The smartphone ships in a minimalistic box as well and it feels like Google took a page out of Apple’s book here.
It contains everything that you need including “pin-key” to open up micro-SIM slot, charger with detachable USB cable and quick-start manual. It lacks a headset, which is bundled with most smartphones today, but again you have to cut some corners if you want a US $299/€299 smartphone with high end specs.
Design wise, LG did a decent job as the smartphone looks quite elegant and sleek with a “special” glass back. The build quality is quite good and we only had one bad thing to say about it but LG and Google fixed it with the recent design change. Since the back side is quite flat when you place the Nexus 4 on a flat surface you completely cover up the speaker so ringing and volume are muffled to a level that you can only hear it if you are sitting next to it. It also slips around surfaces when placed flat on its back, but thankfully LG and Google fixed that problem with the addition of a couple of plastic nubs on the top and bottom of the device.
The dimensions of the Nexus 4 are 133.9x68.7x9.1mm and it weighs in at 134 grams. It is actually quite light for its size and fits perfectly in hand. The Nexus 4 actually has no detachable parts, except for the micro-SIM slot, as the battery is non-removable and it has no microSD slot. As a result, build quality is excellent, much better than the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus. The glass back feels great, and so do the soft-touch sides, which also provide a lot of grip.
As you can see, the front is dominated by a 4.7-inch screen.
The top part of the front features a small 1.3-megapixel camera on the right and proximity and light sensor on the left, as well as a center placed earpiece.
The bottom part of the front appears to be blank, but actually features a center placed notification LED that pulses when you have missed calls, notifications, e-mails or anything else for that matter.
The back part is quite an interesting one and is also covered by Gorilla Glass 2 although it does not actually look like glass. The glass on the back is actually polarized and the pattern below shifts depending on the viewing angle and light making an illusion of a 3D pattern.
The back also features the main 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash in the left side of the back.
The right side of the phone features a single power/lock-unlock button.
The left side is the “busy” one as you have volume up/down buttons and micro-SIM card slot.
A standard 3.5mm audio jack is placed at the top, but you will have to get some aftermarket headphones.
The bottom part has a center placed micro-USB port with TV-out support and a dedicated microphone with an active noise cancelling that does a really good job when compared to some smartphones that we had a chance to use. Of course, we have to believe third parties that actually told us that after some of the first phone calls. You can also see the quite loud speaker located in the lower right part of the back.
As noted earlier, the touchscreen/display did not fall victim to cost cutting, LG did not cut any corners as although plagued by less than stellar sun legibility, the 4.7-inch True HD IPS+ LCD screen with 1280x768 resolution is quite good. It has a pixel density of just under 320ppi, 680 nits of brightness and a proper RGB matrix. It also features what LG calls Zerogap Touch technology, a way to reduce thickness of layers by getting rid of the air between them. The top most layer is Gorilla Glass 2 that should protect it from most scratches.
The display features quite impressive viewing angles, black levels are good and it has plenty of brightness to go around. On the other hand it suffers somewhat from bad legibility outdoors due to high reflectiveness of the Gorilla Glass cover.