Google's Nexus 4: A closer look at Android's new flagship phone

Google Nexus 4

Being an Android fan is a bit like being a kid in a candy store today. Along with its new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean release and all the new features it delivers, Google has officially launched two brand new Nexus devices: the Nexus 4, a highly anticipated new flagship phone, and the Nexus 10, a high-end 10-inch tablet made by Samsung.

Let's take an up-close look at the Nexus 4, shall we? The phone combines the basic structure of LG's Optimus G with Google's own design sentiments and pure Android software. Get ready, gang: This phone promises to provide the ultimate Android experience -- and it very well may have the goods to deliver.

Nexus 4: LG's hardware with Google's design

Google LG Nexus

You can clearly see LG's Optimus G foundation in the Nexus 4, but make no mistake about it: This is a Nexus phone through and through. The Nexus 4 rocks a 4.7-in. True HD IPS display with the familiar Nexus-style curved glass. At a glance, its form actually looks very much like that of the Galaxy Nexus that preceded it.

Thinking about size? The Nexus 4 is 2.7 x 5.3 in. and 0.36 in. thick. It weighs 4.9 oz. Despite its larger screen, then, that actually makes it almost the same size and weight as the Galaxy Nexus -- just a hair thicker and a skosh heavier, but probably not enough to be terribly noticeable.

The larger screen is far from the only thing that separates the new Nexus phone from its younger brother, though. In general, LG's build with this line of devices feels far more solid and substantial than the plasticky-style approach favored by Samsung. The Nexus 4 puts a Googley twist on LG's distinctive back-of-phone design, with a sleek and premium-looking patterned material reminiscent of the classic Nexus wallpaper look.

Outward aesthetics aside, the Nexus 4's screen has a resolution of 1280 x 768 with 320ppi, all protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Based on the time I spent with the Optimus G, which uses the same display technology, I expect the image quality on this thing to be wildly impressive.

And that's just the start.

Nexus 4: Power, power, power

LG Nexus 4

Under its hood, the new Nexus 4 packs a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor along with a full 2GB of RAM. With that setup, the Optimus G zooms along as fast as any Android phone I've seen; combining it with pure Google software should deliver comparable -- and quite possibly even better -- levels of ridiculous speed.

The Nexus 4 has an 8-megapixel camera -- certainly a huge step up from the Galaxy Nexus's 5-megapixel lens, which was widely viewed as that device's Achilles' heel. If the Optimus G is any indication, I suspect the Nexus 4's camera will be good, though likely less good than the super-high-end cameras used on phones like HTC's One X and One S. The Nexus 4 also has a 1.3-megapixel shooter on its front for video chat and all those self-nudie pics you're always taking (you silly, silly pervert).

The Nexus 4 comes with either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, and -- following the typical Nexus model -- unfortunately does not support SD cards. It does support wireless charging, though, and will have an incredibly slick-looking wireless charging orb (yes, orb) accessory.

The Nexus 4 has a 2100mAh battery that's listed for 15.3 hours of talk-time and 390 hours of standby.

Nexus 4: The nitty-gritty

All right, let's get down to brass tacks: Google is focusing primarily on direct unlocked sales of the Nexus 4, which isn't a huge surprise after the Verizon Galaxy Nexus debacle. You'll be able to grab GSM/HSPA+ versions of the phone starting November 13 from the Google Play Store. (There is no LTE version -- something Android head honcho Andy Rubin describes as a "tactical" decision.)

Translation? For those of us in the U.S., the phone will work on either T-Mobile or AT&T with HSPA+-level 4G speeds; you'll buy the device outright from Google and then use it either with your existing plan or a new plan. You can also opt to use it with a prepaid smartphone plan -- something I'd strongly suggest considering.

The 8GB version of the device will be available for $300 and the 16GB version for $350. The phone will launch initially in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Spain, and Australia; Google says Europe, Central and South America, Asia, CIS and the Middle East will follow later in the month.

(In the U.S., T-Mobile will also sell the 16GB version of the phone for $200 with a new two-year contract. Between you and me, though, most people will do far better by buying directly from Google and then picking a usage-appropriate plan without the contract.)

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Some start to the week, eh? And we're barely even scratching the surface. I'll be spending a lot of time with the Nexus 4 as well as the Nexus 10 over the next several days and will be sharing my detailed hands-on impressions with you soon.

Keep an eye on Android Power for updates or join me over on Google+ if you want to chat about this stuff even more.

UPDATE: Google's Nexus 4: To buy or not to buy?

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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