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Google Nexus 4 Review: The Nexus Smartphone Gets an Improved Build and OS

Published
By Shawn Sanders, contributor from GadgetReview

When Google launched its original Nexus smartphone two years ago, many were quite excited ... until they got their hands on the unit. While the intent was to provide a cutting edge phone free from network carrier contracts, the full extent of that realization fell flat. The Google Nexus was also plagued by less-than-solid construction and used more plastic than most users appreciated. But the search giant has bounced back with its latest model: the Google Nexus 4.

The Nexus 4 is essentially the lovechild of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and an LG Optimus G, and is sold unlocked and without a contract starting at $299 for an 8GB model and $349 for 16GB. It runs on a GSM/HSPA+ network, though it is not LTE compatible. This 4.9-oz. smartphone is also packed with a QUALCOMM Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB RAM and boasts an 8-megapixel camera, shown over the 1280x768 4.7" Gorilla Glass 2 display. So, is this quad-core smartphone's sold out status a sign of mass approval? We scoured the interweb to find out.

Solid and Sleek Build

For the Nexus 4, it seems Google's partnership with LG will pay off: ABC News celebrates the Nexus 4's sturdiness and is pleased that the LG construction does away with the previous generation's "plastic and flimsy feel." Many agree this model is good looking and that the Gorilla Glass creates a sleek look. It also makes for nice handling; the Verge says it "almost feels like the glass is melted over the sides." Gorilla Glass, however, has some durability issues. The glass on the back has a tendency to crack from even the shortest of falls to the floor. Sound familiar? Similar issues and concerns mounted against previous generation Apple iPhones.

Android 4.2's Refreshed Features

On the inside, the Nexus 4 ships with the newest version of Jelly Bean (4.2), which includes the ability to assign widgets to the lock screen, effectively allowing users to "view emails, calendar appointments, and other notifications without entering the home panel." The Quick Settings menu, too, is more easily accessible and mimics the design of the Motorola RAZR M and RAZR HD.

One of the more impressive features of Android 4.2 is its "Gesture Typing" function, that takes a page out of Swype's book. This intuitive input format enhances the typing experience beyond the "peck-and-hunt" method.

Moreover, according to Anandtech, the Nexus 4 demonstrates a huge step forward in terms of both its interface improvements and the smartphone's image capture abilities. But all is not picturesque, so-to-speak, as the publication relents that, "there's a lot of opportunity for iterative improvements even in just software that will dramatically help the Nexus 4 imaging experience." Its video recording abilities, however, are notable; Anandtech claims that there are no dropped frames as the phone "nails the 12.0 Mbps 30 FPS target."

The Nexus 4 isn't perfect, but it seems much closer to what Google had envisioned for its smartphone. Plus, it's contract-free $299 price tag doesn't hurt the phone's preorder popularity. (The phone currently has an 8 to 9 week wait time.) But, would you go opt for the Nexus 4 over the LG Optimus G? Or the Samsung Galaxy S III or an iPhone 5 for that matter? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off in the comments below.

Front page photo credit: Computer World
Photo credits Android


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3 comments
theodorewlee
He's talking about the email app (not Gmail) and he's correct, it doesn't have any search features. I'm typing this from a Nexus 7 and can confirm it.
yosh
I don't have a problem having the mail application search my mail, sounds like user-error.
Dan4
The built-in email application (not gmail) still won't search the mail.  For a search company that claims that their product is fit for the purpose of checking email, this borders on fraud.  It certainly fails the implied warranty of merchantability, and I'm still waiting for the class-action lawsuit.

Of course,  you can buy other products to make this product work like it should have in the first place.

This is completely unacceptable.
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