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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  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    These smart phones and tablets are the old computing devices that you used to love in a new form and shape.

    I can't remember the last time I got excited about "computer" hardware.
    Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    +1 Reply
  • A5 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Intel, AMD, and Nvidia only really do 1 hardware launch a year now, the motherboards are all essentially the same, and driver reviews are borrrrrring to perform and read.

    They're still putting up like 3-4 case reviews a month, but there really isn't much else to talk about besides mobile stuff anymore.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I don't read every article Anandtech publishes; in fact, if there is an article I just skim through, or skip entirely, it will be one about any kind of mobile computing, including smart phones. It doesn't bother me though that Anandtech spends as much time on these things as they do because they still do plenty of high quality articles on mainboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PSUs - the things I am interested in, and they have added editors to cover additional types of hardware, and, bottom line, I don't expect everything they publish to have me in mind.

    ;)
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    They still do more in depth CPU and architecture articles than most sites, probably due in large part to Anand's knowledge and contacts. They've been doing a ton of case reviews too... Motherboards have been boring for quite a while. I don't think any of that content has suffered much. The one thing I'd say has suffered is GPU reviews, Anand does a great job of analyzing new architectures at times but their benchmark methods (and variety of tested resolutions) pale in comparison to other sites IMO. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Not that I'm complaining mind you, there's other places to read about that stuff... However none of the quasi-blogs that cover the mobile industry do phone reviews as detailed and in depth as AT. Something as simple as standardized battery testing seems to elude the entire web outside of AT, at best you might find rundown tests with a movie or something lazy like that. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    It's just about speed of updates. There's a new top end smartphone every other day, while CPU architectures don't make big changes for up to two years and GPUs at least a year. Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Home-made desktop PCs are verging on irrelevant.

    Mobile is where it's heading.

    Don't get me wrong, it still exists but it's just becoming less and less relevant.
    Reply
  • darklight0tr - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I have a Galaxy Nexus and was looking to possibly upgrade to the Nexus 4 but there are a few big issues with the phone for me:

    1. No LTE and it isn't available on Verizon (at least right now).
    2. Max of 16GB flash memory. I have the LTE Nexus and enjoy the 32GB of flash memory.
    3. Headphone jack and charging port are on OPPOSITE sides of the phone. This is the biggest fail for me. I use my Galaxy Nexus in my car nearly every day and having those two connectors on the same side is very important.

    Its too bad because it looks to be a great phone otherwise.
    Reply
  • Despoiler - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    The Nexus 4 will never come to Verizon. Not including LTE was primarily a political move, secondary a battery life consideration, and tertiary for SKU simplicity.

    Verizon had their hands all over the Android releases on the Samsung Nexus causing them to be delayed or scrapped for the next release. It's a dev phone though. Google needs to be able to roll out whatever it wants to when it wants to. Breaking carrier control on handsets is part of what Google has been trying to do with their Nexus phones.

    32GB of memory is unnecessary with Google services like Music and Drive. Everything is on the cloud so why does it also need to be on your phone?
    Reply

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