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Not just any ordinary smartphone
LG Google Nexus 4
Member Name: bobsta
LG Google Nexus 4
Advantages: Fantastic screen, masses of storage, pure Android meaning no bloatware, speed
Disadvantages: Fixed storage - unable to expand memory requirements, Movie Studio app buggy
It was a tough choice choosing a new smartphone. The market has certainly moved on from the days when the HTC Desire was king. After almost three years of service, the USB port failed and the repair bill made it uneconomic to do anything with it. A couple of days of research and I selected the Nexus 4. I was tempted by the Samsung but I really didn't want one after reading negative reviews of the S3.
So, for the price of £279 (plus £10 postage), what do you get for your money? You get the phone of course along with the USB cable, power adapter and quick start guide. The phone itself is very unassuming in appearance - it won't catch people's attention until they see it's a Nexus. The volume controls are located on the left hand side of the phone. Headphone socket is along the top. Power button on the right hand side of the phone and the USB port is obviously located at the bottom. First thing you need to do is to ensure you have a micro SIM card. If you have the normally standard sized SIM you'll need to cut the card down to size. Templates are available on the internet where you can stick down the card and cut it from the template. Alternatively, take it down to a mobile phone market stall and get to do if for you for a few quid.
Firing up the phone is pretty quick. The first thing you'll notice is the clarity of the display. It's set to auto brightness but even at 40%, the screen looks amazing. Fonts, pictures and movies are crystal clear. Browsing the web with Chrome is fantastic. No need to squint anymore! But I did find that some web site appeared as desktop web site thinking that the phone I was using was actually something bigger!
Navigation is straightforward using the touch screen controls. I was very pleased to see that there was no "bloatware" installed - just the standard apps that Google think you may need. Just type in your google e-mail account details (or create one if you haven't got one) and all your apps will sync with the handset. I've always used Google calendar and contacts and it was a relief to see everything transfer over. However, I did encounter problems with Facebook syncing with my contacts - downloading UberSync for Facebook takes the pain away.
The operation of the phone is quick and slick. Considering you have a powerful processor backed up 2GB of RAM, I didn't notice a slow down until I used the Movie Studio app. This is actually the first application that caused the phone to crash so I assume buggy software. Other applications appear to have no issues unless they are poorly written. Some users have reported that the back of the phone gets hot after use - well, that does happen when playing games. A word of warning though - if you're not using a case, don't place your phone onto a marble/granite surface - there's a high probability the back cover will crack if it's hot and comes into contact with a cold surface.
You can create a multitude of notifications so you're made aware of texts, FB, Twitter updates etc. The connectivity the Nexus offers is astounding and frightening at the same time when you consider that if you're signed up to Google+ you can arrange for photos and videos you take to be uploaded into a private album on Google's servers. There's 5GB of cloud space which I know doesn't sound much but in most cases I move photos and videos onto an external drive.
The virtual keyboard that comes with the Nexus is big enough to accommodate my large fingers and the predictive texting and gesture typing is fabulous. Sending texts is no longer a chore although I get carried away and write a small essay at times.
The camera is one of the features that most potential buyers enquire about. It's performance during daylight hours is fantastic. The focusing is a bit hit and miss at times but it's not a dedicated camera. When you press the ring which appears on screen, a number of features appear around it so you can adjust the exposure, flash settings etc. The zoom function is basically using a pinch motion so you expand your fingers to zoom in and vice versa to zoom out. The results are natural and the editing facilities are very good enabling you to crop images, adjust brightness, applying a host of filtering effects. Videos are recorded in full HD even though the screen isn't. The quality of videos is superb. Remember that there is no stabilisation option so a steady hand is required.
The 16GB storage is just under 13GB in practice - a good chunk of it is dedicated to the in-built apps and Android operation system. I must admit if I wanted to carry my whole music collection around with me I would use a dedicated mp3 player. The speaker isn't great but then the phone does come with Bluetooth, Wi-fi so you can stream music. One word about the Wi-fi though - it switches off the mobile data connection so it doesn't impact your data quota which is a nice touch.
Now here's the million dollar question - battery life and changing the battery. The phone is a sealed unit but you'll need to unscrew the case to get to it. You'll also need to unscrew a connection plate between the battery and the phone but getting an aftermarket cheap batter isn't an option - you need to get the LG battery. Battery life is pretty average for a smartphone. I kept my auto brightness feature on and did everything that I normally do - I managed to get 15 hours out of the phone before I got down to 10%.
As the Google Nexus is plagued by bloatware (such as Touchwiz, HTC Sense and other manufacturer applications that are built into the phone), any updates to Android will be available to you first - makes a nice change to getting updates so future proofing is very welcome.
So, is it a smartphone worth getting? If was purely on price, absolutely! No other phone comes close to the power and functionality of the Nexus for £279. Why spend that money on a used phone when the Google Nexus is new for the same price? Get one now if you can!
Summary: Truly a first rate Android smartphone
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