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LG Nexus 4 Review

The LG Nexus 4 wasn’t much of a secret when Google finally announced it. After appearing in a variety of forms and rumors for weeks ahead of its unveiling, we thought we knew all there was to know about it. That of course, was not true. But once we finally got a hold of it, we wondered if there were enough hidden secrets or highlights to make this ultra-affordable Nexus stand out from a crowded holiday smartphone lineup or if the lack of LTE would be a deal breaker? Let’s talk about it.

The Good:

  • Specs:  When it comes to specs, there are few phones that can compare to the LG Nexus 4. It has the latest and greatest processor (quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro), 2GB RAM, an 8MP camera, wireless charging, NFC, and one of the best displays in the business (4.7″ HD IPS+). It may lack an LTE chip, which could be a deal breaker for some, but if you can live with HSPA+ data speeds (which aren’t slow), then you can’t really go wrong here. The Nexus 4 is essentially a brother to LG’s Optimus G, a device we reviewed a few weeks back, and were very fond of.
  • Display:  The 4.7″ HD IPS+ LCD display on the Nexus 4 is one of the best in the business. If it weren’t for the new 1080p display in the HTC DROID DNA, I’d argue that it is the best in the business (though the Galaxy Note 2’s display is up there as well). Colors and lines are ultra-crisp thanks to the 320 pixels per inch (ppi), the viewing angles are impressive, it gets very bright for use anywhere, and the blacks are black enough. Beyond how it looks, this display has some other tricks up its sleeves. LG and Google designed it to almost bubble up above the outer frame of the device. What I mean, is that it cascades over the edges of the device, so as you brush you finger across it, you don’t feel a sharp edge, but more of a soft finish. The display itself is also great to touch thanks to a G2 Touch Hybrid technology. The responsiveness is as good as any, and your finger seems to glide easily over it during presses, almost as if you are actually touching what you are seeing. Again, it’s an amazing smartphone display.

(Warning: Gmail picture is a large macro shot.)

  • Performance:  Thanks to its quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and Android 4.2, you won’t find hiccups or stutters while using the Nexus 4. Project Butter (in Jelly Bean) combined with the best processor on the planet, makes for one of the best smartphone experiences. With the on-screen navigation keys, you can quickly jump in and out of apps, access Google Now from anywhere, and make full use of Android’s multi-tasking. There also has to be something said for the fact that it runs stock Android. There is no manufacturer skin to get in the way or to potentially slow down the phone. This is how Google meant for Android and a smartphone of theirs to work. And boy does it ever.
  • Android 4.2:  When you buy a brand new Android smartphone, rarely are you running the most current version of the operating system. Well, unless you buy a new Nexus. With the LG Nexus 4, Google launched Android 4.2, the newest and best version of Android to date. It includes all new camera software, improved keyboard, widgets on the lock screen, multi-user support (on tablets), an upgraded Gmail, and a beautiful new clock. Check out the video below to see all of the major highlights.


  • Price:  At $299 for the 8GB model and $349 for the 16GB model, you won’t find a more reasonably priced phone than the Nexus 4. I already mentioned how impressive this phone is when it comes to specs, but besides that, Google has made it clear that they aren’t fans of the long-standing carrier approach to phone subsidies. Rather than trying to sucker you into a contract by offering you a low price on a phone, Google simply says, “Here is a phone that you can have at a ridiculously low price and that won’t require you to sign a contract. We’re able to offer you this deal because we can recoup the money in the Google Play store, thanks to the content that you’ll consume.” It’s an approach that I hope lives on forever. Think about what Verizon is doing right now with the Motorola RAZR MAXX HD. They want you to spend $299 on it, but in order to get that price, you’ll have to sign a 2-year contract. Google is selling you a phone that bests the RAZR MAXX HD on multiple levels, yet retails at the same $299 price, but then lets you go find a carrier and data plan that fits your needs, while avoiding a contract.
  • Camera:  The stock Android camera software has always been lacking, and it showed in pictures taken with any Nexus device. Thankfully, in Android 4.2, Google decided to re-do the stock Android camera software and make it halfway decent. In my test shots with the Nexus 4’s 8MP shooter, I was able to produce some decent stills. I wouldn’t say the LG Nexus 4 takes as good of pictures as the Galaxy S3, but that’s magic that very few phone manufacturers can figure out. It certainly will do just fine in a pinch. What I really like about this new camera though, is the quick settings that can be accessed by pressing on the viewfinder. You can quickly toggle your flash off or on, change scenes, and manually tweak other settings. Also, the new Photosphere camera feature that Google introduced is incredibly fun to use. Rather than limiting your camera to taking side-sweeping panoramic photos, Google decided that it wanted you to be able to take full 360-degree photos. With Photosphere (an example below), you get to capture entire rooms or scenes. Overall, the new camera software coupled with the 8MP sensor in the Nexus 4 is a giant step forward for Google.

(Click the image below to view it as a Photosphere at Google+.)

  • Design and Build:  If you own a Galaxy Nexus, your first impression of the the Nexus 4 is probably that it looks just like your Galaxy Nexus. And to be honest, it sort of does if you lay them down, face up next to each other. Once you pick up the Nexus 4, though, you’ll immediately realize that it is so much better. The front and back are both made of glass, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s made of “cheap” plastic, there is a soft touch plastic rim around the outer edge that helps with grip, the rounded edges help it fit perfectly in your hand, and the weight is not too light nor too heavy. It’s one of those phones that you find yourself picking up, spinning around, and smiling at. From the Crystal Reflection backside (more on this in a minute) to the all-black finishes and Nexus logo, I have to admit that I haven’t been this impressed with a smartphone design in some time.
  • “Crystal Reflection” Backside:  During a couple of episodes of The Droid Life Show, we poked a bit of fun at the sparkly “Crystal Reflection” backside of the Nexus 4. For those new, Crystal Reflection is a process that LG invented which allows them to laser etch patterns or prisms onto glass of a smartphone to give it a high-end “jewel-like” appearance. The reference they make to “jewel-like” is why we giggled a bit at it, however, once I got the phone in hand, my opinion changed to a much more favorable one. The sparkles are so subtle, that you won’t even see them 75% of the time. They are only there when you are really looking for them, which is the way it should be. The Crystal Reflection is one of those design ideas that you couldn’t have imagined that you would want or like, but then once you see a metallic reflection, you’ll appreciate every second of it.

