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Nexus 4’s Glass Back, the Worst Idea Since the Last Phone With a Glass Back

The LG Nexus 4, Google’s newest Nexus device, such a thing of beauty, isn’t it? That brilliant 4.7″ display on the front, the Crystal Reflection pattern tucked under a piece of glass on the back, those cascading edges, and that soft touch plastic housing, all make up for one of the more interesting smartphone designs of the last couple of years. Unfortunately, for those that purchased one or plan to purchase one, you may have to cover it up with a bumper or case, as it may also be one of the most fragile smartphones ever made.Β 

Glass, never known to many as the most durable of coverings, blankets the Nexus 4 both front and back. On the front, we have an LCD display that’s covered by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2, a product promoted for its ability to bring extra toughness to smartphones. On the back, we get the same sort of protection. Well, at least we thought so. After having an LG Optimus GΒ (review) – the phone that laid the groundwork for the Nexus 4 – and now this new Nexus, I can without a doubt in my mind, say that glass on the back of a smartphone is one of the worst design ideas of the decade.

The back glass plate of both of these devices cracked on me within two weeks of having them. Two weeks. But before we get into this, I should probably point out that I take better care of my smartphones than almost anyone you will ever meet. My original DROID looked like it was a week old, a year after having purchased it. I’ve never had to replace a phone via warranty or insurance, as I’ve rarely ever dropped one. In fact, I’m not sure I would even get past one hand if I were to try to count the number of times I’ve dropped a phone. I don’t use cases or screen protectors because I’ve never had to. Again, I baby the hell out my toys.

But back to these two cracked backs – both of which cracked without a drop. Let me say that again – both the Optimus G and Nexus 4 cracked in my possession without ever dropping them. You know what did it? Setting them down gently onto my room temperature stone countertop. That’s it. The temperature change after it went from my warm hand to a room temperature countertop was apparently enough to split both devices’ glass backs almost directly down the middle. To think, that deciding whether or not my device is going to crack just by laying it down gently, is something my mind doesn’t even want to entertain. But that’s where I’ll be should I decide that I want a Nexus 4 that no longer looks this way.

It’s not just me, either. Take a tour through your various Android forums and you’ll find reports left and right of scratches and cracks. Most of these reports also include lines like “I don’t know how it happened, I’ve been super careful with it” and “I pulled it out of my pocket and noticed a crack.”

So why on Earth would LG and Google choose glass? That’s a great question. Since there is an entire industry now dedicated to replacing glass backs of the iPhone 4, I’m not sure I have an answer. All you have to do is Google “iPhone 4 glass back” and you’ll come up with dozens of fix-it shops, stories of lawsuits, and and how-tos on replacing the back of the phone with something other than glass. Since posting up pictures of both devices with broken backs, the first comment I received each time was, “How did they not learn from Apple?” Even Apple learned from Apple, going with an aluminum backside for its new iPhone 5.

Glass is fragile, everyone knows that. Well, apparently not everyone or we wouldn’t have phones with back panels made of the material. I don’t think I need to continue to hammer this point home any longer, so I’ll just say this – if you are buying a Nexus 4, buy a bumper, case, back screen protector or any other protective material that you can find because it’s not safe.

  • Phil Ward

    My screen cracked in the corner from a height of 2’4″, then shattered from a second fall from a height of 2’8″. Both times the phone fell, was caused by the smooth glass backing being so slick that it slid off of cloth surfaces that were apparently greater than 2ΒΊ angles…

    Why would you design a device with a smooth back? LG is no-doubt going to blame user error for their stupid engineering… I have a feeling they are going to tell me: “I should have protected it with a case” to my rebuttal: “If a phone is designed properly in the first place, it doesn’t need a protective case.”

    Anybody up for a class action?

  • Grabbs

    Today I fell and landed on my Nexus 4 which was in my pocket. ive never felt this stupid before. When I picked upp the phone upp the whole backside was “crushed”, cracks everywhere!

  • Rebecka

    I wonder if both the front and back have Gorilla Glass 2, why you just crack the back but not the front? Should not both sides be equally sensitive? I mean in general. Those who will break the back of the Nexus 4 and earlier iPhones, why they are not breaking the front as easily?

    Did I understand correctly that your Nexus 4 cracked on the back as a result of the temperature difference (from hand to countertop)? Sounds strange! I know that someone dropped it on the basement floor and then I can understand it cracks (do not remember if it was front or back).

  • Trisha

    I have had my Nexus 4 for two weeks & guess what, the glass back has a hairline crack, I have noticed it gets quite hot with use & then I lay it on the kitchen worktop to charge it & the crack appeared, I got in touch with LG who said its nothing to do with us !!! So I phoned Google & was told to send it back & they’ll decide if its been dropped, , well I can imagine they’ll decide it has, but I can’t honestly say I’ve looked after it, I even keep it in my glasses case in my handbag, whilst I’m waiting for a decent flip case to be designed, Oh & if I do send it back they will send a new one, but if they decide I’ve damaged it I’ll end up paying for two !!!

  • eaglerare

    just dropped my nexus 4. broken front screen and now the touchscreen wont work. unlike other phones ive seen work with a broken screen i can even unlock the homescreen. I plan on sending to LG for repair

  • 456

    Glass not fragile, cheap glass does

  • Yep, dropped mine last night and have a small crack in the glass. Whilst waiting for my bumper to arrive from Google too. Annoying

  • i’ve hardly heard of anyone breaking the glass on ANY forum. only Josh
    Topolsky from the verge and here. If it was a wide spread issue I would
    have heard about it by now… all over the place. just like apple has all it’s problems which go viral in hours. it hasn’t, the phone has been out for almost a month now…

  • Please Tweet Otter Box to build a case.

