Google introduced an Android device for every sized pocket this past week, along with an update to the software that runs on them. The devices didn’t debut as planned at Google’s New York City event on Monday, which was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. However, that didn’t stop the company. The Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 10 tablet launched this week, alongside new 3G options for the Nexus 7 tablet, which round out the current Nexus line.
I shared my first impressions of the new Nexus 4 earlier this week and continue to evaluate the phone for a full review. I like the device overall as it’s extremely similar in size and shape than the Galaxy Nexus from last year. Gone is the rear speaker bulge from its predecessor thanks to a flat, glass back. And as quick as I thought my old Galaxy Nexus was, the new Nexus 4 is even more spirited thanks to 2 GB of memory and fast quad-core Snapdragon chip.
Some are bemoaning the lack of LTE support in the Nexus 4, but it does support HSPA+ networks and I’m finding the upload and download speeds to be quite good where I live. With the Nexus 4 on T-Mobile’s network, for example, downloads of between 8 and 9 Mbps per second are standard fare. LTE is surely capable of much faster speeds, but coverage areas are slim on the two GSM networks here in the U.S. And with a starting, no-contract price of $299 for an unlocked Nexus 4, it’s not a bad trade-off.
I also have a new Nexus 10 tablet in hand for review and find the display to be outstanding, as expected. The Samsung built tablet offers 2560 x 1600 resolution on the 10-inch screen; this is Google’s version of a Retina Display and it doesn’t disappoint. Nor does performance. Samsung’s next-generation Exynos 5250 chip powers the Nexus 10; this is the same chip used in the new Google Chromebook. Everything moves along without lag on the Nexus 10. I’ll have a full review forthcoming, but so far, I like what I see; especially the starting price of $399. In particular, I like the small changes in Android 4.2, which both Nexus devices run.
Google has a complete run-down of what’s new in Android 4.2 here, which so far is only available on the new phone and tablet. I’d expect my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 tablet to be updated in the next few weeks. Google will likely wait until the new devices ship with 4.2 before offering the software to older devices.
Swype users will be happy to see gesture-based typing in Android 4.2; although I’m not a fan of that method — I use two thumbs to type on most of my devices — I can say that it works well and supports word prediction. Also included is a revamped settings interface in the notification shade, which provides quick access to key settings and device information. Google has also added a 360-degree panoramic camera option called Photo Sphere complete with a way to share your images on Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Search and Google+ Local. You can see some examples on this Google Map to see how Photo Sphere pictures look; at least until you get Android 4.2 on your own device.