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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  • Rits - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Mean nothing in real life. The N4 flies through tasks in practical usage. Bring me an iPhone5 and show me how it is faster in any way. Synthetic benchmarks are, for the most part, useless. Esp, cross-platform ones. Reply
  • PeteH - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Depends. In most cases I agree with you, but if you're interested in a phone capable of, for example, playing state of the art (for a mobile device) games, certain graphical benchmarks are useful.

    Granted most users won't care about that, but most users don't read AnandTech.
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    The iPhone 5 isn't faster, its software is more optimized. Chrome is well known to really "suck" in javascript and scrolling performance on Android. Even Dolphin Browser beats it in each performance category. Samsung's stock browser on the SGS3 is probably the best Android browser out there, I wonder how well it would perform on the Nexus 4's CPU. Chrome is nice for syncing bookmarks across all your devices in addition to some stuff, but otherwise, it really sucks.

    In the GPU benchmark tests where the A6 (PowerVR SGX543 MP3) beats the APQ 8064 (Snapdragon S4 Pro's Adreno 320), These are sub-scores (sub-tests) that don't really show the "big picture". They test the GPU of the platform for several shader-centric tasks. Those who use these benchmarks are looking for specific numbers for specific purposes.

    What really matters in GLBenchmark for most consumers is the "Egypt Classic" and "Egypt HD" tests. These tests show the gaming/GPU performance of the platform as a whole, with the former testing "generic" 3D gaming capabilities, and the latter testing for the most modern demanding games (that stresses the platform/shaders for most fillrate, vertex, and compute performance. It's mostly over-kill and you wont see games demanding the same anytime soon). You'll easily achieve 60fps with any game you run on the Nexus 4 even with a higher resolution than the iPhone 5...

    The Nexus 4 should prove to be better performing and more "future-proof" than the iPhone 5, since it has a faster CPU (quad core Krait VS dual core Swift) and a GPU that supports future standards like OpenGL ES 3.0, Open CL and Renderscript, unlike the PowerVR inside the A6 chip. Software optimization is a non-issue since it can be tuned-up in future updates or different browsers from Play Store in the case of the web browser.

    There are lots of metrics to consider in cross-platform/cross-OS benchmarking, and there's absolutely NO benchmark that will show the true difference of performance among different platforms, especially with "Android VS Android" or "Android VS iOS" because each Android OEM utilizes different hardware and different software optimizations (in addition to other factors, like thermal throttling in this review's case). That's probably not the case when comparing the iPhone 5 versus the 4S or even a Windows Phone 8 devices versus another device running the same OS because both platforms use vertically integrated hardware/software, but that's where firmware and driver version differences start to kick in, but it's closer to reality than anything related to Android.
    Reply
  • Red Oak - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    And also, no LTE. Comical. Certainly for the US market Reply
  • antef - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Not at half the price of other phones. Also Android and especially Nexus is an open platform, so that automatically shuts the door on CDMA and consequently the biggest LTE carrier in the US. Nobody who has good HSPA+ cares. Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    In Europe you get pretty good carrier support with just quad band LTE which is showing up now. All USIM, plus Band 7, Band 20, Band 8, Band 3 covers most here and is available in most countries. In Sweden we started on Band 7 and now runs networks at Band 20 and Band 8 too. So we can actually get devices now which runs on all the frequencies either in use or that will be refarmed. Similar in other countries here. Most carriers has a few bands. You do need to support more then one. More troublesome in the US obviously. It is looking up finally though. DC-HSPA+ is up an running too so, even in small communities. It's not bad, at least not if you are able to use wifi for heavier/larger stuff. Reply
  • antef - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Clearly the Nexus 4 is not named as such because it's the 4th Nexus phone like you mention. If that was the case the Nexus 7 and 10 would throw a wrench in that wouldn't it? It's named that way because the screen is 4(.7)". If you look at the Nexus logo on the site they even de-emphasize the number by making it a small superscript to "nexus" and saying "now in three sizes." The fact that it's the 4th Nexus is just a coincidence. I would expect them to keep these names going forward and just release a Nexus 4 2nd gen, 3rd gen, etc. Reply
  • Rits - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Correct. Reply
  • tarunactivity - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    The iPhone 5 resolution is 1136x640-pixel , not 1136x960 ...

    http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html
    Reply
  • stotticus - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Of what city are those pictures? Reply

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