  • hans007

    i’ve dropped my galaxy nexus, literally 100s of times. because i go to the gym with it in my pocket and shoot baskets it falls out a lot onto a hardwood floor.

    granted thats not concrete or something, but it hasnt broken, and barely looks used . most of the scratches on the casing are from it sometimes touching coins or keys in my pockets. yes its not the best feeling phone in hand, and theres a lot of things that aren’t perfect about it (liek the earpiece sucking, the battery life being horrible even for its generation phone, the google provided OS image randomly rebooting etc). but durable is one thing it has been.

    Im hoping my razr m that is coming is anywhere close to this durable (and at least the m can have the entire case replace pretty cheaply and easily ,…. unlike say any iphone)

  • unearthen

    Then please don’t buy one. I enjoy being the only one around that I’ve seen with the new nexus =)

  • Ravynmagi

    Don’t drop your glass phone on a hard metal surface.

  • CharlieHorse

    Why didn’t he learn is lesson the first time? Why set both phones on the counter? why not put them in cases? Unless they were both set on the counter at the same exact time and both cracked at the same time as well.

    • Because more than likely, he thought it was a fluke w/that phone, and possibly had a doubt about how it got cracked.. Then, when the exact same thing happened to a totally different phone, he realized that it was due to temperature shock, not misuse/abuse.. Just my thoughts.

      • You are exactly right. I didn’t know what happened with the Optimus G. Then found out the hard way with the Nexus 4.

  • Noel

    I love this device and i will still buy one with a bumper and down the road hope an Otterbox Commuter series case. But i have a few Questions for Google and LG

    1) Didn’t they learn from the iPhone debacle with glass backs.

    2) Glass = break what were they thinking..the glitter looks nice an all but it is not a trade off for a cracked glass back plate.

    3) Didn’t they put this device thru all kind of stress test, drop test and also with real testers to realize this will happen.

    4) Since the device in some cases like that of the writer of this article just cracks due to temperature changes, who is responsible for repairs…Google or LG??

    5) If both front and back glass are made of the same material…why is just the back glass cracking…will we eventually see the front glass panel also cracking for no reason?

    6) Could the heat generated by the battery be responsible for the cracking?

    Maybe a clear thin resistant plastic could be used instead..if they are so kin to keeping the glitter back. But it is a problem that need prompt attention by Google and LG if the glass just cracks by itself.

  • nty not getting that huge devie with a bumper

  • Josh

    Glass on the front of a phone is a necessary evil (at least until companies like Samsung perfect flexible screen technology). Glass on the back is sheer idiocy. What possible justification is there to making the back of a phone unnecessarily fragile? When I heard the iPhone 4 had a glass back, I initially thought it was a joke. Upon learning it was true, I was incredulous, but found it believable as Apple had made it clear for years that they value form over function. But for Google to allow their flagship phone to include not just a blatantly stupid design design choice, but the same blatantly stupid design choice made by their biggest competitor, is shocking and sickening beyond words. If I were an executive at Google, I would have had the designer who suggested this fired on the spot, and would personally see to it that this moron never held a job title elsewhere above “fry cook”. If this is the direction Google is going with Android, ignoring common sense in favor of some vague “oooh… shiny!” factor, I seriously fear for the future of the platform.

    • Josh

      I should add that, despite this baffling and foolish design decision, the Nexus 4 is still a great phone. The rest of the hardware is top-notch, the screen is great, Jelly Bean is superb, and the price is unbeatable. My fear is that the philosophy behind having a glass back will bleed into other aspects of Android, which would be a disaster for the platform as a whole. I just hope for the Nexus 5, Google actually listens to Android users and to common sense: a removable, NON-GLASS back, replaceable battery, and more storage.

  • kane

    The best thing you can do is not get drunk and lose it in a bar

  • Kevlar does not crack either. The Droid Razr Maxx HD is the best feeling phone I have held in my hand.

  • Jeremiah Burns

    I’m not being controversial, and I’m not being a fanboy.

    I’ve got an iPhone 4 which I’ve had for a couple of years. No case. None. Dropped it several times. It looks great.

    That said, I’m ordering a Nexus 4 this week (see? Not a fanboy). And I’m not concerned.

  • Jim Vitatoe

    Glass that is stressed in any way will break if you just look at it wrong.

  • Martin Nilsson

    I think we have a case of “new Coca Cola” here. Everyone hates Coke, but love Pepsi, so you make a new Coke. Now everyone will bitchat about this being crazy and then you can re-launch your old product and everyone will be more then happy.

  • Adam Trudeau

    Should have been a Samsung

  • I have a glass backed phone and have dropped it several times without any damage. I disagree with your post.

    • Robert Johnson

      But do you have a room-temperature stone countertop, sir?

  • CharlesJorgenson

    now is when an aftermarket company needs to step up and sell a plastic or metal back

    • Luxferro

      That’s what I’m waiting for. It’s a simple thing to make, and easy profits for which ever company does it first, and does it right.

    • Lucas_W

      Or sell glass backs by the dozen.

    • Robert Johnson

      Problem is that there are four antennae integrated into the back. It’s not just a pop-off battery cover.

  • Bionic

    Worst. Nexus. Ever.

    • Out of all four of them?

      • Bionic


        • It’s a change. I’m happy for that. At least they’re trying new things

  • Eric Coffman

    I don’t believe that it is glass. Feels and sounds like plastic.

  • TylerChappell

    And to think of all of the obnoxious people that downvoted for me complaining how having glass on both front and back was a poor design choice that didn’t stray far enough away from Apple’s design. Seriously, this is ridiculous, I am glad I will be passing this phone up. I was actually tempted to switch from Verizon to get a Nexus 4, but the maximum 16GB storage, glass backing, and no LTE are huge red flags. I’ll have to pass up on the Droid DNA also, so I guess I just have to wait until CES and MWC and hopefully by then SOMEONE will be intelligent enough to properly design a high-end device.

  • be careful

    Absurd article… Take better care of your things and they won’t break!

    • Clearly did not read the article.

  • ray01000101010101

    Get a case and protect your investment.

