Google’s recent, dramatic price cut for the Nexus 4 on the Google Play Store has made it one of the best value handsets you can pick up. In fact, at £159 in the UK and $199 in the U.S., the Nexus 4 easily provides the best bang for your buy when buying an Android smartphone, with just a few caveats attached.
So we decided to take a look at the phone market at large and see where exactly the Nexus 4 fits at its new price point. And it’s surprising to see the company it’s keeping at its new $200-level price. Check past the break to see ten devices that are now more expensive than the Nexus 4.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus (around $290)
The Galaxy Nexus has never been as cheap as its successor, and even as it approaches its second birthday, it’s hard to get hold of a new, unlocked GSM GNex for much less than $300 — around $50 more than the equivalent 16GB Nexus 4. Considering the hardware (and performance, and build quality) delta between the two, you'd be insane to opt for the older Nexus.
Even pre-owned prices for Samsung’s last Nexus phone hover around the $200 mark, the same amount you’ll pay for brand new 8GB Nexus 4.
Apple’s never been in the budget phone market — though that may be about to change in the next few weeks. Until then, Cupertino’s solution for budget buyers continues to be the three-year-old iPhone 4. The fourth-gen iPhone, the first to use that famous glass back an aluminum trim, is by no means a bad device, but we’d argue there’s better value to be had elsewhere. That includes Google and LG’s 8GB Nexus 4, at half the price of a SIM-free 8-gig iPhone 4.
BlackBerry 9720 (£169.95)
Even as BlackBerry moves ahead with its new BB10 platform, it’s recently launched one more budget-level focused phone based on the earlier BB7 OS. The 9720 sells for £169.95 SIM-free in the UK through Carphone Warehouse, and runs BB7 on a 2.8-inch 480x360 display. Clearly the manufacturer is targeting a different audience with this device, toting a physical keyboard and messaging focus, but it’s interesting to note that the 8GB Nexus 4 is a little over £10 cheaper than this low-cost BlackBerry.
Samsung Galaxy Fame (£169.95)
One of Samsung’s most basic Android phones, the Galaxy Fame was announced earlier in the year, and ports Samsung’s Android-based smartphone experience onto a tiny 3.5-inch HVGA display. Inside there’s a 1GHz processor running the show. In the UK, it sells for £169.95; needless to say, there’s almost no reason to pick the Galaxy Fame over the cheaper 8GB Nexus 4 at this price point.
HTC HD2 (£210)
The venerable HTC HD2, which has had just about every mobile OS in existence ported to it at some point, still goes for £210 on Amazon UK. Released in 2010 with a 1GHz processor and 4.3-inch screen (massive, for the time), the HD2 never really got the love it deserved, and was denied an official upgrade path to Windows Phone 7. In 2013, we think you’ll probably have a better time with Android 4.3 on the Nexus 4 than Windows Mobile 6.x on the HD2
The Nokia-backed Meego open-source OS never really got off the ground, but despite this the flagship Nokia N9 was a really nice piece of hardware — a clear precursor to the Finnish manufacturer’s Lumia series. But it’s old hardware now, and we’d hesitate to pay the $258 asking price for an N9 running a dead OS when the N4 is so cheap.
We’ve seen some great entry-level hardware from Nokia in recent months, including the Lumia 620, which sells for £179.95 in the UK. Windows Phone enthusiasts will argue that the platform has always competed on user experience, not hardware — and they’d be right. But there’s also the fact that Android boasts a more complete app ecosystem than Windows Phone — and that the Nexus 4’s beefy internals make it a better low-cost gaming phone.
LG Enact ($349.99)
Keyboard sliders refuse to die, and just last week Verizon introduced the LG Enact, a mid-level QWERTY slider with a 4-inch WVGA display, a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU and Android 4.1. While the Enact does boast 4G LTE connectivity, something not officially supported on the N4, you’ll have a better overall Android experience on the Nexus device — and save about $150 if you buy without a contract.
The Grandstream Enterprise Multimedia Phone (£173.99)
OK, OK. Chances are this isn’t going to replace anyone’s smartphone — it’s wired to a base station, after all — but there are enterprise-level landline phones that run more than the basic Nexus 4 price. This model happens to run on Android 2.3 on a 480x272 display, and support SIP calling. You won’t be playing Asphalt 8 on it anytime soon, though.
'Lenovo' Cartoon Character Phone Suit ($255.99)
Finally, it seems you can’t even dress up as a phone for less than the price of a Nexus 4. This bright pink "Lenovo"-branded phone suit, complete with polka-dot hair bow and freakish cartoon face, will set you back just under $256 from Amazon.com.
As you can see, it’s sporting a traditional three capacitive button setup, along with with an approximately-30-inch screen. Inside the handset's silk and foam chassis you’ll find a live human with no sense of shame.
A few things to bear in mind ...
Firstly, let’s remember the reason why the Nexus 4 is so affordable -- Google is subsidizing the cost of the phone on the Play Store. Pick up the phone from LG through any other retailer around the world and you’ll pay the full retail price, often as high as double the Play Store price. We’re not sure if someone, somewhere is actually making a loss on Nexus 4 hardware sales, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. After all, if every manufacturer were able to put out this level of smartphone hardware at this price point, we wouldn’t be writing articles like this.
Secondly, there’s one pretty big reason why you might want to pass on the Nexus 4, and that’s LTE. The current Nexus phone lacks official LTE support, and though it’s possible to hack it onto there with the use of an radio image downgrade, there’s no guarantee that’ll continue to work in the longrun. It’s also only good on T-Mobile in the US, leaving AT&T and international LTE users in the lurch.
We're also talking about up-front cost to buy the phone in this article, rather than subsidized prices. While it's true that the Nexus 4's SIM-free price matches many other phones' on-contract price, we're not taking into account the total cost of ownership over multiple years of use.
With the Nexus 4 approaching its first birthday, we wouldn’t bet on the device getting any cheaper than it is right now, so if you’ve been holding off, now would be a great time to pick up one of the best Android phones around. It’s true that we’re potentially just a couple of months away from the next Nexus launch, but that doesn’t make the current one any less of a bargain.
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