Name/brand : Google Nexus 4 (by LG) 16 GB
Cost : $349 ($299 for 8GB)
Phone/tablet : Smartphone
Recommend : Yes
As I mentioned before, my first smartphone was the original iPhone. Next up I went with Android to see what it was all about. That’s when I got my first real taste of bloatware on the Samsung Galaxy S1. Wow, was it annoying. Almost enough to drive me over into the Apple camp for good. Then I found the Google series of phones. This is Android’s last chance to get my support, and my money.
Why I Wanted This Device
Let me try and explain bloatware in case you don’t know what it is. Company A (ex: Samsung) makes a cellphone, and installs an operation system (ex: Android) from Company B. Company A then puts some of its own special software on the phone like it’s own GPS navigation service, or music player. Company A then sends the phone to Company C (ex: Verizon), who adds still more software. Now since you are on a contract with Company C, your phone is locked. You can’t remove the software, even though it annoys you, it’s taking up space, and you don’t want it. It also slows down software upgrades because upgrades have to be compatible with software from companies A, B, and C. If that sounds incredibly annoying, then you understand perfectly what bloatware is.
Carrier and Data
The Nexus 4 is an unlocked phone, meaning I can use any service that provides me with a MicroSim. That’s mainly AT&T and T-Mobile. I use AT&T because it gets the best coverage where I live, but T-Mobile is around too. All I need to switch is a MicroSim and a customer service number. I’m not locked into a contract, because it’s an unlocked phone. I actually went with Net 10, which is an MVNO. That just means I get AT&T service for $30 per month less. It also has tethering if I wanted to use that feature. The Nexus 4 also only has 3G capability. There’s only 3G coverage where I live, so that doesn’t really matter. Unless you do a lot of streaming, it probably doesn’t matter to you either.
Google’s Nexus 4 uses pure Android. No bloatware from LG, and no bloatware from the phone carrier. The Nexus phones are also the first phones to get Android OS upgrades. It’s the closest comparison to Apple’s ecosystem that Android has. Not having to shut down bloatware every five seconds brings a tear to my eye.
Display and Graphics
Wow. Text on the screen is amazingly crisp and clear, I noticed immediately. I cannot say enough good things about this display. The Nexus 4 comes with a 4.7 inch screen, and offers 3D graphics. It was far better than I had anticipated. The screen does make the phone a little larger than I am used to, but it could just take some getting used to. The glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 2, making it tougher than your garden variety smartphone glass. I’ve already dropped it onto concrete and am pleased to report no cracks. I do have a really nice cover on it, but it did fall face down onto some small rocks. The screen at least helped.
Processor and Power
The Nexus 4 comes with a quad-core Qualcomm SnapdragonS4 Pro processor. It’s also got 2GB of RAM, which explains the speed. I haven’t experienced a moment of hesitation. I’ve had no problems running apps or games for Android. It’s the fastest phone I have gotten my hands on yet.
Memory and Storage
There are two models, 8 GB and 16 GB. I got the 16 GB model because I didn’t manage to fill the 16 GB on my old phone. The memory space is limited because there is no SD card slot. Part of the tradeoff for an affordable unlocked phone. If you can stream all the music and movies and stay within your data plan limits, then full speed ahead. Check the data coverage in your area unless you’re mainly going to be near WiFi. There’s no point in trying to streaming anything with poor coverage.
The battery drains really quickly. I can barely squeak out a full day with minimal use. We’re talking 4% when I go to bed at night. A quick check of the battery usage shows the OS itself using most of the battery. That’s not the usual culprit for me. It’s generally the searching for network, searching for WiFi, or the display. It does tend to run a lot of apps in the background, but they don’t bother the performance of the phone. They’re also easily turned off with Task Killer.
If you don’t want any contracts, and what a powerful phone, this is an outstanding piece of hardware. The only downside I have come across is the battery life, but I may be able to adjust the settings to fix it. Or not, but i’ll be sure and update this if I do. If you want an alternative to Apple, this is the best one out there right now. Did I mention it has no bloatware? There are a ton of things that don’t relate to multiplayer gaming for Android like the 360 degree camera, so if gaming on your smartphone isn’t your only priority, you really need to look at this phone for yourself first.