Google Nexus 4 review: Royal road

GSMArena team, 07 December 2012.


The Google Nexus 4 doesn't come with a dedicated file browser or a document editor. However, after installing a third-party file browser we were able to open all the different document types: DOC, XLS, PPT from Office 2003 and 2007 along with PDF with ease. It's unknown why Google hasn't given its own document editor a simple shortcut on the app drawer, or simply preloaded Google Drive in the first place.

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There's an Office document viewer pre-installed

The viewer works pretty fast and there's handy Find functionality. There's no editing however, and no paid upgrades for that either (but there are plenty of alternatives in the Android Market anyway, so it's not as big an issue as it might seem at first).

The calendar's look hasn't changed drastically and its functionality is as good as ever. There are four views - Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Agenda. The app can easily handle several online calendars as well as the local calendar.

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The organizer can sync with multiple calendars

You can add multiple reminders for each event and search through all events.

Google has redone its Clock app, giving it a major overhaul. Opening it brings you to your local time giving you the ability to add as many additional world capital cities as you'd like (they will also be visible on your lockscreen widget upon expanding).

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The new Clock app interface

The usual alarm functionality is still present, albeit the fresh new design. You can set multiple alarms, each with its own repeat pattern, ringtone and label. The app also comes with a stopwatch and a timer.

The good old calculator is here too - it has big, easily thumbable keys and you can swipe to the left to bring up the advanced functions (trigonometry, square root, brackets, etc.).

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The Calculator

Google Maps

The Google Nexus 4 comes with a GPS receiver, which took about a minute to get satellite lock upon a cold start (it supports GLONASS for faster, more accurate locks too). You can use the A-GPS functionality to get near instantaneous locks. Alternatively, network positioning will also do if you only need an estimate of your location.

Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we've covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere.

3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.

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Google Maps uses efficient vector maps • Street View

You can also plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.

Google Maps uses vector maps, which are very data efficient. The latest version has an easy to use interface for caching maps - you just choose "Make available offline" from the menu and pan/zoom around until the desired area is in view (there's an indicator showing how much storage caching that area will take). You can later view cached areas and delete ones you no longer need.

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Making a part of the map available offline

Note that there's a limit to the size of the area you can cache - you can't just make all of Europe available offline, not even a whole country. We managed to cache London and some surrounding regions before Maps told us the area is too big. Also, there's no address search in the cached maps and you can only cache map data in supported regions of the world.

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Google Earth comes pre-installed too

Google Play Store

Running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the Google Nexus 4 has access to the latest available apps. Still, don't go overboard with installing every app you see, as your storage is pretty limited due to the lack of microSD card slot.

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Google Play Store

The Store is organized in a few scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. The in-app section is untouched though and it's very informative - a description, latest changes, number of downloads and comments with rating. There is usually a demo video and several screenshots for most apps too.

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