Android / Apple / Asus / Google & Nexus / LG Mobile / Mobile Operating Systems / Samsung

The Nexus Portfolio: The Nexus 4, 7 and 10 – Average User Perspective

nexus_lineup

Google, and specifically Android, has come a long way since their debut into the smartphone world. A lot has changed, and now the purest, most unadulterated version of Android has found its way into an assortment of devices (also manufactured in association with google), spanning the most common consumer-preferred form factors (4.7″ for the smart phone, 7″ for the pocket friendly tablet and 10.1″ for those who are more productively inclined on the go.

It all started with the T-Mobile G1 which brought with it, the first version of Android.  And then, came the Nexus 1 built by HTC and considered by some, to be the best built android smartphone in the world. Then Samsung took over the hardware side of things while google continued to bring incremental upgrades to its smartphone OS as, under Google’s direction, Samsung churned out the Nexus S running Android 2.2/2.3. Meanwhile, Google also enlisted the efforts of (then independent) Motorola to build its first Tablet: the Motorola Xoom. Android 3.0 Honeycomb was born, splitting the Android world into two with the versions 2.x being smartphone only OSes and the 3.x being specifically tablet based OSes. The Android world started becoming a very complicated place, there was much confusion, and Google realized that it was starting to lose traction in the smartphone world due to this split direction. Unification was the way to go and Android4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich was born. Samsung simultaneously released the Galaxy Nexus to run Android 4.0.

But Google had something grander cooking in its labs back at Mountain View. Google wanted a full complement of devices spanning the entire mobile experience, encompassing both smartphones and tablets.

So here we are now,  and Google has unleashed its portfolio of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean powered devices to the masses: The Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. So without further ado, lets gt started reviewing these devices!

NEXUS 4

Nexus-4

See, the thing about Android devices is that it gives device manufacturers the freedom to modify the OS in any way they see fit. This is, in essence, Android’s greatest strength, and also, its greatest flaw, as I will explain now.

Because of Android’s flexibility, smartphone vendors can use Android and modify it with unique “skins” and offer unique “add-ons”. Examples are HTC and Samsung, who have built unique looks to their UIs and sold phones with varying degrees of success, the latter, with a very high degree of success actually, evident with its Galaxy line-up. The drawback with this kind of flexibility is that, updates from Google to the Android OS are slower, since smartphone vendors have to re-optimize their individual skins before they release their specific updates. This is where the Nexus line-up has the advantage.

Google’s vision of its Nexus line-up is simple. Produce devices with various smartphone vendors, but offer the same un-skinned, unadulterated Android experience, with timely software updates.

The Nexus 4 is the pure, up-to-date Android experience, in a smartphone form-factor. Lets get the specs out of the way first:

Nexus 4 Technical Specifications:

Also known as LG Nexus 4, LG Mako.

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
SIM Micro-SIM
Announced 2012, October
Status Available. Released 2012, November
BODY Dimensions 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm (5.27 x 2.70 x 0.36 in)
Weight 139 g (4.90 oz)
DISPLAY Type True HD IPS Plus capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 768 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~318 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 2
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 8/16 GB storage, 2 GB RAM
DATA GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed DC-HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v4.0 with A2DP
NFC Yes
USB Yes, microUSB (SlimPort) v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, photo sphere
Video Yes, 1080p@30fps, check quality
Secondary Yes, 1.3 MP
FEATURES OS Android OS, v4.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Chipset Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon
CPU Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 320
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM, RSS
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors Black
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP4/H.264/H.263 player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/AC3 player
– Organizer
– Image/video editor
– Document editor
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Picasa
– Voice memo/dial/commands
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Po 2100 mAh battery
Stand-by (2G) / Up to 390 h (3G)
Talk time (2G) / Up to 15 h (3G)
MISC SAR US 0.55 W/kg (head)     1.27 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.41 W/kg (head)     0.48 W/kg (body)
Price group
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 1341 (nominal) / 1.926:1 (sunlight)
Loudspeaker Voice 71dB / Noise 66dB / Ring 78dB
Audio quality Noise -82.3dB / Crosstalk -82.0dB
Camera Photo / Video
Battery life Endurance rating 32h

Now that we have the tech specs out of the way, lets see why the Nexus 4 is really a top contender for a smartphone.

