The LG-manufactured Nexus 4 is nearly perfect. Unless you have no other choice, perhaps because of unsupported cellular carrier and binding contractual commitment, put Google's newest smartphone at the top of your must-buy list. The device satisfies in all the right places -- battery life, call quality, display clarity, size and visibility, operating system and performance. There are other Androids with comparable or better hardware, but they typically slap on a secondary UI and ship with older OS. It's not the measure of one attribute, or even a couple, but many combined that make Nexus 4 so good.
But nearly isn't perfect. Nexus 4's flaws, while subtle, will be serious for some potential buyers. There is no 4G LTE, for example. The feature is built-in to the Snapdragon processor but not properly enabled. The phone is HSPA+ for data, which works on GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile USA. No LTE is a deal-breaker for some people, as seen in commments here and elsewhere. Something else: LG copied Apple, which put glass on the back of iPhone 4 and 4S and rightly abandoned the design with the newest handset. Double-sided glass makes the phone less durable than should be, particularly if dropped. Finally, many Galaxy Nexus users won't find its successor to be a compelling upgrade; much depends on what they use their phones for.
At 9:24 am ET this morning, I received surprising email from Google: "Nexus 4 will be available for purchase later today! Order yours from Google Play starting today, November 27 at 12:00 noon PST (US only)".
Sudden availability follows shipping notices many people who had placed orders previously received yesterday. The question: Can Google Play handle the orders this time? Another: Will you get a phone?
Two weeks ago, Google launched Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest treat in the candy jar. In addition to delivering a number of improvements, the new operating system also introduced some software issues. As a response to this, the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation started rolling out the Android 4.2.1 update for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 on Tuesday.
The most notable mishap in Android 4.2 is the missing month of December in the People app. This bug caused quite a controversy around the interwebs, with plenty of sarcasm and humor directed towards Mountain View for dismissing Christmas.
Google's attempt to sell the Nexus lineup on its own Play Store could be considered a failure. The company appears to be unable to keep up with the high demand, and as a result devices are mostly sold out all over the world. In order to prepare for that one moment when sufficient stock exists there is a website that checks global Play Stores for Nexus device availability.
Google Nexus Devices World Availability Checker keeps track of all Nexus 4 (including black bumper), 7 and 10 units sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. The website allows users to verify whether a particular device is available in stock at the local Play Store in the above mentioned locations. The advantage, over manually checking, is that prospective buyers are not limited to their regional online store, and can look up international availability, which comes in handy for those that want to shop abroad.
I can see only one good reason to choose iPhone 5 over Nexus 4: The LG-manufactured mobile is sold out, and you can't wait. For the patient, Google's fourth-generation stock Android delivers rewarding experience. The new Nexus is the smartphone to buy this holiday season -- if you can find one.
Two reasons stand in iPhone 5's favor, neither is good, just necessary for some people: Your carrier -- for example, Sprint and Verizon in the United States -- isn't supported (Nexus 4 is GSM/HSPA+), or you bought heap loads of apps from Apple and don't want to lose your investment. I feel your pain, but offer no pity. Nexus 4 is exceptional.
That's not the headline I hoped to write this Black Friday. Having used iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, I easily recommend the LG-made Android over the Apple. There simply is no comparison in terms of overall user experience. I'll go into detail in my comparative review, which I'm writing now (in another browser tab). Nexus 4 should be deal of the day -- even full price. Not that you can pay the price. It's simply abominable that Google has none to sell; T-Mobile is sold out, too.
Trust me, if there was even whiff of supply, Nexus 4 sales page would read "ships soon" rather than "out of stock". The smartphone's Black Friday absence suggests deep shortage, unless someone at the top of Google's retail supply chain thinks Cyber Monday is better day to bring back the smartphone. Absolutely not. Because over the next three days, some buyers wanting Nexus 4 will take a hot deal on some other handset.
There is a heated discussion surrounding the lack of LTE on the Google Nexus 4 -- my college Joe Wilcox deems it problematic, while I'm far less affected on the other side of the pond. But there's more to it than meets the eye. Fast data speeds are not out of this world on the Nexus 4 with LTE found working on Roger and Telus in Canada.
The Nexus 4 is similar to the LG Optimus G in the hardware department, but while the latter has a full-blown setup the former can only connect to LTE on Band 4. This limits the number of carrier networks that the Google-branded smartphone can utilize to achieve the higher data speeds. Rogers and Telus customers are apparently "blessed" by the recent discovery, as both can take advantage of LTE with only a few minor modifications. The bad news is that the hidden feature may be useless on other carriers that do not use the mentioned band.
US Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the year behind, with plenty of time to ponder resolutions for January 1st. Yesterday, I posted about the things Microsoft should be grateful for in 2012. Today, I followed up with another, for Google. For consistency's sake, the list numbers eight, in line with Microsoft's, for which I chose to hat-tip Windows 8.
