Skip to navigation

Nexus 4 review

Verdict

LG and Google combine to produce the best Nexus phone yet, and at a great price, too

Review Date: 12 Dec 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £26.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £250
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone attracted worldwide attention when it was introduced in the middle of November – the device sold out within a staggering 15 minutes. We’ve never seen a smartphone sell out so quickly, but there are good reasons why so many were so keen to get their hands on Google’s latest handset.

The 8GB and 16GB versions are available SIM-free for only £239 and £279, which makes the Nexus 4 more affordable than every one of its flagship rivals, including the A-Listed Samsung Galaxy S III. The software is a big draw, too; as with other Google-branded handsets, the Nexus 4 is loaded with the very latest version of Android, and it will get future OS updates before other phones, too.

Nexus 4

New Android

The version of Android included here is 4.2. It doesn’t have any radical additions over the 4.1 (Jelly Bean) release, instead concentrating on enhancing existing features and making the OS easier to use.

To start with, the lockscreen is much more versatile. You can swipe up to unlock the phone as normal, but also swipe right to go straight to the camera app, or swipe left to reveal six alternative (and customisable) lockscreens. Google provides clock, calendar, text-messaging and email widgets for these screens, and they’re interactive, too. Tap an email or a text message, for example, and you’re whisked directly to the app in question.

Nexus 4

You can now act on Android’s notifications directly: single taps return missed calls, open the text-messaging and email apps, and accept Facebook friend requests. That isn’t the only new inclusion at the top of the screen. Swipe down with two fingers and a quick settings menu opens instead of the notification drawer. It’s a smart way of accessing commonly used options, and there’s also a link to the full settings menu.

Google Now still uses your location and Gmail account to present context-sensitive information in a series of “cards”, but Android 4.2 digs up much more, using email data to remind you about flights, restaurant reservations and local events or places of interest.

The keyboard is new, too, boasting Swype-style gesture typing. This works extremely efficiently, and we found it would often suggest the correct word before we’d finished swiping.

1 2 3

Best Prices

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£250
Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

LTE?

LTE is also surely a consideration? As a "pay as you go aficionado" (or at least, preferring to get decent SIM free deals), I'd definitely go for the Nexus if it had LTE support - there are reports it has the necessary hardware, and indeed can be hacked to enable LTE - if Google were either to release an official version supporting LTE, or simply announce a future firmware upgrade would enable it, I suspect they might find they have even more takers?

By JimmyN on 12 Dec 2012

When my contract is due for renewal soon this is the phone I'll be keenly looking at.

At the price I can buy it out-right and go for a basic SIM-only contract.

The only thing, for me, that lets the phone down is the fixed battery and, worse still, the paltry 16GB of memory that can't be expanded.

David.

By artiss on 12 Dec 2012

@JimmyN

It has some of the LTE components required and will, just, work. But not in the UK (wrong type of LTE and all that).

They could add it - along with a number of other missing bells and whistles - but it would increase the price.

Do you REALLY need 4G? Besides, LTE would get you on EE but not the up-coming 4G services, I believe.

David.

By artiss on 12 Dec 2012

Just shut up and take my money!

I've ordered one of these handsets. I've shopped around, looked at the iPhone 5, the Galaxy S3 and even the Note 2 and Lumia 920. I wish the Blackberry BB10 handset (L Series) was available, but since it's not, I'm going to grab me a Nexus 4.

I don't mind that it lacks LTE, as it's too expensive now anyway. Also, HSPA+ on 3-Network can reach something like 42Mbits/sec anyway.

In terms of "bang for buck", nothing comes close to the Nexus 4. Love photosphere, love Google Now, love the way I can stream media directly from my NAS to an Android handset (using ES File Explorer), and love the maps application. It's simply a very functional handset at a very reasonable price.

Can't wait to get mine.

By FreedomFighter on 12 Dec 2012

Contract

Most people only buy on contract because they can't afford to buy the phone outright - at £230, many will now be able to do what I did and buy the phone along with a £12 per month GiffGaff sim with unlimited data.

