28 11 / 2012

Nexus 4 Review, one week later

Update from my initial review, after the one week use of Nexus 4.

The Good

  • Google Now keeps me amazed. I was at the Lion King musical last night at Market & 9th, and GN keeps telling me how long it takes to go home with public transits, along with the BART/Muni schedule.
  • Swipe to dismiss notifications. And dismiss all notifications in one click. Take this, Apple.
  • Camera white balance is mediocre, but HDR picture quality is actually great.
  • Intent for photos. Whenever I take photos, I don’t need to decide which app to share (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Path?) up-front. Just take a photo, swipe to the left and pick which app to share.
  • Intent for sharing URL - most apps provide “Share…” intent so that I can bookmark URLs with Readability even if the app doesn’t support Readability. With iOS, I needed to bookmark on Instapaper first and use ifttt to sync.
  • Widgets and app shortcuts. I use RTM and google calendar widgets as well as Contact list shortcut for the family, so that I can make calls right away from the home screen.
  • T-Mobile prepaid monthly 4g gets 16Mbps down constantly in SOMA, for $30/mo reasonable price.

The Bad

  • Buzzing noise from the earpiece. Happens all the time whether in call or not or screen on or off. I’m not sure this is a specific hardware defect or a common issue (can someone with N4 confirm?) but this is a deal breaker if you intent to use this device as a voice call phone. For me I don’t make phone calls that much, but when I do it this buzz really annoys me.
  • Google Now schedule syntax is pesky. “schedule dinner tomorrow 8pm at Koh Samui” will make a schedule with the title “dinner tomorrow 8pm at Koh Samui” at today, 7pm
  • Gmail app can’t add a new schedule from Emails with dates and location where the web app can easily do it and iOS Mail.app obviously handles it very well. Can’t believe this.
  • No unified Mailbox in Gmail app when you have multiple accounts (I do)
  • Google Now doesn’t have TODO/Task list. No, Gmail tasks doesn’t work with either Gmail nor Calendar app. Google Now has “remember to …” syntax but it just sends an email to my account with Subject: note to self (seriously?) I now wish if Google acquired RTM and let Google Now display that. Yes I can subscribe Remember the Milk iCal feed on google calendar, but it isn’t updated realtime and doesn’t show up on Google Now anyway.
  • Chrome’s “Auto sign-in to Google Sites” can override two-step authentication. Once the phone is stolen and unlocked, anyone can sign in to my account and configure however they want. You can disable the auto-signin option, but enabling it doesn’t require a password (WTF?).
  • I usually don’t set PIN/pass code to unlock a phone, because it’s just annoying, but because Google doesn’t provide remote wipe (except Google Apps enterprise), and the chrome’s too powerful sign-in described above, I set the pattern lock. Now, it is mutually exclusive to “Slide to unlock”, so i can’t make it ‘slide to unlock for 5 minutes and then require PIN lock”. Apparently I need a Tasker app to do this and that’s ridiculous. Maybe it’s an Apple patent.
  • Bluetooth implementation of Nexus 4 is a joke. It turns off Wi-Fi connection when i enable the discovery mode, and you can’t turn on BT tethering from the client device like you can with iOS devices. (Although I suppose you can enable BT tethering on all the time instead)
  • Battery life is not as solid as I hoped for. Usually takes no less than 10 to 12 hours till it begs for a charge. Admitted it is not that bad but i was wishing for less power drain when the phone is not in use.
  • WIFi never gets to sleep even when I set the WiFI advanced option to always sleep. Guess it has something to do with Google Now services.

There are more minor rants, but enough for now.

Despite these defects I still love Android and hope for the improvements, but the buzzing static noise from the device makes me sick. I’m trying to decide whether i should return the phone or ask for a replacement, if this is a specific hardware rather than common problems. Given the demand for this device I won’t get it for another 5 weeks or so.

UPDATE: I made a phone call with Google and i get a replacement device for free, and without a 5 week wait, and can keep using the current one till i get the replacement. If you have the same issue i recommend you to call the customer support.

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