The Nexus 4: Not Perfect, But The Price Is Hard To Beat

The Nexus 4 continues to sell like hotcakes, as Google takes the “low margins don’t care” approach to getting technology out there. For $300 (well, when it’s actually in stock), you can get the phone with no contracts, no obligations, just bring your own SIM card and we’ve got a party.

That said, you get what you pay for. This is no iPhone, in many respects.

Let’s start with the good: There is zero bloatware on this phone. Well, aside from Google’s stuff, but even that’s kept to a relative minimum. You just pop in your SIM card in the tray, and you’re good to go.

It also has the latest version of Android, which works quite well, as you’d expect from a flagship phone. Everything flows smoothly and easily. It works well as a phone and using apps on the go is solid, although there is one major problem that we’ll get to.

The major drawback can be summed up simply: Changing anything major about this phone is an enormous pain in the ass. Want to take the back off? Hope you’ve got a Torx screwdriver. Being a nerd, I have one, and once I got the back off, I couldn’t believe what I saw: A battery you can’t swap out. This is especially appalling because the Nexus 4 doesn’t really have that great of a battery: I managed to drain it in about six hours with all the gadgets on and a reasonably bright screen. Want to expand the memory? Tough: There’s no SD card slot.

Enabling 4G is just as much of a frustration. Officially, the Nexus 4 does not have 4G unless you get it from T-Mobile, but this is not the full truth — there’s a 4G radio in there, on the 1700/2100 band. You can even activate it relatively easily, although doing so will put strain on your battery. But you’ll have to dig in the settings menu to do it.

So, it’s not the iPhone, even if it’s got pretty looks. So should you buy it?

If you want Android and you’re sick of contracts, absolutely. Just be aware that the low price comes with annoying trade-offs.