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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  • Daviii - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I don't understand the rant about the performance.

    The phone is obviously the same as the Optimus G, as well as the thermal design.

    Therefore is not about the Nexus 4 getting hotter, it's about the Nexus 4 being explicitly more conservative.

    It's something that can be fixed by software. Just set the same thermal thresolds and you have identical performance to the optimus G.

    And to those who compare it to the iPhone 5... seriously, it's half the price! One must REALLY consider if $350 extra dollars are worth some hours of battery life. It's pretty clear that at $299 some compromises must be assumed, otherwise iPhone 5 wouldn't be an option. Would it?
    Reply
  • maeil - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    Great review all in all, but I just started to wonder why the galaxy note 2 is not included in any of the performance, battery & connectivity graphs? Some weeks earlier there was a review about the Note2 (T-mobile). Is Anandtech making a new review with the international version of N7100 or N7105 in the future or is there some other reason I have not figured out yet?

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    http://www.droid-life.com/2012/11/15/benchmarks-lg...

    Keep in mind these devices have the same SoC (the DNA was running android 4.1.1).
    So, that out of the way, the DNA STOMPED the nexus 4.
    On Quadrant (yes, I know, how does it determine those numbers), the DNA was about 90% faster than the nexus 4.
    On smartbench the DNA was about 40% faster.
    ON Vellamo html5 DNA was about 90% faster.
    AnTuTu the DNA was about 40% faster.

    So, I wonder if android 4.2 has pushed performance back aways.
    Reply
  • coolkingakram - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    Brian,

    Which weather widget are you using on your nexus 4?
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    The iPhone 5 and iPad 4 sure wiped the floor with the Nexus 4.
    Amusing to see Android kids all of a sudden not care about LTE, glass back, no SD card slot when that was supposed to be a travesty on the iPhone 4s.
    Good luck getting a signal on T-Mobile os the HSPA networks that AT&T is deprecating as fast as they can in favor of LTE.
    Once again we see what a dumb idea it was to use a JVM on a smartphone.
    Reply
  • corleyman - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    Unlocked GSM & powerful processor to fully take advantage of unlimited 4G data, talk & txt. That's the kind of service that I get for only $49/mo or less! :) Check out the 1-min video intro at: http://www.PenniesOverDollars.com Reply
  • baozebub - Sunday, November 18, 2012 - link

    Before reading this article, I heard that the S3 was the king of Android devices, and that the iPhone 5 was barely catching up when it came out. Seems the propaganda is very effective in the smartphone world.

    I'm not sure why people on this thread are not talking about how badly the Android phones perform next to the Apple devices.
    Reply
  • tanjinjack - Monday, November 19, 2012 - link

    I must say this is an impressive review, very detailed and informative and it should serve as a very good read for all potential Nexus 4 buyers. Bravo!

    Nonetheless, I wish you could include more information about its thermal performance. How warm does it get and which part of the phone warms up the most? Is it uncomfortable to hold after prolonged gaming/browsing? Perhaps using a thermal monitor to inspect its surface temperature would be enough to gauge its thermal dissipation ability. To me, coming from a phone who will simply reboot due to overheating, having a cool phone will make a better experience and surely longer battery life (in term of overall acquisition of the phone)! Any chance to see that part being added?
    Reply
  • kfayz - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    How does the one x international beat the nexus 4 in all batterylife tests?! Every site I've seen complains about the one x batterylife which is whats holding me from getting one. Is the one x international in the battery tests on the latest jb update?! Reply
  • shaolin95 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    My point is...GLBenchmark show differences betweeen GPUs like Mali and Adreno that are totally unrealistic.
    All games run as good or better on the Galaxy Note 2 than the Nexus 4 yet with GLBenchmark you will think the 4 will run circles around the Note 2 so I dont see the point on that benchmark if it does not relate to real life at all.
    Reply

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