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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  • dae_aosp_omg - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Good job seriously. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Thanks :)

    Hopefully minimal errors in here, working on no sleep this time!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • WiWavelength - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Hi Brian...

    Since the Nexus 4 is a 3GPP only device, shouldn't the entry tag be the MDM9215, instead of the MDM9615?

    AJ
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Yeah you're right, I just tab-completed and it went with 9615 since we don't have a 9215 tag yet, fixing!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • blanarahul - Sunday, July 07, 2013 - link

    "I heard that a smartphone based on the Optimus G would be the next Nexus phone and was quite simply blown away. Nexus has rarely been first to the latest and greatest in terms of hardware platforms, and certainly there was no way that combination would be inexpensive. For Google to nail the next Nexus phone it would have to be a combination of both"

    The first time I read the article, I agreed with this sentence. But now I don't. HTC J Butterfly was released two months later. And it is the only phone (apart from Nexus 4) which is competitive in 2013. It would have been best if the next Nexus was based on HTC J Butterfly. Even if it ended up costing 50$ more.
    Reply
  • chrone - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    thanks for the storage benchmark! nice improvement there over galaxy nexus. :) Reply
  • at80eighty - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Brian, sorry to threadjack - any clue when you're expecting the Lumia 920 review to happen? just curious what AT's take on the weight is, more than anything else Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    "The other common design element between the Optimus G and Nexus 4 is that nonconductive metallic plastic ring which extends around the perimeter of the device. This is something that comes off as tacky in the US market but (I’m told) is still a somewhat attractive motif in the Korean market."

    I love how you described a chrome band here...haha.
    Reply
  • krumme - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Agree. The part about the camera is a new benchmark for reviews!

    I would like som other performance test, but know its difficult.
    Reply
  • soccerballtux - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    +1.

    Going forward, I expect (Freezer) tests added to Anandtech's benchmarks. Please also add this to the benchmark comparison tools.
    Reply

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