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First impressions of the Google Nexus 4 smartphone

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 Qualcomm(s qcom)Snapdragon 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 (s 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.

27 Responses to “First impressions of the Google Nexus 4 smartphone”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…..

  4. 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.

  5. The Commons

    “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).

  6. Matthew Fiori

    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.

  7. Haroon Q. Raja

    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).