LG Nexus 4

  • Unlocked:  Google is selling the Nexus 4 as a SIM unlocked GSM phone that works in over 200 countries. It may not have LTE support for the ultra-fast networks that are taking over the U.S., but the phone should get HSPA+ speeds almost anywhere in the world. It works on T-Mobile and AT&T here, so if you don’t want to sign into a contract with a carrier, you can choose from a variety of prepaid plans that are attached to either of these carriers. It’s smartphone freedom in a time when carriers want nothing more than to lock you up for years on end.
  • Hackability:  Nexus phones are a hacker’s dream device. Google leaves them open, meaning you can unlocked their bootloaders, root them, and toss on custom software with a couple of simple commands. We are starting to see more and more carriers force manufacturers into securing their phones and preventing tinkerer’s from fully enjoying them, but with Google making Nexus phones, there will always be an option.
  • Updates:  When you buy the newest Nexus phone, and as long as it isn’t tied to a carrier, you are going to get Android updates on it before any other phone. With the Nexus 4, you get Android 4.2 first. But not only that, you’ll get Android 4.3 or 5.0 or whichever version comes next as soon as Google makes it available. There is no middle man (carrier) to interfere. That’s the beauty of an unlocked Nexus device.

  • Wireless Charging:  The Nexus 4 has built-in wireless charging. Set to the Qi standard, all you need is a Qi-approved wireless charging pad and you can place the phone down without plugging it in, and it’ll replenish the battery. It’s a technology that has been out for years now, but rather than building the technology into phones, most carriers and manufacturers decided that they should try to make an extra buck by forcing you to buy separate wireless charging backs. With the Nexus 4, Google and LG have gone away from this method and included the technology upfront. Again, all you need is a charging pad and you can wireless charge this phone out of the box.
  • Gaming:  The Nexus 4 is a pleasure to game on. With its Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and Adreno 320 GPU, even the most intense HD games play incredibly well at high frame rates. Combine all that with the beautiful 4.7″ HD display and you have a match made in heaven for mobile gamers.

The Not-so-Good

  • No LTE:  Andy Rubin made it clear during the unveiling of the Nexus 4 that they could have included LTE connectivity, but that they weren’t convinced that the user experience would have been optimal. After the battery life disaster that was the LTE Galaxy Nexus, Google decided to put their resources in making an amazing phone that had everything the market had to offer, outside of LTE. While they wait for LTE networks to mature, we’re going to be left wondering if this was the correct move or not. Global networks are not as advanced in the LTE department as they are here, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t disappointed. LTE is the future and so is the U.S. wireless market. Part of buying a smartphone is deciding whether or not this phone is going to take you into the future. While most of us can live with HSPA+ speeds, a lack of LTE makes the Nexus 4 feel a step behind, when it shouldn’t. Oh, and let’s also not forget that the phone actually does have an LTE chip inside, but it isn’t active.

  • Glass Backside:  If you read my review of the Optimus G, the device the Nexus 4 is built off of, you probably saw the cracked backside. I still cannot figure out how I managed to crack that device, which is why the glass back on the Nexus 4 concerns me. One reviewer of this phone simply knocked his unit off his desk and was able to crack it. What other everyday wear and tear is going to ruin this beautiful backside? After dealing with numerous reports of broken glass backs on the iPhone 4 and 4S, even Apple decided against them. Hopefully, Google has done something extra special here to try and preserve these. I’m already dreading the moment that readers tip us to a forum thread somewhere with 50 pages of users complaining about cracked backs.
  • Battery Life:  Look, the battery life on the Nexus 4 isn’t atrocious by any means, but it’s also not all that impressive. With Google’s head honchos telling us that they left out LTE because they wanted to have a phone with exceptional battery life, I expected better. Below, I have screenshots that show a wide range of battery life, none of which were able to get me through more than 15 hours. And that 15 hour day, was all WiFi. Once I switched over to all HSPA+, it was a struggle to get the 2100mAh battery through 10 hours, especially if I took a few minutes out of my day to play a game or two.

(Click to enlarge.)

  • Headphone Jack:  The headphone jack on the Nexus 4 is placed at the top of the device and it drives me nuts. In the past, Google has moved headphone jacks to the bottoms of their phones, so I’m not sure why this phone is different. I know this seems like something not worthy of an entire bullet, but as someone that uses a headphone jack on a daily basis, it is a big deal. I’ve ranted about this subject before, so I’ll keep this short. I just wish we could get some sort of a standard going here. Try riding in a car and connecting your phone to both a USB cable to charge and 3.5mm cable which are on opposite sides of the phone – it’s a tangled mess of cords.



The Verdict:

The LG Nexus 4 is  an impressive smartphone. It packs top-of-the-line specs and is directly supported by Google, which means you get speed and performance along with the latest and greatest version of Android. The camera is much improved, the design highlights are gorgeous, and it comes in at a price that no one in the smartphone game has approached until now. For $299 or $349, you get a phone with arguably the best specs on the planet, but the feeling of freedom from carrier contracts.

It’s not all amazing, though. The battery life isn’t the best, I have some concerns about the durability of the glass backside, and the lack of LTE connectivity is a major disappointment.

Still, the Nexus 4 is probably my favorite phone to date. It stands for all that I believe in when it comes to a smartphone. It’s beautiful, powerful, new, open, and up-to-date. Oh, and it’s incredibly affordable.

