Should I upgrade to the Nexus 4 now that the Galaxy Nexus has 4.2?

Now that there are no questions about the Galaxy Nexus and it getting Android 4.2 (there never should have been any), it's time to take a look at the big question again -- should I spend money and upgrade? We've taken a look at how the Nexus 4 stacks up against the Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X, and how the 4.1.2 version of the Galaxy Nexus fares against the Nexus 4. Now that both phones are on the same version of the OS, and I've been able to use them for a few days, hopefully I can help you decide if you should push the button and order when the Nexus 4 becomes available again.

Build and specs

Android 4,2 changes nothing on the hardware and build quality front. Just like an OTA can't enable a magic hidden LTE radio, it can't turn plastic into glass or pentile into RGB stripe. Once you get past the fact that from the front both phones resemble each other, you quickly realize that the Nexus 4 is built very different than the G Nex. Personally, I think it's better built, but had no complaints about the Galaxy Nexus build quality.

When you get to the internals, there is no question of which is superior hardware. The Nexus 4's Snapdragon Pro runs circles around the OMAP in the G Nex. There's also double the RAM. If you're not with Verizon or Sprint (more on that next) there is no storage difference. 

The Galaxy nexus has a removable battery, and that matters to some folks. The Nexus 4 does not have one, and never will -- an OTA can't make a removable battery, either. The Nexus 4 does offer Qi wireless charging, and the availability of cheap charging mats from LG and Energizer shouldn't be overlooked.

All things considered, I give the Nexus 4 a serious advantage here.

The network

HSPA+ 42 makes a difference if you use T-Mobile

If you're on Verizon or Sprint, this one's a wipeout. Google's not offering a Nexus 4 for your carrier at this time, and the Galaxy Nexus is the clear winner simply because it's available. We can't overlook that, nor should we. If you're thinking of jumping ship to a GSM carrier, be sure to consider all the positives and negatives, then read on.

The Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus both perform about the same on AT&T. Expect speeds very similar to other HSPA+ phones, like the iPhone 4S or earlier Android models. If you're on T-Mobile however, you can get double the network speeds from the Nexus 4 than you can the Galaxy Nexus. 

Again, 4.2 doesn't change anything here. Because you can't get the Nexus 4 on every carrier, I call this one a win for the Galaxy Nexus.


Here's where things have changed. I'll be honest, the Galaxy Nexus runs Android 4.2 awfully well. The G Nex struggles with the new lock screen sometimes, and the new photosphere camera takes a good bit longer to process, but overall the G Nex is a really nice phone with the latest Jelly Bean update. 

The Galaxy Nexus lacks the Miracast screen sharing ability, but as of today that doesn't matter much because there's no equipment that works with it. In the future, we hope to see cheap HDMI dongles that support Miracast. If that happens, the Nexus 4 has a big perk when you want to share movies or pictures, or even play Angry Birds at 60-inches.

The Nexus 4 camera isn't the holy grail we were waiting for, but it's a huge upgrade over the Galaxy Nexus' shooter. It's cold, dark and wet here, but Alex had a chance to have a little walkabout with his Nexus 4. Here's a taste.

We're going to do a full blown camera test this week with the N4 in a controlled environment, along with some comparisons the the G Nex. But we already know the Nexus 4's camera wins.

For games, there's really not a lot of difference until you go big. Fun time wasters like Ski Safari play just as well on the Galaxy Nexus as they do on the Nexus 4, but load up a huge game like ShadowGun and you'll see the difference. The extra RAM and beefy GPU on the Nexus 4 make gameplay smoother, and more fun.

Where you won't see any difference is in normal use on the home screen and smaller apps. Doing things like checking Twitter or Google+, or looking at the weather on Google Now work just fine on the Galaxy Nexus. If you're the type who uses your phone as a communications tool and not a pocket computer, you'll be well served with the Galaxy Nexus. 

For any other use case, the Nexus 4 simply does things better. 


The Nexus 4 is a great phone at a great price, but on the software front the Galaxy Nexus holds its own. While the Nexus 4 does things a bit faster sometimes, there's very little you can't do with the Galaxy Nexus. Of course the 4.2 bugs affect both phones the same.

If you're not the type who simply has to rush out and get the new best thing as soon as it's available, none of us here would blame you for holding on to your Galaxy Nexus for a while longer. Especially if you're a Sprint or Verizon customer. Your phones will get 4.2 soon enough, and you'll have everything you see here plus more storage and LTE. 

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.