27 Comments

Summary:

Although Hurricane Sandy put the kibosh on Google’s Android event this week, the company still introduced the Nexus 4 smartphone. My first impressions show some nice evolution from last year’s Galaxy Nexus, including more memory and a slimmer form-factor at the same price or lower.

Google Nexus 4 by LG

Google Nexus 4Google’s Nexus 4, built by LG, follows the typical cycle: a new Nexus each year to show off the latest Android software. Like last year’s Galaxy Nexus, Google will sell the handset directly, without contract, through the Google Play store. To provide an idea of how fast the cost of such technology is dropping, note that the unlocked Galaxy Nexus I bought one year ago cost me $575. But, the latest Nexus 4 has a few hardware improvements and starts at $299 for an 8 GB model or $349 for a 16 GB version.

Although Google’s event to introduce new Android device this past Monday was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, Google sent me a Nexus 4 to review. Since I was without power for several days due to the storm, here are my first impressions, to be followed with a full review in the near future:

  • The Nexus 4 reminds me much of the Galaxy Nexus. It shares the same general form factor — not a bad thing in my opinion — and improves upon it. The device is thinner than its predecessor and uses a softer, better-feeling material around the sides. Nexus 4 is also flatter: Both the front and back of the phone are glass. It also feels better in the hand.
  • Most of the Nexus 4 buttons and ports are in the same place as the Nexus. The headphone is on top of the device, however.
  • The battery is integrated into the Nexus 4 and there’s no memory expansion slot.
  • A few quick pictures with the 8 megapixel camera show me that the camera won’t be a weak spot as it was on the old Galaxy Nexus.
  • This may be personal opinion more than anything scientific, but the display on the Nexus 4 looks slightly better to my eye. It’s a 4.7-inch IPS screen with 1280 x 768 resolution.
  • The Nexus 4 is the first smartphone to run Android 4.2. I haven’t had time to run through all of the new features, but I like the new quick settings option available in the Android notification shade. It provides access to different radio settings and also shows battery life and phone signal strength.

Since I’ve only just had a short time with the Nexus 4, I can’t comment on the performance although at first glance, it appears very snappy. That shouldn’t surprise, given the 2 GB of memory and dual-corequad-core QualcommSnapdragon S4 Pro chipset. So far, my first thought is that the Nexus 4 already looks like a nice evolution of the Galaxy Nexus at a reasonable price-point.

Stay tuned for more as I put the Nexus 4 through its paces using T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. The phone does work with AT&T as well, but T-Mobile will be selling the phone at a starting price of $199 with contract, so I’m using a T-Mobile SIM card for test purposes.

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  1. Prince Ziggy Art Pop Friday, November 2, 2012

    Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me how does the screen compare the Galaxy S3.

  2. So first impression is just how it looks n feels?? no real under the hood details or performance?

    1. Google stipulated that until the review embargo date/time, we can only do first impressions as if the Android event took place on Monday and we were there, so that’s how I approached this.

      1. Seems like the actual Nexus 4 reviews (and not just first impressions) are now being posted.

        1. Correct, because the embargo date/time was 8am PT today. Without enough time to actually use the device due to the storm this week, I won’t have a review for a few days yet. Thx!

  3. Actually it’s a quad-coe.

  4. Lucian Armasu Friday, November 2, 2012

    S4 Pro only comes as a quad core CPU, so it’s not a dual core.

    1. I love the gorilla detection feature in the camera

  5. richardmgarrett Friday, November 2, 2012

    The price is astonishing perhaps reflecting how aggressive Google has become to capture and secure market share. Wondering if this is in part what is behind the FTC’s look at Google? Welcome back btw!

  6. blackened muttdog Friday, November 2, 2012

    Kevin – I think you meant quad core, not dual core, on the snapdragon. :)

  7. Gaurav Chandiramani Friday, November 2, 2012

    The S4 Pro chip present on the N4 has a quad core processor, not dual core

  8. Waris Mohammad Friday, November 2, 2012

    The APQ8064 SoC inside the Nexus 4 has four CPU cores, not just two.

  9. Kevin C. Tofel Friday, November 2, 2012

    Thanks to all for pointing out my inadvertant error: the chip is indeed a quad-core; post is updated to reflect. My brain is a bit out of whack after dealing with no heat, water or power for the past few days. ;)

  10. Haroon Q. Raja Friday, November 2, 2012

    Correction: The Nexus 4 has a quad-core processor, not a dual-core one. Source: http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_nexus_4_e960-5048.php

  11. Haroon Q. Raja Friday, November 2, 2012

    Whoops, a bit too late to point it out (thanks to leaving the article open for an hour before commenting, and not refreshing to see if anyone else mentioned it already in the meantime or not).

  12. Matthew Fiori Friday, November 2, 2012

    Since you have the ability to communicate directly with Google, can you ask them about availability of the wireless charging orb? Please. At the moment, not only does it look a bit like the Nexus Q, the availability also looks very similar. There was an interview posted in the NYT today with John Lagerling where he mentions the charging. Nothing about availability though.

  13. Why anyone would buy this phone for $200 on conctract when they could get it for $300 contract-free is beyond me.

  14. “T-Mobile will be selling the phone at a starting price of $199 with contract”

    There is absolutely ZERO reason to buy the phone from T-Mobile–unless you are physically or psychologically unable to buy stuff online. Buying the phone from Google directly might be $100-$150 more up front, but by bringing your own device to T-Mobile you can opt for a Value plan instead of their Classic plans. The two kinds of plans are the same in every single way except for price: Value plans are $20 cheaper across the board. So over the length of a two year contract, you’d end up saving $400 (don’t forget that some taxes and fees are reduced, since they’re calculated based on the cost of your service plan).

  15. Can’t wait for your review, Kevin.

    As you may have noticed, a lot of the reviews out there so far have wildly different views on certain aspects of the N4. On one site, the battery is great, whereas, on another, it is mediocre. The screen is washed out on one, but amazing on another. Same thing on external speakers and headphone audio. Same thing for the camera and camera app. On some aspects, it is almost like they are reviewing different phones.

  16. hey ! thanks for this article . i will be buy this phone if it has a camera anywhere close to S2/S3/Iphone4s . can you tell me if the photos are good ? thanks

  17. Hmm… I have 10 years experience reviewing mobile devices to draw upon and I shared first impressions of the phone in hand to provide an opinion. You were able to form an opinion without anything other than your dislike of a company. LOL! Priceless…..

  18. what is the justification for selling this at a price much higher than the nexus 7?

    also why only a $100 subsidy from t-mobile?

    if the cost is this low unlocked t-mobile should give it away for free, and than it would move like crazy.

  19. does it use regular SIM or micro SIM?

    just curious since if i buy one i will most likely be SIM swapping back and forth with an iphone 4S

    1. Micro SIM.

  20. Looking good so far.

    I look forward to your longer review. When you do get to your review, it would be nice if when you do a battery test, instead of giving a general “it lasted me a day” comment, you instead gave a screen-on time.

    In the settings under “battery” tap the “Screen” item and tell us the “Time on” when your battery is about to die.

    This is really the only true way to tell how long the battery lasts with use.

  21. How is the signal strength for this phone? My office is half basement – I would buy this phone if it does not have a bad reception.

  22. It’s phone for everybody with a great features couldn’t wait to put my hands on it.

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