Our colleagues in the US have published a full, detailed review of the new Google Nexus 4, and have come to the conclusion that it is an "elegant phone with a huge flaw" — no 4G/long-term evolution (LTE) network compatibility. But does 4G really matter to you? Were you planning on buying a Nexus 4 until you realised it wasn't 4G?
After testing all of the 4G phones available in Australia, we can't say that we've been blown away by what 4G brings to the table for smartphones so far. There is a significant and measurable hit to battery life, but, worse than that, 4G doesn't make the overall experience of using online services that much faster. You will notice large packets of data downloading faster, like large apps for example, but web browsing, downloading emails and updating Facebook — none of these activities get an appreciable speed bump from the faster network speeds.
It's not like the Nexus 4 is a slouch in the downloads department as it is. Despite there being no 4G, Google and LG do include dual-carriage HSPA+ data speeds, which offer downloads of up to 42Mbps. This is basically the same speeds found in all of the other top-shelf, non-4G phones this year, like theand the . You won't get the same peak performance with DC-HSPA+ as you would with a 4G connection, but you will get close enough not to notice the difference, we think.
This isn't intended as a broad bagging of 4G technology; in fact, we're huge fans of what Telstra and Optus have been able to achieve with their new networks so far. It's just that the two major features of 4G networks — speed and latency — don't really apply to our use of smartphones at the moment. When you plug a compatible USB modem into a laptop, 4G is amazing, but it just isn't as noticeable when you access these networks with a smartphone.
But our opinion isn't the final word, and we'd love to know what you think. Hit the poll with an answer and leave us a comment below.