  • G8KeaPoR

    So why are you using headphones while driving? Aside from being illegal have you ever heard of a bluetooth radio device? My GNex with 4.2.1 (OTA update from google. I have the unlocked version.) streams music on My Passat SEL’s factory radio unit. Who needs headphones?

  • Nexus4Luver

    Battery life is really dependent on how you use the phone. I have to admit, if you’re just using as a phone and don’t use the screen too much it’s fricken amazing! I scored over 2 days on it with stock 4.2.1, see below.

  • Sobr0801

    You know the best thing about this phone. Its not a Samsung!

    • G8KeaPoR

      Yeah but the worst thing about it is it’s an LG.

  • Dom

    Oregon yeah buddy, I got excited when I noticed the photos of my neighborhood Autzen Stadium :). Any who I’m very excited to throwing my money at google for this phone, it just has to become available…

  • CrazyMac10

    While the LG Nexus 4 is indeed technically compatible with the AT&T network, company policy will not allow you to get full hspa+ speeds out of their network using this device. The device in fact reports phone status that looks like hspa+ switching between the two hspa+ modes, however AT&T throttles the N4 speeds at the 2g/edge data rate or even lower. I bought and received my N4 and had it for a week before I just had to return it because of this disconnect between what could work technically and what AT&T would not allow by policy on their network. I could indeed talk on the phone and I did get a data connection, but the speeds were way below what they were for my 3g “real” AT&T phone(Captivate), no better than the 7kbps range. I setup and tried all of the APN settings and combinations available in various blogs for phone, pta, 3g, 4g, hspa+, etc. nothing would or even could as I found out change the state of the AT&T backend throttling. I therefore returned this otherwise great phone for a refund.

    • G8KeaPoR

      Thats why you buy the unlocked phone. Sadly carrier phones tend to have restriction phones placed on them especially Jelly Bean phones.

  • RoadsterHD1

    8 gigs is ridiculous and 16 is ok if you’re not gong save anything like pictures and forget movies. No SD, No sale.

  • As so many people complaining the battery life, here is my opinion of penny. You just need some twist to get more juice. As an example, I got 4 days battery life on one charge. How? Of course, I did not play video all the time. Just install some battery saving apps to turn off some background update and you will be fine. Here is the screen shot: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/bNn3J4b4DItScVydSrSnCOswjAcj7SauedMN6XuxeoY?feat=directlink

  • eazyean1

    hows the battery compared to the gnex??

  • Ray

    Love my Nexus 4. Wouldn’t trade it for 2 GS3’s.

  • karlo coronel

    where did you get your wallpaper?

  • I dont get his battery tests on this thing…..I get 3+ hours of use on mine, with 15-18 hours unplugged everyday. Whether I’m on hspa+ or wifi, my battery is still just awesome! I’m a pretty heavy user…. Along with tons of twitter, texts, Chrome, I also download a new theme build about 8 times a day and install it, and reboot. Weird… Lol

  • background pleasE ?

    what wallpaper is that

  • You can activate the LTE if you want. Google it.
    Headphone jack at the top is where it should be. “Tangled mess”, how useless are you?.

  • Guapo

    Where did you get that black and gold wallpaper?

  • potatomaster

    The back of mine already cracked in a similar manner. I left it to charge and came back to find it shattered. The concerns over the durability of the glass back are real.

  • Uriah Romero

    I have already ordered a Nexus 4, so it should be here soon. I am
    sticking with T-Mobile since they are the only carrier to offer unlimited data
    with actual speed. In many cases, the 4G on my current phone is faster than the
    LTE phone that one of my DISH coworkers has. We use the DISH Remote Access app
    on our phones to stream live and recorded shows through the Sling Adapter that
    we have on our receivers. With how much his phone buffers, it hardly seems
    worth paying extra for LTE. It will be nice being able to stream as much as I
    want without hitting a cap which makes no sense for a smartphone.

  • So is it possible to activate the lte chip?

  • The Not-so-Good : Storage

  • cmoG

    I mean….it’s cool, but I don’t see any need to leave my 32GB Nexus. No LTE or anything, so no cloud options for me. I don’t know, it doesn’t impress me. I’ll wait for the next one…given the economy doesn’t collapse by then.

  • JPXA

    – haha, I have the N4 and it doesn’t come with the stock launcher.

  • I’m on verizon at the moment, but I’m considering about leaving to go off contract with Tmobile next month. I’m torn between either the Galaxy Nexus or the Nexus 4 as my new phone. I’m not concerned about space since I use the cloud for nearly everything, but I don’t know how much longer Google will continue to support updates the the GNex while the N4 gets a fresh start.

  • Lyn Scott

    <3 that phone..

  • awesome.. too bad about battery life, but i think i am getting one because i love it.

  • Mike Weatherby

    I need a phone that you can charge with a portable battery charger since I spend time out in the wilds. What is the charging requirements for this phone in amps and watts?

  • trophynuts

    so much for the hype about the new quad core processors being more battery efficient. This is sad. Could you imagine what it would be WITH LTE? good greif. Since the ifixit photos leaked showing LTE radios they probably originally had planned for it and then saw the battery life and said F that. Guess what? I know you guys don’t want to hear this but here it is. The iphone 5 has LTE and GSM radios in it and you can leave LTE on all day and easily go 24 hours on a single charge.

    • Dain Laguna

      well thats a bit of a stretch. i have 2 folks who i work with who have iphone5’s and were initially scared of what lte would do to their battery life. with lte on, they get a good 12 to 13 hours, which is impressive to me (neither one shuts data or wifi off), but its not the 24 hours you are claiming. battery life is different for everyone. i know after looking at kellex’s usage, id get much more battery life outta an n4 than him.

  • Dain Laguna

    I’m going to play devils advocate here.

