Star-spangled smartphone

The Australian smartphone market is on the verge of a major shake-up, with Google prepped to sell one of the most powerful phones around for a ridiculously low price tag. We sat down with the team from LG Australia recently, and got our hands on the new Nexus 4.

Oh say, can you see? The sparkling design of the Nexus 4 is difficult to see and harder to photograph, requiring the light to hit the battery cover in just the right way. It's quite a nice effect that gives the phone a spacey, sci-fi-like feel.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

A familiar face

From the front, the Nexus 4 looks quite a lot like the Galaxy Nexus, with the same curved, symmetrical bezel. The screen is much nicer, though, using LG's IPS display technology; a 768x1280 pixels resolution across a slightly larger 4.7-inch screen. This adds up to a respectable 320ppi.

As we played with the Nexus 4, we sat it side-by-side with the Samsung Galaxy S3 to compare the difference between LCD and AMOLED screens. While the blacks on the AMOLED screen are noticeably blacker, the white on the Galaxy S3 looks blue next to the crisp white of the LCD.

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The hard line

One of the unexpected features of this design is the hard lines that run along the edge of the phone. Unlike the soft, rounded edges of most phones, the sides of the Nexus rise to a point, like the edge of a crystal. Of course, this is made with soft-touch plastic, so it still sits comfortably in the hand.

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An unassuming slot

It may look like a standard micro-USB port, but this socket supports a new mirroring protocol called SlimPort, which is a first for smartphones. Similar to MHL ports on Samsung and HTC phones, SlimPort is a way to share your phone's screen with large displays over HDMI, supporting VGA, DVI and DisplayPort. The Nexus 4 also supports the Miracast wireless sharing protocol, in case you can't be bothered with wires and you have a compatible Miracast device on hand.

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Fresh face

The notification curtain gets a makeover in Android 4.2, with a new, cleaner look. It still features the same expanded notifications options, with direct dialling for missed calls and previews of SMS and email messages, but only when there are fewer notifications on screen. In the top right of the screen, you can see the shortcut for the new Quick Settings pane.

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Quick Settings

Google is a bit late to the party in having a screen like this, but finally, in Android 4.2 you have quick access to important settings like turning Wi-Fi on and off and Airplane mode. You can get to this menu by using the shortcut we showed in the previous image, or by swiping down the screen with two fingers from the home screen.

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Now, for something completely different

Google Now looks much the same in Android 4.2, but we did see a few new tricks in action. There is now the option to wake up voice input by first saying "Google". Also, you may have heard, Google has put a pedometer into Google Now, which auto-magically calculates your steps — without you telling it to.

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Say, 'cheese'

The camera in Android 4.2 has had a bit of a makeover as well, with Google adding the new Photo Sphere panorama mode to the shooting options. It's still extremely fast, too, with only moments between launching the camera and the first shot.

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