Really sharp HD screen; Quad core chip; elegant design; Photo Sphere is great.
Meagre storage space; No support for 4G LTE.
The LG Nexus 4 with its large 4.7in screen is ideal for film fans and anyone who wants to surf the web on their smartphone, while the quad-core chip copes with the latest games easily. The only letdown is the meagre, unexpandable onboard storage.
Googlehas got around a bit when it comes to smartphones, first it brought out the Nexus with HTC, then teamed up with Samsung for the Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Now it’s taken itself over to the LG camp to produce the Nexus 4.
Brand new Bean
This is the first smartphone to run the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system – and the main difference you’ll see, apart from some camera changes, are the widgets that have been added to the lock screen. Unfortunately, these can’t be added directly to the lock screen, but flip left and you’ll see the email inbox, text messages and calendar, and you can fire them up.
If you have password protect, your info will still appear, but you’ll still need to tap in your password to open up the apps. We hope to see the number of widgets increased in the near future, especially once a few developers jump on the bandwagon.
You’ll also notice the notifications tab has had a tweak, with a new Quick Settings tab that offers speedy access to some useful toggles, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and aeroplane mode. It is also possible to see how much battery is left, change the brightness of the screen, and enter the full settings menu. It’s really handy for checking how much juice you have left – something of an issue with the powerful modern handsets.
There’s also a handy shrink-to-fit facility tucked away in the Gmail app, which lets you zoom out of any wide messages to avoid having to scroll right and left. Swype-style gestures can also be used on the top-notch onscreen keyboard.
This is a chunky and pretty solid handset, with a rectangular design that makes it feel quite masculine. It comes in all black, and you need to have reasonably large hands to hold it one-handed. It’s not curvy like the Samsung Galaxy S III, but it has a decent heft (weighting in at 139g) and there’s no flex if you put the chassis under pressure.
The front of the handset is all glass, with black borders above and below. It’s minimalistic, with no home, back or menu keys – Android offers virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen. So it looks clean and elegant. Look to the sides for the power button and volume rocker, along with the SIM card slot – you can’t prise off the back to get to the phone’s internal workings.
The back of the phone has a rather hypnotic sparkly rear reminiscent of a disco. It’s made of glossy glass, like the front, and while it makes the phone looks quite classy and expensive, it doesn’t offer a secure grip. It’s a shame there’s no memory card slot to offer expansion of the 8GB or 16GB of onboard memory – a lot of apps and some films are nearly 1GB nowadays, so you’ll fill that memory up fast.
The big screen
The Nexus 4 has an impressively large 4.7in screen, of the True HD IPS+ variety, which measures up well to the likes of the HTC One X. It’s even crisper than the display on the Samsung Galaxy III thanks to the 1280x768 resolution with 320ppi – and it’s not far behind that of the iPhone 5. It’s probably not much of a surprise when you think that LG is best known in the UK for its TVs.
We had high expectations for this screen, and we weren’t disappointed when we viewed an HD film, Picture quality was sharp, with realistic colours and great viewing angles. That high resolution makes it a great phone for surfing the net too – you can zoom out of a complex website and still read the small print.
One of our favourite things is the ‘Zerogap Touch’ technology, which means the screen is remarkably thin. While some screens feel sunken beneath the glass, here it looks like the images are right on the surface of the display – it might sound like a small detail, but it means that it is easy to perform delicate and fiddly tasks, such as tapping on small links in web pages,
Under the hood is a quad-core Snapdragon chip that makes sure performance is smooth and speedy. Give them a flick and you’ll see menus and desktops glide smoothly, and apps load up in an instant. We tried out the latest games and the LG Nexus 4 barely fluttered an eyelash – there was no lag, not even on some really intense 3D shoot ’em-ups. This will be a great phone for gamers for the foreseeable future.
In the past, LG’s smartphones have struggled when it came to battery power – the Optimus 4X and L7 both struggled to get a full day out of a full battery, but this is not an issue with the Nexus 4. You’ll get a good day using the snapper, sending emails, running maps and playing with apps. If you turn off NFC and GPS and turn down the brightness it will last even longer.
The Nexus 4 also offers NFC support, which lets you swap files with other NFC handsets. It’s a shame there’s no 4G support, but LG says they will be bringing out 4G handsets in the first half of 2013, in time for when operators other than EE offer up 4G services.
The camera is an 8-megapixel model that produces detailed images, although we couldn’t always get the brightness levels right. Colours are realistic and there are lots of editing options, including a host of filters, as well as facilities for online sharing. Press the shutter and it takes about a second to actually take the snap, so it’s not as instant as the likes of the HTC One X, for instance. However focus always proved sharp. Plus it grabs good-quality Full HD video. There’s also a 1.3-megapixel front-facing snapper for Skype chats.
The Android Jelly Bean 4.2 OS offers a new circular settings menu for the snapper – this pops up when you press the screen It’s a quick way to change details such as lighting and flash settings. What we most like though is the new Photo Sphere facility, which lets you take 360-degree panoramas – it’s simple to use and offers an interactive 360-degree scene that you can then scroll through. It doesn’t work so well indoors, but this is really a setting for taking impressive landscapes anyway.
Coming in at only £279 for the 16GB version, the LG Nexus 4 offers an affordable way to enjoy the latest games and HD movies, as well as surf the web. The new version of Android has some neat new features too, but it’s the lack of expandable storage that may ultimately put off movie and app fans.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android Jelly Bean 4.2|
|Dimensions||134 x 69 x 9.1mm|
|Processor speed||1.5GHz quad-core|
|Screen size||4.7 inches|
|Resolution||1280 x 768|
|Display type||16 million colours|
|Internal storage||8GB or 16GB|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||1.3 megapixels|
|Special camera features||Flash|
|FM Radio description|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger|
|Battery life multimedia|
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