    I dont really think the battery life is ALL that bad. personally, keeping spare batteries and switching them out isnt something that the vast majority of folks do, so if having a phone that has a removable battery is important to you, well, we’ll just accept we are two different people, and you’ll (eventually, though not through the internet) accept that not everyone is like you and willing to tote around extra crap with him/her throughout the day.

    having said that, this phone, beats my gnex on battery life, pretty significantly. i get maybe (maybe) 12-13 hours a day on my Vzw Gnex, and i have a pretty solid ‘schedule’ as far as my usage is concerned.

    i unplug my phone at 8 in the morning, drive 25 min to work. wifi is on, as is auto brightness, pull notifications and gps. i turn data on when i leave from home, and stream google music until i get to work. then data goes off, and i’m on my works wifi for the majority of the day.

    mind you, i’m streaming over 3g, i leave lte totally off.

    i get texts, a phone call or two, maybe a youtube vid or two during lunch, and very rarely some gaming (i have an n7, so more robust activities happen on that device). my total onscreen time at work is probably only about a half hour.

    after that, back home, streaming gmusic, turn data off once i’m in the driveway. (and yes wifi is on this entire time) there is my 11-12 hours of battery life. the extended battery basically allowed me to get home without the battery already being in the yellow. after a youtube vid or two to appease my daughter while we watch tv, its down to about 14 percent, and still in the 12hour range (on a good day, maybe 13)

    so if googles new offering has a MASSIVELY bettery screen, top of the line and much improved processing and gaming capabilities, a notably better camera, and no carriers to get in the way of my updates, ALL while offering 2-4 more hours of battery life with much better data speeds than i’m using now? Thats a win in my book guys.

  • lilmoe2002

    Google Now is a POWER HOG. I could easily get 2 days out of my SGS3, but barely a day when Goolge Now is enabled.

    I wonder what the battery life would be on the Nexus 4 if Google Now is disabled. Also, might as well disable NFC and other services/peripherals that consume battery.

    Anyway, this IS a Nexus. I’m pretty sure lots of devs out there will nail the reason behind that battery life and most probably fix it.

    This is my next phone, it’s the only one out there that’ll make a Galaxy S fanboy ditch his Galaxy S3 even without a removable battery and an SD card slot (GOD I wish it had those, guess nothing’s perfect). Also, I LOVE stock Android.

  • Nick Letsom

    I’ve been getting 4-5 hours of screen-on time if connected to wifi, and about 3 hours if on HSPA+. And this is real, actual use. Constantly browsing with Chrome and such.

  • C-Law

    I get 3 to 3.5 hours screen on time with my gnex and 2100mah battery. Damn never thought I’d see a phone a year later with worse battery life

    • zurginator

      Custom ROM?

      It’s also worth asking wtf he was doing with his test unit…. I get near 5 hours of screen on time for 12 hours of life, and during the work week got 36 hours of battery life with 1.5 hours of screen on.

      That’s no Wifi either. Can’t wait to see the optimizations custom ROMs make….

  • Ravi

    Nice.. he didn’t even review the important bit.. the PHONE?? ie. call quality, speakerphone.. shakes head. waste.

    • People make calls? 😛

      Speaker is clear. Calls are clear. Holds signal well.

      • Dain Laguna

        to be fair kellen, i was hoping for some signal issue addressing as well, given the colossal issues folks had in some areas with the reception on their gnex.

        and the speakerphone. even you hated the gnex’s right? i was almost expecting a huge section on that alone 😉

  • shamu11
  • Bombhills

    What was your screen brightness? Just wondering considering battery life…
    Thanks for answering

  • Vice

    No LTE is a deal breaker for me

    • Christopher Moore

      Better yet no Verizon is a deal breaker for me.

  • Ge

    Would anyone be able to tell me what’s that wallpaper? Very nice!

  • JeffColorado

    No SD support is a crippling flaw. I will never buy a Nexus device for that reason. SD is standard on most Android phones for a really good reason.

    • I’ve thought about this, and I can’t help but think that no SD card is what Google would prefer. Google, and thus Android, is all about online use, storage, and services. After thinking about it for a while, it makes sense to me that Nexus devices would deemphasize SD cards, because you’re tied into an online ecosystem. Much more so than iOS. Aside from apps storage, i don’t need much local storage. I stream music from Google Music or Rdio.

      Data, in my mind, is the real issue when talking about a device not having an SD slot. Without content stored locally, you are required to stream everything. This consumes data.

  • strikeir13

    Thanks for cementing my decision to go with another phone. Hopefully the DNA has better battery life!

    Seriously, half the reason I considered the N4 was the purported better battery life to be achieved with only 1 radio (no CDMA/LTE dual setup). I understand the specs and screen are right up there with the best, but as new phones come out with the same specs, it is starting to seem like the only thing this phone has going for it is the Google aspect. An open bootloader and faster updates? Not enough anymore. If other manufacturers just relaxed their bootloader stances (or VZW allowed them to) and got their act together with updates, this phone (and unfortunately Google) would have very little going for it…

  • Nazzi_Muhammad

    That hand in the top picture looks like a dead mans hand..

  • RollTide

    did you get any good shots of the Cardinals running all over the Ducks?

    • I don’t know who the “Cardinals” are. 😛

  • Jim

    Thanks for the review. I’m one of those moving on to a non-Nexus device (the Galaxy Note 2). But even if the 4 had LTE radios I think the non-removable battery would be the deal breaker for me.

  • ben

    Data caps make me constantly use WiFi anyway so lack of LTE wouldn’t bother me.

  • I was SO excited about the prospect of multiple Nexus devices, that maybe…just maybe…my enthusiasm about the Nexus 4 was destined to be lukewarm.

