Nexus 4 review: Google's instantly obsolete Android smartphone

Besides its lack of LTE, there's nothing horribly wrong -- or particularly compelling -- with Google's 'pure Android' device

By , InfoWorld |  Mobile & Wireless, Android, android phones

Two key benefits of Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean": Lock screen widgets, photo controlsThat "pure" Android experience is the Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" one, which brings a couple welcome features to the already very nice 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system: the addition of lock screen widgets such as email and calendar and the enhanced Camera app, which provides the kinds of shooting controls you'd expect in a digital camera, plus a suite of editing controls for the photos you take.

Both work reasonably well, though the selection of lock screen widgets is quite low, and it's not always easy to add them or get to them -- the lock screen's swipe sensitivity seems diminished for some reason. The widgets aren't available if your Exchange server or mobile management server imposes a PIN or password requirement on your device. The Camera app's only (minor) deficit is that the camera controls can be hard to see onscreen in some circumstances, such as over light subjects or in glare situations for outdoor shoots.

Among the shooting controls is one for the Nexus 4's Photo Sphere feature, which ups the ante for the panoramic mode introduced in previous Android versions for compatible devices (nicely copied by iOS 6 in the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5). A regular panorama stitches together multiple images as you move the camera sideways, creating one image from the sequence. Photo Sphere lets you move the camera both sideways and up, so you can stitch together a large section of space, sort of like an Imax movie versus a regular widescreen movie. The Photo Sphere icon helpfully traces your sweep as you move up each level, so you know you've captured the same lateral range in each slice.

The only issue I had with Photo Sphere was that the Nexus 4 often couldn't keep pace with the panorama, even when I panned slowly. It needed to pause periodically, perhaps to process the image data or offload it, resulting in stutters in those parts of the image.

Two new approaches to video-out supportLess useful -- today, at least -- is the addition of support for the Miracast wireless display standard, which the industry group behind the Wi-Fi standard has created in hopes of providing a vendor-neutral alternative to Apple's compelling but proprietary AirPlay technology. Miracast replaces the DLNA standard that quickly became fragmented due to semiproprietary, incompatible versions meant to steer customers to buying all gear from one company. The Miracast notion is a good one, and the Wi-Fi Alliance's backing gives it instant credibility. But you can't get Miracast devices yet, so it has zero utility for now. Perhaps that will change in a year.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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