Following the announcement of the Nexus 4 with 8GB and 16GB variants, it was always certain to start a heated debate about whether 8/16GB is enough storage. Well, that along with how it resembles an iPhone 4S with its glass back, non removable battery, no microSD card and no LTE support. Anyways, here is my take on the storage and iPhone resemblance issue.
First of all, I’ll tackle the 8/16GB options with no microSD card support since they are very much related. Now, it has been said that Google has 3 major reasons why they chose this path. One, microSD card support complicate things. Two, they want people to use their cloud services. Three, adding microSD card pretty much renders most android devices noncompetitive and make all their partners angry. On the first reason, I do not believe that microSD card support will complicate things for the average user as there are ways that things can be managed easily and in a user friendly manner. CM team has had to deal with microSD card support and its done pretty well I think. Regarding the second reason, I think it is a fair argument that Google wants people to use their cloud services. After all, it is their service and it generates revenue. Why do you think they can afford to pretty much sell the Nexus 4 at cost or maybe just making a tiny profit/loss. As for the third reason, it does make sense. Google needs their partner OEMs to help sell their Android devices which in turn generates revenue from Play Store purchases or other Google products (like cloud services). In conclusion, Google not adding microSD card support and only providing 8/16GB options at launch time is a straight forward financial decision, just like with any company. Will they add a 32GB option later on? I think maybe they will. But probably it will be in Q2 of 2013 at least.
The real question is whether you can live with 8/16GB for now. For myself, I definitely do prefer a 32GB option just in case I have need of the space for custom ROMs, backups, games, movies and music. Recently, I traveled to Australia and having movies on my phone was excellent for long trips on a budget airline where you have no other entertainment options. Don’t let anyone tell you that no one ever uses all 16GB of their storage. Well, some may not. But I certainly could and many others as well. I could live with 16GB by reducing the amount of custom ROMs and movies I suppose. Would not be ideal but with that kind of price and specs, I’m willing to compromise. Now, if the 16GB came to Malaysia priced about the same as a Galaxy S3 or a Galaxy Note 2 or an Xperia TX, then it would be a different story. I may sacrifice the fast updates for more storage space if prices were comparable. If prices remain as they are and Nexus 4 comes to Malaysia priced at least RM400-RM500 less than any of those phones, I’m sold on the Nexus 4 and I’ll use the extra cash to get me a Nexus 7.
No LTE support has also been widely discussed on various blogs and forums. It can be a deal breaker for some as LTE networks are faster and more reliable (according to users). However, Google’s explanation for this issue is entirely justifiable. Producing a Nexus 4 for LTE networks like those in the US doesn’t make commercial sense. Firstly, they would have to customize it according to the non-standardized LTE networks. This means they have to allow carrier to intervene in the update process. Nexus is supposed to be first in the line for Android updates from Google and carrier customization or bowing to carrier demands negates this fact and renders it not so Nexus like. Secondly, LTE networks are still non-standard. This means that for different LTE in the US or Europe, they would end up with a couple or more different LTE Nexus 4s. This is hardly ideal and again renders Nexus unable to be first in the line for Android updates. Thirdly, cost. Adding a LTE radio increases cost and reduces battery life. To counter the reduced battery life, they would need to increase the battery size, hence increasing costs further. Making a few bucks loss on a phone is one thing. Making a bigger loss on a phone that is wanted by only a fraction of the world? No sense there.
Lastly, the non removable battery and glass back. Yes, it does remind us of iPhone (well, non removable battery does also point towards HTC’s One lineups). But I’ll be the first to admit that I do prefer it to be plastic as that has less chance of breaking. As for the non removable battery, I certainly would have preferred a removable one so that I can swap out a battery when it inevitably dies. However, I do believe that the battery can be removed by phone retailers or repair shops. They’ll probably charge extra for the work and any extra materials needed but it should be doable. With LG claiming that its new battery technology can withstand more charge/discharge cycles, it should hopefully mean that it won’t die so soon. Furthermore, as long as I can force a hard shutdown or reboot when I need to, not having a removable battery is acceptable. Glass back can be protected or hidden with any casing (which I’m very likely to use). Someone at an XDA developer forum commented that he would be embarrassed to take out a Nexus 4 in public due to the glass back. I think it is hilarious.
I have criticized Apple on many occasions for its lack of removable storage, easily broken glass, closed ecosystem (walled garden approach), high prices, limited Bluetooth capability, non removable battery and small screens. While the LG Nexus 4 may share certain traits such as the lack of removable storage, glass backing and non removable battery, it is still an open source device with full Bluetooth capability and many other features. All of this in a very, very attractive pricing which is so much cheaper than a similarly spec-ed Android or any other non-Android competitor device. Yes, I have to make certain compromises on the battery and storage. Yes, I will have to be extra careful with it. But you know what, those compromises are worth the low price-high end device that is the Nexus 4. Am I an Android fanboy? Maybe. But one thing is for sure, I like getting value for money and the Nexus 4 is certainly such a device.