    I have a Droid Incredible 2, and I have been holding off for quite some time to see what device would most pique my interest. (I left the door open for the iPhone 5 and Windows Phone 8 to see if they could lure me away from Android.) I thought about picking up a Galaxy Nexus on Craigslist, but decided against it because there are a crop of new phones coming out. I thought about moving over to the iPhone 5, but something has kept me from making that leap. (I think my heavy use of Google/Google Apps has a lot to do with it.) Windows Phone 8 presents the same issues of moving to a different platform. Doable, but do I want to bother? Meh. Shrug.

    The Nexus 4, in all honesty, is a bit of a let down to me. The design is uninspiring. Maybe I’d feel differently if I had one in my hands, but I doubt it. I’ve seen too many iPhone 4/4S devices with cracked glass to trust a Nexus with glass on both sides. You can shout Gorilla Glass all you want. Putting glass on the back of a smartphone is just not a good [long-term durability] idea in my opinion.

    I initially didn’t think the LTE vs 3G would be that big of a deal, or a deal-breaker. Then, I used my wife’s Galaxy S3. Wow! The speed difference between LTE and 3G in NYC is night and day. I, now, can totally understand why so many people immediately waived off the Nexus 4 when it was revealed that it lacked LTE.

    The battery life, or lack thereof, in the Nexus 4 is probably the deal breaker, though. I’ve had the Droid Incredible and the Droid X, and both had miserable battery life. Even the Droid Incredible 2’s battery life is suspect. There is nothing worse (hyperbole, of course) than being out, knowing that you haven’t used your phone much at all, and your battery bar is yellow.

    I just can’t bring myself to get the massive Note II. This leaves me with checking out the Droid DNA (battery life is suspect) or the GS3. I know there are a lot of people who hate VZW. I’m not one of them…at least for service. What drives me nuts is the company’s insistance on taking perfectly good devices and farting in their faces. Nevertheless, I’ll keep an open mind for a few more weeks and see if users report loving the Nexus 4, Droid DNA, and other devices that pop up (or rumors start building) between now and Christmas.

  • realfoxm

    Kellex– when you gonna post that wallpaper?

  • shooter50

    Hmmm, looks like Samsung (G-nex excluded) is still making the best phones. Removeable batteries, external storage, good battery life (remember I said G-nex excluded, lol) and of course LTE. So whats up with the Nexus 4? No LTE? In 2012? What is the target market, Kenya? Why use the battery excuse when Motorola has shown how to do it and doesn’t Google own Motorola? Andy Rubin? So you’ve given us half a phone and we should be excited because its cheap (it should be for what we get) and it runs 4.2. Pardon me if I pass.

    • Benjamin Sicard

      They used the battery excuse because it would be bad business to publicly throw Verizon under the bus.

    • well, LTE in europe isnt spread that much too. in germany its absolutely worthless and horribly expensive ( and we dont have unlimited data, its for like 500mb). and phones are generally more expensive than in the us (you still pay like 400 dollars for cheaper phones in a 2 year contract, about 600 to 800 for an iphone), so the nexus 4 is like THE phone to go with over here. you cant imagine how jealous we are for you americans with all that LTE and unlimited data 😀

    • March

      Yes, I get that it’s hard to understand that a Global market outlook rather than an American centric approach for open source, unlocked devices at half the cost of comparable hardware could confuse you. Maybe you would be better off buying one of the 5 versions of the same phone produced exclusively for your market, or do you not have enough choice already.

  • Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I find 4.2 to be a not-so-good. The UI changes such as the lock screen feel like a big step in the wrong direction.

  • scotts480

    The battery is not that bad. I get 6-7 hours of continuous use on my days off from work. Days I do work, I easily make it through the day

  • ToddAwesome

    My stock GNex regularly lasts me 15 hours, with light use, 75% of the time on wifi. The battery life here on the 4 is not great at all.

    • Benjamin Sicard

      My CM10 VZW GNex, on average, lasts about 24 hours, but our personal battery life stories don’t say much because we all use and configure our phones differently. You can really only take the “X phone lasted longer than Y phone” to heart, and not the hard numbers. He got 9 or so hours doing Kellex things on a Kellex configured phone. Your experience would almost certainly vary(see the difference between our two GNex numbers).

      • ToddAwesome

        I agree that nothing is equal in the smart phone world. My basic point was that I’m getting 15 hours in what I would call as close to a vanilla stock setup as possible. I recently did a hard reset, running stock, about the only thing I have that ‘runs’ on my phone right now is GMail and I turn the screen on now and then, reply to emails now and then. With that very light use, primarily on wi-fi, I’m getting 15 hours.

  • kselby

    You went to that Oregon game?!? Haha. You chose the wrong one to go to! And look at all the fans at that Trail Blazers game! At least the Timbers have support…

    • That was 20 mins before the game started. Blazers fans roll in by mid-1st quarter usually. No standing room only areas like at Timbers games, so no reason to get their 3 hours before hand.

      And yeah, what a disaster that Ducks game was. I’m not even a huge fan, but damn, even I’m disappointed in that effort.

      • kselby

        Is the blazers attendance decent? Timbers games are such an awesome experience, I went to one this season. Do you go to their games? I am an earthquakes fan…haha.

  • Diablo81588

    Wow that battery life sucks! Thanks for posting screen on time in the review, much appreciated. It’s fairly sad that a phone without LTE gets worse battery life than my bionic, which not only has a first gen LTE radio, but also an old and inefficient processor.

  • Christopher Chin

    Just got into Ingress. It KILLED my battery on the GNex. Glad I can swap out batteries.
    Using Ingress with the Nexus 4 will have you looking for an outlet way more frequently.

    Was really hoping the battery life would be killer, but oh well. so is life.

    • derek connolly

      how did you get a code??? im jealous

  • Tim Buchanan

    I honestly don’t understand all the buzz about this phone. Top of the line specs aren’t so “top-of-the-line” when they are paired with a poor battery and a laughably low onboard storage capacity (not to mention the glaring LTE omission). I had high hopes for the Nexus line but…this one looks like a let down.

