Nexus 4 Inbound!

Last night, I finally caved in and ordered a Nexus 4. My current T-Mobile G2 is over two years old, and it’s really starting to show it’s age, so the time was right for a new phone. Plus with T-Mobile’s making you pay for the phones upfront rather than subsidizing them, this was also the cheapest option, at $350 direct from Google versus the $457 T-Mobile charges. After the jump are the boring details on why I chose this phone as my next phone.

* It’s one of the fastest phones out there, even with all the newer phones coming out. The quad-core processor and 2gb of RAM will be more than enough power to keep me happy for a few years. A funny thing I noticed was that this phone technically has better specs than my laptop. Oh technology, how fast you move!
* The screen is a good size, it’s 4.7″, not 5+ inches like all the newer phones coming out. Plus, it’s a really nice display, and it’s not AMOLED like on a Samsung Galaxy S3/4. I always feel like the Galaxy displays looked weird, like they just weren’t high-res enough, and had a darkish tinge to them.
* It has no buttons on the front at all. While some may feel uncomfortable with that arrangement, I wholeheartedly embrace this approach. Having onscreen buttons is no different than having capacitive buttons below the screen, except the buttons can disappear when not needed or when the screen is powered off, making for a cleaner-looking device. It’s funny how an Android device is more in line with Steve Jobs’ no button vision than the iPhone! Plus, onscreen buttons can adapt to the situation, like a menu button when it’s applicable, and a button to hide the onscreen keyboard when it’s out. As well as being able to rotate with the screen, pretty convenient in my opinion.
* The camera is pretty good. From the reviews I’ve read, the camera takes pretty good pictures. No dedicated shutter button, but honestly I never used the one on the G2, because I’ve noticed most of my casual picture-taking is done in the portrait orientation, not landscape.
* Pure Android. This is one of the biggest points for me, and it’s the one that really sold me the phone over similar phones like the Galaxy S3. I hate manufacturer “customized” versions of Android, because most of the time they look ugly and add unnecessary features. Samsung’s TouchWiz looks like a Fisher-Price version of Android, it’s so cartoony and lame. Back when Android was naturally ugly and lacking in features (I’m talking about the Froyo/2.1 days), the customized versions were actually the better option. However, nowadays Android 4.2 is very good-looking. It’s got a professional design, and has all the features I’d want. For example, notification bar quick toggles used to be a custom-only thing, but now it’s available in stock 4.2. I’m tired of having to use custom firmwares on my G2 to keep it relevant (quite a few apps no longer support anything below 4.0). Even CyanogenMod no longer supports my phone, meaning I have to use some less-than-stable amateur roms. I just want a phone that’ll be current for a while to come, and I can count on the Nexus 4 for that. The Galaxy Nexus is over a year old now, and it’s still getting updates to the latest firmwares. That’s something I’d like to have, official updates for a while.
* The design is amazing too. Dark glass on both sides, with a really neat-looking design on the back. It looks elegant and simple, not cheap and plasticky like the Galaxy S4. I’d even say that it looks classier than the HTC One. Plus, all the ports are in their usual places. Charging port on the bottom, power on the right and headphone jack on the top. I can’t stand phones with the jack on the bottom.
* Having a front-facing camera is awesome too. That’s one feature I really miss from back when I had an iPhone 4. I know nearly every modern smartphone has a front-facing camera, but this is nice nonetheless.
* The fact that it’s fully unlocked and carrier-independent is awesome too. No preloaded carrier crapware, no ugly carrier branding (My G2 has an obnoxious T-Mobile logo right above the screen). If I ever want to switch carriers for whatever reason, I can do so easily. And I can use it anywhere in the world, just pop in any sim and it’s good to go.
* Wireless charging is a great feature to have too, no need for a bulky external case. All I’d need to get is a Qi-based charging pad and I’m good to go. With a lot of cars nowadays having Qi pads built-in, this is a nice bit of forward thinking that I appreciate.
* NFC is awesome to have too, especially for using Google Wallet. I can load in my debit card and never have to take my wallet out again. Being able to tap my phone to pay is going to be awesome.

As perfect as this phone is on paper, it does have a few drawbacks that I had to deal with before I decided to purchase it. The first and foremost drawback is the lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard. However, that’s not the Nexus’ fault. There’s less than a handful of phones on the market right now with a keyboard, and they’re often the cheaper, underpowered models. Plus, the stock Android keyboard has been getting very good, especially with the text prediction. The addition of a Swype-like gesture to trace out words works brilliantly. I’ve hardly used my keyboard, especially for short quick texts and web browsing. So, no big loss. I’ll get used to it and in a while I’ll probably completely forget about having a keyboard.

The second glaring flaw to me was the lack of removable storage, and only 16gb of built-in storage. When the Nexus 4 originally came out, I almost completely dismissed it as an option because of that. However, after some thinking I’ve realized that I don’t need all that memory anyways. Yeah, my music library is enormous. But I honestly only listen to a fairly small part of it regularly. Sure it’s nice to have super obscure music on my phone, but I hardly ever listen to it. Plus my commutes are fairly short, and I still do most of my listening on my laptop, with my good over-ear headphones. Other than for music, I don’t really need a whole lot of storage anyways, so I’ve grown to accept this. Plus, I’ve had so many problems with SD cards before, and they do slow down the phone if they’re not the super-expensive high-speed cards.

The battery is technically non-removable, but the cover comes off with only two screws, so the battery is still pretty easily replaceable if it ever goes bad. I was never into swapping batteries in and out anyways, I’d rather just bring a charger if I know I won’t be coming home for more then a day.

I’m super excited for the Nexus 4 to get here, it should ship tomorrow and be here in two to three days tops. I’ll definitely write an initial review and a follow-up review, just like I did with my G2. As for my G2, it’s served me well for these past two years, and it’ll go into a comfortable retirement, as a spare phone.

Posted in Android, General, Technology