Google Nexus 4 Android phone (preview)

Google's Nexus 4 features wireless charging and impressive specifications, but there's no LTE or expandable memory

After what seemed like weeks of daily leaks and then a cancelled launch event due to Hurricane Sandy, Google has finally announced its latest Nexus Android phone, the Nexus 4. Manufactured by LG, the Google Nexus 4 features a 4.7in IPS screen, is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera with a 360 degree panorama feature.

While much had already been known about the Google Nexus 4 before the official announcement, there were conflicting reports about the design. The Nexus 4 is constructed from matte black plastic and is based on the design of LG's Optimus G smartphone. However, a distinctive highlight appears to be an etched panel of glass on the back that sparkles. It's definitely a unique look and helps the Nexus 4 immediately stand out among a sea of black slabs that have populated the market.

Google's Nexus devices usually focus on software innovation, but the Nexus 4 certainly boasts impressive specifications. It's powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor that Google says is the fastest on the market, has 2GB RAM and comes with 8GB or 16GB of internal memory. In a move that may disappoint current Android users, the Nexus 4 lacks a microSD card slot so the on-board memory isn't expandable.

A distinctive design highlight of the Nexus 4 appears to be an etched panel of glass on the back that sparkles.
A distinctive design highlight of the Nexus 4 appears to be an etched panel of glass on the back that sparkles.

The Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1280×768 display. This gives it an impressive pixel density rating of 320ppi, only just behind the Apple iPhone 5 (326ppi) and ahead of both the HTC One X (312ppi) and the Samsung Galaxy S III (306ppi). Google says the screen is coated in Corning's latest Gorilla Glass 2.

The Nexus 4 also supports wireless charging out of the box, based on the Qi wireless charging standard. Google will sell a wireless charger called the Wireless Charging Orb as an optional accessory, but there's no word on Australian availability or pricing for this accessory just yet.

The Google Nexus 4 has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera for photos and video capture. The highlight appears to be a 360 degree panorama mode that Google is calling photo sphere, allowing users to capture a scene in multiple directions including above and below. The photos can then be published to Google maps or shared through Google+, though the feature is a software one and will be available on any Android device running 4.2.

A 360 degree panorama mode called photo sphere allows users to capture a scene in multiple directions including above and below.
A 360 degree panorama mode called photo sphere allows users to capture a scene in multiple directions including above and below.

Speaking of Android 4.2, Google has added a number of new features to the software. Highlights include a new gesture typing feature on the keyboard that replicates Swype, the ability to add widgets to the lockscreen, expandable notifications that can be actioned, and a new quick settings menu that can be accessed by swiping down the notifications panel with two fingers instead of one. There's also been some enhancements to the Google Now personal assistant, which now uses your Gmail account as a data source for new cards.

The Google Nexus 4 will be sold in Australia as an unlocked handset and is GSM/HSPA+ compatible. It will therefore support every telco in Australia (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) but does not work on the new 1800MHz 4G networks operated in Australia by Telstra and Optus.

The Google Nexus 4 runs the latest version of Android, 4.2 'Jelly Bean'.
The Google Nexus 4 runs the latest version of Android, 4.2 'Jelly Bean'.

The Google Nexus 4 will sell online through Google's Play Store from Tuesday 13 November, when orders will open. The 8GB model will sell for $349 and the 16GB model will retail for $399.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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