Google Nexus 4 by LGIt used to be that Google just provided the Android operating system, leaving the actual hardware design and manufacturing to the different cell phone companies out there. That changed with the introduction of the original Google Nexus One, which served as a reference design for Android smartphones of that generation. The newest addition to the Nexus family is the Google Nexus 4, a smartphone that was co-developed with LG. And there’s a lot that you’ll want to know about it.

The Google Nexus 4 is the fourth such Nexus smartphone, following in the footsteps of the Nexus One, Nexus S, and Galaxy Nexus. It, too, serves as a reference design for the current crop of Android smartphones, joined by the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 Android tablets. Let’s see what it has to offer.

Unlocked Pentaband GSM

This is easily one of the most attractive features of the Google Nexus 4 by LG. The phone comes factory unlocked, meaning that you can take it to any compatible carrier that you want. For some people, this alone might be enough reason to sell your old iPhone and move over to the Android side of the equation. But it comes with a significant caveat.

While the Nexus 4 is an unlocked pentaband GSM smartphone, it’s still a GSM smartphone. In the United States, this means that it’s compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T and it will not work with CDMA-based carriers like Verizon. That said, the pentaband (850/900/1700/1900/2100) 3G radio should allow the Nexus 4 to work with most international carriers.


Nexus 4 Smartphone with Wireless Charging

Nexus 4 Smartphone with Wireless Charging

The other caveat is the the Nexus 4 does not have LTE. Instead, it tops out at HSPA+ 42Mbps. Google said it made this conscious decision, because most of the carriers around the world have not yet adopted LTE, aside from the ones in the United States and Canada. What this means is that the wireless data transfer speed could be slower, especially since AT&T’s HSPA+ (3G) network is limited to 21Mbps. Realistically, though, most connections don’t reach the theoretical limit anyway and the end user experience shouldn’t be impacted too heavily.

Fast and Powerful

It may not have LTE, but the Google Nexus 4 is otherwise a very fast and very powerful smartphone. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, which is a quad-core 1.5GHz unit. This is accompanied by 2GB of RAM and Adreno 320 graphics. In layman’s terms, it’s fast. That 4.7-inch 1280×768 pixel True HD IPS Plus capacitive touchscreen is no slouch either.

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on Nexus 4

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on Nexus 4

We’ve written previously about how Android 4.2 Jelly Bean will improve your productivity, so I won’t go too in-depth here. With improved Google Now functionality, lock screen widgets and gesture typing keyboard, this is the best version of Android to-date. And because this is a Nexus device, the Nexus 4 will always be first in line for the newest Android updates too.

No Memory Card Expansion Slot

There are many reasons to praise the Nexus 4, but this isn’t one of them. For people who like to store more apps, pictures, music, videos, and other digital files on their smartphones, this could even prove to be a deal breaker. The Nexus 4 does not have a microSD memory card slot, instead getting you to rely on cloud storage if you need more space. What’s more, the Nexus 4 is only available in 8GB and 16GB capacities, unlike the iPhone 5 which can be purchased with up to 64GB of space.

Priced to Sell

The Google Nexus 4 by LG is certainly not perfect. The lack of LTE and the lack of memory expansion are troublesome, but the super fast processor and the unskinned Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience are commendable. The best part, though, is the price.

Particularly when you consider that it is sold factory unlocked and without contract, the 8GB Nexus 4 at $299 is a bargain (the 16GB is $349). Similar smartphones sold without contract can run upwards of $700. This isn’t the phone for everyone — especially if you like getting your phone subsidized by your carrier with a service agreement — but for people who want the best Android experience yet, this is it.

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