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Google Nexus 4 review

Our Rating :

The Nexus 4 is a great handset for those who want Android in its purest form, but you're better off with the Moto G


Android 4.2, 4.7in 768×1,280 display

Speaking of accessories that aren’t yet available to buy, the Wireless Charging Orb looks to be an essential bit of kit for Nexus 4 owners. Built-in magnets hold the handset and orb together, with the soft-touch plastic surface of the orb providing a scratch-free base.

It’s gone on sale in the US for $60, but it’s not available in the UK. Visiting the official Nexus 4 Wireless Charger page currently displays a message that the “Nexus 4 Wireless Charger is not available in your country”.

Given that this accessory was already very delayed in the US and that the phone has suffered from stock shortages, it’s looking less and less as though it will make it to these shores. It’s a shame, as the convenience of being able to plonk your phone on a charger and leave it on your desk should be underestimated

Wireless Charging Orb

Inside the Nexus 4 is a 2,100mAh battery, the same size as that in the Samsung Galaxy S3. This managed a very respectable eight and-a-half hours in our continuous video playback test. It’s a better score than most smartphones we’ve seen, but almost an hour and-a-half short of the Samsung Galaxy S3 – probably due to that handset’s power efficient AMOLED display.

The Nexus 4 also supports NFC for easy wireless data transfer. At present that’s limited to Android Beam, allowing you to share pictures, apps and contact details by simply tapping two such handsets together. It’s the sort of hassle-free technology that will be great once everyone has it in their phones, but it’s currently a bit of a gimmick. With NFC comes support for tap-and-pay services, such as Google Wallet, although it’s not yet available in the UK.

With its resolution of 1,280×768 the Google Nexus 4 has a detailed display, with almost a million pixels. When we originally reviewed the phone, there was only one other handset that could match it – the Nokia Lumia 920. The 4.7in display gives a PPI figure of 320, just shy of the 326PPI on the iPhone 5 and its ‘Retina Display’, although that smaller display has ‘only’ 727,040 pixels.

Pixels aren’t everything and the iPhone 5 isn’t the Nexus 4’s most obvious competitor. Comparing it to the current reigning Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3, we found that the Nexus 4’s screen was sharper when it came to text and fine detail, but the Samsung’s AMOLED panel was far more vibrant and had better contrast, though whites always looks a little off-colour with a slight yellow-grey colour cast. This is pretty typical of IPS vs AMOLED comparisons, but even when compared to the likes of the HTC One X, also an IPS smartphone, the Nexus 4’s display still looked a touch drab.

Google Nexus 4

Since the phone was launched, the next generation of Android phones have been released or announced, all with Full HD 1,920×1,080 resolutions, giving them much sharper displays and higher pixel densities. These include the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z. That said, there’s nothing wrong with Nexus 4’s display and there’s still plenty of resolution for web browsing.

Although the 4.7in display only sounds marginally smaller than the S3’s 4.8in display, the Nexus 4 has the three usual Android buttons positioned onscreen, rather than below it. Google seems to prefer such virtual buttons, with all its own-brand devices using them. It’s nice to have buttons that switch into landscape when desired, but they do take up part of the screen when browsing the net.

On the plus side the Nexus 4 is slightly shorter and thinner than the S3, as it doesn’t have to accommodate any buttons below the screen after all. However, it’s fractionally thicker at 9.1mm to 8.6mm. None of these differences make much odds in the hand or the pocket, and every button and port on the edges of the phones is positioned practically identically.

In day-to-day use the Google Nexus 4 is screamingly fast. Apps snap open and shut, the home screen and Google Maps glide along under your finger like they’ve been Teflon-coated. The only minor complaint is that pinching-to-zoom on the browser seems to have small delay before the phone starts to respond. Now, some of this is due to Android 4.2 (more on that below) but having seen that OS running on the Nexus 7 as well, a lot of the credit has to be laid at the feet of the Nexus 4 itself.

Inside is a Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon chipset, with 2GB of RAM and four Krait cores running at 1.5GHz. These cores are similar in design to ARM’s A15 core, and more advanced in a number of ways than say the A9 cores used in Tegra 3 or in the Samsung Galaxy S3’s Exynos chipset.

Google Nexus 4

Given our user experience, and the hardware specifications, we were surprised to find that many of the popular benchmarks didn’t back up our own impressions. A SunSpider Javascript score of 1,878ms in the provided Chrome browser, is surprisingly slow considering the modern chipset in use; while a Qudrant score of 4,815 is respectable, it’s not an S3 beater. It was only in graphics department it really shone, powering through the GLBench Egypt HD benchmark with 39fps.

All of this really goes to show that benchmarks can’t always be trusted. The browsing experience isn’t the fastest we’ve seen admittedly, but for the vast majority of tasks, and for switching between tasks, the Nexus 4 flies.

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Main display size4.7in
Native resolution768×1,280
CCD effective megapixels8-megapixel
Internal memory8096MB
Memory card supportnone
Memory card includedN/A
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/1700/1900/2100


Operating systemAndroid 4.2
Microsoft Office compatibilityN/A
FM Radioyes
AccessoriesUSB Charger, headphones
Talk time15 hours
Standby time16 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£239
Price on contract£36 per month, 24-month contract
Prepay price£299

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