Introduction

8 Oct 2013

My first Android phone, Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2), certainly served me well. But, I wanted a more vanilla Android experience, so when Google announced Nexus 4 price drop, I got myself one.

First impressions

The phone is a bit bigger than SGS2, but by no means too big. The build is pretty solid, although there were slight imperfections on the chrome bezel that surrounds it (on the original unit - replacement does not have them). It is rather slippery, so extra care has to be taken.

Now, to the glass on the back. Let's think for a second: what is the most breakable part of any phone? Right - the screen - which is glass. So, naturally, you'd want to put another piece of glass on the back. The mind boggles... OK, not really a deal breaker, but should have been avoided.

Another annoyance is the non-replaceable battery (I mean - without tools). No idea why manufacturers insist on that. LG included.

The screen, although higher in resolution, is no match for colour quality of SGS2. Ah, the beauty of AMOLED. But, it is not bad. Works pretty well and is a decent LCD display.

Unfortunately, my original unit came with a faulty battery (the charge would fall of a cliff and the phone would turn off). Without even being asked, Google replaced it with another unit when I reported the fault. Brilliant customer service!

The phone appears very fast (although SGS2 was fast enough for everything I did). Nice.

I get the removal of the home button. Wasn't my favourite. The side button could have been a bit more robust and bigger, though.

Functionality

Being a seasoned Android user now, the choice of apps was straightforward this time. K-9 Mail for e-mail, ZoiPer or CSipSimple with G.729 for VOIP (or more recently Hangouts). Built-in VOIP calls are not of great quality and selecting between regular/VOIP calls is a bit cumbersome.

Gmail is absolutely terrible for IMAP mail. I have no idea what the developers were thinking there...

Web browser, which is Chrome on Nexus 4, is excellent. Although, I do not understand why it doesn't have the feature to rearrange the bookmarks the way I want them.

Camera is super fast and appears to be taking decent pictures.

Navigation is excellent.

I know many people think LTE should have been enabled on this phone, but I have to say - it does not bother me. It is faster than SGS2 when on 3G, so I'm happy.

Right now, my battery is at 47% and the phone has been on for 2 days and 4 hours on this charge. OK, that was with really, really light use. Normally, the battery will survive two working days (that was the case when the device was new). I would have been happy with one.

Updates

The phone came with Android 4.2.2, which was then immediately updated to 4.3.

27 Nov 2013: A few days ago, the phone downloaded overnight an update to Kit Kat (Android 4.4), build KRT16S. The update itself went smoothly. All the settings were kept as they were.

It is quite obvious that the battery life is better with this release. WiFi also appears to be operating more robustly in the areas where 4.3 used to have some trouble. Otherwise, not very different to 4.3, but definitely worth having.

10 Dec 2013: The phone just upgraded itself to 4.4.2. I cannot tell what's different, but I'm guessing some bugs must have been fixed (or introduced?). ;-)

5 Jun 2014: The phone downloaded and upgraded itself to 4.4.3. There is a new phone dialer and a new people app. The network related problems seem to have gotten worse (the dreaded retry on a perfectly good WiFi connection), but that may also be due to app updates - not certain. There was an update to Chrome recently which may have contributed to all this trouble. It now needs to be killed occasionally in order to be able to browse sites. Especially on network switch (WiFi/3G). Everything else I use seems to still work just the same.

26 Jun 2014: The phone downloaded and upgraded itself to 4.4.4. The size of the update was very small (2.4 MB), so I'm guessing from that and the reports circulating on the net, that this will be just a security and bugfix update. The network problems appear to be less pronounced after this update. I'm pretty sure that must be just wishful thinking, fluke etc.

18 Nov 2014: Android 5.0 (Lollipop) got released a few days ago, so I used OTA images that are floating around to upgrade my phone using adb. The process was not all that difficult and it took about half an hour or so. The new release appears very polished, with nice, smooth transitions everywhere. I didn't try every single piece of functionality yet, but whatever I tried worked thus far. There is a bit of a lag and jerkiness in Chrome, but it is not too bad. So, yeah - looks OK.

10 Dec 2014: Android 5.0.1 (Lollipop) got released today, so I sideloaded that. Cannot see anything different, so I'm guessing some bugs must have been fixed (or introduced).

14 Apr 2015: Android 5.1.0 (Lollipop) got released for this phone, so I sideloaded that. Cannot see anything different, so I'm guessing some bugs must have been fixed (or introduced).

20 Apr 2015: In the last month or so and on multiple occasions, the phone's screen would go black and there was no reponse at all to short pressing of the power button. The only solution I found was to hold the power button for a long time, which then eventually reboots the phone. No idea what is causing this.

21 May 2015: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop), build LMY47V, got released for this phone, so I sideloaded that. It is supposed to be a pure bug fixing release.

11 Aug 2015: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop), build LMY48I, got released to fix the Stagefright vulnerability. Sideloading that worked fine.

16 Sep 2015: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop), build LMY48M, was installed OTA to fix the second part of Stagefright vulnerability.

14 Oct 2015: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop), build LMY48T, was installed OTA to fix more Stagefright vulnerabilities.

Conclusion

For a $300 phone, this thing is pretty good value.

Copyright © 2013 Bojan Smojver, Rexursive.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the licence is here
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