Nov 08 AT 12:57 PM Taylor Wimberly 134 Comments

Nexus 4 review roundup

nexus-4-back-630

Google’s flagship Android phone, the Nexus 4, is going on sale next week and the first reviews are beginning to appear online. We took the time to round up some of the best reviews and then look at what the critics were saying about each aspect of the device. Read on to see how Google’s latest Nexus device performed.

Nexus 4 Review roundup

What critics are saying about the Nexus 4

  • Design: “I took a set of keys, a fork and a pocket knife to the front and back glass panels of the Nexus 4 and couldn’t get a scratch to show up anywhere.” “It’s quite grippy thanks to a rubberized band of plastic that runs in a ring around the whole device.” “The screen is coated smoothly from edge to edge, and it almost feels like the glass is melted over the sides.”
  • Display: “I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute best, as I still prefer the color reproduction of the One X and the sharpness of the iPhone’s Retina display, but it’s very close” “Clean and crisp in just about any light setting.” “It’s one of the nicest displays we’ve ever viewed in the midday sun.” “Let’s not mince words here: the Nexus 4’s screen is awesome.”
  • Audio: “The rear speaker isn’t very loud and doesn’t sound very good.” “The external speaker sounded weak and it’s worse when you aren’t holding the phone because it’s located on the rear.” “Call quality and reception was excellent on the phone.” “We loved making calls on the Nexus, as our friends came through loud and clear. It was static-free and neither side of the conversation had any difficulty hearing each other.”
  • Performance: “I couldn’t find a single stutter or hiccup during my week with the phone.” “Performance and responsiveness on the device is second to none.” “For the most part, it was responsive and fast, multitasking was smooth and we only rarely had any lag.” “The Nexus 4 has been extraordinarily snappy during our time together.”
  • Camera: “The photos it takes aren’t quite as clear or detailed as the ones we’ve seen from the cameras on the HTC One X and iPhone 5.” “The phone’s most touted new capability, the ability to capture 360-degree pictures, worked poorly in my tests.” “The back camera worked well, certainly much better than the Galaxy Nexus, and was able to produce vivid images with a relatively low amount of noise and excellent color clarity.” “Google has greatly improved its photo editing options, making tweaking your images easier and faster than before.” “There are a few areas in which the Nexus 4 bests the GS3, and others in which it’s still very good, but loses to its Samsung competitor.”
  • Battery: “When it comes to battery life, the Nexus 4 is also performs just below the One X and the iPhone.” “Since it uses the Qi wireless charging standard, you can use a charging pad from another manufacturer” “The Nexus 4 lasted a full workday in mixed use” “To say it’s holding up for full work days would be an understatement; even with heavy use, this battery more than pulls its weight.”
  • Android 4.2: “There is simply no better Android experience than Android as Google has built it.” “Android 4.2 is largely the same as 4.1 Jelly Bean.” “In my testing, Google voice search outperformed Siri in the majority of queries, and not only did it get the answers correct and offer up perfectly worded responses.” “Besides all the terrific changes in Android 4.2, I did notice a couple of software issues with third-party apps.”

Overall, it looks like the Nexus 4 lived up to the high expectations that we set for it. Most reviewers were in agreement that the Nexus 4 is Google’s finest smartphone ever produced. The only major complaints we have found are things we were well aware of — there is no LTE, no microSD slot, and the battery is not user replaceable. The absence of 4G LTE might be a deal killer for sure, but if you can get past that then the Nexus 4 delivers the best pure Android experience.

Video reviews of Nexus 4

Most underrated feature: Miracast wireless display

We have been talking about Miracast for awhile, but it’s nice to see it finally enabled on an Android phone. Not many other devices are Mircast-enabled yet, but this should be changing over the coming months. Look for Google TV to add Miracast support so you can share your smartphone with your TV.

6 Word Wrap Up: “Buy phone first, then choose carrier”

The Nexus 4 is a great Android phone, and it represents a new movement for unlocked smartphones sales in the US. In the past consumers have signed a 2-year contract with a wireless carrier and then picked one of the devices they offer. Now customers in the US can buy their phone first, and then choose the carrier that best fits their needs.

Priced at only $299, the Nexus 4 could become the most successful unlocked Android phone in the US. Unlocked phones have slowly been growing in popularity the last year, but most high-end devices sell for over $500-600. Now that US consumers can get a premium Android smartphone at an affordable price and match it with pre-paid service at half the cost of most post-paid plans, we may see the US wireless market shift to a more European model.

Time will tell if an open, unlocked wireless world works best for consumers, but it already offers some nice benefits. Prices of smartphones and wireless plans have come down, we have more choices for premium unlocked devices, carrier bloatware is removed from phones, and Android updates flow directly from Google.

What do you think of Google’s latest flagship device? Do you plan on buying one when it comes out next week?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week