A successor to the company’s previous flagship handset – the Galaxy Nexus – the Nexus 4, inspired in design by Google but built by LG, it’s one of the most fully-featured smartphones currently at market – that is, if you can manage to secure stock from the Google Play Store – but also one of the most affordable, coming in at £239 for the 8GB and £279 for the 16GB. Without question, this is one Nexus worth getting excited about.
Announced side-by-side to the Nexus 10, made by Samsung, Google’s ‘Nexus’ range now comes in three sizes, bringing us the very best of Google with whichever style of device best suits you. Fancy trying out one of Android’s most impressive iPad competitors? Perhaps the Nexus 10. Want an affordable yet powerful mid-range tablet to browse the web and gorge yourself on some of Android’s most entertaining apps? The Nexus 7 does the trick. A fraction of the cost you’d otherwise pay for the high-end smartphones at market (around half the price of an iPhone 5 for equivalent specs), Google has chosen not to skimp on hardware and functionality where it perhaps could have for the price with the Nexus 4.
Not only is the 4 fantastic to look at - with Corning Gorilla Glass backing the handset, the phone looks and feels extremely high quality, while the unique holographic pattern on the rear is wholly distinctive – but the specs otherwise speak for themselves. A 1280 x 768, 4.7-inch, 320ppi display is just the start…
At its heart is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1.5 Ghz which Google boasts makes this the ‘fastest phone on the planet’, closely followed by an impressive and 2GB of RAM and a decent 8-Megapixel camera. Unfortunately, the Nexus 4 does come with customisation restrictions otherwise absent for the majority of Android devices – notably, the 2100 mAh battery inside is non-removable and both the 8GB and 16GB models have no SD slot for expandable memory. And while it too features the likes of Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and support for wireless charging, the Nexus 4 does skip on LTE (4G) support, which will no doubt be a big barrier to entry for U.S. consumers particularly and us in the UK looking to jump early on the 4G bandwagon.
Running Android 4.2 Jellybean, the Nexus 4 doesn’t herald any major changes to Google’s OS, but that’s not to say there aren’t a few noteworthy features. Improvements to Google Now are welcome – a feature of Android that continues to impress as it goes – but looking beyond that, the camera is where Google has poured most of its attention.
The 8-Megapixel camera itself might now be the standard for smartphones of this calibre, but it's the likes of the new touch-screen interface in Camera mode and feature 'Photo Sphere' where the Nexus 4 really breaks new ground. Photo Sphere, while we're there, allows users to take full 360-degree shots through the phone in a step-by-step of quick and easy shots, with the hope being that Google itself will eventually allow users to share these panoramic images on Google Earth for the whole world to see. It's a brilliant new feature, and one we're sure the search giant will use to its full potential – crowd-sourced images for Street View is a logical step on that path. Elsewhere, 'Gesture Typing' aids the frustration of writing on a touch-screen keypad by introducing 'glide-to-text'-like text input.
Early impressions, then, are almost unanimously positive for Nexus 4. With specs that all but make a mockery of the price tags of many of the best-selling smartphones out there, it's also a powerful all-rounder, with only the absence of LTE any major issue. Extremely tempting.
For a full run-down of everything the Nexus 4 has to offer, as well as a look at the handset itself, see below for our demonstration at Gadget Show Live Christmas.