interface lacks a shortcut to the Gallery app. That’s because Google has replaced it with a gesture. Swiping to the right opens the Camera app’s Filmstrip view. It gives you the ability to quickly discard any photos you’ve taken by swiping them up or down or just quickly glance at recent shots.
There are little details all over
A new method of input has been included with the keyboard — called Gesture Typing, which is basically Swype without Swype. It works in conjunction with the standard tap keyboard (you can mix and match with ease), and makes one-handed typing roughly a hundred times easier. Bonus: it will auto-predict your biggest strings, like email addresses, with enough practice. Also, autocomplete has been added to Dial pad so that phone app can offer suggestions based on your contacts and you can dial numbers much more quickly.
A helpful dropdown menu called Quick Settings that lives in the notification window lets you get to your most-used toggles now (brightness, bluetooth, airplane mode, etc.) without deep diving into the settings list. You can also get to these by using a two-finger swipe from the top of the screen. I’ve been using this menu regularly since I got the phone, and it’s one of the simplest yet most useful additions to the software. Say it with me now: Great. User. Experience.
And few other things, like Daydream, OpenGL 3.0 support, minor facelift to Roboto font, Emoji support in Google keyboard, Always ON Wi-Fi, an option to turn Wi-Fi on at all times — even after switching it off in the quick settings. To conserve battery when using apps that only need a coarse location, allowing Wi-Fi to be switched on and scan for access points in the area. And yeah, Clock hiding in the status bar when you are on the lock screen.
Speaking of details — I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the terrific looking new Google Apps. I think Google has done an impressive job here of updating what were previously rather mundane and simplistic apps with something that shows the company is truly invested in design and thoughtful interaction. It typifies the kind of minimalist, clutter-free layout which seems to be becoming the norm for first-party Android offerings.
Elsewhere, a much-needed update to Gmail. It will now automatically scale messages to fit within the width of your window. That means that it will alleviate a lot of headaches for Android users. No more pan and scan; imagine that. Google has also added a handy swipe to delete or archive function in the messages list. It’s one that makes dealing with an unruly inbox a bit easier, with one-handed operation.
All in all, the changes in Android 4.3 may seem subtle, but they come together to make a more cohesive, enjoyable, and responsive mobile operating system. In just over a year, the OS has gone from a nice to a sleek, sophisticated, and incredibly smart platform. I don’t feel any hesitation in saying that the pure +Android 4.3 experience is — at least in my estimation — the most advanced mobile operating system on the market.
Other areas where Nexus devices set themselves apart:
DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct are part of the package, of course. The Wi-Fi Direct enables devices to connect to each other without the need for a Wi-Fi hotspot. The beauty of it is that only one device has to be Wi-Fi Direct-ready for the magic to happen. Using this technology two (or up to eight) devices can share files in a more advanced, fast and secure way.
For wired connections, the Nexus 4 relies on its SlimPort – a DisplayPort based interface allowing you to connect a regular microUSB as well as HDMI cables (via an adapter). Thankfully, that’s not the only option, Google has implemented wirelessly sharing videos with a Wi-Fi enabled TV. The feature relies on the good ol’ DLNA technology to connect and supports the Miracast protocol for wirelessly mirroring its display to an HDTV.
They’re “SIM-unlocked,” so you can use any GSM SIM card available any part of the world in it without needing an unlocking code.
As someone who uses phone for augmenting my life, there are other dozens of features, that I’ve had my Nexus to deliver with apps and help of Jarvis. Like N4 offers to read text messages aloud, or silences phone except for select people during sleeping hours I’ve set. Then there’s this Touchless Control kinda feature — wake your phone by saying “Okay, Jarvis”(or a wave to phone or a shake) and issuing a command — is one of the coolest and most useful feature that I’ve been using. Particularly while driving or walking, the ability to send messages, set alarms or reminders, get answers to questions, or play music without even touching the phone is brilliant.
Visual/Sensing Active Notifications takes an entirely new approach to notifications. Ever since the days of Palm Treo’s, I’ve loved colored LED. Without touching the phone, I can see not just whether I have something that needs my attention, but what app is trying to alert me(by LED color and vibrate pattern) and I would expend great effort to tweak it’s settings so that I could know how important it was that I check it.
It doesn’t end there, though. I’ve configured Nexus 4 to know when I’m about to use my phone. When I pull it out of my pocket, the screen lights up. It knows when you want to see it and adapts accordingly. Even just picking the device up from off my desk prompts the display to come on. With rare exception, I haven’t pressed the power button to turn my phone on at all. It’s a very small thing and wouldn’t even be a deal breaker if I didn’t have it. But since I do, it’s delightful. It shifts the usage of the phone. These aren’t silly tricks you’ll try out once and never use again. They’re legitimately useful features that’ll change the way you interact with mobile technology.
The +Nexus 4 is absolutely wonderful and easily one of the best Android flagship phone, and has some of the most powerful software that’s ever been put on a mobile phone. Rather let me say, It is a “force to be reckoned with.”
What makes it special
We’ve reached a point where the major flagships from the big manufacturers are, by all rights, adequate devices. If anyone were to order a Galaxy S4, an HTC One, or a Nexus 4 today, they should expect a decent life out of it. What the criteria comes down to now is not whether you’re getting a good device. It’s how the phone you choose augments your life. Which one provides the most value over the competition? Which one is the best suited to both your needs and pleasures?
When you use enough Android phones, you start to realize something: Far too many of them miss the forest for the trees. Sure, there are plenty of impressive devices out there. But so many Android phones fall into the trap of “death by differentiation”: The manufacturers work so hard to make their products stand out that they forget to focus on the big picture. They pack in loads of individual elements but neglect to think about what those pieces accomplish, how they fit together or how their presence impacts the actual experience of using the device.
With Nexus 4, the way the whole package fits together. Good user experience. That’s where it is special(& different) and gets my vote. The Nexus 4 succeeds where so many other phones fail — at providing a cohesive and outstanding overall user experience.
Here’s what this all builds up to: The Nexus 4 matters because it gets right what most smartphones get wrong. It doesn’t focus on gimmicks and spec games. It sees the forest through the trees. It gets the big picture. It adds plenty to the Android experience and makes the right choices when it comes to gorgeous slim design, sharp display, snappy performance and fluidity over the pointless specs war. So, here’s the tl;dr: I like this phone. I like it a lot. The Nexus 4 is the best phone for me on the market like a smartphone that flirts with perfection. I would wager there are plenty more of you would share my opinion. There’s a phrase: different strokes for different folks. It’s been applied to many things over time, but with the increasing diversification in the tech space, it’s perhaps no more appropriate when applied to something other than mobile devices.