Announced in October 2012 and with availability beginning November 2012, the Nexus 4 is among the most powerful Android device available in 2012. This device brought many improvements over Samung’s Galaxy Nexus of 2011. Almost as soon as it was available for sale, it was out of stock. Blogs called it a disastrous launch. Nexus 4 stock continued to trickle in a little at a time and was highly sought after. An amazing price with amazing hardware helped maintained its hot status even though supply was not enough to meet demand. Among the most impressive specs that goes into this USD299 / USD349 phone are:
4.7″ True HD IPS Plus screen (768 x 1280 pixels)
Quad-core 1.5GHz Krait (using Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset)
Full specs can be found over at GSMArena
As usual, this isn’t a review about the phone’s capabilities as many Android blogs and other mobile websites have covered that since the phone came out. My review here will be more about my daily usage and more importantly, my thoughts about this phone. Before I begin, I would just like to say that I know that my review is quite late. Well, it couldn’t be helped as I was not able to get a hold of this phone (for reasonable pricing) in Malaysia. A timely business trip to the United States in March 2013 allowed me to get my hands on this beautiful phone.
Having used a Galaxy S2 almost the whole time since I’ve had it, I must admit that I love the Super AMOLED Plus screen that it sports. The Nexus 4 does have a great looking screen but the colors on the True HD IPS screen do tend to washout more when viewed from an angle when compared to the Galaxy S2’s Super AMOLED Plus screen. When looking directly from the front, the colors and brightness looks fantastic. The things that you should be aware of is that the blacks are not as dark as AMOLED’s (you can really see the difference) and the contrast isn’t as high as the AMOLED as well.
As you move through the menus and launch apps, you will notice that the phone feels smooth. I have to admit that my Galaxy S2 has started feeling a little sluggish lately despite running CyanogenMod’s 10.1 (Android 4.2.2). Does battery life suffer as a consequence of this smoothness? How does it compare to the Galaxy S2? Well, for this comparison, I charged both phones fully before I leave for work. Both phones are on AT&T network with mobile data turned off and 2G only mode turned on. WiFi will be off for the duration.
The Nexus 4 came off the charger around 8.10am and pretty much stayed in standby mode till about 6.05pm. That is about 10hours of standby. While this is not necessarily a true representation of typical battery usage, this gives an idea about how efficient the phone can be while it is on battery saving mode. The end result: In 10 hours, the phone consumed 5% battery life or 0.5% per hour which is pretty good.
For comparison, the Galaxy S2 also came off the charger around 8.10am and like the Nexus 4, it stayed in standby mode till about 6.05pm. The end result: In 10 hours, the phone consumed about 8% battery life or 0.8% per hour which isn’t bad either. I do have more apps installed on my S2 which could have been running in the background (like the world clock widget) but either way, 0.8% an hour is pretty good standby time.
Do take note that the tests that I have conducted are not scientific or represent any true battery life usage especially since both phones have WiFi, Mobile Data turned off and set to 2G mode only. It is merely a simple test to provide some comparison of idle battery life between my 2 phones.
The camera is an upgrade over the Galaxy Nexus’ 5MP but in comparison to the Galaxy S2, the megapixel count matches. How about the quality? Well, below are a few shots from both phones at the same location for your own comparison. Do keep in mind that my Galaxy S2 is using CyanogenMod 10.1 and if your ROM is different, there could be differences in the result as well.
Nexus 4 for comparison
Galaxy S2 for comparison
More photos from Nexus 4
One major thing that I had to sacrifice when moving from the Galaxy S2 to the Nexus 4 is the availability of the removable microSD card. With the Nexus 4, I only have access to the 16GB internal storage, of which only 12.92GB is available to me. Only time will tell whether this is enough storage for me but I think I can make it work.
Overall, this is looking to be a solid phone and I’m very happy to have made this purchase. With my Galaxy S2 previously, I had to flash in the CyanogenMod ROM almost immediately when confronted with Samsung’s TouchWiz after I got it back from repairs. With the Nexus 4, stock Android is what CyanogenMod ROM is based on and I might live with it a while before I flash in CyanogenMod ROM. I will still flash in CyanogenMod ROM as it increases the usability of Android’s stock capabilities with enhancements from the community. When I do that, you can be sure that I’ll be back with a comparison between stock Android ROM and CyanogenMod ROM on a Nexus 4.