Google Nexus 4: Unboxing, hands-on and initial impressions

Anyone that attempted to purchase a Google Nexus 4 this week knows just how frustrating of an experience it was. I dealt with my purchase leaving and re-entering the shopping cart numerous times and Google Wallet simply refusing to load correctly, or it not allowing me to confirm payment once it had loaded. The worse part of it all -for me anyway- was the fact that I could have been finished early into the ordering, one of my very first attempts to buy the Nexus 4 was successful, but I had no idea. In fact, I didn’t even know I had a Nexus 4 ordered until almost 2 hours after they had sold out, because that’s how long it took for Google to send me a confirmation email.

All things considered, I got off pretty easy, other people had it much worse. A lot of people had their purchase back-ordered by as much as three weeks. And the news of the lengthy delay came several hours after these buyers were told they’d be getting one shipped to them on November 15th. I consider myself fortunate and a little lucky to have survived that fiasco and manage to snag a Google Nexus 4 to call my own.

While ordering the Nexus 4 could have been better, the shipping time was great and I ended up receiving my Nexus 4 yesterday morning. Since then, I have spent some time setting it up and getting familiar with the device, and I thought I would go ahead and share some of my initial thoughts and impressions.

The Box:

We’ll start with what comes in box – You’ll get the headset itself, a 1.2A power adapter, USB charge/data cable, SIM tray ejection tool and quick start guide/warranty information. Unlike last year’s Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 doesn’t come with headphones. But I’m not too worried about it, as the freebie earbuds manufactures include with phones typically suck any way.

   

LG went to great lengths to make sure the Nexus 4 was well protected in it’s box. Pretty much every surface that is capable of being scratched is protected. The metal band around the screen is covered with a clingy plastic film that is divided into four sections, and the front and rear glass panels both have a thick sheet of plastic covering them. There is even a foam insert glued to the inside of the lid that helps keep the Nexus 4 from moving around while inside it’s box.

The Phone:

Taking the Nexus 4 in my hand for the first time felt great. The Nexus 4 feels incredibly sturdy and classy at the same time. It doesn’t creak or flex like Google’s previous smartphone, the Samsung made, Galaxy Nexus, which felt a lot like a television remote control. In my opinion, LG and Google have done a wonderful job designing the latest Nexus. It feels like a high-quality smartphone, and it looks great.

The outside of the Nexus 4 is composed of two panels of glass that are surrounded by a rubbery, soft-touch bezel. The glass front and rear make the device feel luxurious and sturdy, and the bezel helps provide a better grip. Another nice touch is the slight curvature of the edges of the screen. It’s barely noticeable, but it helps make swiping across the screen more enjoyable, as there are no abrupt edges bordering the screen. Speaking of the screen, it looks amazing. Pixels are nearly impossible to see, text looks very sharp and the screen can get very bright when needed.

Performance:

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the Nexus 4’s hardware and performance yet -I gotta save something for the full review- but I will say that the Nexus 4 is a beast. Booting from off to the lock screen takes 17.68 seconds, apps launch instantly, websites load in a flash, and navigating the home screens and menus is a fluid, smooth and enjoyable experience.

My Nexus 4 is running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and I’m really enjoying all of the new features and enhancements it provides. This being a Nexus device, I thought it would be appropriate to go ahead and do a little bit of hackery to it. Although there isn’t a one click root method for the Nexus 4 yet, I found it very straight-forward and easy to gain superuser status on Google’s latest smartphone. I’ve never rooted a Android device before, yet my Nexus 4 went from unboxed to unlocked and rooted within 30 minutes of it entering my house.

It’s far too early for me to make an accurate determination about the Nexus 4 battery life, but I can say that I am happy with it so far. Today, I charged all the way up and then went 7 hours and 21 minutes with using only 47% of the battery. That total becomes even more impressive when you consider that I had the screen on for nearly 4 of those 7 hours.

It goes without saying that my initial impressions of the Google Nexus 4 are very positive. I have a lot more features to try out – such as the Photo Sphere camera, Lock Screen Widgets, wireless charging and NFC – and there’s quite a bit of testing to be done in the next few days, so look for more Nexus 4 coverage, including our full review soon.