The Nexus 4's screen extends all the way to the sides of the phone's face, creating a large surface area on an otherwise reasonably sized device. The display is surrounded by a thin silver metal band that's most visible when you look at the phone from the side. The edge where the screen and the band meet is a pleasingly smooth curve that's not at all sharp to the touch -- a demonstration of the attention to detail that went into this device.
Another impressive bit of detail, surprisingly enough, is on the phone's back: The Nexus 4's rear is a smooth and reflective glass plate with a crystallized design that appears to move as you tilt the phone. The effect is eye-catching and distinctive without being over the top; you actually don't even notice it until you're looking closely at the phone. One minor drawback: The glass does seem to pick up an inordinate amount of visible fingerprint smudges.
The bigger risk with this flourish, of course, is that glass is inherently prone to breaking. Google and LG have taken steps to reduce the risk of shatter, including using Gorilla Glass 2 on both the phone's front and back and implementing edging that extends ever so slightly past the rear glass's reach in order to help break a fall -- but still, the more glass you have, the more risk you have of it cracking. If you have butterfingers, you may need to use a case or bumper in order to maintain peace of mind.
The Nexus 4 has a small LED indicator at the bottom of its face that alerts you to missed calls, new messages and other system events. As with other Android phones, you can customize exactly how and when the LED works by installing a third-party LED control utility.
Buttons, ports and charging
The perimeter of the Nexus 4 is taken up by a soft rubberized plastic material. On the left side of the phone is a silver metal volume rocker along with a tray for the micro-SIM card, which is locked shut and requires a small pin tool (included with the device) to open. The top of the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the right side houses a silver metal power button, which -- to be nitpicky -- is set back just a hair too far in the device and is consequently not always easy to press.