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Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus S--three-way comparison
I recently got my long-awaited Nexus 4 which, for me, was an upgrade to a Nexus S. Coincidentally, my husband took advantage of a great deal to pick up a Galaxy Nexus. So, we're comparing the two phones as new owners of both.
You know what? They're both excellent. We've been comparing them side-by-side for three days and we're both totally happy. There are some differences worth noting:
* All three phones have great screens, to my eyes. Obviously text looks vastly better on the GNex and N4 than on the Nexus S, but all three have good colours. The colours on the N4 are a little more muted than on the GNex or Nexus S (both of which are AMOLED, I think). I'm used to the super-saturated Nexus S colours, so the N4 colours look a little dull, but I think they're probably just more 'balanced'. I'd be happy with either the N4 or GNex screens.
* Both cameras seem quite good to me. I'm not sure why people complain about these cameras so much. They're not as good as my point-and-shoot Canon, but they're more than adequate for capturing fun moments in daily life. The camera interface on the N4 is a lot of fun to use. Photospheres are cooler than you imagine and they work a lot better than the reviews say, too. I am going to be making a lot of them while travelling.
* The swipe interface on the N4 keyboard is great. I no longer feel like I'm going a little insane while typing on virtual keys on the smaller Nexus S screen. I tried Swype on the Nexus S and didn't like it enough to stick with it. Somehow the implementation in 4.2 on the N4 is more comfortable.
* Going from HSPA (Nexus S) to HSPA+ (Nexus 4) is a BIG difference. I was worried about the N4 not having LTE, but actually HSPA+ is very good (I'm on Rogers in Canada). I haven't bothered trying to activate LTE using the published trick.
* Battery life on the N4 is fine. It's a fair bit better than on the Nexus S, in my real-world use scenarios (involving a fair bit of tethering).
* The N4 is *very* slippery--moreso than the GNex. The Google bumper doesn't really help with that. I'm ditching it for an el-cheapo rubber case from Ebay.
* The N4 is almost weirdly thin. I feel like I'm holding an oversized credit card.
* Both phones feel very fast to me. I don't feel like the N4 is more 'buttery' than the GNex. I'm sure there are differences, but they're not super-obvious to me. Certainly both are a lot faster than the Nexus S.
* Voice search works infinitely better on the N4 than on the Nexus S, where it was a clunky novelty at best. It seems to work fine on the GNex, too.
In summary, I'd say that, if you have a Nexus S or earlier, both the N4 and the GNex are going to feel like huge upgrades. The N4 is a little more future-proof, sure, but it's not as different from the GNex as I'd expected.
If you're reading reviews of the N4 and feeling a little glum about the digs people take at it, I wouldn't worry. I heard all sorts of bad things about the battery life, the CPU throttling, the camera, and so on. But I still love the phone. Stock Android is, as always, a killer feature. I'm so glad I didn't cave and buy a non-Nexus device.
I'm happy to answer questions, if I can.