The LG Nexus 4, Google's follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, offers a blisteringly fast quad-core processor, the stock Android operating system (Jellybean 4.2 with no overlay), and a vibrant display with true-to-life colors. It's also unlocked so you can activate it on either AT&T or T-Mobile with no contract. At $300 for the 8 GB version and $350 for 16 GB, its price is in line with many contract smartphones. However, the Nexus comes with one drawback: a lack of 4G data capabilities. "While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience," says Lynn La of CNET, "anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first." Contract options include the LG Optimus G (*Est. $50 and up with contract), Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (*Est. $300 with contract) or the iPhone 5 (*Est. $200 and up with contract). The LG Nexus 4 is available for purchase directly from Google Play.
JellyBean 4.2 includes a Swype-like keyboard, where users swipe across the keys instead of tapping each one; a 360-degree PhotoSphere camera option; and upgrades to Google Now for more accurate traffic and weather conditions, along with restaurant suggestions.
Speedy data for T-Mobile, less so for AT&T. The Nexus 4 has excellent reception and call quality, according to reviewers, though Lynn La of CNET reports that audio volume is "too low." The 2,100 mAh battery also proves exceptional, averaging 8 to 10 hours of talk time. T-Mobile customers can take advantage of the HSPA+42 network for fast data speeds; however, AT&T customers are stuck with the slower HSPA+21. Jamie Lendino of PCMag.com reports an average of 10 to 11 Mbps downloading on T-Mobile's network, but only 2 to 3 Mbps on AT&T. "If your heart is set on AT&T LTE," says Lendino, "you should look at a subsidized Samsung Galaxy S III or an iPhone 5."
Durable screen, but delicate glass back. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protects the Nexus 4's 4.7-inch display, while a glass back gives the smartphone a high-end feel. Grippy rubber sides make it easy to hold, but the back panel cracks easily when dropped, according to Joshua Topolsky of TheVerge.com.
Efficient if uninspired design. A 4.7-inch IPS Plus LCD display with 1,280-by-768-pixel resolution brings vibrant colors and bright whites to the Nexus 4's screen. Its glass chassis seems to melt over the sides, making the smartphone look sleek and stylish, though some reviewers find it an uninspiring update to the original Galaxy Nexus design.
The back panel features a holographic-like reflection visible in direct light that CNET's Lynn La describes the design as reminiscent of "Tetris" or "The Matrix. The Nexus 4 also lacks a microSD card slot, forcing users to choose between 8 GB and 16 GB of built-in memory without the option to expand their storage.
PhotoSphere adds new depth to excellent camera. According to CNET's Lynn La, the Nexus 4's 8-megapixel camera takes good indoor as well as excellent outdoor shots, producing "crisp" images with "well-defined edges" even on gloomy days. Where the camera stands out is its PhotoSphere option. Similar to panorama mode, this feature takes a series of images and stitches them together. However, PhotoSphere takes the technology one step further by creating a 360-degree image that captures all angles, including above and below. Videos record at 1080p and are of average quality.
Review Credibility: Excellent Lynn La compares the Nexus 4 to the LG Optimus G and Samsung Galaxy S III, giving the Nexus 3.5 out of 5 stars. She notes that the Nexus 4 is missing "one huge feature," 4G LTE. She concludes that the Nexus 4 is generally an "excellent and reliable" device, but that it does little to expand on the previous Nexus.
Review: LG Nexus 4 Review: Elegant Smartphone with a Huge Flaw, Lynn La, Nov. 2, 2012
2. PC World (Australia)
Review Credibility: Excellent Ross Catanzariti offers a head-to-head comparison of the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5, finding the Nexus to have better screen size, display resolution and processor speed, while the iPhone 5 offers 4G capabilities, a higher pixel density and more internal memory.
Review: Google Nexus 4 vs. Apple iPhone 5: Head-to-Head, Ross Catanzariti, Nov. 7, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Jamie Lendino gives the Nexus a score of 4 out of 5 for its powerful features, unlocked status, latest Android OS and "beautiful, minimalist design," but he notes that data speeds are slower on AT&T and calls the camera and camcorder "mediocre."
Review: Google Nexus 4 (Unlocked), Jamie Lendino, Nov. 12, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Describing the Nexus 4 as "easily the best Android phone on the market, save for one small thing," Joshua Topolsky concludes that the smartphone is both "wonderful" in its hardware and software and "frustrating" in its lack of 4G LTE capabilities.
Review: Nexus 4 Review, Joshua Topolsky, Nov. 2, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Chris Velazco describes the Nexus 4 as an excellent device for Android enthusiasts and those who hate signing contracts, but says that those less concerned with these factors should review other options before committing to the new Nexus.
Review: Nexus 4 Review: Not Exactly Perfect, but Close Enough for Me, Chris Velazco, Nov. 2, 2012