Nexus 4 hands on review: Google got it right

I’ve had all of the Nexus devices (except for the tablets, so if anyone has a 7 for me…) and I’ve enjoyed them all, and after only a short time with my shiny new Nexus 4, I have to admit, I’m rather smitten.

It pains me to admit though, that until I turned on the 4 for the first time, I didn’t know what Android should feel like. You’ve read all of the Nexus 4 reviews, you’ve been told about the stunning design, the weird hologram which is black when tilted on the back of the device. You’ve also read about the glass back of the device, which I’m still not 100% sold on, and I’m sure you’ve read about the speed of the thing. And let me assure you, speed and user experience is where the 4 excels.

First impressions

Let’s start off with the way it feels. It’s the first Nexus, since the One, that feels premium in your hand (I’m side-eyeing you here Samsung), the build quality is bang on, and the slight curves at the edges of the screen encourages you to interact with the device. Once you begin interacting though, that’s when the 4 puffs its chest and rips through anything you can throw at it.

It’s pretty important to note that it’s also the first Android device (of which I have had too many) that I’ve not instantly unlocked and rooted. I booted it up for the first time, and received my OTA notification to upgrade to 4.2.2, “I’ll root after I install the update, that way I’ll only have to do it once,” I thought to myself. Update completed, rebooted and signed in, downloaded all my apps again and it dawned on me that I don’t actually need root. Sure it allows me to back up apps, block ads, etc, but I thought I’d give the Google experience a proper go, and I’m really glad I did.

Changing devices can be a nightmare, but not on Android. All that you need to do is to ensure that under your “Settings” “Backup and Restore” is selected and linked to the Google account you are using. Then when you fire up your new device, sign in, connect to wi-fi, sit back and watch everything return to normal. This is one of the greatest advantages of Android, without a doubt.

So what I’ve established is that the Nexus 4 is a powerhouse, the 2GB RAM makes a noticeable difference, not to mention the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro and its four cores – which coincidently sports more cores than this laptop I’m writing on has.

A few bad experiences

Right, so that is the good out of the way, now for the bad and the ugly. The bad, from what I have experienced so far is completely subjective to me and my usage, but the headphone jack being at the top of the phone is pretty annoying. This might seem trivial, but I love walking through the city, listening to music and snapping pictures, however this becomes a little more annoying than I’d like because of the dangling headphone cable. Although I should add that the camera is great and perfect for my needs. You’ll read about the questionable quality, but as a phone snapper I can’t fault it, as I don’t expect professional quality from my handset.

The second thing is the screen, sure I can see in the sunshine, but compared to the Galaxy Nexus the colours aren’t as saturated or rich, and it’s taking me a little time to adapt. The colours are more washed out on the LG LCD display, but let me reiterate, this is me knitpicking and in the bigger scheme of the 4, it really doesn’t actually matter.

Locally uncertain

My other gripe with the 4 is that it’s not available in South Africa, and many other countries in the world. I’ve noticed that the Google Play Store is expanding across the globe pretty rapidly, so I hope that I am right in assuming it won’t be too long before we can buy these devices in Africa as well. The Nexus 4 is honestly the first Android device which I would recommend to ANY smartphone user. I used to recommend iOS to people who aren’t that tech savvy, simply because of the intuitive nature of the iOS ecosystem, but no more.

Times are changing, when you consider that Nexus devices used to be reserved for the hackers and über nerds, but this time around, Google couldn’t keep up with demand. That’s because the polish and design applied to the 4 has obliterated those rules. Now, Nexus is for everyone. The Nexus 4 is a beast and for US$299 (R3 500) – US$350 (R4 000), it’s unbeatable value for money.



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