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20th December 2012

Nexus 4 Review

Reviews By 4 years ago

I have to admit, when I heard the news that the next Nexus branded phone was going to be be coming from LG I was pretty quick to dismiss it. The last LG phone I had was an old horrible plastic flip phone from Telstra with little to no functionality. Even taking calls was a stretch for it at times! However, I can admit when I’m wrong and boy did LG wipe that nasty little smirk of my grubby little face. They’ve really done a wonderful job with the Nexus 4. The phone feels amazingly solid in the hand, with the cold touch of the back glass panel adding to that high quality feel. From the front you could be excused for for confusing the Nexus 4 with the Galaxy Nexus, however on closer inspection it becomes immediately clear that they are two very different beasts. The most noticeable difference is that the Nexus 4 has shrugged of that plastic throw away feeling by replacing the flexible back battery cover with a black glass back. The glass back has undergone a Crystal Reflective Process which adds a glitter like effect when the light hits it from the right angle. The glitter effect is quite subtle and is really only seen when you’re in direct sun sun or trying to angle the phone the right way to show some body. One issue I have noticed is that the back is quite susceptible to scratching, within my first couple of days I noticed small surface scratches. Not a big deal I suppose but an annoyance none the less.

The screen on the Nexus 4 is a IPS LCD panel, which is a bit of a change compared to the AMOLED based screens found in all previous versions of the Nexus phone line. Like others I found the screen to be a little washed out, however this is more to do with the average calibration and less with the screen quality itself. After rooting my device and installing FauxClock I was able to calibrate the screen to a point where it’s comparable in color depth and contrast to that of the iPHone 5. It’s a bit of a shame that LG didn’t take the time to calibrate the screen a bit better during the manufacturing process. Aside from the calibration issues the screen is really very good. Text is sharp, and blacks are very black for an LCD display. The other thing I really like about the screen is the bevels on the left and right of the screen are small and curved giving the impression that the screen is above the glass and not below it.

The performance is a great improvement over it’s older sibling. As much as I love the Galaxy Nexus every so often I would experience UI stutters, particularly if I was installing or updating an app in the background. With the Nexus 4 I haven’t noticed this at all, UI animations are fluid and apps that include animations now run extremely well. Even Commonwealth Bank’s Kaching app now “almost” preforms at an acceptable level. Saying that I think Kaching would need a quantum processor to function at any reasonable speed, but that’s getting off topic.

The camera has also has a much needed bump in quality, it’s still not top of the line but it’s reasonable a marked improvement on the Galaxy Nexus, and by far the best seen on a Nexus device. Hardware HDR is also a welcome inclusion and performs extremely well. My favorite new feature, while not strictly limited to the Nexus 4, is Photoshere. Photosphere is a 720 degree panorama which is taken by moving the camera to specific places around you. All the different photos taken are then stitched together to form a 3D sphere in which you can move around in using a special Photoshere viewer. Photoshere photos can be shared between other Android devices and in Google Plus which has the ability to display them in 3D. The thing I love the most about Photoshere is the memory emersion, it feels in a small way that you’re back in the place the Photoshere was taken all over again. Just a bit of a heads up on Photosheres, while taking them is fairly easy, getting a perfectly stitched Photoshere is a little more difficult, particularly if you’re taking it in an environment where things are closer to you. Most of the stitching issues I get is because I’ve tilted the phone to the side a little and things no longer match up correctly.

The Nexus 4 has a non-removable Battery and while the battery life gets me through the on most days, I do feel a little uncomfortable with being able to carry around a spare battery if I get into a tight spot. This might not be a problem for most, but I’m a fairly heavy user and have been known to drain a full Galaxy Nexus in as little as two and a half hours. For the average user though, I think the battery would see them through the day with a little to spare.

The Good

  • Looks and feels great
  • Top quality screen
  • Fast
  • Good Camera
  • Access to early updates

The Bad

  • Non-removable battery
  • Stock screen calibration appears washed out
  • Back panel is prone to scratching

Although the Nexus 4 has its niggles, it’s an amazing phone that not only looks great but has the performance to match. This phone does justice to the Nexus name and I personally congratulate LG for proving to the doubters that it has the quality to mix it with the best.

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