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
The camera on the Google Nexus 4 takes eight-megapixel images, like most top-end smartphones. We compared its image quality against the S3, and found both took similar-looking pictures when resized to a large PC monitor. Zooming into the finer detail, we preferred the Nexus over the S3, things are just a little crisper.
Here’s a picture from the Nexus 4 – click to enlarge And here’s a comparative one from the S3 – click to enlarge
Image quality is important but we were put off the Nexus 4 somewhat by the camera’s controls. These strive to be ultra-minimal, but we’d rather just have more obvious menus, and some more options. Burst mode is conspicuous by its absence, you can take photos pretty quick by tapping the screen repeatedly, but there’s nothing to match the hold and fire 3.3fps mode of the S3.
One new trick here is the Photo Sphere mode, which lets you stitch numerous photos together into panoramas or even full 360 degree views. It uses the handset’s gyroscope and onscreen prompts to help you line up all the photos correctly, and it works pretty well as long as your subject is at a distance and doesn’t contain numerous strong vertical and horizontal lines. It’s great fun and the first time we’ve seen something like this on an Android phone, being very similar to Microsoft’s Photosynth for Windows Phone and iOS.
It’s easy to create panoramic pictures with the new Photo Sphere mode
And here’s the finished result
Whether you’re taking quick snapshots or stitching complex panoramas, the Nexus 4 will upload your pictures to Google+ via the app’s Instant Upload feature. All your photos are stored there, and also accessible via Picasa Web Albums. There’s no storage limit for this service, however photos are resized to 2,048 pixels along their longest edge (down from 3,264 pixels on the Nexus 4).
This service is available on practically any Android smartphone, but we mention it here to contrast it with competing offerings. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One offer 50GB and 25GB of free Dropbox storage respectively. Using this you can sync pics at the full resolution, and anything else you want from other devices. This offer only lasts for two years, then you’ll have to start paying to continue using the service or buy another device with a similar offer.
One of the big draws of the Google Nexus 4 is that it comes with a vanilla version of Android, so there’s just what Google intended and no swathes of additional apps you’ll never use, and stores you’ll never buy anything from. The Nexus 4 now runs Android 4.4 KitKat, which brings a host of new features and capabilities with it, most notably the integration of SMS messaging with the Google Hangouts chat service.
For some, the merging of SMS and Hangouts is a genius piece of integration that makes it easy to track your conversations seamlessly. For others it’s an irritation that can lead to potentially embarrassing faux pas if you accidentally contact someone from the wrong account. Keep in mind that if you don’t take to it, you can always download an alternative SMS app from the Play Store.
The main Hangouts screen shows you a list of messages you’ve received either via text or chat, along with the name and – if available – picture of the sender. When you create a new message or hangout, you’ll be presented with a list of your contacts and, at the top, a text entry field, where you can address your message to anyone in your contacts list or who has a public G+ account.
KitKat also brings with it interface updates with unlimited home screens, a dedicated screen for Google Now at the far left and improved support for printing both via Google Cloud Print and using the Google Beam NFC feature with compatible printers.
|Main display size
|CCD effective megapixels
|Memory card support
|Memory card included
|GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/1700/1900/2100
|GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
|Microsoft Office compatibility
|USB Charger, headphones
|Price on contract
|£36 per month, 24-month contract