I've had mine for nearly a week and I'm delighted - the perfect complement for my Nexus 7. Having been spoiled by getting the latest OS first, I won't be buying from a third party again - as long as Google and its partners continue to deliver top notch, low cost hardware alongside what has become a mature, feature-filled OS.

By KevPartner on 12 Dec 2012

Q: Triple Tap

This may seem a daft Question, but I can't seem to get the triple tap thing to work. Either on the desktop or in a web browser it does nothing. Do I have to enable it somewhere? TIA

By GhillieDhu on 12 Dec 2012

Recieved mine this morning

So far it's been a joy, seriously nice phone that looks and feels much nicer than the S3. Screen is superb!

By LiL_Ze on 12 Dec 2012

Expandable Battery

I have been carefully considering this phone (although I obviously didn't want to spend any money until I had read the PC Pro review). But for me the 16GB maximum storage is too limiting. I know Google wants me to use its cloud based services, but I live in a world of data tariffs and variable signal, and I would hate to have to worry about those things whenever I wanted to listen to music. Add in the modest camera and the reports of poor battery life (although I note this was not so identified in your review) and I am still more tempted by the Galaxy S3. But that price...

By Peter_Tennant on 12 Dec 2012

Expandable *MEMORY*

The title for that last post was meant to say 'expandable memory' not 'expandable battery'.

By Peter_Tennant on 12 Dec 2012

"the battery can’t be replaced, and there’s no microSD slot"

Deal breakers for me; I'd have already used up the 16GB of space in the Samsung Galaxy SIII if I hadn't slipped a 32GB microSD card in. £20 got me a second battery which is dead handy if you're using the phone a lot.

The Nexus 4 will be the phone I recommend to people that aren't geeks but until we get more storage and longer-lasting battery life the SIII and Note II are both worth the premium.

By Mark_Thompson on 12 Dec 2012

@Mark_Thompson

The N4 is the phone I WOULD recommend to geeks - it's pure Android so none of this bloated, resource-sapping UI overlays, added bloatware apps and waiting on the carrier to approve updates. The Nexus range is Android as it should be, and I'll be getting one as soon as Google are back in stock!

I can understand the 'lack' of storage being an issue for some but seeing as you can dirt cheap SIM-only deals with unlimited data it can't really be used as an excuse these days unless you still have a long time left on your contract. If you're out of contract, and can afford the phone, the N4 is a no brainer

By EddyOS_2K9 on 13 Dec 2012

Agreed

"The N4 is the phone I WOULD recommend to geeks"

They are the people most likely to use cloud services and the limited memory will therefore be adequate.

The battery for me isn't about carrying around a spare (too much hassle) but when the charging cycle kills the battery and it needs replacing. At least with an iPhone I'd know I can walk into an Apple shop - how do we get the battery replaced in a N4?

David.

By artiss on 13 Dec 2012

Nexus 4 Christmas Present?

Lots of Nexus 4s available prior to Christmas on e-bay for those of us lucky enough to have bought 2 in early December!

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/150964260137?ssPageName=
STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

By wraggyd on 13 Dec 2012

I'd imagine this would help, so long as you can source a battery...http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nexus+4+T
eardown/11781/1

By EddyOS_2K9 on 13 Dec 2012

@wraggyd

Not with the horribly marked up prices, I'd rather go to CPW and but one SIM free for £380 then pay the rediculous eBay prices!

By EddyOS_2K9 on 13 Dec 2012

"Free, on a £26.00 per month, 24 months contract."

£624.00 = FREE.

Can you quit this gibbering nonsense, please.

By marchant on 14 Dec 2012

Some people....

@marchant

Did you make this comment to be deliberately contentious?

How else do you suggest PC Pro describe the initial cost to buy, line rental and contract period? The existing description made perfect sense to the rest of us :)

By Tom85 on 16 Dec 2012

Awesome phone!

