Nexus 4

Writes Lanhoj in our Nexus 4 forums:

"I feel bad saying it but the Nexus 4 feels like an "S" upgrade (like Apple's upgrades)."

First off, don't feel bad saying it. Apple's update strategy has proved to be successful, if annoying for those who want the top-of-the-line phone year after year but grimace at the cost. And there's an argument to be made here, though I'm not sure it quite adds up.

The internals of the Nexus 4 are a significant improvement over the Galaxy Nexus, both on paper and in actual use. Just ask anyone who's tried Photo Sphere on a Galaxy Nexus. The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro is a huge jump.

More: Our complete Nexus 4 review

Don't discount the improved camera, either. When I'd carry the Galaxy Nexus, I'd also carry a second phone, with a better camera. (Either the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X.) That's not normal, I know. But that's how bad the Galaxy Nexus camera is compared to those two phones. And with the Nexus 4, I'll not be needing a second phone for proper photography.

Android 4.2 isn't a giant leap over Android 4.1, but there's enough there to keep it interesting, and we still don't know if the Galaxy Nexus will get all the improvements in the Nexus 4.

But maybe even more important is the price. You can get this phone for $299 or $349 unlocked. No contracts. In and out. And if it turns out you can't live with the anemic storage or lack of LTE data on AT&T in the U.S., (remember that there's no Verizon or Sprint-capable version, and T-Mobile still doesn't have any LTE) you'll be able to get most -- if not all -- of your investment back pretty quickly. What's it cost to upgrade to the latest iPhone or manufacturer's-best Android phone year after year?

More: Nexus 4 forums


Reader comments

From the forums: Is the Nexus 4 merely an 'S' upgrade?


As said in the article, the S4 Pro and updated camera make it more than an "S" upgrade. IMO the only nexus so far that has been an "S" upgrade has coincidentally been the Nexus S.

Yes i agree 100%, everything about the Nexus 4has been improved, better screen, better build quality, better processor, better ram, better camera, literally everything has been improved by quite a big margin.

The nexus s was a real head scratcher, don't get me wrong, its a good device (i still have one i use for my work phone) but i guess the name was a perfect match, since the Nexus s, really was an s update over the previous Nexus, which still had a 1ghz processor, and 512mb ram, and 5mp camera, nothing changed expect they went from good build quality to bad build quality and added NFC which at the time was pointless. Its only just started getting a little bit of relevance 2 years on, and most people don't tend to keep phones for more than 2 years, so its a lil irelevant that the nexus s had it.

you forgot the one big difference between the Nexus one and Nexus S... the switch from partitioned storage usable on board storage. Anyone who has used a Nexus one knows that it had pretty much no on board application storage while the Nexus S even after two years keeps up with the pack.

agreed! The Nexus 4 is a great phone, just because it doesn't have every feature that each person wants does not make it "suck" or be a fail.. People need to get over it, Verizon is the only carrier with real worthwhile LTE and 16GB would be plenty for me since I use cloud storage and don't copy my music and movies local.

Uhh. 3gs and 4s were the SAME phones as their predecessors. This nexus4 is a completely different phone with a new manufacturer and different display.

Why are these haters complaining and crying? You looking at the steal of the year when it comes to electronics.

If you dont want it, get the DNA or iphone. Or just be quiet. Wtf

Except, you know, for the spec bump...

3G to 3GS brought twice the RAM, a processor spec bump, and a better camera.
4 to 4S also brought a better processor and a much better camera.

Just because those phones look the same doesn't mean that they're actually the same.

The "S" pretty much stood for the speed bumps w/ new processor and/or RAM. There is NO way you can call the N4 an S upgrade. It's inside and out a completely better phone. It's more like a 4S -> 5 transformation: refined body, and updated internals.

This article is a bit confused.

When apple bring out an 'S' there are many things that hold true but the main constants are...

1, The design doesn't change - this saves on production costs and boost profit because...

2, The price is exactly the same i.e. The same expensive price tag for a refined iPhone that costs less to produce.

I don't get the connection because Google has done almost the exact opposite.

The Nexus 4 is actually different, league's better on all tech features and half the price to own out right.

I get what the post is saying, but this really is a completely different phone. Much better CPU and GPU, IPS LCD display, better camera, etc. I've got a Verizon GNex and it's aged far better than any phone I've owned, almost to the point that an upgrade isn't necessary. But the battery life and 3G/LTE switching is killing me. The camera on the GNex is way too inconsistent as well. And then there's the update delays. It's just enough to justify an upgrade.

Seriously? An -S model is something that is incrementally better yet essentially the same. This isn't even from the same manufacturer, and is an entirely different design in most ways.

It is an S-upgrade, and that's not a bad thing.

Sure 3G and 3GS, 4 and 4S look the same, but both of those upgrades brought a pretty big spec bump.

