Speakerphone and Audio

The Nexus 4 has a small vertical notch cut out of the back glass for its speakerphone port. The unfortunate part is that when the Nexus 4 is laid display-up like I always place phones for testing under our digital sound level datalogger, it is quite muted since there is no gap in the cavity for sound to escape through.

Speakerphone Volume - 3 inches Away

With the phone raised, however, the Nexus 4 turns out to be decently loud, which matches my subjective impressions using the device for Google Navigation over the past few days.

Noise Suppression

The Nexus 4 has a pair of microphones for noise suppression both when on calls, and also for the increasingly important task of reducing noise on ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) workloads like Google Now. I believe the Nexus 4 is using Qualcomm’s Fluence for this task, which is an adaptive beamformer system.

Google Nexus 4 - Noise Rejection by AnandTech

To test its efficacy, I turned to the industry standard babble track and ramped volume in front of a pair of speakers to 94 dBA (very loud) and then back down while recording the mobile-terminated end of the call on my PC. I should note that when I run these tests I always originate and terminate the call on the same mobile operator (in this case T-Mobile) if possible.

The Nexus 4 does a pretty decent job at canceling noise on my test call. The Galaxy Nexus noise rejection performance quite honestly never was that spectacular, and getting better noise filtering is going to be an increasingly important part of the speech recognition battle on these platforms.

Audio

Inside the Nexus 4 is a Qualcomm WCD9310 audio codec, which we’ve seen in other devices like the MSM8960-based Galaxy S 3s and a few other phones. Measuring sound quality is probably the number one requested addition to our reviews, and still is a rather nebulous thing to measure at times. For this I worked together with the ever-awesome François Simond (@supercurio) to measure sound quality on the Nexus 4 using RMAA on my desktop equipped with an ASUS Xonar Xense sound card.

Subjectively the Nexus 4 doesn't sound terrible to my ears on a pair of SE535s and listening to music at half volume or less. Objectively however the results are less than awesome thanks to a combination of things. First, audioflinger is set to 48 kHz which results in software resampling causing artifacts for 41.1 kHz source material. Second, there appears to be different modes that the Nexus 4 switches into depending on your volume level, and the frequency response plots show these different plots at the number of different volume levels we tested. We're going to update with some thoughts from Francois about the Nexus 4 soon, for now I think the Nexus 4 sounds ok at least when it comes to the most glaring of things — I couldn't detect any background hiss or whine as the SoC changes states, which is a huge percentage of what I normally wind up hearing on smartphones. 

Cellular, Wi-Fi, GNSS Conclusions and Final Thoughts
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  • chrnochime - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I did and it just mentioned that it gets streaks on the bottom genius. Did YOU RTFR? Reply
  • Rits - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Do you know what brittle means? Streaks? Where did you read streaks? I read "sleeks" which are fine scratches (if you'd RTFR). Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    According to other reviews, yes, it is quite brittle (the verge dropped it from a table to a hard wood floor and a spidery crack emerged from the corner to the camera module and that wasnt the onlg review that had problems with durability).
    A case is highly suggested.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    That's a big turnoff IMO. I'd love to see a poll on AT to find out what percentage of readers actually uses cases or not tho...

    I find myself tempted every year to go caseless but I never end up doing it for several reasons. Slim TPU cases allow me to put the phone down screen first without worrying about it, and it protects the camera too. Cases also help mitigate impact from drops and protect my resale value too...

    Basically I could care less for in hand feel, gonna be feeling the case anyway. I'd rather just have an all around sturdier phone. I can appreciate the design of something like the One X over most Samsung designs but it's not a huge deal to me.

    Hell I don't even think my EVO LTE is as fugly as some make it out to be, and the metal build seems rather solid.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    IIRC, the verge mentioned something about Google releasing some kind of case that mainly protects the corners (I think they said it was something like the case apple put out for the iphone 4), but I could be mistaken.
    I've a nexus s and I've never used a case and the phone looks pretty much brand new (the screen did break awhile back after cat shot [as in, he was running, phone was in the way] the phone onto ceramic tile floor in the kitchen...so, about as nasty a fall as a phone will take). For the nexus 4, which I'm going to get, I will almost certainly get a case.
    About the build quality, something that others have mentioned, and reviewers frequently forget (though not so much here), is that in hand feel has relatively little to with how well the device will survive impacts.
    The iphone 4/s had great in hand feel but the damn thing is brittle as all hell.
    Samsung phones, while "plasticy", survive drops well (excepting the latest generation, apparently). However, you should keep in mind I actually like the in-hand feel of my nexus. It has almost no sharp angles and sits so comfortably in hand, and slides in and out of my pocket so easily.
    Reply
  • Baroobob - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    "We now have a form factor of device for every two inches of diagonal difference."

    Should be every three inches assuming you're referring to Nexus 4, 7, 10.
    Reply
  • Zink - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I was confused at well. Reply
  • andybryant - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Does it support USB OTG without needing 3rd-party software or re-flashing?

    i.e. to allow me to read/write to an external USB key or SD card in reader.
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Good question! If so, it alleviates much of the 'no SD slot' pain. Reply
  • thesavvymage - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    yeah this is something I'd like to know as well. I still bought it, but the only thing I'm having worries about is being able to take a usb full of movies on it for a flight or something. A super short OTG cable and one of those USB drives that sticks out like 2mm would be great.

    In the end, if not supported out of the box (like the N7) then ill just root and use stickmount
    Reply

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