    • Why even make phones look nice if everybody should be covering them up with cases? Make phones durable.. ie no extra glass…

  • YoSaintLaurent

    I hate to be the voice of reason but granite and glass don’t mix well. That is actually one of the major downsides of having granite counter tops. I am sure if you had placed it face down the screen would have broke(though it would probably take a little longer). Mixing warm glass with cool granite is a little like spraying water on a hot light bulb.

  • Why is anyone surprised by this? The phone’s were made by LG. That should have sent up warning flares even if one of the phones was a Nexus. I haven’t liked LG’s quality since the flip phone days.

    • My first phone was an LG flip phone and it was unbreakable! Literally couldn’t break it if I tried. Dropped it about 100 feet onto tar and all the happened was the back popped off and battery came out. May not have been a luxury flip phone but those don’t exist.

      • All flip phones are unbreakable…

  • kixofmyg0t

    I’d just like to point out that my RAZR M flew put of my ACU jacket as I was getting out of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and slammed onto the concrete face down and didn’t break……

    You gently set the N4 on a table and it cracked.

    Not saying if one is better than the other just pointing out two truths.

  • Ryan de Medeiros

    Do you think a bumper would have made a difference?

    • Robert Johnson

      Due to the lip that the bumper provides on the back, most probably.

  • That’s what you get for having LG design your phone.

  • enob

    I’m wondering if it’s gorilla glass on the back too. It seems like they put stronger glass on the front, then cheap out on the back

  • Chris Hollenbeck

    Chicks dig scars.

  • Dain Laguna

    am i the only one who remembers how non-babying kellen is with phones in video reviews? not saying thats indicative of how he treats them all the time but it seems like since so many are butthurt about sd cards and the like, any opportunity to bash the n4 is taken advantage of.

    i like cases personally. but i also dont see how its feesible to not have wear and tear on a totally unprotected device. i had an iphone and was just accepting of the needing protection thing. its my personal preference, but ill take a more delicate but gorgeous looking and feeling phone over a more utilitarian one if the price i have to pay is a case.

    but still…glass isnt a good idea for a material to cover a smartphone with.

    • I’ve never broken a phone in my life. Never used a case or screen protector. All of them look brand new all of the time. These two phones, with the same glass back, are the only two I’ve ever had an issues with. I do baby my phones.

  • Ibrick

    Life is indeed not good.

  • chris125

    Everyone can hate on samsung and their “cheap plastic” but you dont see posts like this popping up with their devices.

  • Bobknows

    This is super disappointing. With my current phone in disrepair, I’m planned on getting the Nexus 4. Should i just grab the HTC One V for $50 via Virgin Mobile and wait for the next Nexus or should I spring for the Galaxy S3 unlocked to use on T-Mobile? I want a phone that lasts at least a couple of years (maybe more), and it looks like I can either grab a cheap device to hold me over or grab a solid phone now.

  • fixxmyhead

    i blame all u fanboys for demanding “better materials” in use for smartphones. i dont see 60in led tvs made of aluminum or metal casings. i prefer the samsung way. NOT once in my life has someone said that my phone “looks good” ala the HTC fanboy way but they have said its thin and fast

  • snowglyder

    I think it adds character.

  • chris125

    haha must be that great lg build quality. Even the iphone 4 back didn’t break that easily.

  • Last night my N4 took a dive from the counter top down to a hardwood floor, falling behind the couch. Not a scratch, this time. I, like Kellex, baby my devices. My GNexus is scratch free and in great shape, one year later. I’m waiting for two cases for the N4, bumper and a Cruzerlite case. Hope they hurry before it’s too late!!

  • Milo

    These Nexus phones are getting worse and worse.

  • Three words: Buy a Case. And if you’re one of the type that hates to cover up your phone because it’s beauty needs to be displayed you’re a jackass. My main reasons to always have a case on my phone is because 1. I will drop it (not sure when but it WILL HAPPEN) and 2. I resell ALL my phones within the span of 8 months so I want them to look immaculate with no scratches or dents in case it was dropped and 3. with a case on the damn thing it’s less likely to ever get damaged; the case will take all the

    So many pros to having a case. Stop worrying about how durable the phone is and enjoy the beauty of it’s software and affordable price. People really love to find something to complain about. If it’s not thin enough it’s too heavy and if it’s not made of titanium steel then it’s too cheap or the battery isn’t removable or the dog has cancer…blah blah blah….GTFO

    • Dain Laguna

      hahah i wish i could upvote this more

    • You do understand that putting a case/bumper on the phone completely negates the entire design/innovation/thinness of said phone. So yes, it may make it more durable now.. but the whole beauty and design that you’re paying for is now destroyed. So, using your theory.. you might as well just make the phone out of concrete and put Android 4.2 on it cause its durable. Dude.. NO. You buy a phone like this because it’s thin and beautiful to look at, hardware and software alike. Excusing a glass back by saying “just throw a case/bumper on it” destroys the entire point of having said phone. Period.

    • I don’t get the case thing… Why even make the phones look like anything if you’re just going to cover them with cases?! According to the pro-case people all phones should look the same, dull with no differing features, with the only differences being the screen and innards.

  • MrSteve920

    Not trying to justify the use of glass on the back of the Nexus 4, but a stone counter top is generally colder than just about any other table you could own. A stone counter top does not absorb a lot of heat so even though everything in the room was room temperature I guarantee if you measured the temperature of the stone it would be significantly cooler.

    • Atomdrift

      I think it has less to do with the temperature and more to do with the simple fact it was a stone countertop. Granite countertops are the death of wineglasses – not that a phone should be as fragile as that…

  • MooleyBooleyTroll

    I’m not sure if I will get this phone or not but if I do it will get a tpu and I won’t care if the back cracks… Front cracks and I might be a little peaved…

  • roberthenderson

    There are also tons of cheap replacement backs for the GS3 on eBay. From carbon fiber to leather to bling, there are tons of options.

