The Nexus 4 is manufactured by LG, but don't let that fool you: This is without a doubt a Google phone. Google's Android engineers worked closely with LG on every facet of the device's design, and the company's influence clearly shines through -- so much so that at a glance, the phone actually looks quite similar to last year's Galaxy Nexus device.
Google Nexus 4
While the general design language remains consistent, though, the Nexus 4 is anything but an incremental upgrade -- and that's immediately apparent the minute you pick up the device. The Nexus 4 feels sleek, solid and substantial. It's a luxurious piece of hardware, with not a single flimsy or plasticky-feeling surface to be found.
The Nexus 4 is 2.7 x 5.3 x 0.36 in. and 4.9 oz. -- almost exactly the same dimensions and weight as the Galaxy Nexus, despite its roomier display. Speaking of display, the Nexus 4 has a gorgeous 4.7-in. True HD IPS screen with 1280 x 768 resolution and 320ppi. The screen is among the best I've seen on a smartphone, rivaling the likes of HTC's One X and Apple's iPhone 5 for top honors. Colors are bold and brilliant, details are crisp and sharp, and even in bright outdoor lighting, the Nexus 4's screen remains impressively viewable.
(Incidentally, the contrast with the Galaxy Nexus in that regard is immense: When I hold the two phones side by side in direct or even indirect sunlight, the Nexus 4's display is easy to read while the Galaxy Nexus's screen is almost impossible to see. It's amazing how much difference a year can make.)
This isn't just any regular ol' glass, either: Google has introduced a new type of curving technique with the Nexus 4's display in which the screen is sloped subtly at its edges. The goal was to create a surface that matches the way you interact with the phone -- swiping and gesturing side to side. That's a marked change in approach from past Nexus devices, which were curved to match the shape of your face.
It's a subtle yet important distinction: The physical act of moving my fingers on the Nexus 4's screen feels smoother and more natural than on any device I've used. By optimizing the phone's form for touch over talk, Google is making a bold move -- but one that very much matches the way our smartphone usage habits are evolving.