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Google Nexus 4 Review

Google Nexus 4

Posted: , posted by John V.

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Normally, the introduction of a new Nexus device typically signals a totally new version of Google’s Android platform, but that’s not the case here. Rather, as Google plainly says, it’s nothing more than a “new flavor” of Jelly Bean. To be specific, the Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience, and we have to say, it’s carrying along some surprises that steers the platform’s evolution into the correct direction. At heart though, the look and feel of Android 4.2 is identical to the previous 4.1 Jelly Bean version, so many users will be familiar with the surroundings. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty part of the platform, Google has really toned things down with its UI – meaning, it’s more minimalistic and straightforward with its presentation.

The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Google Nexus 4 is rocking out to a stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience - Google Nexus 4 Review

From its early beginnings, it’s amazing how far the platform has come since its inception – and it obviously shows with this latest edition. As we’ve slowly seen with the last couple versions of Android, it’s moving away from the glowing TRON-appearance of Honeycomb, and to an extent, Ice Cream Sandwich as well. Hitting the mark as usual, there’s plenty of personalization found with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but with certain widgets, they’ll automatically resize and move to accommodate new ones being placed onto the homescreen. Also, we notice a new transition animation in play when apps are launched for the first time, or when we’re switching between them from within the recent apps tray. Certainly, these two new items don’t have a drastic effect on the operation and appearance of the platform, but nonetheless, they’re small things that are appreciated. With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at some of the other major new features with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Native widget support in the lock screen:

Making things even easier, there’s now native support for certain widgets in the lock screen. Well, the limited listing includes the Calendar, Digital Clock, Gmail, Messaging, and Sound Search widgets. In order to access them, all you need to do is swipe right from the left bezel in the main lock screen – while swiping left from the right bezel gets us the camera app. No doubt, we love having access to certain things without getting into the handset, but some of the supported widgets are more practical than others.

Widget support in the lock screen - Google Nexus 4 Review
Widget support in the lock screen - Google Nexus 4 Review
Widget support in the lock screen - Google Nexus 4 Review


Google Nexus 4 Review
Updated notifications panel:

This time around, the notifications panel now boasts expandable, actionable notifications. Well, we’re already familiar with the expandable portion that allows us to preview things, but now we’re given different actionable options with each of them.

In addition, there’s a button in the top right corner that gives us access to the usual assortment of connectivity items with the handset – like Wi-Fi, Airplane mode, Bluetooth, etc. Even better, we can modify the screen’s brightness all from this hub, so yeah, it’s a native feature that’s always welcoming.

Daydreams:

Technically not something new, since we’ve seen something similar with some of LG’s Android devices, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean packs the new “Daydream” feature. Essentially, it’s a screensaver that automatically activates whenever it’s docked or charging. Surely, it adds a nice visual touch to the whole charging process, but considering we rarely finding ourselves oogling over our device as it’s charging, it’s not something that we can relish over.

Functionality:

Quickly looking at some of the core organizer apps on the Nexus 4, their features are customary of any other Android device out there, but their layouts are favoring the platform’s general minimalistic look. Beyond that, there isn’t anything particularly out of place, as the Calendar, Clock, and Calculator apps all function the same. Still, Google Now is present to keep up organized with our everyday affairs.

Core organizer apps on the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Core organizer apps on the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Core organizer apps on the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Core organizer apps on the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review

Layout wise, the stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on-screen keyboard is an exact facsimile to the previous version. Combining its spacious layout and responsiveness, we’re able to casually type at a reasonable rate with minimal accidents along the way. New to the experience is a native Swype-like feature, which allows us to glide our finger over each letter to predict our input. Yes, it works well, plus, the animation attached to it is pretty cool too.

The on-screen keyboard - Google Nexus 4 Review
The on-screen keyboard - Google Nexus 4 Review
The on-screen keyboard - Google Nexus 4 Review
The on-screen keyboard - Google Nexus 4 Review

Yet again, there’s nothing dramatically different with the Gmail and Email apps on the Nexus 4, as they employ all the usual arsenal of features we’re accustomed to experiencing. Actually, there’s one single feature found with Gmail – the ability to quickly archive things by swiping left or right in the inbox.

The Gmail and Email apps - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Gmail and Email apps - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Gmail and Email apps - Google Nexus 4 Review
The Gmail and Email apps - Google Nexus 4 Review


Processor and Memory:

Showing off its closeness to its distant relative in the LG Optimus G, the Nexus 4 is powered by the same chipset – so it’s very much high-end by today’s current standards. Under the hood, it’s running a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with the Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. No doubt a powerful item, its presence is felt as it’s able to handle all operations with minimal fluff. However, we’re a bit surprised to see that it doesn’t match the same level of snappiness we’ve seen on the LG Optimus G, which is made stranger considering this is a stock Android experience we’re dealing with here. Regardless of that, we’re satisfied with its overall performance, despite the so-so benchmark scores, which can be due to them not being fully optimized for Android 4.2. Yet, we do come across a few pauses every now and then.


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
Google Nexus 4 4757 10188 58,6
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 2000 5503 24
LG Optimus G 7669 11245 60,1
Samsung Galaxy Note II 5715 13579 58

Hardly a shocker, since the concept is all too realized with many of the premier smartphones out there, the Nexus 4 doesn’t offer storage expandability via a microSD card slot. Instead, you’ll need to rely on its inept starting capacity of 8GB – while alternatively, you can choose to get with the 16GB model. Whichever you decide to go with, it’s just unfortunate that it can’t be supplemented.


Internet and Connectivity:

One of the biggest surprises with the Nexus 4, has to be none other than the fact that it doesn’t support LTE. For something so grand, that’s surely a big letdown for anyone used to the comforts associated with LTE’s lightning fast data speeds. Conversely, it shouldn’t be a factor for those living in non-LTE areas, since the device is sporting HSPA+ speeds. Although it’s nowhere as fast as LTE, complex pages didn’t take an inordinate amount of time to load on the Nexus 4, and for the most part, we’re content with it. Furthermore, thanks to its powerful processor, it’s able to maintain a lovely response with Chrome’s performance – so we can’t complain about it that much, since it works well for the occasion. No, we’re not going to die because it’s lacking LTE support, especially when the web browsing experience is more than adequate to our liking.

Web browsing with the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Web browsing with the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Web browsing with the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review
Web browsing with the Google Nexus 4 - Google Nexus 4 Review

In truly showing its compatibility on a worldwide level, the Nexus 4 features penta-band HSPA+ connection – the kind that receives 42Mbps speeds. Well, in our testing, we’re able to get maximum download and upload speeds of 6.3Mbps and 1.3Mbps respectively. On top of that, it’s your typical quad-band GSM device, which merely guarantees that it’ll be compatible with a wide array of networks around the world. Lastly, it’s outfitted with the crew of connectivity features we’re normally exposed to – like aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, NFC, and mobile hotspot functionality.

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Google Nexus 4

Google Nexus 4

OS: Android 5.1 5.0 4.4.4 4.4.3 4.4.2 4.4 4.3 4.2.2 4.2.1 4.2
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display4.7 inches, 768 x 1280 pixels (318 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.27 x 2.70 x 0.36 inches
(133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm)
4.90 oz  (139 g)
Battery2100 mAh, 15.3 hours talk time

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