Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Nexus Edge

Google announced new a smartphone and tablet this week, both of which boasting unprecedented hardware in previously unheard of prices. The LG made Nexus 4 smartphone caught this retro iPhone 3GS user’s eye in particular through the following features:
    •    Quad core CPU, probably the strongest around.
    •    4.7” screen.
    •    Plain vanilla Android 4.2 (a brand new version of Jelly Bean), without any crapware on top.
    •    You can buy the unlocked phone directly from Google.
    •    Updates to be provided directly from Google (no telco standing in the way).
    •    $400 asking price for the 16GB version.
Basically, an amazing phone for an even more amazing price. Never before did a flagship smartphone cost so little!

The phone will start selling on 13 November and I have to say, I immediately switched my antenna on. Sure, I prefer iOS, but I can’t argue with the price: it’s bloody half the cost of an iPhone, and it’s boasts a much stronger spec sheet!
I can live with the Nexus 4’s obvious omissions. 4G is no big deal for me as my provider (Amaysim) doesn’t offer it yet and as I live out of anyone’s 4G coverage area (but do work in one). It could actually be an advantage, as the Nexus 4's huge capacity battery would not have to deal with the drain of 4G. The lack of SD card memory extensions is also annoying, but then again I can listen to Spotify music online. That is, I can live with that.

The issues that do trouble me with the Nexus 4 are:
    •    iOS’ superiority: I still think iOS is better than Android by virtue of stability and ease of use. I hardly ever have to reset my iPhone, but Androids are a different story. That said, looking at the evolution of the two operating systems, it does feel as if iOS is past its peak whereas Android is taking leaps and bounds. Android 4.2 now offers widgets on the start screen, whereas iOS offers maps to get lost with.
    •    Cost: The phone might cost $400, but there will probably be a $20-$30 postage fee. On top of that I will need to add some $100 to get the app environment I’m used to from my iPhone back in Android land. Actually, probably more given to the cost of navigation apps.
    •    Privacy: I have a problem with the way Google treats its users. I suspect I will be able to live with it through the suppression of some default functionality on the phone. However, there is the matter of how apps treat my privacy, and on Android this is more of an “anything goes” type thing than on the iOS 6. Mind you, one needs to be firmly aware a smartphone is a privacy trap: apps like Angry Birds, for example, grab and sell your IP address and location no matter what operating system you’re on. And Angry Birds are not alone.
    •    Build quality (and subsequently, longevity): I held the LG Optimus (on which the Nexus 4 is somewhat based) and it clearly does not inspire the same notions of build quality as an iPhone. Perhaps the Nexus 4 would be different; then again, given the N4's price, one cannot complain too much (unless one thinks of the landfill effect).
    •    AirPlay: I use AirPlay extensively around the house. The problem there is that AirPlay is firmly an Apple thing. It’s not the end of the world, though: my old iPhone can comfortably serve as an iPod Touch for in house Spotify music streaming.
    •    Car music playing: As recently reported, my car stereo takes music from my iPhone via USB. I tried the same with an Android phone and it didn’t work: the car recognizes the phone as a USB drive, but probably due to DRM it is unable to play its Spotify music. I can get around it by playing music from the headphone jack instead of USB, but that is as elegant a solution as farting in a small windowless room. It really amazes me how Apple thinks these things through but Google fails them one by one.

Anyway, due to the above it looks like I will not be queuing up for my Nexus 4. But you, my dear reader, should not follow suit: if you are on the lookout for a mighty capable smartphone, this one is worth checking out through its price alone.
I know I will be checking The Verge for their review on the Nexus 4 as soon as it comes out.

7/11/2012 update: The Verge's review has been published (here). Their main point was the lack of 4G, but they also commented on the phone glass backside's susceptibility to harm.

Nexus 4 image: Google

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