  • I don’t think you can really say “I baby the hell out of my devices” and “I’ve never used a case or screen protector ever” in the same breath. All glass, not just Gorilla Glass (or even Gorilla Glass 2) will scratch if the right dirt particle comes into contact with it. GG is meant to protect your screen from common objects you might have in your pocket – keys, pens, pencils, that sort of thing. Fine dirt particles (especially sand) have a higher grit level than those objects.

    That’s just my opinion though.

  • VinMessina

    Completely agree.

  • g-nex enjoyer

    two words : LG-quality

    • Justin Swanson

      Is it still two words, when they have a hyphen between them?

  • Sam

    Phones are not meant to be dropped. You can put all the Gorilla Glass or even put King Kong glass on the mofo reinforced with reactive regenerative armor. None of that is needed if one just takes care of his sh&t.

    Don’t be clumsy.

    EDIT: (Btw, I’m NOT referring to Kellex)

    • Liderc

      So why bring it up? Kellex didn’t drop his or the Optimus G, so it’s obviously not a dropping problem – it’s a quality problem.

  • Detonation

    And yet when I made a negative comment about the front and back of this phone being glass about a month ago, I was down voted into oblivion on this site…

    • You did it wrong, man. You gotta go where the hivemind takes you.

    • TheOiulkj

      lol. Welcome to the comment section of droid life, were people evolved from isheep, to androids. Neither have minds of their own. Still, I’d hang out with a slightly more intelligent robot over disgusting livestock any day of the week.

  • Liderc

    Disasterous. Between this problem and no LTE, complete failure. I’ll hold onto my Galaxy Nexus, it looks brand new after a year + use.

    • joejoe5709

      +1. My Gnex has teeny scratch on the back and a very small ding on the bottom corner (the one time I dropped it). Neither of them are noticeable without high scrutiny. My last phone was an LG and it was showing its age after six months. Say what you will about the cheapness of Samsung’s plastic, but it’s lightweight and it obviously stands up to abuse.

      • Justin Swanson

        The only scratches on my GNex are from when dirt/dust get between the case and the phone. It’s only along the back edge though. How do people prevent this type of scratching?

    • Dain Laguna

      how is that even possible? does it interact with nothing, ever?

  • alex drum

    ….Its LG… honestly, what did everyone expect… they are not known for high end hardware and this is what happens when they try and do it anyway.

  • After having the Droid Razr the back of my phone HAS to be some sort of super tough, shock absorbing material! I have gotten so used to just throwing my phone around and not taking care of it that a glass back wouldn’t last a DAY!

  • Nick S.

    Above pics are examples of what happens to a smartphone with a glass back after hours and hours of trying to beat all the levels of Granny Smith on hard mode.


  • antintyty

    who didn’t see that coming? Really.

  • I think I will wait until there is a place that does the replacement backs in sandalwood, like on the fruity phone 4s. πŸ˜›

  • shamu11

    So does the nexus warranty cover cracked backs? If not where can I get warranty for this ?

    • Robert Johnson

      Since putting it on a countertop is generally not considered “misuse” or “abuse”, I’d try the Google or LG warranty. You can buy breakage insurance from Squaretrade.

  • teevirus

    I am the clumsiest person I know. I cracked my Verizon Galaxy Nexus within a few weeks. Completely shatter it in a few months. My original Droid incredible was the definition of beast. It sill looks great 3 years on. I have dropped it on concrete and stepped on it several times. I which for this sort of durability in all touchscreen devices.

  • Pedro

    Ringke Slim case and maybe a Skinomi.

    Shoot, maybe a Skinomi for the back glass might be enough.

  • Russell Sprague

    I was really baffled by this glass back thing, didn’t they learn anything from the iPhone 4? In all seriousness, I know multiple people with broken glass on the back of there iphones.

  • I’ll keep my Razr Maxx HD thank you. The Kevlar may be a marketing item. But the metal and plastic that surrounds it is better than glass.

    • kixofmyg0t

      The Kevlar in the RAZR HD actually serves a structural purpose, it’s not just for looks.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Funny how the “pure Nexus experience” never really lives up to the hype in 1 way or another. This time… bad design idea.

    • Hunter

      I don’t think the “pure Nexus experience” had/has any influence on what materials comprise the rear of a phone.

      • Droidzilla

        Actually, it does. Google dictates that. That’s why the N4 is less square than the Optimus G.

        • Hunter

          But does it dictate glass…on the back?

          • Droidzilla

            Nexus experience does not equal a glass back, but Google are the ones who had the final say in the Nexus 4 having a glass back. So I guess you could say that to have the latest Nexus phone experience, it does require having a glass back. The phone, that is; not you. You can have a flesh back and be just fine.

    • Liderc

      Not to mention no LTE. Total failure really.

  • Do you think companies will make alternative back coverings?

  • This is the one thing that is leaving me torn about either buying an unlocked Galaxy Nexus or the Nexus 4. I don’t want to risk having a broken glass on the slightest of impact if any. I’m about to ditch verizion to go to tmobile for the Gnex or the N4. I’m leaning towards the Gnex, but who knows when software support will last at this point and I intend on keeping my phone for years, but seeing how the Nexus S lasted for two years of software support, I’m unsure as to which phone to choose from. In the meantime while I wait for Google to restock on N4s, I’m gonna look for some covers that can prevent this crap from happening. Hopefully the next nexus won’t have the same glass problems as this one.

    • vitriolix

      Rooting and throwing an AOSP rom on the Galaxy Nexus is dead simple and will give it life for years

  • Jroc869, Cool story bro

    I still love this phone. I just hope I don’t be come another statistic.

  • The astonishing part is that they had *years* of iPhone user’s misery to prove that this was not a good idea. Or at least to give some indication that it could be a problem area and therefore required careful testing. Smh…

  • Paul

    People want to be different and have something that’s “nicer” than plastic, but there are several reasons why plastic is used so much. It’s kind of like how throughout history rich people have eaten parts of animals that don’t taste good just to be different.

