With the Nexus 4 conclusion I really have to finish the way I started, namely by noting that this is now the fullest realization of Google's original strategy laid out for Nexus at its inception. The Nexus One had extremely aspirational goals for a first-gen Googlephone — it tried to change the way that phones are sold in the US and tried to deliver a fully carrier-agnostic reference platform for developers and OEMs to build out from. The end of that story is something everyone is familiar with, however — the Nexus One was largely a commercial failure. Little did we all know it would take several more iterations of the Nexus hardware and Android platform to get close to delivering on those goals, and Google has inched closer each time.


Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10

The next revisions of Nexus built on this platform, but only with Galaxy Nexus and its pentaband WCDMA radio and Nexus 4 do we see the fullest realization of this dream. Over time Google has built up the infrastructure required to deliver on its goals with things like the Play Store, a reputation among hardware vendors, and the right combination of hardware and software cadence to make this all work. The price point with the Nexus 4 is now low enough to not make off-contract sale an impossible to swallow deal.

With the Nexus 7 I felt like we were truly seeing the Nexus line come into its own. With Nexus 4 and 10 we're now seeing Google finally deliver a product lineup with offerings in each of the major size tiers. We now have a form factor of device for every two inches of diagonal difference. 

With the Optimus G, LG truly went all the way toward delivering the best of everything it had to offer from all the different parts of LG — LG Chem, LG Innotek, LG Display. I'm very positive about the Optimus G hardware and very positive about the Nexus 4 as its close relative. LG's execution in the smartphone space has primarily been held back by its software approach and skins, and until recently a lack of updates. Getting a win for LG in the Nexus space basically mitigates that, as the software burden becomes entirely Google's, and obviously Nexus will continue to mean the latest and greatest Android platform updates for quite some time. 

You can go back and read what I've written about the Nexus 4 hardware — in a word it's superb. In-hand feel is awesome thanks to the rubber ring running around the perimeter of the Nexus 4, and build quality is also very good. I've fully disassembled my Nexus 4 three times and put it together without issue, and the Nexus 4 has taken a few trips to the floor (my fault) without any adverse effects. 

Finally, there's also the matter of price. For $299 you can get the latest and greatest hardware and 8 GB of storage, and for $349 you can get double that storage with 16 GB (12.92 GB usable). Both are fully unlocked and carrier-agnostic, and at those prices the Nexus 4 pretty much blows the doors off of any other unlocked or out of contract smartphones, which usually end up being priced at around $600 or more. 

If you're an Android enthusiast, the Nexus 4 is obviously the phone to have right now. The combination of APQ8064 and MDM9x15 is excellent in spite of some unfortunate thermal throttling, and we'll be seeing many more Fusion 3 based devices in time at prices well above the Nexus 4 out of contract. At a fundamental level there is quite literally no better vehicle out there for Google to communicate its smartphone platform via than the yearly Nexus refresh. On its own, the Nexus 4 would otherwise be phenomenally great hardware. As a Nexus, it's a level even beyond that.

Google has come an exceptionally long way since that first Nexus One. 

Speakerphone, Noise Rejection, Audio
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  • IKeelU - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I'm glad you confirmed the thermal throttling hypothesis, but it's a shame that it's happening at all. While no Google or LG exec is going to come out and tell everyone to use their phone in the cold, I see this turning into the Android version of the "your holding it wrong" meme. Perhaps Google should ship some capacitative gloves so Canadians and Scandinavians can enjoy their phones under ideal conditions ;P?

    Also, battery performance. It's half the iPhone 5's. Half.

    Given the price and the nexus pedigree, I'm still going to buy this phone, warts and all. But the performance of the device in browsing and battery life is terribly disappointing.
    Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Again with the best test. It is not half in real life, trust me.
    we did real life test comparison with SGS3 and a new iphone 5, and I can see my S3 doing really well.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    That suggests that the tests are not very useful.
    Frankly, I really like the idea of Vellamo. Testing interface performance is really useful.
    The web browsing test might also be useful if it is well done (not sure if enough time is provided between page loads to actually read the page).
    Perhaps use of a framework that takea actual apps and feeds them dummy data to simulate usage.
    Testing is hard...
    Reply
  • SetiroN - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    The one time they could have gone with a slighly out of date SoC (the MSM8960 with its more efficient integrated baseband, or possibly the PRO) they didn't... ending up with a very power hungry platform that throttles and barely has enough battery life. Personally, I think I will disable two of the cores, but it's very appreciable that they're moving faster than before. I was really hoping for an OMAP5 (the first BIG.little A15 implementation) in the next nexus phone, obviously a few months from now, but I'll make do with the S4.

    It is, as usual, great how google keeps an eye on NAND performance, it really is a bottleneck in modern smartphones. Hopefully something better than 0.8MB/s random writes will be available in the near future... yes, it's 3 times faster than the competition, but still too low. We need 4/5.

    I'm quite a bit against all this "high build quality" (which is apparently all about non-plastic materials) trend: not that I don't like better built phones, but plastic is FINE. It just has to be properly used, avoiding tacky chrome and glossy parts: the upside of having a lighter chassis with a removable door, and thus a repleaceble battery (which can probably be larger thanks to the spared weight) largely overcomes the improved aesthetics. Not to mention it's much less prone to serious damage as it manages to absorbs impacts well.
    A glass back might be cool, but I won't notice it anymore after a week... until it breaks.
    The real problems are Korean designers, not plastic materials.

    In the end, higher battery life and storage space would have been much better, but at this price I won't complain, there's nothing even nearly as good. Heck, even $200 more would have been fair - and still cheaper than the competition.

    Still, such a non-replaceable low lasting battery can and will be a dealbreaker to many just as much as the lack of storage. But the price is good enough to make me come to a compromise, disable 2 cores in the kernel and start carrying around a portable charger and OTG cable.
    I wonder if anyone will make a nice battery cover with integrated storage :)
    Reply
  • MTWeg12 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Such an elaborate review. Awesome! It is nothing less than a PhD thesis. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I think you seriously underestimate how long most PhD theses are. This could probably easily double as an engineering undergrad senior/final project though, as could many of our more in-depth reviews. Reply
  • Red Oak - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    You don't point out that the iPhone 5 destroys it in your performance tests. On some, 100%+ faster. Pretty shocking, considering the Nexus has the latest four core variant

    This phone is already a half step behind and has little headroom. Surprised Google would make this their flagship for the next year
    Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    too bad iphone 5 is old news already, get ready for the incoming iphone 5S expected early 2013. Reply
  • Zink - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I think what we're all really getting ready for is the Razr Nexus 4 coming out in a year. Super thin with A15, improved battery life, 32GB and LTE. Reply
  • PeteH - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Maybe you are, but I won't be satisfied until I have a 64-bit ARMv8 in my phone! Reply

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