Here are the pros:

  1.  The Nexus 4 (when it came out) was the highest spec’d device on par only to its skinned-UI counterpart, manufactured also by LG, known as the Optimus G. The quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 pro chipset made its debut in this device. And yes, it basically blew the competition away as was evident in almost every benchmark test reviews. Yet, it was, and probably still is, the best bang for the buck in terms of price. The 16GB version of the device sold for about $360.00 dollars directly from the Google Playstore. Every other device of its caliber, sold for no less than $600.00 (these included the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X+).
  2. The build quality on this device is premium. For the price that you pay outright for this device, you will get a smart phone that is no only top-of-the-line in terms of specs, but when you hold this device in your hands, it out matches its price in terms of build quality. The use of glass on both sides of the phone makes it a tad more fragile if you drop it, but asides that, this device feels very high quality. No cheap plastic used here. even the sides of the phone are made of a soft rubbery matte black metal that provides enough grip.
  3. Timely Updates. Because this is a Nexus, every update from Google to the OS is immediately transmitted to these devices: no delays. This is probably the most important advantage of having this device.

And here are the cons:

  1. The device is twice as fragile since both its front and back are made of glass (its tough gorilla glass 2, but its still glass).
  2. The camera is good (its a Sony BSI sensor) but not great. If you’re looking for iPhone 5 quality, you will be disappointed. For everyday use though, such as facebook/google+ posting, it gets the job done. Just don’t expect it to replace your point-and-shoot yet.
  3. The battery is non-removable, the memory is non-expandable and the highest capacity you can obtain this device at, is 16GB. So if that’s not your cup of tea, you might want to look elsewhere.
  4. Although the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset offers LTE capabilities, the Nexus 4 does not have an LTE antenna. This looks more like an intentional move by Google as there isn’t any standardized frequency that LTE operates on and Google probably wanted to avoid any proprietary radio band usage.

Asides these minor gripes, I really don’t see a reason one would not want to consider this device. For an in-depth review of the device, check out this video:

Nexus 7

Nexus7

The Nexus 7 is the next device in Google’s arsenal of smart android devices. This one was manufactured by Asus. In the Android world, some would say that it was the first true Android device to actually make a dent in iPad sales figures. This 7 inch device is a ground breaker in the sense that it was the first android tablet to actually become mainstream. Lets take a look at the specs, shall we?

Nexus 7 Technical Specifications:

GENERAL 2G Network N/A
SIM No
Announced 2012, June
Status Available. Released 2012, July
BODY Dimensions 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm (7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 in)
Weight 340 g (11.99 oz)
DISPLAY Type LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 800 x 1280 pixels, 7.0 inches (~216 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Glass
SOUND Alert types N/A
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 16/32 GB storage, 1 GB RAM
DATA GPRS No
EDGE No
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes
NFC Yes
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 1.2 MP
Features Video-calling
Video Yes, 720p
Secondary No
FEATURES OS Android OS, v4.1 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v4.2.1 (Jelly Bean)
Chipset Nvidia Tegra 3
CPU Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9
GPU ULP GeForce
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging Email, Push Email, IM, RSS
Browser HTML
Radio No
GPS Yes
Java No
Colors Black
– Google Wallet
– SNS integration
– MP4/H.264 player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– Organizer
– Image/video editor
– Document viewer
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Picasa
– Voice memo
– Predictive text input (Swype)
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Ion 4325 mAh battery
Stand-by
Talk time Up to 10 h
MISC SAR EU 1.39 W/kg (body)
Price group
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 908:1 (nominal)
Loudspeaker Voice 68dB / Noise 65dB / Ring 75dB
Audio quality Noise -69.8dB / Crosstalk -72.1dB