    As for me, I’ll take cheap delicious pizza and the plastic durable Note 2.

  • ajm1

    Yeah im personally loving the polycarbonate build of my htc one x plus. No cracking concerns here

  • Mine hasnt cracked yet but it does already have scratches :-/

  • Jim

    This is a shame for all Nexus lovers, myself included. Samsung is constantly berated for its use of plastic but it never bothered me on my Galaxy Nexus. Just the opposite. I knew my device was likely able to withstand a drop or two, plus, it could not have been easier to take off and replace its back panel. Am glad my soon to come GNote 2 is made of plastic.

  • I don’t get why they don’t use a polycarbonate screen on phones.. They’re scratch proof, smudge proof, nearly indestructible and much cheaper than “gorilla glass”.

  • What sucks even more is that for people like me, i make sure that, no matter what, when i put my phone into my pocket, i face the screen towards my leg. that way, if i accidentally bump into something with my phone in my pocket, the screen won’t crack. Been doing that ever since i switched from a flip phone to a candybar phone. Never had a screen crack or any accidental damage to the front. I also make sure I always put my phone in the same pocket, and my keys/screws (working on cars or other misc projects) or anything else goes in a separate pocket. I don’t even have to think about it anymore..

    • Ethan Sanchez


    • Pdiddy187

      Exactly how I do it.

    • EC8CH

      My G-Nex with it’s curved glass feels like it’s hugging my thigh.

      Feels like it’s loving me back πŸ˜›

      • Iucidium

        I’m going to miss my Nexus S doing that. My RAZR MAXX just lies there….

    • mjdupuis

      The main problem with putting your phone into your pocket with the glass against your leg: rivets on jeans.

      • You know, this is probably the first time a guy has said this to you.. I tried on like 3-4 pairs of pants last night because of you.. Ha. I had to check if rivets were in the way and i had overlooked a crucial problem.. None of the pants I own have a rivet anywhere near the spot my GNex sits.. Just pocket material.. Thanks for the heads up though!

    • Describes me exactly. The Nexus 4 has no safe way to put in your pocket. Glass front and glass back… GENIUS! /s Thankfully my Gnex doesn’t have that problem.. *strokes Gnex lovingly*

  • Ibrick

    Good thing winter is coming up..

  • Spoken Wordβ„’

    Yest another reason I’m glad I decided to toss my $ at the Galaxy Note II. It’s sad really. I’ve owned each Nexus phone until this 1 ruined any hope of being in my stable with it’s paltry internal storage, lack of expandable storage, and lack of LTE.

    • Droidzilla

      Well, it does have LTE in Canada (and presumably here when T-Mo rolls out their LTE network).

  • Prime7

    I don’t think I know a single iPhone 4 or 4S owner who isn’t using some sort of case. Glass backing is stupid because of this, since the case destroys whatever aesthetic they were striving for during design.

    • Bobby

      I used my 4s for a year without one. I’ve dropped it multiple times from the height of 2-3ft with minor scratching and little “pits” on the metal band. They’re pretty resilient.

  • One of a couple reasons why I love the flexible and easy to replace backs of Samsung phones. Good plastic is still the most durable material for smartphones. Glas breaks and aluminium scratches and doesn’t absorb anything when it falls.

    • It shames me that I have but one +1 to give your comment.

      • Lactose_the_Intolerant

        +1 the comment, then remove it… then +1 it again :p

    • MikeCiggy

      Yea, it’s weird all of the people who complain about Samsung’s build quality because it’s cheap plasticy feel.

      Well Kellex has a broken Nexus 4, I bet his Gnex is in still perfect condition.

      • The screen on the Galaxy Nexus was ridiculously easy to scratch, though…

        • hfoster52

          Zagg shield the first day and I have no scratches.

          • Josh Oberg

            Just water damage from zaggs install

          • ha

            Wow…maybe you should let someone install it for you if you have water damage from installing a screen protector…..

          • shamu11

            Do you think a case will absorb all drops and temperature related cracks?

          • KleenDroid

            You’ve got to be kidding. You don’t dunk it underwater… All you need is a little moisture.

          • shamu11

            By drops I meant actually dropping the phone

          • KleenDroid

            I was referring to the water damage from a Zagg install comment.

        • MikeCiggy

          I use an XO skin and I agree they could have used better glass on the screen, like gorilla glass but everywhere else on the phone the plastic is great. I’ve dropped mine so many times and I never even worry. $5 TPU case and XO skin and my phone is a tank.

        • NexusPhan69

          That’s how glass works. Harder to scratch is more brittle and prone to shattering. Harder to shatter is a softer glass that makes it easier to scratch. There is no magic here. Easy choice in my opinion. One that the Galaxy Nexus got right.

        • Larizard

          I agree. Opted to get a case but not a screen protector (because screen protectors look tacky), and I found a scratch on the screen. Good thing it’s small, near the top where the black notification bar is at, so it isn’t obvious.

          EDIT: I’ve dropped it about 3 times now, since getting it last May.

        • I was using an XGears Fantom on my Galaxy Nexus, and for a while it was the best screen protector I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, because of the curved glass, the adhesive began to lift on the sides and dust started getting under the screen protector. If they had curved it to match the contours of the GNex, it would have been hands down the best screen protector of all time.

          • ha

            Zagg worked great on my gnex. no peeling at all.

      • hfoster52

        I drop the hell out of my GNex (I swear I have butter fingers with this phone) and it keeps marching on..

        • vitriolix

          I cracked my screen by dropping mine… it’s definitely not as well built as my Nexus One was

          • j

            every phone can crack when dropped. a single instance isn’t enough to say one phone is built better than another. dropped my OG droid countless times and nothing happened.. but then once I dropped it at just the right angle and boom.. screen cracked.

          • vitriolix

            I dropped my nexus one a bunch of times, I have way more than one datapoint πŸ™‚ yes.. I’m clumsy

          • ratnok

            The Nexus One is nearly indestructible – if you drop it on the back. My daughter dropped mine on the front getting out of a car and the front glass shattered.

