Finally. Since Hurricane Sandy flooded out New York and canceled Google's press event, we've been trying everything we can think of to get a review unit. Late yesterday we got an email back from an awesome Googler (thanks!), and I immediately flew out the door to go rescue a Nexus 4 from New York. We got one! Mission accomplished!
For starters, the build quality and materials are amazing. As soon as you pick it up you know you're holding something that is built with more love and thought than a Galaxy Nexus or GSIII. The front and back are Gorilla Glass 2 and the sides are made from a rubberized plastic that actually feels great. The whole phone is really solid, and it's the first Android phone that seems like it's had real passion put into the design.
The front is still a beautiful, minimalist black slab, devoid of any logos or carrier branding. I love it. The back features a giant Nexus logo at the top and a smaller manufacturer logo at the bottom. This is, easily, the most beautiful Android phone ever made. I'll take some proper pictures of it later.
Anyone who is worried about the back of the phone being a sparkly disco ball can rest easy. In many lighting conditions, the back is black - just black. When the light catches it just right, there is a very tasteful, subdued shimmer effect that rolls across the dots. The dots on the back don't bindingly reflect light, either, they just kind of turn silver. Camera flash is pretty much the worst case scenario. Even in that picture on the left, the reflection is greatly exaggerated. In the right picture, the bottom right corner is about as bright as it ever looks in real life. In person it's very subtle, tasteful, and kind of hypnotizing.
Compared to a Galaxy Nexus? Well the Gnex looks like it just walked out of a garbage heap when compared to the N4. The glass back and build quality outclasses the Galaxy Nexus so much it isn't even fair. If you care about that stuff, you're going to want to upgrade.
I'll save most of the software stuff for the review, but first, a heads up of what I'm dealing with: This isn't the final software. There are a few weird things I've run into that I'm pretty sure are placeholders, and lock screen widgets don't work. There is supposed to be an OTA out in time for release. I will however, show you a few screenshots of the new clock app:
Yes, we've finally got a timer and stopwatch. I really like the design of it, too.
Speaking of which, with the beautiful design, and lack of LTE, an SD card, and a removable battery, I'm starting to think this phone isn't for geeks, but for designers. I really like for my phones to be well made and beautiful, and this is right up my alley. Many of our commenters won't like it because of the spec sheet (it's insanely fast, by the way), but if you just want a premium feeling, stunning looking device that is still fast and functional, this is your dream phone. I feel like this is the first time Android has had a piece of hardware that matches the stock OS design philosophy. Some people won't care about that, but those that do will be absolutely in love.
The review will be out in a few days. If you have any burning questions, feel free to ask in the comments.