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.


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


View All Comments

  • Freedomuser - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Qualcomm's S4 pro has thermal problems. It will affect daily usage with surrounding temperatures and the battery will be much hotter in higher temperatures. Reply
  • Freedomuser - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    First of, great review. If anyone planning to purchased a device, Anandtech is a stop for a review.

    I want to know what phones survived your test suit, LG Optimus G fall out. Nexus 4 finished with thermal problems. What about other phones on the charts? Please, list it on the charts.
  • mrkaupo - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Great review.
    Hard to decide Lumia920 or Nexus4.

    Nexus hardware and price is great, but L920 design and wp8 is so tempting.

    I have to wait for L920 review - camera and battery life is the question for me.
  • leafspring - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    The performance tests are hilarious. Of what use is a result that has to be achieved by placing the phone in the freezer? I usually don't sit in the freezer when using my smartphone so what are these numbers supposed to tell me?

    Other than that, nice article. :)
  • noblemo - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    There are other comments above that address this question. In summary, the freezer tests verify that the initial performance issues were the result of thermal throttling. It is a troubleshooting technique, not a lifestyle recommendation. Reply
  • jian9007 - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the detailed review of the Nexus 4. I always like to come here and read the reviews, as they delve into more intricate areas of products. Keep up the good work. Reply
  • adityanag - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    "Corded up, the Galaxy Nexus can eek out just over 19 Mbps on 64QAM single carrier WCDMA which is the maximum that hardware supports."

    On the Cellular, Wi-Fi GNSS page, about 3/4ths of the way down the page.

    eek is a mouse's cry :)
  • meloz - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    I had to laugh out loud when I saw the benchmarks with "freezer" results.

    What a farce. If this is tbe best Google / LG can come up with, Apple truly deserve their pricing premiums and marketshare.

    Hopefully Google will be shipping a walk-in freezer with every Nexus 4, so that us users can walk into the freezer to use the full potential of the new wondergadget.
  • ferrydust - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Article says: "In fact having the photo table daydream going will slow down charging on that device somewhat dramatically if you’re not careful."

    I am pleasantly surprised with the Daydream feature, I expect they'll add more settings options for fine-tuning customization, but it's a great start. There is zero interference with charging because all you have to do is press the power button once to turn off the screen! Then no daydream and no powerdrain on that front! But for those times when your're not worried about charging your device but have it docked or sitting someplace and would like to enjoy soothing colors or favorite pictures, the Daydream screensaver feature is a pleasant option.
  • pmartin - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    If the phone has to placed in the freezer to get all the performance you paid for then the phone is broke. Thanks to this review the phone went from a must buy to a wait till its fixed. Why anyone would buy this phone after reading your review is a retarded fanboy. Thanks for a informative review. Reply

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