So what makes this little device so popular? Unlike most 7 inch tablets of its time, this device didn’t skimp (too much) on specs considering its price (US$ 199.00 – 16GB; US$249.00 – 32GB). Coupled with an untouched and up-to-date version of Android for at least the next year, we have a very compelling portable tablet. Asus nailed it with this device because there really was nothing like it at this price point at the time. Apple still only had the 9.7 inch tablet which addressed a whole different market. It was the perfect size for one-handed use, it was light, it was fast, and Google had stepped up its game by the time of its release with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a much more comprehensive App store that finally catered to tablets specifically. And unsurprisingly, this tablet made its way into the hands of a lot of satisfied consumers. Even today, over a year since its release, this is still the tablet to beat in this price range and form factor. Even the iPad mini cannot compete.

For a comprehensive review on this beautiful piece of hardware, check out this video review:

Nexus 10

nexus-10-confirmed

So far we have covered the smartphone and the pocket sized tablet. But Android happened for a much bigger reason: to one-up  Apple and show consumers what they give up when they invest in Apple’s supposed “walled garden” ecosystem. As such, Google needed a direct Apple iPad competitor. Hence the Samsung Nexus 10.

A few months before the release of the Nexus 10, the iPad was enjoying its second generation, with its screen boasting the much touted “Retina” display. And Samsung needed to show the world that it can compete with Apple’s tech (ironically, Samsung manufactured all of Apple’s Retina displays). Hence the Nexus 10 was born, boasting an even higher pixel density than the iPad 2/3/4, in a 10 inch form factor. Samsung also included its next-gen architecture chipset to power that beautiful display. Let’s check out the specs:

Nexus 10 technical specifications:

GENERAL 2G Network N/A
SIM No
Announced 2012, October
Status Available. Released 2012, November
BODY Dimensions 263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9 mm (10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35 in)
Weight 603 g (1.33 lb)
DISPLAY Type Super PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 2560 x 1600 pixels, 10.1 inches (~299 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 2
SOUND Alert types N/A
Loudspeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 16/32 GB, 2 GB RAM
DATA GPRS No
EDGE No
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA
Bluetooth Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
NFC Yes, dual side
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 5 MP, 2592х1936 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection
Video Yes, 1080p@30fps, check quality
Secondary Yes, 1.9 MP
FEATURES OS Android OS, v4.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Chipset Exynos 5250
CPU Dual-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A15
GPU Mali-T604
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Messaging Email, Push Email, IM, RSS
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with GLONASS
Java No
Colors Black
– SNS integration
– HDMI port
– MP4/H.264/DivX/WMV player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA/Flac player
– Organizer
– Image/video editor
– Document viewer
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Picasa
– Voice memo
– Predictive text input (Swype)
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Po 9000 mAh battery
Stand-by Up to 500 h
Talk time Up to 9 h (multimedia)
MISC SAR US 1.38 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.21 W/kg (body)
Price group
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 878 (nominal)
Loudspeaker Voice 68dB / Noise 66dB / Ring 67dB
Audio quality Noise -82.3dB / Crosstalk -81.4dB
Camera Photo / Video

The best part about this device was the price: compared to its direct competitor, the iPad 3 32GB wi-fi only version, this tablet was going for a good US$100.00 less. And it was a Nexus, which means pure android experience with timely updates guaranteed for at least the next year and a half.

For a video revie of the Nexus 10, check out this video:

Conclusion:

So I told myself I would cover the whole Nexus portfolio because Android is my passion, and an android blog without a post specifically dedicated to Google’s own vision of what android should be and look like, is not an android blog :P. Now my conscience is clearer :). If you’re in the market for a smartphone or a tablet, you should really give these devices a look. In terms of value for money, they just cannot be beaten. Adios amigos!!

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