For most of the year I have been using Samsung’s Galaxy Note as my main phone which I have really liked despite some shortcomings (like it’s battery life). One of the things I didn’t particularly like is Samsung’s TouchWiz layer on top of Android, I have a Nexus 7 and much prefer the standard Android experience. For the last month I switched to a HTC 8X running Windows Phone 8 (see my first impressions post) which I love Windows Phone 8 concept but the app experience left me frustrated.
So the Nexus 4 looked like it could be my ideal devices and the device arrived last week so here is my Nexus 4 review.
First off in the box you get the phone, MicroUSB cable and USB charger. The first impression of the phone is that it’s a solidly built but light phone, the back has a shiny reflective back with a shimmering pattern on it which looks great but I do prefer the smooth plastic back of the 8X. There is a volume rocker, power button, headphone socket on the top and MicroUSB port on the bottom.
Right let’s take a look at the specs before I talk about using the phone. The Nexus 4 has a 4.7 inch screen running 1280 x 768 with Gorilla Glass 2, it weights 139g and has a 8PM rear camera plus a 1.3 MP front camera. It has 16GB of storage and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The 2,100 mAh Lithium polymer battery is built in to the phone so no swapping out the battery, also there is no Micro SD card support. There is wireless changing and NFC.
When you first power up the phone you fill in the details of your Google account, select a Wi-Fi network and then you have the option of restoring the phone from your Google account which I did and then it set off downloading apps I have purchased on Google Play, so by the time this was done I had all my apps installed and just needed to sign in to them to get anything working. The whole setup processed worked very well.
The first thing I noticed is that the screen is bright and clear but maybe not as bright as the 8X but it looks great. The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro feels very snappy, it’s certainly feels faster than my Galaxy Note there doesn’t seem to be any lag going from screen to screen or from app to app.
I haven’t done any outdoor testing with the camera yet but so far I have to say the camera looks pretty good, the colours seem a little better than the 8X and the Note. It has a photo sphere feature where you can create 360 degree panoramic photos which I am not sure how much I will use it but it’s a nice feature to have.
This was taken with the Nexus 4:
This was taken with the HTX 8X:
This was taken with a Galaxy Note:
Getting back to the Android ecosystem is a bit of a relief after using Windows Phone 8, this is not really a negative on Windows Phone 8 it’s just that I use a lot of Google services and apps, so there are less compromises than using Windows Phone. Using Google Play I was able to get my music on to the phone but the lack of SD card slot means I can’t load all my collection on to the device but Google Music does let you stream music as well as having download options so maybe it’s not as essential. As I have the Nexus 7 there is nothing major that is new in the Nexus 4 but having Google Now on a device I carry around all the time is very handy. Google Now gives you notifications based on Google learning things that are important to you, it gives you traffic notification, it tells you when you need to leave for a meeting or if a flight is delayed.
There are some other nice touches like the small notification light on pulses on the front when you have new emails and I love the way the screen switches off in the style of a 1970′s TV with the collapsing vertical scan. On the 8X I found the dedicated camera button very handy but on the Nexus 4 there is nothing like that, there wasn’t on my Galaxy Note and I found the unlocking the phone and loading the camera app meant I had sometimes missed the moment. The nice thing about the Jelly Bean is that the camera function is on the lock screen so you can swipe right from the screen and get straight to the camera without having to unlock the phone so hopefully no more missed moments.
I haven’t used it enough yet to work out how the battery performs but from what I have seen so far its about the same as the 8X and better than the Galaxy Note, battery life is going to be key to how well I get on with the phone, while I was using the HTC 8X I still carried the Galaxy Note around with me for things like my GPS app and the podcast apps. With the Nexus 4 I should be able to just carry one phone with me for a while!