The list is by no means comprehensive, just some things that stand ahead of others -- and it is organized from least to most important. Google had a great year, perhaps the best ever. Few companies released more innovative products, affecting so many people and building such positive brand awareness.
The LG Optimus G is one of the most powerful smartphones available today, but sadly it's not the most modder-friendly device because it ships with a locked bootloader. Thanks to Project FreeGee that is no longer the case for the AT&T and Sprint versions of the South Korean smartphone that now have an unlockable bootloader.
The advantage is obvious for modders. With an unlocked bootloader owners of the AT&T and Sprint variants will be able to install Android Open Source Project-based distributions such as AOKP Jelly Bean Milestone 1 or CyanogenMod 10, once support is added. Another benefit comes from the Nexus 4 sources, which can be used to streamline the development process for compatible custom distributions, as the two devices share underpinnings.
Custom recovery is at the core of Android modding by allowing users to root or load custom green droid distributions. The recently launched Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, can also join the modding train with new custom recoveries from ClockwordMod and Team Win Recovery Project.
With Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Google introduced a new feature -- multiple-user support -- which modifies the internal storage structure by adding a "0" folder for the default user. Aside from the obvious benefit, the new functionality also causes issues with custom recoveries that are not designed to take it into account. Now though CWM 184.108.40.206/9 and TWRP 220.127.116.11 are available with support for the recently introduced Nexus 4, 10 and multiple user support.
Last week Google launched its new flagship smartphone -- the Nexus 4. Shortly after, Android developers bestowed the LG-made device with root, but for hassle-free modding there is an all-in-one toolkit available as well.
Manual modding operations offer more control over the process, but take more time to perform. The Nexus 4 Toolkit is designed to automate a considerable number of tasks ranging from rooting Android 4.2 Jelly Bean to setting file permissions on Google's flagship smartphone. Users can also lock/unlock the bootloader, perform a full-system backup using ADB, install BusyBox, download the factory image, flash a custom or stock recovery and much more.
Some advice to Google: If you launch exciting new products right before the holidays, it's a good idea to have them to sell. Not only are new Nexus devices sold out, so are new Chromebooks. Worse, they're not available in stores that stock them. Ah, yeah, what a brilliant way to push a new product category to the masses: Look, but you can't buy.
The new $199 Acer and $249 Samsung Chromebooks are on display in 500 Best Buys, and Google staffs sales specialists, who are there during store hours and are contracted through the end of the year. But the search and information giant can't stock Chromebooks. Like Amazon and Google Play, the Samsung Chromebook is sold out (the new Acer model is still available from Google today but not yet stocked by Amazon). Units coming into Best Buy are generally already claimed from online orders. Even the few returns, available as open-box purchases, sell within a couple hours. Google pays sales staff to educate potential buyers, who leave stores empty-handed.
Yesterday I received Google Nexus 10, which Samsung manufactures. Like many of you, I stood in the virtual line to get the tablet and also the LG-made Nexus 4. Early after sales started November 13, I had both devices in my shopping cart. Google accepted my credit card and billing information. Only needed: to confirm the purchase, which I did giddily. Then Google rejected and cancelled the order. I never saw the smartphone for sale again. Today the status remains: "sold out". I feel lucky, but deeply dissatisfied, to get Nexus 10.
Blog and social network posts reveal that at least on these shores, many of you who successfully ordered received your devices yesterday. UPS tracking indicates my tablet arrived early, one-day shipping instead of two; that puts it in my grubby hands for the weekend instead of afterwards.
Google is known for its laissez-faire philosophy when it comes to Android modding. As a result, shortly after the company launched the new Nexus 4 with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, members of the modding community bestowed the new smartphone with elevated privileges (popularly known as "root").
Rooting Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on the Google Nexus 4 is similar to the method that I recommended in "How to root Android 4.2" for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. In order to run apps with elevated privileges Nexus 4 users have to enable Android debugging, unlock the bootloader and load (not install) a custom kernel or recovery. The latter of the two allows to flash the SuperSU package in order to root Android 4.2, while the former requires to perform a number of commands in order to achieve the same result.
Android Open Source Project Technical Lead Jean-Baptiste Queru announced that Google is pushing the Android 4.2 source code to AOSP, after the company released the second Jelly Bean-branded operating system today. To complement Android 4.2 the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation also uploaded the factory images for a number of Nexus devices.
The Android 4.2 source code will be available under the "android-4.2_r1" name, with the matching development branch named "jb-mr1-dev". Interestingly enough Queru says that the Nexus 10 is the best choice for AOSP work on the latest version of Android, which he considers the most open flagship device. But the Nexus 7 with 3G connectivity is not supported at the moment because of the GSM stack that is not yet licensed for the Android Open Source Project.