The Nexus 4 appears to be a phenomenal phone, and I can't wait to get one for myself. I use Pandora for music and Netflix for movies, so I don't need a big micro-SD card. And now that I've got an unlimited everything service plan (including 4G data), this unlocked GSM phone is exactly the hardware upgrade that I need! Here's a quick video of the no-contract plan that I'm enjoying - and hope to use the Nexus 4 on soon! http://www.PenniesOverDollars.com

By corleyman on 17 Dec 2012

@artiss
"At least with an iPhone I'd know I can walk into an Apple shop - how do we get the battery replaced in a N4?"
LOL, for what Apple will charge you for a battery you will be able to buy a new N4 :)
Anyhoo, there'll be plenty of sites showing how to do it yourself pretty soon...

By TiredGeek on 17 Dec 2012

16GB not enough?

How times change.....

In 10 years we've gone from a Nokia 3310 with it's black and white screen, plinky plonk ringtones to 16GB of storage "not being enough" or "a dealbreaker".

God help you people in 10 years time. "What, the new Nexus 21 has only got 25 terabytes of storage??????"

By scaffold22 on 18 Dec 2012

Only £279??

Where are you getting the idea that it's only £279 for the 16GB model? Everywhere I've seen is at least £100 more than that!

By Help_plz on 23 Dec 2012

Yes £279

Direct from Google Play that is the price. In and out of stock. I've been waiting mine for a couple of weeks. Only thing that caused me to hesitate was the lack of SD card support.

By spile on 27 Dec 2012

LTE?

Surely I can't be the only one who thinks LTE is massively overrated? The only time it makes a notable difference is when you are trying to stream in HD - HSPA+ works just fine for movies. And if you DO use it to stream in HD then its a good thing you have a removable battery because you can't expect the battery to last long. I don't notice a huge difference when just browsing the web between my phone on HSPA+ and fibre optic WiFi.

Apple got a load of stick when they didn't include LTE in the 4S, and when they didn't include NFC in the 5, but on both counts I think they made the right call: LTE chips are power hungry and NFC has little UK adoption in the UK: TfL says NFC is too slow to allow Oyster card payments using your phone.

By thepowerofnone on 1 Jan 2013

No support for USB peripherals

The lack of an SD slot didn't bother me, as the device was supposed to have, according to Google's own documentation, USB on-the-go support which would permit the attachment of USB devices such as an SD card reader.

However, Google has apparently done a volte-face and quietly edited its own documentation to remove references to USB OTG support. Just search, heh, Google for NEXUS 4 USB OTG and you'll find plenty of results including Google's own bug tracker.

So, if support for USB peripherals is important for you, then the Nexus 4 might not be ideal.

By AlexM on 13 Jan 2013

This phone should be the A-List smartphone.

I looked hard at getting a proper smartphone and concluded that the Nexus 4 was the one for me.
£279 on the Google play store for the 16gb version with a £12 pm Gigffgaff sim works out far cheaper than contract. I disagree that most people get phones on contract with this phone around. It'll change the game.
The greedy retailers have already whacked a £100 surcharge on top compared to the Google Play Store.
Only a fool would get tired down to a 24 month contract now.
24 months x £26 a month = £624
Buy the phone outright sim free from Google play:
£279
+ £12 month Giffgaff sim over 2 years = £567
The maths speaks for itself.
Root it and unlock it. Flash a custom ROM and it's better than new.
Time is up for the greedy fat cat retailers and mobile telecom providers with this phone and a cheap pay-as-you-go sim.
On the O2 site which is who I was with, the phone is £399 on pay & go.
On contract it's £21.50 pm + £104.99 to buy the phone and the deal still isn't as good, as I get unlimited data from Giffgaff and O2 don't do that so I've based it on the number of minutes.
So:
£104.99 + (£21.50 pm * 24 months) = £620.99.
I pity the fool who gets a contract now.
Best phone ever and it's made my life so much better for it.

By finn1974 on 9 Feb 2013

This phone should be the A-List smartphone.

