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The Nexus 4: Your Next Smartphone (If You Can Find One)

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Describe your ideal smartphone. Take a moment. Think about every ideal quality it should have.

Your list probably included affordable, future-proof, and stable. Lawyers need to spend time working, not troubleshooting. And no, we're not being paid by Google to write this post. The Nexus 4 is just a really, really amazing device ... if you can find one.

The Good

What is the Nexus 4? It's a joint venture between LG and Google. It is a top-of-the-line smartphone, available off-contract, for $300. We won't bore you with too many specs, other than to say that it has a quad-core processor, a 4.7 inch screen with 320 pixels per inch, and your choice of eight or sixteen gigabytes of storage. That's better than nearly every other device out there.

Best of all, it's a Nexus, much like the Nexus 7 tablet we reviewed last week. When it comes to Nexus devices, these are Google's flagship phones. Unlike phones by third-party companies, like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, these phones are the first to receive Android updates. There is no delay for manufacturers or carriers to code and release updates.

Also, because the original rationale behind the Nexus devices was to design a stable developer-friendly phone, apps are designed to be first and foremost compatible with the Nexus line of devices. You'll almost never find an incompatible or unstable app that works on a friend's phone.

As for the experience, using the phone is an absolute joy. There is no lag whatsoever. The screen's pixel density makes reading large amounts of text easy on the eyes.

The Bad

Are you a Verizon or Sprint customer? If so, you're out of luck. What about LTE? Not so much. Instead of 4G LTE, the phone comes equipped with pseudo-4G HSPA+42, which is nearly as fast but not quite. HSPA+ is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as numerous prepaid networks.

There are no replaceable batteries. Much like the iPhone 5, the battery is permanently built into the phone. This means when the battery dies, there better be a plug nearby. Many other Android devices have removable batteries which allow you to quickly swap out for a full charge.

The up-front cost is also significant. For most consumers, they are used to shelling out a small amount up front and signing a two year contract. The Nexus 4 is available for $300 to $350 contract-free, which is great for prepaid customers or those who aren't upgrade eligible. Similar phones are $600 off contract. If you sign a two-year pact with T-Mobile, the phone is still $200 up front.

Finally, the phone is in short supply. Since its release in November, supplies have been scarce. Even those who ordered on launch day faced nearly a month's wait for their phone. Google drastically underestimated the global demand for their device and hopes to improve the situation soon. Still, if you want the device, you face a bit of a wait.

Oh yeah, and if you are an Apple devotee, it's not an iPhone.

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