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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  • Freedomuser - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Not so fast. If the tests suite was intense like i think it's then even iphone 5 will get overheated.

    So, the question is, does any other phones in your chart survived the tests suite? LG Optimus G dropped out. Nexus 4 made it through with overheat. What about others on your chart?
    Reply
  • meloz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    >>Not so fast. If the tests suite was intense like i think it's then even iphone 5 will get overheated.

    But in this test it did not. And in any benchmark in which iphone5 will overheat, the Nexus 4 will overheat and throttl even worse!

    I want Android and Nexus to do well, because they represent a more user-friendly (freedom) choice to iphone. But Google seriously need to address overheating, battery life and other such fundamental issues. Nexus 4 is a crappy device, at any price. I hope future software/firmware updates mitigate some of the problems.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    I don't care if this is the best phone ever, they've made a big mistake by missing out the microSD slot. Reply
  • Mugur - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Just a small mistake in article: "First, audioflinger is set to 48 kHz which results in software resampling causing artifacts for 41.1 kHz source material.". It should be 44.1. not 41.1, I think... Reply
  • Mugur - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Running a 3D game for one hour is one thing, but throttling in a benchmark does not look good. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Yeah...I wonder if tiny heatsinks in it would solve this, and become a norm as phone SoCs aim for higher and higher performance. Reply
  • cyberguyz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Seems Google has a problem with allowing the user to expand his storage beyond what they give you. Why is that?

    The phone comes with 16gb internal flash memory, but no way of expanding it. This seems to be a popular trend with all Google-branded Nexus devices (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 tablet are the same). The lack of sdcard support in an Android device kills the ability to set up a Windows drive letter for it. Without that drive letter many popular programs like Calibre have an issue attaching to the device to manage things like ebooks (this is a real pain in the ass with my nexus 7!!). I for one like the freedom popping in another 64GB microSD card gives me.

    The lack of a removable battery also hurts this phone. I have hard experience with the life of li-Ion batteries losing capacity over time in laptops. Every couple years I have to get new batteries because the Li-Ion battery loses capacity until it cant keep my laptop alive for more than 20 minutes without dying. I like Samsungs because I can always replace the battery cheaply when it goes south and I don't have to send my phone (and private data) away for servicing to do it.

    Beyond these two (as I consider them major) gripes, this is a really nice phone.
    Reply
  • funky247 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    With regard to the non-removable battery issue, most of the people I know don't like non-removable batteries because it limits their ability to whip out a backup battery when they need the extra juice while they're no the go.

    However, if the issue is with replacing the battery as it gets older, you can do it yourself! It even tells you how to do it in the review. You can buy authentic OEM batteries off of Ebay and do everything yourself, with the right tools. Some sellers will even ship the tools!
    Reply
  • cyberguyz - Monday, November 19, 2012 - link

    There are both of those issues with non-removable batteries.

    While the article tells you how to change the battery yourself, they do not mention that if you do that, you void your warranty (granted the warranty is gone after the battery goes south anyway). There are a lot of folks that cringe at the though of splitting open their $500-600 US phone to replace a battery.

    I for one don't keep a #4 torx screwdriver around.

    The ability to whip in a new battery in 2 sec without special tools in a vendor-blessed manner is a bit plus to me.

    Now if only Samsung (or anyone else - I'm not a brand fanboy) would put out an Android-based phone with quad-core Krait or A15, 2GB memory, 32GB expandable storage and user-replaceable battery, I would ebay my SG3 in a heatbeat and be all over it.
    Reply
  • Brandy123 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    What I don't get is although the price and specs are very attractive for an unlocked: no contract phone, 8 or 16GB is really small by today's standards when there is no microSD slot! Google is obviously assuming you will be connected to the net 24/7 and streaming your music and videos via Google Play and other services. But then your data usage goes through the roof! Will this aggressive pricing force more carriers to offer truly unlimited data plans and more reasonable prices?

    Also, HPSA+ is fast enough for most, but lack of LTE is another compromise to get that good price. Yet it still is "the buzz" (note that the sellout time means nothing without knowing the number of units sold.)

    So maybe the other key to the popularity of this device may be that with the younger generation, their phone is sort of a status symbol to them. Who can wait 2-years for contract renewal to get a new phone? But who can afford a $900 iPhone with no contract? BAM - Nexus 4 - I can get the latest gadget with specs good enough to brag about, with no contract, and without having to eat Top Ramen for a month to afford it. Who cares it doesn't have enough memory to store my video, photos and MP3 collection. I'll put it all on the Cloud and run my data usage through the roof instead.
    Reply

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