  • MooleyBooleyTroll


    Chip Kelly is such a tool….

  • cooksta32676

    Phone arena said the DNA gets hot enough where you have to set it down during heavy usage. Also the GPU gets smoked trying to push all the pixels, causing what they considered substantial lag for redraw compared to the OneX or other high end 720 displays. I think I’ll be happy with the new note 2, and its “outdated” display. LoL

  • Bob O’Daniel

    That’s a cute kitty. ^_^

  • Headphone jack on the top is a con? I prefer it on top, or else if its on the bottom my phone is upside-down when I plug it into my car..

    • Diablo81588

      I agree, but with such terrible battery life, you would need to plug in the car charger as well. Kinda hard to keep the phone from sliding around with wires sticking out of the top and bottom.

    • Benjamin Sicard

      Alone, I don’t think the jack being on the top is a con(that’s just Kellex’s personal rant as he states), but he does make a good point that having the 3.5mm jack and the Micro USB jacks on different sides of the phone IS a valid con.

  • No 4G is inexcusable…battery life is fine on RAZR Maxx, Maxx HD, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, etc…its called getting a bigger battery…something HTC is just now figuring out but damn…mind as well keep the Incredible 2 if you have one, just root and poof, Nexus 4

    • Droidzilla

      LTE and HSPA+ are both 4G, per the newer definition. Per the original definition of 4G, neither qualify. HSPA+ 42 is just as fast as LTE.

      • Dain Laguna

        now stop being reasonable and stating those crazy facts!

  • OG<-Original Galaxy nexus

    Dude Kellex,
    Seriously get a bluetooth head unit.

    • Diablo81588

      Bluetooth audio quality sucks and drains your battery.

  • Headphone jack on the top!!!! F-that I’m getting the iPhone 5!!!!…..smh…the best part is that these phone turn…so guess what…now my headphone jack IS on the bottom….but oh no now the artist name is upside down…who is this person singing?!?! is this track 2 or 5?!? ahhhhhhh!!!!!

  • zepfloyd

    In, before the trolling of “well if the Nexus 4 doesn’t have good battery life then the DNA must….”

    • Greyhame

      Battery life is different for different users (taking a page out of Madden’s book and just stating the obvious). While the DNA may have decent battery life, the sad fact remains that HTC didn’t try to quell any fears by putting something beefier inside. And also that they allowed VZW to limit them to 16 GB of storage. They need to step up and get the same privileges that apple and samsung get, and release the same phone across multiple carriers. I’m sick of the two horse race between sammy and apple to get all the mobile profits.

  • What’s up with your battery life? Androidpolice squeezed 4 and a half hours of screen on time while on HSPA+42…

    • I guess they have magic battery charging fingers. I have no idea, but battery life hasn’t been awesome at all. I’m also on AT&T, not T-Mo.

      • shamu11

        do you think I could make it through a day with juice defender with about 2 hours of screen usage (most of it web browsing) and on hspa 75% of the time, wifi on the other 25%???

  • TheDrunkenClam

    Wallpaper in the top pic?

  • schoat333

    Damn, that Battery life is worse than mt LTE Gnex with the 2100mah extended battery. I can get at least 14 hours on LTE all day.

    • Dain Laguna

      really? that sounds damn near impossible. i see 12, maybe 13 hours of off-charger usage with 3g on streaming music to and from work, and then being on wifi for the majority of the day…WITH the extended battery. i dont think anyone has gotten that type of battery life with lte on all day.

      • schoat333

        Its true. Here’s a screenshot of 8 minutes shy of 14 hours. This is on lte all day.

        • Dain Laguna

          glad i’m not the only one who isnt jaded about the gnex’s battery life! i think its one of the reasons i’m not bummed about lte..i have good hspa+ service in my area, so if the n4 can give me fast data speeds (well, faster than verizons 3g at the very least) and still beat my battery life with my gnex, and offer up superior processing/camera shots/screen tech, i’m more than satisfied. i may post up a screenshot today after i get home.

    • zurginator

      A) I bet you’re on a custom ROM, which isn’t fair to compare to stock since the N4 will likely see the same improvements.
      B) I get on average 36 hours of battery on my N4, with 3-4 hours of screen on. And that IS stock.

  • Mack

    Imagine how many more people would have bought a Nexus 4 if it ran on Verizon, I would have in a heartbeat.

    As if Google’s servers weren’t overloaded on launch day already.

  • QQpayne

    Any word on when the DNA Review will be release, I am kinda waiting on that one.

    • We are working on it today actually. 🙂

      • Rob

        Hey Kellex, I’m in a bubble between the Maxx HD and DNA. Either in the review or show, can you throw us your personal opinion for an android enthusiast. Both have their benefits, but I just want to know your thoughts on a day to day phone. Thanks man. *Great review btw

        • James

          If the Maxx HD is one of two options for you then it stands to reason that battery life is your main concern considering that’s the one thing the Maxx HD clearly outclasses the rest of the field with. The DNA supposedly has average battery life but the Maxx HD has double the battery life of the DNA. My DNA shows up tomorrow BTW 🙂

          • Rob

            Dude I’m jealous. See it’s just I have the Maxx right now and it makes everything about my phone better b/c I dont ever worry about it dying out on me. Yea the DNA is a frickin wet dream, but I wondering if it’s worth sacraficing awesome battery life and (still) pretty good specs. We’ll see. I’m probably getting the DNA anyway 😛

          • droidlord

            Or you want to sacrifice everything except battery if you get Maxx instead.

            I will pick DNA if I were you.

  • shamu11

    With juice defender, this phone should make it a day with moderate use easily right?

  • duke69111

    From your photos the battery life looks better, but is not what I expected.

  • zulu208

    just hope I can get two by xmas. my parent’s phone need a replacement.

  • Greyhame

    Ouch on the battery life pics. Not much better than the GNex. A shame.

    • duke69111

      My thoughts exactly.

