The Nexus 4 is the first Google branded phone that has seen such a tremendous success. It’s the fourth successor of the search giant’s Nexus line-up of smartphones after it entered the hardware business with the HTC Nexus One in 2010. Running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the phone sports a list of high-end hardware specifications such as a spectacular 4.7 inches 720p display, 2GB of RAM and a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, but perhaps the most amazing feat that Google has managed to pull off this time is its price — starting at just $299. Unlocked. No contracts whatsoever.
It was certainly the dirt cheap price tag that drove so many people to buy the phone online that it sold out within a few minutes and I was one of the several thousand Android enthusiasts that failed to buy one. Luckily, I was able to buy it from a third party website and it finally reached my hands this week after a long delay caused by the backorder drama.
AESTHETICS AND PHYSICAL BUILD
Starting with the aesthetics, the phone is.. just beautiful. The device is held with a sheet of glass on the front as well as the back-side. For protecting the glass from scratches, a layer of Gorilla Glass is also present on top. On the front, it feels like a futuristic device, especially when the screen is turned off and the front is completely black — no buttons no manufacturer brandings. Just black.
YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH IT
The back-plate seems to have a life of its own. Apart from a bold ‘nexus’ branding, it features a holographic artwork of dazzling dots that give the phone a glamorous look. You’ll definitely love to flaunt it around. The best part of all, it isn’t distracting at all and the artwork only appears when viewed under light at some particular angles.
While the glass gives the phone a premium advantage of solid feeling, it has its own set of gripes as well. Due to the material’s nature, the phone feels heavy and as a previous Galaxy S II owner, I wish that it was a tad lighter. Moreover, there’s this fear of dropping the phone that haunts me every day as well due to its glass casing, which is like 3 times more prone to damages than plastic. If you’re looking to buy the Nexus 4, then make sure you order a bumper case as well. A rugged case will be good too, but the gorgeous back-plate will then get hidden.
A BAND OF RUBBER SURROUNDS THE NEXUS 4 PROVIDING A FIRM GRIP TO HANDS
On the sides, a band of rubber surrounds the Nexus 4, whose responsibilities are to provide a firm grip for holding the phone as well as a small bump so that the phone rests on the rubber encasing and not the glass while resting on a flat surface protecting it from scratches. Another advantage of the band is that the phone doesn’t get slippery while holding with dry hands as the Samsung Galaxy S III — which was my previous phone — did because of plastic.
The connector and ports have their usual placing. The power buttons is located on the right while the volume buttons are on the left. The micro-USB port is at the bottom and on the top, we’ve the earphones jack. Two microphones are present as well and are located vertically opposite with one at the top while the other at bottom to cancel noise.
I found the bezel to be interestingly slightly smaller than what the pictures on the web suggest, though still not as small as we Android enthusiasts had wanted. Anyway, it’s very much manageable.
Talking about the display, the Nexus 4 sports a 4.7 inch IPS screen. Colors on the screen appear very crisp and sharp. As an advantage of IPS panels, the white levels are amazing too. The vibrancy of colors, however, is inferior than other displays such as the Samsung Galaxy S III’s Super AMOLED display. Yes, the colors on Nexus 4 appear in their natural form and what we see on SAMOLED displays are actually oversaturated colors, but I’m so used to that level of saturation that natural colors don’t elicit strong reaction from me anymore. Dimensionally, the Nexus 4’s screen is considerably shorter in height than the Galaxy S III despite packing in the same resolution (1280 x 768 including softkeys). As a result, it appears wider and fits in more pixels per unit of the screen and images appear somewhat sharper on it. On a comparison note, the Nexus 4 packs in 5 icons in a row in the app drawer versus 4 icons in the Galaxy S III as well as most of the other Android phones of similar size.
This dimension is certainly better since it minimizes the wastage of screen estate.
There’s a notification LED as well that quietly sits beneath the front glass layer, below the display and remains hidden unless lit. The stock implementation is only limited to two colors, white and blue, but it can be further tweaked by using a third party app. My favorite app for this job is Light Flow, which has the widest support for apps for which you can set custom notification LED colors. That is all for now.
There’s so much more to told about the Nexus 4 — Android 4.2, hardware, battery life, etc., but I’ll save my words for a complete, detailed review. Stay tuned.