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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  • Fx1 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    My God why is the battery life so crap? How does the HTC X manage to beat it? Reply
  • IKeelU - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I also would love to know the answer to this. Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I say you need to take battery life test with a grain of salt. My SGS3 didn't have the best battery life tests on paper, but in real time it's a champ. My gf shoots me with her envy look while holding her iphone 4s. She can't go through a day with a charge while I can easily do 2 days ;) Reply
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Yeah, but this is about the Nexus 4 and the battery life DOES suck. Reply
  • yipwssg - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Your gf must be checking her faceBook account constantly :)
    If not, the bettery must be aged . Ask her to get a new replacement from Apple if her set is still under warranty.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    it must be about the settings. I can easily go 2 days, and sometimes 3 with my 4S... Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Are you sure that's not cause she does more with it / uses it more? Reply
  • Mbonus - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    "My God why is the battery life so crap? How does the HTC X manage to beat it? "

    I wonder if it has to do with HTC One-X overly aggressively killing background apps . As I recall there were a lot of complaints about no multitasking on the One X. I bet that would improve battery life.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    That wouldn't diminish power usage by memory a whole lot, and HTC actually went back and addressed it with a patch so it behaves much much closer to other phones. I think the biggest issue is they 're cramming a tablet-bound SoC into a phone (see the thermal throttling issues) without even giving it a larger battery. Reply
  • Strk - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Why do the speaker volume test at just 3" away? How about normal browsing distance? (k, that's subjective, I guess, but for a typical person browsing the internet/watching a video) Cupping the speaker vs not cupping the speaker etc. Watching a clip on youtube, netflix or whatever on my Galaxy Nexus is such a pain if there is even the slightest ambient noise. Reply

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