    • BSweetness

      Yeah. At least a spare battery or extended battery could be used with the Galaxy Nexus. Battery life like that coupled with a non-removable battery is a serious cause for concern for me.

      • Greyhame

        Good point.

        • michael arazan

          Will they make a spectre tempered glass cover for bothe front and back of the phone? Dropping it in a case isn’t going to prevent the glass from cracking on the backside

          • It will help as long as the case is gel tpu and not hard

      • well, i will customize on most applications, because i don’t use much stuff on my phone, that’s my tablet job hehe

    • kixofmyg0t

      With the lack of LTE, SD card support, small storage options and horrible(In my opinion) battery life…..I’m glad I have the RAZR MAXX HD.

      It’s a shame, the N4 could have been so much better.

      • Paul

        It would have been great if there was a Nexus 5 as well that was more expensive but had a bigger battery and more rom options (not going to bring up sd card since Google just isn’t going to support that). The Nexus 4 is cheap which is great, but it would be nice if there were an expensive option.

    • The battery life IS atrocious. 1H34m of screen-on time is simply unacceptable. Especially for a device with a non-removable battery. What were they thinking? A total shame. I really wanted this phone. On the bright side, those pictures are great and I’m not sure I agree that the S3 is better. The S3 is really a day cam and takes some grainy pics. Don’t even mention how horrible it is in low-light situations. The Nexus looks very nice.

      • Kandiboyyy

        1H34m of screen on time is pretty false. I can get up to 5-6 hours if my phone is charged correctly.

        • How do you mean charged correctly?

          • Kandiboyyy

            I mean once the battery has been broken in and gone from low charge to full charge without interruptions. If I don’t do good charging habits I get around 2 hours of on screen time. However when I’m using a good charge I get around 5-7 depending on the app app or game I’m using.

    • Plerisei

      Interesting how this battery life tested, considering in Android Central’s test, battery life was far better than in this review. Very interesting.

      • shamu11

        it was amazing on androidpolice’s review

        • Plerisei

          Yea; I wonder if this unit isn’t functioning properly.

          • March

            I’ve read that some pre-retail units were sent for review with beta 4.2 builds? Some reviews are being updated, some not… What has been quoted are camera software updates, the new lock screen widgets and better battery life.

    • Jroc869, Cool story bro

      So I guess there have been reported battery drain issues due to 4.2, and I might go as far as to assume it might be happening to the final version of 4.2. I saw a bunch of early reviews that had no issues with battery life so I still hold out hope that a software fix cant make it better. Maybe that is also the reason why people have been so puzzled by the fact that the Optimus G has better battery life and LTE with pretty much the same exact internals.

      • Emily Dirsh

        I think there are performance issues associated with 4.2 since DNA and optimus G are killing the Nexus 4 in the benchmarks.

        • Dain Laguna

          those were tied to the phone over-heating. they re-ran tests on anandtech after the final version of 4.2 was released, and all the benchmarks there pretty much had the nexus4 as the 2nd most powerful phone after the iphone5.

          besides, i’ll take real world usage over benchmarks. sense is gonna slow done the dna eventually.

    • shamu11
    • Paul

      Worse than the DNA, yet Google says LTE kills battery life.

    • Ray

      I’m sure an update will fix the battery issue.

  • Booyah

    Looks like I’ll be rocking my GNex until Verizon pulls Unlimited from me, and at that point, I make the switch to a phone like this. Kind of looking forward to it, as I’m sick of giving Verizon my money, but I’ll enjoy Unlimited in the meantime.

    • Greyhame

      Right there with you.

    • Bionicman

      one of the benefits of having multiple lines is having multiple upgrades. im using one of the my other lines upgrade and switching that line to 2GB tiered standalone and upgrading to GNOTE 2. then I’m moving it to my line, while keeping my unlimited.

      • Booyah

        Do you have to keep the line you just created then? I could see the benefit of that if you’re able to cancel one of the lines after that.

        • Zacharypt

          If you use a line’s upgrade, the line with the eligible upgrade is renewed into a 2 year contract.

    • VZWinsider

      VZWInsider, we too feel the same way.

  • markgbe

    My concern is … That my friggin order hasn’t changed since Tuesday!!!!!

  • Mordecaidrake

    Lack of LTE, expandable memory (16gb is no where near enough), and no Verizon made this phone awful 🙁

  • Masterminded

    What I’d like to know is, why the battery life is so much worse than the Optimus G? It’s got the same specs, is it a bug in Android 4.2? Or is it because of some power saver software on the Optimus G, if it is, can it be ported?

    • Great question, and I do not know. It certainly doesn’t seem like stock Android phones have ever been that great on battery life though. Could be that Google isn’t optimizing for battery life very well.

      • Could it be due to LG having “Eco Mode”? Apparently it allows the 4 cores to operate asynchronously depending on usage. Does the Nexus 4 have this feature? I just returned my Sprint LG Optimus G but the 2 days using it was a pleasure. With my usage pattern, the battery lasted from day well into night before needing 1 recharge.

  • I heart your wallpaper. Is it one of the 4.2 wallpapers? Great review!

  • Greg Morgan

    Re: Battery Life, still 2-3 times longer the the GNex. So I’ll take it! Lol

    • It is heh. Problem is, LTE phones are getting better battery life than this phone.

      • SA_NYC

        Kellex, thanks for being straight about the battery life on this one. I can’t accuse you of the same in your review of the GNex…That said, I still love my GNex, minus the battery life (horrible even on 3G only), I think it’s the perfect phone. Until this one, maybe.

    • t3chi3

      On my Galaxy Nexus with an extended battery and franco kernel I get 14 hours.

      • Greg Morgan

        Even with Franco and extended batter, I’m lucky if I get 7-8. And i’ve tried several batteries, Roms, Kernals. All the same. But I deal.

      • SA_NYC

        Me too…as long as I barely use the thing.

