My First Hour with Google’s Nexus 4

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I’m very grateful that T-Mobile stepped up and helped me unbox the Nexus 4 live on YouTube today! Without the fine folks there, viewers would have been forced to watch me drool over the hardware in silence.

Nexus 4

  • Android 4.2: Snappiest / most buttery Android device I’ve used. I’m not just saying that either. You won’t believe this is an Android phone with the visible perf it’s pushing down the pike.
  • Screen Feel: My fingers glide across the glass (I LOVE it); slightly less friction than iPhone 5.
  • Screen Text: Clear — it’s very close to a Retina display, but not quite there in every instance (white text over a colored background shows a bit of fuzziness on the text edges). Still very nice.
  • Screen Images: Vibrant, good representation of color. This is a great screen for media consumption.
  • Chrome: Very smooth scroll, pinch-to-zoom drops frames. Enjoyable browsing. It still hates The Verge’s desktop site, though.
  • Still Camera: Fine (undersaturated, noisy in low light), worse than iPhone 5. Moreover, I’ve seen plenty of purple flare with the lens — so all of those non-iPhone 5 owners people who whined about the flare on newer Apple hardware should be eating crow right now.
  • HDR: Slow, imbalanced color output (currently very unoptimized). I wound up producing a few very blurry photos (which turned out to be inadvertently artsy) because I thought it was finished and it wasn’t.
  • Maps: Extremely responsive, smooth zooms. Plus, it’s great data underneath.
  • Google+ App: Scrolls more smoothly than the iOS version (?!). Yes, I use Google+ every day.
  • Fingerprints: Hello? It’s a smartphone. :)
  • Feel in hand: Incredibly light. That was my first reaction. Nice.
  • Single-hand operation: A bit of a stretch, but certainly workable.
  • Default Messages: Messaging, Messenger, Talk (quite a mess, confusing). Google needs to clean up the various default options ASAP.
  • Gmail: Fluid (“Hide pictures in messages” only has a “Yes” option). I can’t stand Google+ email notifications on Android.
  • Rear Speaker: Tinny (voice-optimized?), muted (tolerable) while on a surface. Seriously, I wouldn’t use this for anything other than voice.
  • Photosphere: Meh. Far from seamless; color-imbalanced between frames. Very user-friendly software, though!

My gut tells me: This is a fantastic smartphone for the price and plan(s). Great Android phone, folks.