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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nexus 4 Review: Pros and Cons [HD Video and Picture Samples]

I was lucky enough to get my order in for a Nexus 4 during the second round of sales in Canada and it was delivered before Christmas. I was extremely excited to try it out and I've been posting about the various Nexus phones on my blog (& on MobileQuirks) just over a year ago. Now that I've had some time to properly use the device here is my review [HD Video, Photo and Photo Sphere samples below].

My Nexus 4 came in package below. It's a snug fit and as you can see there isn't much in the box other than the phone itself, the charging wire and the adapter. Good things come in small packages. :)


Incredible Speed
With Android 4.2, a Qualcommm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM, the Nexus is blazing fast. In fact, it's probably the fastest smartphone device out there in the market right now. I can't stand when a phone or computer lags to the point where things are unresponsive and I figure that it's worth having something fast if you're going to use it everyday.

Best Price By FAR
The price is really accessible  I got the 16GB version ($359 Canadian $ + $16 shipping + tax) for a total of $429.75 and of course it's unlocked. Compare this to an unlocked  iPhone 5 that costs $805 from the Apple store. There is no way in hell that the iPhone 5 is worth that much more than a Nexus 4. I know most people don't buy their phones outright but if you get a phone for $0 and you're forced into a crappy $50 plan for 3 years (($600/year and you might not even have caller ID) you will pay the price in the long run.

Latest Updates
I guess the Nexus 4 will have the latest Android updates for the next two years, after which Google will no longer provide any support. This is based on what happened for the Nexus & Nexus S. A weakness with the the Android ecosystem is that your phone may get an OS update 6 months after Google releases it, or in some cases never. Having a Google Nexus device mitigates this issue as you are sure to get the latest and greatest updates right away.


Battery Life
I take my fully charged Nexus 4 at 8am and by about 6pm that battery is down to 25%. I use it pretty heavily and I know most phones are like this nowadays but it's still annoying to have such a crappy battery life. This is really the only gripe that I have. The battery is also not removable which isn't ideal but the issue can be somewhat offset with a portable battery charger.

No Wireless Charging Orb
For some reason I thought that the orb was included with the phone but it's not. In fact, it's not even available. I put this as a con because I was expecting to use it and not being able to is a let down.


The camera I would say is average. Not great but not the worst either. Have a look below for some sample images (indoors, low light, outdoors) and video (720p, 1080p) that I took of wonderful Montreal in the winter time. Cowabunga, that's a Michelangelo tree ornament that yours truly made out of pipe cleaners.

Pictures (8 MP, click for larger image)

Panorama (click for full size)

Photo Sphere
This is a pretty cool concept but the technology isn't quite there yet. What you do is take a photo of everything around you and when I say everything I don't mean just what's beside you - you also shoot the ceiling, floor and everything in between. You literally have to take a photo of an imaginary sphere that surrounds you. The software maps dots for you to center the camera on to help you figure out where to shoot.

Yeah sure, it might work great if your on a mountain and you're surrounded by a uniform blue sky (like what they show you) but here's how it looks when your use it for real.

This is the flat 2D image that doesn't full represent Photo Sphere. Click this real Photo Sphere link and you can click and drag to see up and bottom in the room:

HD Video
1080p Sample

720p Sample

A million and a half people complained about LTE. I'm not sure why they need crazy speeds right now. I get "3.5G" with my Nexus 4 and it's pretty snappy for video streaming etc. LTE would also definitely kill my data plan. People always find something to complain about.

We don't have NFC enabled smartphone payments yet in Canada (we'll technically only CIBC customers with a Blackberry do for now) and I haven't found any extraordinary use for NFC tags I have lying around either. So not a big deal but a nice to have.

Yes, there is no micro SD slot for expanded memory. Personally, I don't need thousands of songs on my phone, a few hundred will do. I don't get how people have 60GB of songs that they all like because you can't even listen to all of those songs in a year of continuous play. The biggest issue would be HD videos taken with the Nexus 4. I haven't run into this yet but I can see citizen journalists running out of space.

Overall Rating


The Nexus 4, for my needs, is perfect and if it weren't for the poor battery life, I would probably give it a 10.  It's fast, almost half the price of competing smartphones and does what I need it to do. It's been sold out for a while in all countries so if you get the change to grab one, I suggest you do.

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