  • ddevito

    Seems Google is on the ‘ping pong’ release schedule for Nexus phones. The N4 is like the Nexus S – subtle improvements (if not refined).

    I bet next year will bring LTE and an entirely new design.

    • MotoRulz

      Sure hope your right on that.. And sure wouldn’t hurt if Motorola gets the build.

    • Droidzilla

      I think the S4 Pro quad core makes this a large improvement over the GNex. The lack of LTE is a political thing, not a tech thing.

      • ddevito

        politics for you

        web browsing, media streaming, portable hotspot for me


        • Droidzilla

          HSPA+ 42 is over 20 Mbps in many areas (mine included).

  • Dan Kilpatrick

    It’s been a week and I’m still crying over my backorder email… 🙁

    • I probably would be too. 🙁

    • Jroc869, Cool story bro

      Then we have some douch dropping a perfectly good N4 to see if it will break. I could have saved him the trouble and just told him it would.

    • mw630

      At least they told you yours is back ordered. They still can’t tell me what is up with mine. Ordered it first thing in the morning, got the confirmation e-mail, account says it was scheduled to ship 11/15.

      Their CSRs can’t tell me if it is back ordered or when it will ship. I have talked to 5 different reps and gotten 5 completely different answers.

  • It is missing the “Storage” on the “Bad Things”

    • Not a problem for me. 😛

      • But you should have told. It is not a problem, but people might care about it.

        • Droidzilla

          People care about a lot of things; doesn’t mean they ought to be in the review.

  • Jroc869, Cool story bro

    And this is what I have to kill my time until UPS decides to ring my doorbell today and hand me my phones.

  • EC8CH

    Would have bought two if they were on Verizon…

    Here’s hoping for next time.

    • Until Google figures out a way to get in on Verizon’s network without actually giving it to Verizon, it could be a while, I’m afraid.

      • EC8CH

        Why does Verizon have to suck so hard?

        • I’ll just leave this here…


          • Greyhame


            +1000 internets.

          • Dr_Buttballs

            Thanks, Kellex. Now my sides wont stop hurting.

          • Ha! Dead.

          • jldleo

            WOW. Kellex I don’t know if I should be made at Deion for singing the song and making a video or at you for posting it. It is now firmly stuck in my head thanks.. 🙂

        • Bob G

          Because they can. Just like Apple, they know they’ve got people who won’t leave them no matter how bad it gets.

      • Mack

        I’m assuming once Verizon allows LTE only (VoLTE) phones on their network this won’t be a problem. The current CDMA requirement for all LTE phones is what is still causing issues. I’m hoping that in about a year we wil be able to purchase unlocked multiband LTE devices and use them on any LTE network, Verizon included since they are required to allow unlocked LTE only devices thanks to the FCC.

      • What’s interesting, though, is that Verizon cleared the path for Apple. You would think that as much as Verizon has gained from Android, there would be a little more give-and-take on the updates…if not the bloatware.

        • Greyhame

          May as well add HTC to that list. Samsung and apple are the only companies to be able to release the same phone across multiple carriers.

          • I was thinking less about having a device on multiple carriers than I was making the point that Apple gets on carriers without them meddling with the phone/ecosystem. I know that’s not how Android operates, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Google flex some muscle with regard to OEMs and carriers skinning and bloating devices.

          • Greyhame

            Ah, I see. Yes, agreed.

        • Droidzilla

          The iPhone has tremendous pull. Apple can basically set the terms and Verizon, or any other carrier, has no choice but to play ball. The Nexus line doesn’t have that same kind of clout. the only other phone model with even close to that kind of pull is Samsung’s Galaxy series.

          • I agree about Apple’s pull. That’s the difference of an integrated company versus multiple OEMs running a licensed OS.

            This may be too far for some people, but I think the time has long since come for Google to assert some control over the entire ecosystem and product line. I would be fine with OEMs competing to making compelling hardware and leave the OS and UI to Google. Matias Duarte, in my opinion, has done a good job steering Android in the right direction — in terms of overall functionality and UI improvements. It just feels like OEMs are mucking it all up with Crayola-looking skins and unnecessary tweaks.

          • Jared Nichols

            I completely agree with this, I AM SICK OF THE SKINS with project butter and JB the OS looks so polished and some of these skins make it look dated(look at the DNA running Gbread:) and flat-out ugly and I shouldn’t have to root(which I do) and run another launcher just to hide the garbage. Let your hardware differentiate, if your good it will show. I bet some of these phones might run better without all that junk and possibly get updates quicker if there all uniform. I actually like what Moto is doing with less blur, on-screen nav keys and an overall more stock experience. Just my opinion.

          • kg215

            It does have pull but Apple can’t set as many terms with Verizon as other carriers, that is why Verizon did not get the iphone until the 4. Don’t underestimate Verizon’s arrogance, when they are being pricks toward Apple it doesn’t seem that bad though.

      • Jared Nichols

        totally agree with this I thought that ever since this phone was announced that VZW would never see another nexus IMHO and it’s a shame because I’m so addicted to the nexus brand of devices B-E-Autiful and stock android that I’ve made my decision to leave there great coverage for this phone and maybe one day Doogle Wireless,lol!!

      • Verizon’s network is open for any device that’s compatible.
        The real issue is CDMA technology IS NOT open source.
        Sure, Google can make a Nexus 4 that has GSM/UMTS/HSPA/CDMA/LTE like most of Verizon’s current phones (expecially if it’s a Motorola or iPhone 5 cause they work on US UMTS/HSPA) All you would have to do is put in your Verizon SIM card and it WOULD work. It would legally have to.
        But then google couldn’t just simply push software updates to them until they get approval from Qualcomm for each build, since CDMA is not open source.

  • kxc1279

    Great smartphone indeed, just wish I had gotten it before they were sold out.

  • 4n1m4L

    “Beautiful backside ” lol