          • FAL_Fan

            I had my D3 until the D4 came out and I handed the D3 down to my lady who is not the best with phones, it lasted until about 2 weeks ago and now there’s a crack on the bottom left corner of the screen. Everything works on it, mind you, but sadly now I can’t trade it into Samsung for $60…or craigslist for that matter.

          • C-Law

            I JUST cracked my gnex screen πŸ™ I made it a year. I’m always so careful too. But accidentally dropped it. Guess I’ll be getting insurance next time. Or a case

          • bryantjopplin

            Replace it yourself. I did. Got a refurbished off ebay 85 shipped and looks brand new. Easy to do as well.

          • MLBaylor

            Link? Ive never seen it for less than 140.

          • Easy choice in my opinion. One that the Galaxy Nexus got right. http://youtube.qr.net/jN3i/watch?v=vtNTgwzt7iY

          • ratnok

            I have a transparent plastic case on mine- I wanted to give it to my wife when I bought the next Nexus. But when I did drop it (2 days after buying it) it was totally fine besides a few nicks.

        • Gus

          Maybe you won’t drop a smaller phone as much.

          • asdf

            Exactly. All you claiming butter fingers know that the gnex is big, hard to grip in general right? I own one and love it, but I have to be very careful not to let it slip.

        • michael arazan

          Dropped my D1 over 20 times, with a case on it, and never a crack or scratch on the screen. On my gnex i did put a tiny dent in the metal rim that surrounds the glass the first time I dropped it before my case came.

      • Pdiddy187

        I’ve dropped mine about 5 times from head height onto linoleum. No scratches whatsoever.

      • S_T_R

        My “GNex” got multiple gouges from a 6″ fall and numerous scratches around the charging port from not getting it 100% every time. It is NOT an example of great build quality. Possibly better than the Nexus 4, but that’s it. If you want “great”, find a Nexus One. THAT is a solid phone.

        • ERIC REED

          The OG Droid was a beast at taking falls…I couldn’t kill that thing!!

          • Larizard

            I’ve dropped my OG Droid more than 20 times the 2.5 yrs I had it, and it still worked. The edges were chipped but the screen had so scratches at all. The only problem I was having was the lag when opening new/RAM intensive newer apps. I love that phone.

          • carbonbased573

            There was a time I was out in San Jose visiting friends who work at Apple in Cuppertino. I took my OG Droid and threw it down the sidewalk intentionally, just to show how durable it was. I did this several other times at work. You couldn’t kill that thing. Beat to hell when I traded it in but the glass was in tact.

          • At one point my OG Droid screen backlight stopped working. I decided to drop it from 6ft on to tile floor and it fixed my issues.

    • Capt. Crunch

      You forgot about Kevlar haha

      • Droidzilla

        I never get why Motorola doesn’t get more props for their use of Kevlar. It looks slick, feels great, is lightweight, lets signal get through, and is plenty durable to boot. It’s like a premium plastic (I mean that in a good way).

        • kixofmyg0t

          Because they’re not Samsung thats why.

          If Samsung used it you’d get sick of hearing from EVERYWHERE about how great it is.

    • If you watch the Note II drop test, a lot of the impact is absorbed and released through the back cover flying off. It may not look or feel the best, but it certainly is practical. I think Samsung is on the right track with the development of plastic flexible displays that won’t break as well.

      • Iike a crupple zone of a car? Designed to give so other things don’t. Only 2 days till arrival of my VZW Note 2.

    • John

      So you are telling me KEVLAR is less durable than plastic? Lets make policemen wear plastic armours! Oh, yeah. Samsung fanboyland.

      • Hunter

        You realize that the kevlar in the rear of those phones is so thin and so far removed from the kevlar in bullet resistant vests that it is used simply as a marketing ploy and that the plastic surrounding that kevlar is indeed stronger, right?

        K good, thought you were simply spouting craziness.

      • chris phillips

        My scions fuel door has kevlar on it. I’m not sure i’d want to shoot at it though.

      • Paul

        Paper will stop a bullet if it’s thick enough. Glass is also extremely strong if thick enough as well.

        • CIFchamp24

          Wait is that how bullet proof glass works???! haha

    • EC8CH

      I agree plastic is one of the better material choices. I like what HTC has done with the One X and the DNA with a higher quality feeling plastic with a matte finish. Looks and feels much better than slippery shiny Samsung phones.

      • Only problem with a matte finish is that it gets absolutely filthy, extremely quick.

    • roberthenderson

      GS3 32gb with a 64gb class 10 card. I’m about flexibility and common sense in my phone. With an insane amount of memory I can download a launcher for the pure Android look or download a ROM if I want the full on experience (won’t do that though because I love and use a lot of the Samsung smart actions on my phone).one thing is for sure unfortunately, and that’s that I’ll never buy a nexus device.

      • Mark

        I’ve been on a GNEX for a year now and HATE not having a micro SD. I also hate that this phone can’t have the innovations that come with modern UI’s. The multi screen multi tasking from Samsung, and the battery saving features from Moto smart actions would be welcome additions. I’m looking forward to upgrading to a non Nexus

        • EDNYLaw

          If you want battery saving use either tasker or automateitpro. Both do the same thing as smart actions but they can do SO much more. I use automatepro on my GNex and it blows smartactions on my Razr out of the water.

      • ha

        Still wont be the full experience :). You love android but hate nexus yet nexus is the stock android system how its supposed to be. Seems weird to me,

    • shamu11

      Where can i get warranty that covers shattered backs?

    • BSweetness

      Exactly. A lot of people complain about how cheap Samsung devices feel, but they’re made that way for a reason. The plastics allow for far more flex upon impact, which can disperse the force much better than a rigid device like those from Motorola or glass like this. When the back of many Samsung devices flies off upon impact, that’s further dispersing the potentially harmful force created by the fall. Sure other OEMs might make devices that feel like they’re more durable, but the fact is that Samsung’s materials tend to be far more forgiving in a drop.

