While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience, anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first.
The good Competitively priced; delivers a pure and polished experience with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean; is powered by a snappy quad-core processor; packed with new photo-editing and camera features.
The bad Construction is solid but uninspiring; call volume is too low, lacks 4G LTE.
With its recent history of mediocre handsets, LG needs something other than the Optimus G to be its Hail Mary that can carry it to the top. Unfortunately, the Nexus 4 isn’t quite it.
Don’t get me wrong, the device itself performs excellently, and some of the specs are certainly impressive: the quad-core CPU is swift, the Jelly Bean Android OS runs as smooth as butter, and all the subtle new features work well without being too unintuitive or burdensome.
But Google’s flagship phone is missing one huge feature that caught us all off guard. The Nexus, which is supposed to represent Android in its most modern, so-high-tech-that-it’s-on-the-bleeding-edge form, isn’t 4G LTE-enabled.
Instead, it operates on “4G-ish” technology (GSM/HSPA+), and comes unlocked from Google (starting on November 13, the 8GB and 16GB versions will be US$299 and US$349, respectively) or on T-Mobile (after signing a carrier agreement, the 16GB model will be US$199 and will begin selling the day after). If your carrier is T-Mobile you won’t care much, since the network runs on HSPA+ anyway. But for those who had been planning on buying the unlocked model and using it on, say, AT&T’s 4G LTE network, the news is truly a downer.
Truth is, while HSPA+ can be as fast as LTE, for the average consumer LTE is expected on high-end phones. Jelly Bean and the pure Android experience will be important for OS enthusiasts, but this phone should have had both. And yes, I know the Galaxy Nexus didn’t have LTE, either, when the technology was available. I was disappointed then, too, even though the network wasn’t as robust. But now that LTE is so widespread, the Nexus 4 shouldn’t get a pass. A handset this high-caliber should have LTE capability, especially these days, when so much time has passed since LTE’s launch and even midrange devices come with it.