I looked hard at getting a proper smartphone and concluded that the Nexus 4 was the one for me.
£279 on the Google play store for the 16gb version with a £12 pm Gigffgaff sim works out far cheaper than contract. I disagree that most people get phones on contract with this phone around. It'll change the game.
The greedy retailers have already whacked a £100 surcharge on top compared to the Google Play Store.
Only a fool would get tired down to a 24 month contract now.
24 months x £26 a month = £624
Buy the phone outright sim free from Google play:
£279
+ £12 month Giffgaff sim over 2 years = £567
The maths speaks for itself.
Root it and unlock it. Flash a custom ROM and it's better than new.
Time is up for the greedy fat cat retailers and mobile telecom providers with this phone and a cheap pay-as-you-go sim.
On the O2 site which is who I was with, the phone is £399 on pay & go.
On contract it's £21.50 pm + £104.99 to buy the phone and the deal still isn't as good, as I get unlimited data from Giffgaff and O2 don't do that so I've based it on the number of minutes.
So:
£104.99 + (£21.50 pm * 24 months) = £620.99.
I pity the fool who gets a contract now.
Best phone ever and it's made my life so much better for it.

By finn1974 on 9 Feb 2013

This phone should be the A-List smartphone.

I looked hard at getting a proper smartphone and concluded that the Nexus 4 was the one for me.
£279 on the Google play store for the 16gb version with a £12 pm Gigffgaff sim works out far cheaper than contract. I disagree that most people get phones on contract with this phone around. It'll change the game.
The greedy retailers have already whacked a £100 surcharge on top compared to the Google Play Store.
Only a fool would get tired down to a 24 month contract now.
24 months x £26 a month = £624
Buy the phone outright sim free from Google play:
£279
+ £12 month Giffgaff sim over 2 years = £567
The maths speaks for itself.
Root it and unlock it. Flash a custom ROM and it's better than new.
Time is up for the greedy fat cat retailers and mobile telecom providers with this phone and a cheap pay-as-you-go sim.
On the O2 site which is who I was with, the phone is £399 on pay & go.
On contract it's £21.50 pm + £104.99 to buy the phone and the deal still isn't as good, as I get unlimited data from Giffgaff and O2 don't do that so I've based it on the number of minutes.
So:
£104.99 + (£21.50 pm * 24 months) = £620.99.
I pity the fool who gets a contract now.
Best phone ever and it's made my life so much better for it.

By finn1974 on 9 Feb 2013

This phone should be the A-List smartphone.

I looked hard at getting a proper smartphone and concluded that the Nexus 4 was the one for me.
£279 on the Google play store for the 16gb version with a £12 pm Gigffgaff sim works out far cheaper than contract. I disagree that most people get phones on contract with this phone around. It'll change the game.
The greedy retailers have already whacked a £100 surcharge on top compared to the Google Play Store.
Only a fool would get tired down to a 24 month contract now.
24 months x £26 a month = £624
Buy the phone outright sim free from Google play:
£279
+ £12 month Giffgaff sim over 2 years = £567
The maths speaks for itself.
Root it and unlock it. Flash a custom ROM and it's better than new.
Time is up for the greedy fat cat retailers and mobile telecom providers with this phone and a cheap pay-as-you-go sim.
On the O2 site which is who I was with, the phone is £399 on pay & go.
On contract it's £21.50 pm + £104.99 to buy the phone and the deal still isn't as good, as I get unlimited data from Giffgaff and O2 don't do that so I've based it on the number of minutes.
So:
£104.99 + (£21.50 pm * 24 months) = £620.99.
I pity the fool who gets a contract now.
Best phone ever and it's made my life so much better for it.

By finn1974 on 9 Feb 2013

Best phone ever

I've had a Samsung Galaxy S1, SII and SIII and they've increasingly frustrated me. The SIII has just been replaced by the Nexus 4 and it feels like a massive leap forward.

Build quality, the interface, the speed and slickness, the battery life and the general "fitness for purpose" and lack of frustration in using this device put it light years ahead of the S3.

In day to day real life use, this leaves the S3 for dead.

By roblightbody on 24 May 2013

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

Latest Category Reviews
Sony Xperia M review

Sony Xperia M

Category: Smartphones
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £127
Sony Xperia L review

Sony Xperia L

Category: Smartphones
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £140
Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung Galaxy S5

Category: Smartphones
Rating: 6 out of 6
Price: £550
Alcatel One Touch Idol S review

Alcatel One Touch Idol S

Category: Smartphones
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £130
Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3

Category: Smartphones
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £140
Compare reviews: Smartphones

advertisement

Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 

 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.