      • LionStone

        Sounds good…my buddy cracked his screen on his GN the second day he got it.

        • BSweetness

          Glass is glass. No matter who makes the device or what type of glass it is, it can break. This story is primarily talking about the materials used for the back of the phone though. Pretty much all smartphones use glass on the front.

          • LionStone

            Yes thats right but you were saying that “Samsungs materials tend to be far more forgiving in a drop” and i say no, not really, even though the back is plastic the glass on the front can break just as easily.

      • Paul

        You mean the metal frame of the macbook pro isn’t good for a hard drive when it’s dropped? But all of those apple fanboys are so sure it’s better. lol

    • Ihatenexus

      OH, how the mighty fall! Looks like all the I-nexus nerds are crying now, I can hear them loud and clear. Nexus this, Nexus that, The Nexus is the Best…….Blah blah blah, oops fall, CRACK.

      • brian moran

        get one!

      • tookieboy

        It still is. Cracked or not, still works way better than whatever phone you use. If you’re not on a Nexus, well too bad, you can wait for your updates. If you’re an iOS troll, _|_

      • ha

        Appple users are typically much more clumsy because the majority of them are children and women.

    • angermeans

      is there such thing as “good plastic?” As for me I’ll pass. Samsung really needs to step it up as the competition is running circles around them (well besides LG that is).

      • you’re an idiot. samsung is crushing it right now.

      • You are a moron. In Q2, a third of ALL smart phone sales were Samsung. And yes, there is such a thing as “good plastic” Glocks are made of nylon, and they definitely don’t feel cheap.

        • angermeans

          Really? Are we four years old? Do we have to call names because you feel the need to defend your choice of a smartphone? We aren’t talking about Glocks because yes some are nice. Samsung phones are not made of nylon they are made of plastic. No dressing it up it is cheap plastic they aren’t doing anything special with it. Like I said before Samsung needs to step up their game plastic smartphones just don’t cut it anymore. BTW I purchased and had the GS3 (I also had two Galaxy Nexii) for a couple months and it was a good phone and there is a reason that they have sold so many of them, but plastic phones this far in the game just doesn’t cut it anymore when companies like HTC, Apple, Motorola, and even LG are looking into creating better hardware to go along with good software.

          I don’t understand why people take an opinion on a smartphone as serious as you have to have to feel like you must call names to get your point across. We all know that their are good plastic out there, but the cheap and awful looking fake brushed aluminum look that Samsung is passing off on it’s flagship devices needs to be updated. They are great phones, but like I said when the competition is running circle’s around you then you might want to look into pushing the envelope a little and get off of the plastic phone band wagon. I think that most if you ask them would feel the same. I’m pretty sure once Samsung decides to update their build quality then everyone will be saying the same thing about other phones that come out that are plastic. These aren’t cheap phones and are priced in the high end market so they should feel high end and unfortunately in my opinion Samsung phones don’t feel high end and I’ve owned about a half dozen or so in the past two years.

    • My wife and myself both have a GNex.. It’s her 2nd Android phone.. Samsung could get rid of their “stress testing tools” and just send my wife a phone for a week. She has thrown hers across the bathroom (somehow fell out of her pocket with incredibly fast forward momentum..) She’s dropped it @ the kids bus stop a few times, dropped it out of her lap when getting out of the car.. The sides have a little damage, but the front/back still look great!

      I hated my GNex back cover when i first got it.. plastic tabs holding it in place? Are you serious.. However, like you said, they’re bulletproof!

    • Trey Mitchell

      Polycarbonate != plastic

  • MikeCiggy

    I said it when the design features were just rumors, we on Droid-Life always talk down about the glass back of an iPhone and I was very disappointed that Google would think to try it. There are many way to make a phone look good without glass on the back where it does not NEED to be.

  • blee

    ugh.. this is awful.. i thought people saying they cracked it was sitting on it or lightly dropping it… but temperature change is shattering the glass??? I thought this was tempered glass like the pyrex cookingware…. this is shoddy planning then… πŸ™ i hope mine doesnt break like this.. (if i ever get it off backorder)

  • moelsen8

    couldn’t get a bumper with mine, so hoping my $4 case & screen protector from china gets here before my nexus 4 does. at this point i’m starting to bet it will.

  • vitriolix

    This sucks. I have been itching to get one of these, in fact tried for like 20 minutes to get the Play Store to process my order…but now I really think I’ll just get something else, this is stupid.

  • Stevedub40

    I don’t care how “premium” it makes your device feel; glass on a phone is never a good idea. We obviously need a glass front, but I can’t seem to figure out why you would want a phone wrapped in glass.

    • Droidzilla

      This. I’m still getting one, though.

  • I just think it’s hilarious how much of a grass is greener predicament this has become. Everyone was so envious of the build materials of the iphone4. The nexus 4 comes out and all initial reviews are loving the materials claiming it as the highest build quality android phone ever. Now that people actually have it put to use… yeah….

    • CIFchamp24

      The funny part is that the build quality is still the best out of pretty much any android phone ever. But is it the smartest……..

  • ooh this may sway me again! BAH!

  • Pancake345

    You should be more careful.

  • UncleFan

    This cracking issue is the #1 reason I bought a GS3 yesterday instead of a Nexus 4. I just can’t afford to be dicking around with warranty returns… I want to enjoy my phone without worries.

  • I’ve had mine for a week an it’s held up just fine (knock on wood). I usually don’t put it on anything other than my bed, couch, or my wireless charger as soon as I get one. That being said, I still think the glass back was a dumb idea. Sure, it feels really solid and makes the phone look nice but it’s weak. Hopefully we get some awesome replacement backs like the iPhone did. I wouldn’t mind a carbon fiber or leather back cover.

  • Me

    Nexus 4 is a dud.

