Google Nexus 4 review - Does this LG-made phone live up to the hype?

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone attracted worldwide attention when it was introduced in the middle of November – the device sold out within a staggering 15 minutes. We’ve never seen a smartphone sell out so quickly, but there are good reasons why so many were so keen to get their hands on Google’s latest handset.

The 8GB and 16GB versions are available SIM-free for only £239 and £279, which makes the Nexus 4 more affordable than every one of its flagship rivals, including the A-Listed Samsung Galaxy S III. The software is a big draw, too; as with other Google-branded handsets, the Nexus 4 is loaded with the very latest version of Android, and it will get future OS updates before other phones, too.

New Android
The version of Android included here is 4.2. It doesn’t have any radical additions over the 4.1 (Jelly Bean) release, instead concentrating on enhancing existing features and making the OS easier to use.

To start with, the lockscreen is much more versatile. You can swipe up to unlock the phone as normal, but also swipe right to go straight to the camera app, or swipe left to reveal six alternative (and customisable) lockscreens. Google provides clock, calendar, text-messaging and email widgets for these screens, and they’re interactive, too. Tap an email or a text message, for example, and you’re whisked directly to the app in question.

You can now act on Android’s notifications directly: single taps return missed calls, open the text-messaging and email apps, and accept Facebook friend requests. That isn’t the only new inclusion at the top of the screen. Swipe down with two fingers and a quick settings menu opens instead of the notification drawer. It’s a smart way of accessing commonly used options, and there’s also a link to the full settings menu.

Google Now still uses your location and Gmail account to present context-sensitive information in a series of “cards”, but Android 4.2 digs up much more, using email data to remind you about flights, restaurant reservations and local events or places of interest.

The keyboard is new, too, boasting Swype-style gesture typing. This works extremely efficiently, and we found it would often suggest the correct word before we’d finished swiping.

Elsewhere small, thoughtful touches abound. Triple-tapping activates a screen zoom feature. Homescreen icons move to make room for new items as you drag them into place. Instagram-style filters can be applied to pictures, with a finger-drag generating a quick before-and-after, split-field view. The Daydream screensaver cycles through your photos or the latest stories from Google Currents.

The camera app has been redesigned, with the settings listed in a circular menu, and the addition of Photo Sphere – a fun, panorama-style mode that takes 360-degree pictures.

The hardware
It’s the best version of Android so far, and better still it’s running on some very attractive hardware. Built by LG, the Nexus 4 is smart and understated, with a glass rear that shimmers and glitters beautifully in the right light, and a clean, classy Gorilla Glass front panel.

It’s well built, comfortable to hold, and at 9.1mm only marginally thicker than the 8.6mm Galaxy S III. A handful of things put it at a disadvantage to its main rival, though: the battery can’t be replaced, and there’s no microSD slot for adding extra storage. There’s also no 4G version yet.

The Nexus 4 marks the first time we’ve seen the Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU in any smartphone or tablet and here this 1.5GHz, quad-core chip is partnered with an Adreno 320 graphics core and 2GB of RAM.

That’s a killer line-up, and in benchmarks it was around the same speed as the Galaxy S III – faster in some tests and slower in others. It scored 2,082 to the Samsung’s 1,782, in Quadrant the Nexus scored 4,993 to the Samsung’s 5,371, and the Google handset took 1,902ms to finish the SunSpider benchmark, where the Galaxy S III beat it on 1,344ms. Both phones finished our 24-hour battery test with 60% remaining on the gauge.

In real-world use that translates to smooth, responsive navigation and web browsing, while demanding games such as Reckless Racing 2, Dead Trigger and Shadowgun, play flawlessly.

The screen is a stunner. At 4.7in across the diagonal it’s fractionally smaller than the Samsung’s 4.8in panel, but at 768 x 1,280 it has a slightly higher resolution. It’s pin-sharp, IPS technology lends colours a more natural tone than on the Samsung’s AMOLED, and the measured brightness of 486cd/m2 means it’s incandescent indoors and easily visible outside. The contrast ratio of 1,313:1 is superb.

The Nexus 4’s single weakness is its 8-megapixel camera. It’s fine for taking standard snaps, and excellent when shooting close-up objects, but the Samsung’s sensational shooter is better still, with sharper detail and a macro mode that lets you get closer to the subject. The Photo Sphere feature, while fun to use, is fundamentally flawed, with obviously blurred areas appearing where the edges of frames meet. The panorama mode exhibited the same problems.

It’s a close-run thing between the Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S III, with the camera the only real area where the Samsung pulls ahead. When it comes to performance, build quality and screen, both phones are superb.

Which you choose depends, then, on your priorities. If you’re keen on getting the latest, cleanest version of Android, or you’re a pay-as-you-go aficionado, then the Nexus 4 is the handset to go for. The £279 SIM-free price for the 16GB model is far cheaper than the £375 Samsung.


Weight 139 g
Dimensions (W x H x D) 68.7x9.1x13.39 mm
OS & software
Software included Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.5 GHz
Processor model Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
RAM 2048 MB
Internal 16000 MB
Display technology TFT touch-screen (active matrix)
Display size 4.7 in
Native resolution 1280x768 pixels
Ports Micro-USB 2.0 (SlimPort-compatible), audio-out
2G GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
Short range Bluetooth 3.0+HS
GPS technology
GPS receiver GPS + GLONASS
Input devices
Touchscreen Yes
2nd camera front
Flash Yes
Main camera rear
2nd camera resolution 1.3 megapixels
Main camera resolution 8 megapixels
Removable battery No
Battery capacity 2100 mAh
Number of batteries 1
Accessories AC adapter


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Wednesday, October 02, 2013 ×

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

Congrats bro TheNexusDroid you got PERTAMAX...! hehehehe...