20 November 2012

My Nexus 4 and my iPhone 4S

Nexus 4

I received my new 8GB Nexus 4 yesterday. It's one of the new series of Google-branded devices that sold out in hours when they were released in mid November 2012.

I'm quite new to Android - my first experience with it was 4.1, and this Nexus is 4.2. I've never used an Android phone before. I've been an Apple iPhone user since the iPhone 3, and have a 4S with iOS 6.01 as well.

This is a short review of my findings about the Nexus 4 after 24 hours...

Review summary

I really like it - more than I appreciate my iPhone 4S. I suspect the latter will be for sale on eBay shortly.

Physical design

It's bigger than an iPhone which means a bigger screen. It has on/off and volume buttons and is about 6mm thick.

Software

This is the important bit, because phones are really just containers for the applications and operating system. Here are some bullet points about things I like that are at least the same or better than the iPhone. Bear in mind that I am a Google Apps user so the integration is great, just like it would be on a Windows Phone 8 if you were in the Hotmail camp, or iCloud in the Apple camp.

Here's a random download of my thoughts so far...
  • My home screen shows me my latest email, calendar and RTM to-do list. After using the Nexus 4, the iPhone seems dumb - you have to open an app just to check who you have mail from. (Actually, on the iPhone you can swipe down from the top, but it's not as good as having it on the home screen).
  • It's very easy to cache maps for offline use (great when travelling overseas)
  • They are Google maps
  • You get traffic information for free.
  • The turn-by-turn driving directions just seem better - I'll try to isolate why.
  • Directions can be public transport (shame on Apple), car, bicycle or foot.
  • It has StreetView.
  • You can tell it that some Wi-Fi access points are actually 3G/4G wireless hotspots so it won't don't do big downloads on them. eg You tell your phone it can only download music over Wi-Fi, but you have a 3G hotspot device like a MiFi. The phone would ordinarily think that it's now on Wi-Fi and start downloading like a mad thing, using up your bandwidth or creating extra charges. Instead, it can treat this hotspot like the phone's really on 3G.
  • The new "swipe" typing is very fast indeed. It can even predict the next word.
  • Wider screen is nice
  • It has all the applications I had on iPhone.
  • Screen resolution is as good as the 4S/5.
  • Picked the settings up off my TPG SIM card more accurately than iPhone (I had to futz around with the APN on the iPhone)
  • Blogger App works really well (hence this blog entry...)
  • Google Now automatically presents useful personal information.
  • Can set your own warnings for data usage per month, starting on a billing day you choose, and turn off data automatically when you hit your limit.
  • System wide integration with Google Apps (for Business, in my case).
  • Recent notifications are available to access for quite some time after they arrive.
  • Notifications don't "take over" the interface like an iPhone. You can keep working.
  • You don't have to react to a notification straight away.
  • App switching from notifications is smoother and disrupts less by not shutting apps down.
  • Very small charger
  • Easily send your current location by email or SMS or other built in methods.
  • Widgets are great on the home screens. Eg quick dials,calendar, email, to-do
  • Google IM works well.
  • Nice integration with Skype throughout the OS 
  • $349 v $799 for an iPhone. Some of that is due to more RAM on the iPhone, but 8GB is plenty if you're not pretending it's a music player. I have a 160GB iPod for that.
  • Earphone music quality good
  • Speaker volume about the same as iPhone - maybe slightly less.
  • The Tracks app is a little like trailblazer pro, which is great for tracking what you've done during the day on holidays.
  • My old Blackberry Pearl flashed a red light when I had a message or other notification. I missed this a lot when I moved to the iPhone, because I had to periodically check it to see if I had an email, SMS or other notification. But it's back on the Nexus 4! Actually it's a discreet white LED, but the same idea.
  • Auto brightness could be brighter but plenty bright on manual control, and you can also control brightness with widgets.
  • The widget experience is pretty good.