One day, my father emails me, and says that last month our Verizon Wireless family cellular bill was over $140. He then suggested we switch to AT&T and I start using an iPhone 4, which cost $0 for a two-year contract, and tried to cap me at 500MB per month.
Like hell. My Galaxy Nexus was my baby, though it was now slow and fussy after almost a year and half of service. I also tether from time to time, and thus I exceed 500MB very easily. Naturally, wanting a stock Android experience without rooting my phone, I turned to the Nexus 4. I had several misgivings because it did not officially support LTE, its battery was not removable, and 16GB was the maximum storage. Most importantly, and most scarily, the Nexus 4 does work on Verizon Wireless. I would have take the big leap and go with another service. Yet, after a week with the Nexus 4, for many reasons, I cannot believe why I did not take the jump right when the phone was released in 2012.
1. The Nexus 4 is sold unlocked. Unlocked means I can take out my T-Mobile SIM card and use any other compatible SIM card. This means that in 95% of the world that has GSM networks, I can just stroll into any mobile shop and acquire a local number and make cheap calls and texts and even have data. I do not have to worry about incurring ridiculous roaming fees. As an international traveller who is spending 11 weeks in China this summer, this is crucial to me.
2. The Nexus 4 is ridiculously cheap, the unlocked version starting at $299. To compare, buying the cheapest, unlocked Samsung Galaxy S III is around $420. That makes a huge difference to poor students like me and other cash-strapped people. Also, despite the low price, the Nexus 4 is still made of quality materials–most of important of which is the beautiful LCD screen and the generous 2GB of RAM.
3. The Nexus 4 is ridiculously smooth. This is where the 2GB of RAM comes in—the Galaxy Nexus has only 1GB, and even though Jellybean 4.2.2 was supposed to focus on making everything “buttery smooth”, the poor processor in the Galaxy Nexus could not handle it. The Nexus 4 feels like a dream, and is super responsive; I would argue, even more responsive than the iPhone 5.
4. The Nexus 4 can be used on T-Mobile’s prepaid $30 per month plan. 100 minutes of talking, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. The most important thing to me is unlimited data; I talk very little on the phone. Moreover, with a Google Voice number and Groove IP installed, I can make calls over data if I run out of minutes. This plan is amazingly cheap for a power user like me. However, this plan is only for new activations.
5. Despite the non-removable battery, the battery life is a big improvement. Yesterday, I took out my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 out of their chargers at 10am, and I proceeded to use my Nexus 4 throughout the day, leaving my Galaxy Nexus in my room, just on wifi. Returning at two in the morning, my Nexus 4 still had 46% battery left, and my Galaxy Nexus–which I had not used at all–was already dead.
5. Like the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 has no physical home button and has LED notifications. Over time, a physical home button will degrade and not be as responsive. Though I’ve only had my iPad for less than a year, the home button is already a bit sticky and worn-out at times.
On many phones, you need to wake the screen to see if there have been any new messages or emails. However, with the LED, all you need to watch surreptitiously for a few seconds for the blink–whether magenta, turquoise, turtle green, which you can customize using Light Flow–and you avoid the hassle of having to turn on the screen. I honestly panicked for a few seconds when I had ordered my Nexus 4 and had forgotten to check if it had LED notifications.
Buying a Nexus 4 has been one of the most satisfying gadget purchases I have made. It is definitely a good value, and the profit margins must be negative or crazily thin for Google and LG. Either way, it is a great bargain for even the most casual consumer of smartphones, all the way to a hardcore user. Using an iPhone 5 after using my Nexus 4 feels like putting on shackles– the iPhone’s screen is so uncomfortably small, and everything is just too square, in both looks and functions. iOS 7 must be a revelation indeed, if I can ever be compelled to use it as my main phone.