This gnex camera bashing is getting old. I use my gnex to take pictures for working all the time with no problems. You just need to give it a second to focus on what you tell it to. It all has to do with the zero lag. User error.

The quality and detail of the resulting picture was always the problem. It was not on par with anything that was out at the time. The Nexus 4 improved on that. It may not be THE best, and I'm fine, but it's up there in the ranks where the Gnex couldn't be in the same hemisphere of its competition.

I really don't mind the camera on my Gnex. I'm not a photographer, if I were, I'd invest in a good camera and lens. I used to have a 0.38 megapixel Kodak DC40, which held 48 pictures. Maybe I don't have the latest and greatest camera on my phone, but like they say, "the best camera is the one you have with you."

Sadly, when in a group, I generally find that the best camera we have is one of the iPhones. While it's nice to have some camera in a pinch, it would be great to have a better than potato one.

Yeah, I agree. I think that the only two things that Apple has consistently done better than any Android device of comparable generation are the camera and general hand feel. It looks like the N4 may be seriously catching up on both counts, which is pretty thrilling.

This new phone is not a "S" upgrade. No Nexus phone has ever been a "S" upgrade in the way Apple has used it. Apple puts an "S" at the end because the device has the exact same shell as the previous model and doesn't deserve a whole new name because it already has one essentially.

It's similar to an OS point release. 4.2 is just Jelly Bean with some new stuff. Jelly Bean S if you will.

Basically this argument doesn't hold water. We could just point out the whole "quad core thing" and leave it at that. You change the cpu, you change what the device is at it's core.

"Basically this argument doesn't hold water. We could just point out the whole 'dual core thing' and leave it at that. You change the cpu [sic], you change what the device is at it's [sic] core."
-Mike Rich on the iPhone 4S

Apple also improved the camera, added Siri (for whatever that's worth), and put in a GSM radio that didn't suck. And we still call it an S-release. Clearly a CPU spec bump does not a whole new version make.

I don't even understand this cause Nexus 4 has not a single thing that's identical to the Galaxy Nexus and is make by a complete diff manufactorer, while iphone 4 to 4s is identical.

If this is a S upgrade the the iphone 3 to iphone 4 was also a S upgrade.

I mean to me personally the build quility from iphone 3 to 4 was the biggest thing, which is the EXACT same case here. We are going from crappy plastic to a solid device. that is made out of glass mainly like the iphone 4/4s/5

"Which kicks it up another 3 or 4 quads per channel, y'know? But that's technical talk. That doesn't concern you"

I think it's rather funny that some even say it's an "S" upgrade. Apple doesn't even do the "S" upgrades anymore, they just release a product under the same name but with improved hardware, take the iPad. The new iPad is the new iPad, which also been the new iPad a half year ago, so again, which is now the new iPad? Yes yes, why use an "S" if you can make it even more confusing.

But besides that I don't see how in the world this is supposed to be only an upgrade?
It's not even the same manufacturer, at this point already the whole controversy simply fails. And if people say that a new display, better processor, more ram is only an "upgrade", then I assume the Note 2 is also just an "S" update to the Galaxy S3. Some of you really crack me up.

They're calling the latest iPad the "4th-gen iPad" or the "iPad with Retina display," not the "new iPad" like they did last time. And it seems like they're thinking of iPad releases to be more like Mac releases than iPhone/iPod releases.

I like reading these posts because I am on Sprint and due for an upgrade. As the N4 doesn't seem to be coming to Sprint/Verizon any time soon, I guess my choices are between a Galaxy S3 or a GNex. THAT is my dilemma, and I want to know from those in the know if getting a GNex is a bad idea.

My wife has the S3 and it's awesome, but I'm not a huge fan of TouchWiz and I really REALLY want the early/on-time updates to Android. Even if a Sprint GNex doesn't get them immediately, the hacking community gets the stuff onto it really soon. And I know that the same argument can be made for the S3 if I root it, but (in my experience: Hero, EVO, Nexus S 4G, S3) they're never as stable as the Nexus ROMs.

Some of the EVO LTE ROM's are quite stable. Perhaps the most stable one that I've used is CM 10. I switched back to ICS/Sense 4.1 ROM's because I missed some of Sense's features, but that will vary from person to person.

But I didn't get an EVO instead of a G-Nex because of the software, but because of the hardware. The EVO LTE's camera and screen are leagues ahead of the G-Nex, and the CPU is better, too.

Also, keep in mind that Samsung's CDMA radios suck. I have a friend who got a Sprint GS3, and he was totally dissatisfied with his reception. I'm just fine with the reception I get on my EVO. This, I think, may be the most important difference between the two phones.

I loved my EVO 4G at first. The build quality was amazing (thrown from 2nd floor loft onto ceramic tile below and didn't show any signs of it at all - no case on it) and I really like Sense.

