After weeks of leaks the LG-made Google Nexus 4 phone was hardly a big surprise, but it’s still a big deal: it’s Google’s latest flagship device, boasting cutting-edge hardware, some really nice design and one rather large omission.
Google’s decision to offer it carrier-free is one of several reasons why the Nexus 4 doesn’t do 4G LTE mobile broadband. Is the rest of the phone good enough to make up for the lack of 4G?
Google Nexus 4: US price and release date
In the US, the Nexus 4 is $299 for 8GB or $349 for 16GB, with the same 13 November release date, and as with the UK the Google Play models are sold unlocked without contracts. You’ll also be able to get a 16GB Nexus 4 for $199 if you take it on a two-year T-Mobile contract.
Google Nexus 4: UK price and release date
The Nexus 4 will cost £239 for the 8GB model and £279 for the 16GB when it goes on sale on the 13th of November. That’s unlocked, without a contract: you’ll be able to buy it directly from Google and then choose whichever provider and plan you fancy.
Google Nexus 4: design
Photos don’t really do justice to the Nexus 4’s design: its back is a sheet of toughened glass with a holographic-style effect when you angle it towards the light. The front, however, is unremarkable Android.
Google Nexus 4: processor and RAM
Break open a Nexus 4 and you’ll have two things: a broken phone, and a good look at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4. It’s a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and backed with 2GB of RAM, which means it should easily deliver Google’s promise of its “snappiest smartphone yet”.
Google Nexus 4: no 4G LTE
For a flagship smartphone, the Nexus 4 appears to be missing a fairly important feature: 4G LTE mobile broadband. Google says that the problem is twofold: it would have stopped it selling carrier-free Nexus 4s due to lack of consistency, and it would have been a battery killer: 4G radios suck so much power that battery life would have been horrible.
Google Nexus 4: storage
Bad news for anyone who likes to add more storage to their smartphones: the Nexus 4 doesn’t have a microSD card slot for additional memory. You’re stuck with the factory-installed 8GB or 16GB storage capacity.
Google Nexus 4: display
The Nexus 4 screen is as good as the iPhone 5’s, with 320 pixels per inch and lamination to bring the pixels closer to the surface of the screen. It’s a 4.7-inch, 1280 x 768 panel, and the Gorilla Glass 2 is gently curved at the edges for smoother swiping.
Google Nexus 4: camera
The camera on the Nexus 4 is an 8MP, 1080p HD video-capable camera that can take Street View-style 360-degree panoramas, a feature Google calls Photo Sphere.
If you have a Google+ account the camera’s Instant Upload feature automatically sticks new shots in a private online album, and you can share your panoramas on Google Maps. Google says it’s also put lots of work into the camera’s low-light performance
As you’d expect there’s also a front-facing camera for Google Hangouts, with a resolution of 1.3MP and support for 720p video.
Google Nexus 4: operating system
It’s Android, of course, and Jelly Bean version 4.2 introduces some key new features including lock screen widgets, Swype-style Gesture Typing, an overhauled Google Now and multiple user profiles. That latter one strikes us as more useful for tablets than for phones.
Google Nexus 4: connectivity
Wireless support includes dual band 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4 and NFC for Android Beam, and there’s a micro USB connector and SlimPort HDMI. 3G support includes HSPA+ at up to 42Mbps, and there’s support for Miracast wireless displays.
Google Nexus 4: battery life and wireless charging
The battery in the Nexus 4 is a 2,100mAh Lithium Polymer battery that delivers a claimed ten hours. On that basis, it’s probably for the best that the Nexus 4 doesn’t do 4G LTE.
What it does have, though, is wireless charging: Google’s thrown its considerable weight behind the Qi wireless charging standard, and a wireless charging “orb” will be available as an optional extra.
Google Nexus 4: sensors
The Nexus 4 has a microphone, accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, barometer and GPS.
Google Nexus 4: dimensions and weight
The Nexus 4 is 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1mm and weighs 139g.