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The Things I Love, Pt. 4: The Nexus 4’s Glass Build


Nexus 4

[Photo Credit: The Verge]

“The Nexus 4 actually feels like a premium smartphone.

The Nexus 4 is a beautiful smartphone. I’ve used a ton of Android devices, most of them from Samsung, and they almost always feel plasticky and somewhat ‘cheap.’ But the Nexus 4, like HTC’s high-end devices, actually feels like a premium smartphone.

The front is dominated by that large glass display, which curves ever so slightly around its sides into a thin metal bezel. That sits on top of a soft, rubbery frame that feels great in the hand and increases your grip on the device. The back is also glass, and it has that trademark Nexus 4 pattern shimmering beneath it.

Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus 4 isn’t as pretty or as luxurious as the iPhone 5, but it’s nowhere near as expensive, either. As Android smartphones go, its build quality is right up there with the best of them, and it’s another reason why I love it” (Killian Bell, “How I Fell Out of Love With My iPhone and Fell In Love With The Nexus 4”).

Killian Bell’s article on his love for the Nexus 4 and Google has been with me since the day he published it. As someone who has come to appreciate Android a great deal, his Nexus 4 commendation has tempted me even more to go and buy the pure Google device. Now that Nexus 4 users have Android 4.2.2, I may just have to indulge a little and go buy the phone for myself. I already have two phones; what’s a third gonna hurt? 🙂

In this section of his article, Bell praises the build of the Nexus 4. It’s clear from the above quote that he does not like the plastic feel of Samsung phones. I own a Galaxy S3, however, and I enjoy the plastic feel. As far as I’m concerned, plastic is more durable than glass. I wouldn’t want a glass phone as much as a plastic one because I don’t want something that looks gorgeous  until I break it. If the smartphone is made beautiful, I want it to look just as beautiful after I drop it and pick it up. Perhaps this is why I’m taking such a liking to Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone: it’s water and dust-resistant!

He does not like plastic and prefers the iPhone 5 over the Nexus 4’s build. I am biased like Bell, but I prefer the plastic feel over the nice feel of my iPhone 4S because it is more durable. Glass does break easier than plastic, and there is something to be said for a plastic smartphone that feels good in the hands and looks good after drops and falls. Now, it is true that an iPhone 4S with a broken glass display can still be traded in for the same amount as a mint condition Galaxy S2, but I cannot stand the thought of breaking my smartphone and shattering the display. With that said, I keep both my Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4S in cases (one Mophie, the other Otterbox, respectively), so I rarely notice the feel of one above the other.

I suspect that, if you’re like me and want to protect your smartphone, you  have placed it in a case and would not take your case off of it. If you intend to leave your case on at all times, you will rarely notice the difference in the build of the product. I don’t feel my iPhone 4S any more than I do my S3, thanks to their cases — so, in my opinion, this isn’t an argument for one over the other. Still, for Bell, this is another thing he loves about the Nexus 4.

I have to agree with him when he talks about the Nexus 4 as a quality smartphone. It is “premium,” not only built like it, but has the operating system and specs to boot. It is a WiFi phone, thanks to the Android 4.2.2 update released yesterday that effectively kills the LTE hacking capabilities that some exploited after the smartphone was first publicized for sale at the Google Play Store. Since it runs without LTE, you can use the phone without a SIM card — another plus for those who want to use the WiFi, Skype credit VoIP capabilities, and save some money. Skype provides texting and calling capabilities for your Nexus 4 phone, but you do not need a data plan — since you can use WiFi to check email and surf the web. While unlimited monthly 4G plans like T-Mobile will cost you $50 a month (no taxes or fees, it’s a wonderful thing), you can use a Nexus 4 with Skype credit and pay far less than half of what T-Mobile’s monthly plans cost.

Back to the build: for Bell, you get an excellent build for far less than what the iPhone 5 costs. While the iPhone 5 may have a pretty design, who wants to pay $500-$650 for a nice design when you can pay $350 for an unlocked smartphone that has a nice design as well as the freedom of customization in its software? There’s more to a great smartphone than just its design; some customers prefer the WiFi phone with a SIM-less experience, as compared to an iPhone that does not allow you to use its software SIM-free right out of the box.

When you consider the Google experience versus iOS, it makes sense as to why iOS ties down customers to phone carriers: it wants to make more money from its phones than those of other OSes and offer an affordable price to consumers at the same time; Google, on the other hand, doesn’t mind by-passing carriers and offering a great phone for a great price. Apple has started to realize that its strategy, while lucrative, is not working as well as it has in years past. This explains the “budget iPhone,” considered by many to be the iPhone Plus, that will emerge by the end of this year.

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