But I have grown WAY too picky about smoothness. And I mean Jelly Bean smoothness. I was willing to put up with choppy scrolling at first, but now there's no reason for a phone to not have iPhone-like smoothness when you scroll through something. This was remedied in Jelly Bean, but the EVO LTE still has the issue. There's no excuse for that (to me). I was not impressed at all when I got my hands on the EVO LTE - and I almost bought it outright without even seeing one first.

And HTC's updating sucks horribly. Delays, issues, bloat, etc. I won't own an HTC phone again that is not a Nexus (if that ever happens again) for these reasons I have outlined above. That's why my decision is pretty much in the Samsung court with an S3 or a GNex.

The S3 has a very similar chip (if I'm not mistaken) to the N4, and that leads me to believe that Google's sanctioned support for that CPU will live long. That's my concern about the GNex using a different (older) CPU. Is that concern invalid?

I keep seeing this notion that a person should be able to get close to all their money back from buying an N4 outright and then trying to sell it.

I question this logic.

Why would I buy a used phone from someone for close to the same price as I can get it shipped straight away from Google, shiny and new?

I wouldn't buy a used N4 for any more than $225 myself. That's a 25% hit.


weather you would pay or not is irrelevant. First things after launch Google is expected to be sold out and I guaranty you that these will be selling for over $500 for at least a month. 2nd prior to the Nexus 4 announcement the Galaxy Nexus was not selling anywhere bellow like $340 or so used if its from the play store so your logic makes no sense and brand new nexus 4 16gb will cost you in more then $380 after shipping and tax.

The Nexus 4 is exactly what many people have been clamoring for. An iphone 4s running Android. Only this iphone 4s is significantly more powerful.

I'd pay $500+ for this phone with 32gb and LTE that worked on Verizon. As it stands, no dice, so I have to stick to my iPhone 5. I'm ready to go back to Android, but I hate skinned devices and don't root and rom. This is the perfect phone for me, aside from those little issues.

And I don't see it as an S update. iPhones are S updates, as many have said before me, because they use the same exact phone with minor upgrades (processor, camera). If this was an S update, it would be made by Samsung, look the same as the last Nexus, but have a bump up in some internals. This is not the case.

On top of all the points already made, the Nexus line is not Google's flagship phone for all consumers, top of the line everything most powerful, most storage, best camera, fastest, etc. It is a phone for developers to test their apps on that ensures they have the latest version of Android as soon as possible. It is not supposed to be the best seller phone like the iPhone is supposed to be. The iPhone is Apple's only phone, so when they update it, it is the new flagship phone. It has to appeal to all customer's needs and wants. The Nexus line is not comparable to the iPhone line.

In spite of these facts, Google still manages get a fast processor and lots of RAM and an average storage capacity, etc. that make it desirable and competitive with other top of the line phones out today. At a price off contract that is in line with carrier subsidized flagship phones.

What we need to be calling for is for Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc. to offer a stock Android version of their top of the line phones. Some people are more interested in having the latest updates to the OS than the extra features/skins they build into them. I would like to be able to buy a Galaxy S III without touchwiz, that updates to the latest version of Android once Sprint tests it, without Samsung having to spend any time messing with it, or without having to hack my phone to get it.

I think Lanhoj makes a great point regardless of how much we may not want to admit it..for those who disagree let me quote the great BEZ "nut huggers will always suckle their respective allegiances balls"

That's absolutely ridiculous. You carry a second Android phone just for the camera? First of all, all cell phone cameras are pretty bad and IMO there's not THAT much of a difference between the nexus and the HTC One X from all the pictures I've seen. The only way to get a truly nice photo is using DSLR cameras, which won't be thrown into the water for a long time to come.

While I do agree with the hardware upgrades, the camera is never something to bloat about. The difference between an 5mp, 8mp, 13mp cameras on cell phones is negligible... It's the lens quality that makes the difference, what's the point in having a 30mp picture with lots of noise? I'd rather a 3mp picture with no noise. Your argument is so flawed it hurts; I'm pretty sure you know better than that.

I think a lot of you aren't getting what Phil means.. he does not agree that it is a "S" upgrade as he points out all the improvements proving why it is not, what he is saying is he does not feel bad at the fact that the Nexus is being compared to the iPhone on that level. Look at the millions of "S" iPhones that sold, not once but twice with the 3Gs and then the 4s which so many mocked for barely being an upgrade but yet it sold millions.

Am I right Phil? or am I the wrong one? ;P

I just picked up a Galaxy Nexus with Sprint a few weeks ago. It is working well for me and I love having Jelly Bean and the stock Android feel. I am not fan of TouchWiz or Sense.

I previously had a HTC EVO 4G which worked well and now I use it as a portable media player.

The hardware in the Galaxy Nexus may be behind the Galaxy S3 or HTC EVO 4G, but for me, that was less important than having the newer OS support faster.

yep, I'd much rather have the latest version with the features and security that comes with that any day over better hardware specs. Especially since the Galaxy Nexus still holds it's own on many levels.