What Google's Nexus 4 means for LG

Whatever your feelings about the Nexus 4 itself, one thing's for certain: getting the Nexus was definitely a boon for LG.

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Well, the verdict's in on Google's flagship phone, the LG Nexus 4, and aside from the significant misstep of not having 4G LTE capabilities for its U.S. market, the device is great. It runs on Android Jelly Be-- oh hell. Can we just talk about LG for a second?

All opinions aside about the handset itself ("LTE doesn't matter!," "It's ugly!," "But it's so cheap!," "You're cheap!," "I hate everyone!"), it's clear that LG needed this Nexus.

With the exception of the upcoming Optimus G , the Korean phone company's recent history of mediocre high-end handsets for the U.S. market is finally catching up with it.

In addition, with competitors like Samsung churning out one successful device after another (the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2 , and last year's Galaxy Nexus to name a few), LG needed to do something big and soon. And by "big" I don't mean the Intuition .

Sure, you could consider the Optimus G "superphone" a Hail Mary, but the phone can't carry itself with just LG's branding alone.

Enter Google and its Nexus line of flagship phones. Though the handsets aren't guaranteed game changers or commercial successes, they're the first to natively deliver the most recent Android operating system. The popularity and instant recognition they drum up from Android enthusiasts are invaluable. So when I heard LG was tapped to build this year's Nexus, I was excited but wary.

LG Nexus 4
Say hello to pure Jelly Bean. Josh Miller/CNET

So how did LG do? The Nexus 4's lack of 4G LTE has many U.S. customers (including me) griping hard, especially now since the technology has been so widespread since its launch, and with a phone of this high caliber.

But it does have a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor from Qualcomm, a decent 8-megapixel camera , and runs Android 4.2 smoothly. Plus, it's extremely affordable -- unlocked it starts at $299 and only goes for $349 for the 16GB version.

While I personally believe that this iteration of the phone does little to progress the Nexus brand as a whole, it can be promising for LG. It should use this opportunity, while it still has it, as a jumping board to roll out handsets that are on par, if not better, than the Nexus 4 and Optimus G.

So whether views about the Nexus 4 are positive or negative, it's nice to keep in mind that, hey, everyone's buzzing about an LG phone. And if nothing valuable comes from this when the next Nexus comes out, at least we could all say, "The Nexus, the Nexus....Didn't LG make that last year?"

About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.

 

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