    Nexus One (Original Nexus, Worlds first Superphone)
    Nexus S (meh)
    Galaxy Nexus (Must have, ICS, JB, buttonless design)
    Nexus 4 (dud)

    • Jon

      yup…and this may extend to tablets too. Nexus 7 awesome…Nexus 10…I’m not sure. I watched an excellent side by side comparison review by Armando Ferreira on his youtube channel. Google “Google Nexus 10 Vs Microsoft Surface” to watch the video. I was shocked to see how poorly the Nexus 10 did with web pages and games not optimized for the super high resolution.

      I think it really has much to do with websites and apps not being made for the crazy insane resolution of the Nexus 10 and I’m sure the iPad retina must have similar problems with some content.

      • Justin W

        iPad apps have to be re-scaled by developers to work on iPads. I’ve never owned an iDevice, but I don’t think you can run an iPhone app on an iPad (mini or otherwise).

        • JetBlue

          I remember it was where the app ran like it did on an iPhone but you could scale it to the full screen but it was pixelated.

  • Thats terrible, although it seems a common theme. My Gnex cracked very easily, once it was just in my pocket and a slight bump against a wall shattered the whole thing, then a 2 foot fall into dirt did it all over again, where as my Droid X fell face first on concrete, down a flight of stairs, my 2 year old son thew it against a wall, etc. And nothing.

  • Matthew Runo

    I really like my Nexus 4, and don’t think it’s any more breakable than that other device we won’t name here. I’m happy that the phone isn’t plastic. Anything but a cheap feeling plastic phone.

    • I’ve never heard of the iPhone 4/4S cracking by setting it on granite O_o

      • Chris Chavez!!! I love you, man (no-homo) πŸ™‚

        You should move over to Droid-Life and write for them…I always enjoyed reading your articles back when Phandroid was top dog πŸ™‚

        • Jroc869, Cool story bro

          That would be epic!

        • Ahuahau

          No homo usually means, homo (and that’s ok)

      • Colton Wilburn

        weird…what are you doing here haha

      • Agreed. I’ve never personally known anyone who had a cracked iPhone 4/S back. And the ones I’ve seen online were because they were dropped – not random cracking.

    • vitriolix

      Did you read the article you are replying to?

  • Jewels Winfield

    and no LTE

  • This article has pretty much made me decide not to get a Nexus 4. I baby my devices too, but I do it because I like to have them naked. If I have to use a case, then what’s the point?

    • I may get a bumper or thin gel case!

      • FortitudineVincimus


      • The bumper was intriguing, but I don’t know how well it will protect the back.

    • vitriolix

      Now the question is… what is the next best option? I’m thinking GSIII or Note II … I really want to run stock though. I guess I need to go dig into the XDA forums for the Note II and see if there are any AOSP ROMs yet

      • Running stock android on the note2 kind of defeats the purpose of getting that phone. I don’t want to start the argument but stock android is over rated.

        • vitriolix

          It’s really not for me. I have owned TouchWhiz devices and its just a jumbled mess of poorly thrown together, half thought out features.

          An enterprising modder could split out the stylus drivers and APIs while leaving the cruft to the side, the question is… has anyone.

          • I wish. I want it on my N7…

          • vitriolix

            I don’t think that’s possible as the hardware needs to support it

          • BSweetness

            It used to be a jumbled mess, but it’s come a long way. I won’t say it’s the greatest out there, but Samsung has added quite a bit of extremely useful features in it.

          • vitriolix

            Well… this fragileness and the lack of SD and non removable battery were just too much for me… just got a Note II on cyber monday deal πŸ™‚

      • I got a Galaxy Nexus last December, and I suppose it is fine for now. I will wait for the next batch of Nexii. Hopefully next summer?

    • Akashshr

      Unfortunately I will still get one! The hell with the glass scare…Baby is baby!

  • I’m eagerly awaiting the day I find mine cracked. Thanks for the motivation to constantly check it!

  • zUFC

    I guess you should of gotten one of those bumpers……haha

  • this is why i will always love the build of motorola phones. i have a Nexus only because motorola phones dont have unlocked bootloaders. ill jump back in a heartbeat if it happened

    • vitriolix

      My Nexus One was a tank. I dropped that thing like 8 times on concrete and only got metal casing scratches

      • Lactose_the_Intolerant

        HTC’s Tank-erbolt has been know to fracture concrete when dropped.

        • My t-bolt’s screen disagrees with you (twice)… πŸ™

          • Lactose_the_Intolerant

            Ouch =(

  • I agree.

    • i will never praise glass, heh, just kinda want these phones for what is inside it

      • mikron24

        why on earth does LG release a new back cover that fits but its plastic ….who knows

    • Justin W

      I personally feel Google was a bit smarter though – they went with Gorilla Glass instead of just glass.. I haven’t had any issues with my nexus 4 yet.

      • Hunter

        Its Gorilla on the front, not the back.

        • Justin W

          Yes, the iPhone 4 had Gorilla on the front, not the back. The Nexus 4 has Gorilla Glass on both front and back. http://goo.gl/GfkNu

          • Adam Outler

            That would have been a smarter option. Its not like scratches on the back matter that much. Id rather have a scratched back than a cracked piece of glass in my pocket.

            Headed LG is a horrible engineering company.

        • I think Matias Duarte said in the Verge video that both were Gorilla Glass.

          • Contrary to popular belief, Gorilla Glass isn’t really very crack resistant.. it’s main purpose is to be scratch resistant.

      • CIFchamp24

        I don’t know about you guys. I personally think its smarter to use whatever glass doesn’t crack from a simple change in temp. It’s good you haven’t had an issue yet, but you really think thats the smarter route huh?

    • EC8CH

      I think it’s stupid then and now. Sure it looks good, but it’s not very practical.

    • Ihatenexus

      OH, how the mighty fall! Looks like all the I-nexus nerds are crying
      now, I can hear them loud and clear. Nexus this, Nexus that, The Nexus
      is the Best…….Blah blah blah, oops fall, CRACK.