A new generation of Android devices is making its way to the market ahead of the holiday season including the LG Optimus G and its Google-supported cousin the Nexus 4. These two devices share a lot in common beyond just being manufactured by the same company.
At first glance, the big difference between them is the design decision to go with curved corners on the Nexus 4, while the Optimus G has a more squared shape about it. The same 4.7″ LCD is shared between the devices, and neither of them have user replaceable batteries. They’re pretty much the same phone with different branding on the back, right? Well, not exactly.
Advantages of the Nexus 4
The Nexus 4 is, indeed, the one phone you can guarantee will receive Android updates before any other. It’s directly supported by Google, even if you opted for a T-Mobile contract thanks to an agreement between the carrier and Google. If the absolute most important factor in your purchasing decision is having the latest and greatest Android software out there, then don’t bother to read any further. Nexus 4 is your answer, and that’s really all it has going for it above the Optimus G.
Price is another big consideration. LG has to turn a profit on its handsets, but Google is more concerned about getting its phones out there and using Nexus owners as beta testers for the latest Android updates. In exchange for this privilege, you can buy a Nexus 4 without contract for $299. That’s not a bad deal by any standard.
Advantages of the Optimus G
The Optimus G may not receive Android updates as quickly as the Nexus 4, but there are plenty of compelling reasons to consider it over the Google-supported hardware. A microSD slot is included in the Optimus G while the Nexus 4 has none. This isn’t a universal addition, though. The Sprint version of the Optimus G is missing this feature. Each of the Optimus G versions come with 32 GB of storage out of the box, with the AT&T version being capable of expanding its 16 GB microSD (included) storage to up to 64 GB.
Another advantage present on the Sprint version of the phone is a 13 megapixel built-in camera. I’ve seen this camera in action and when comparing it to the 8 megapixel camera (which is the same as the one used in the Nexus 4) of the AT&T model, the increased megapixels appear to come with a bit of a low-light clarity boost. Objects appeared a bit crisper without the use of a flash. Beyond that, the added megapixels made little difference as the sensor itself isn’t really much larger.
LTE is another big advantage the Optimus G has over the Nexus 4. I remember hearing from Android fans just how terrible it was that Apple decided not to support LTE prior to the iPhone 5. It was a surprise to me that the same people who criticized Apple for that decision in the past are praising Google for opting to leave the LTE antenna off the Nexus 4. I’ve done speed tests like crazy on the AT&T version of the Optimus G and the speeds I’m receiving are far higher than my home U-Verse connection. I have yet to be disappointed by LTE in Austin.
There are also some interesting additions made by LG that have actually improved my experience on Android 4.0. For one, being able to watch video while sending a text message might sound fairly novel, but it’s that type of multitasking that I’ve longed to see on Android and am only now starting to find on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III and Optimus G. It’s not a large advantage, but it’s a fun one that a lot of users might enjoy during their lunch breaks at work.
The Nexus 4 is also a predominantly GSM device. If you were hoping to use it on a carrier like Sprint or Verizon, you’ll have a tough time doing so. The Optimus G is covered on either AT&T or Sprint, with unlocked versions receiving a little more freedom in each carrier platform.
What They Have in Common
These phones are, at the very least, first cousins in the world of smartphones. No other phones on the Android market today are as closely matched in hardware or design. The Nexus 4 was based on the Optimus G in many ways, and it’s because of this that they look, feel, and operate so alike in so many ways.
Both phones have an industry-leading quad-core processor that absolutely sings on the platform. While Android 4.2 is still a bit more modern in terms of its “butteryness” (please tell me I just coined a phrase… if not, I’ll write an IOU). Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is still a remarkably modern and useful operating system. I wouldn’t put it out to pasture just yet considering so many Android users are still on even older versions of the OS. There isn’t much on the Optimus G I haven’t been able to do that I could accomplish on the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4.
It all comes down to what you want to get out of your device. If you’re searching for a phone that has expandable memory, a slightly better camera, and LTE, there is an Optimus G out there that will suit your needs just fine. If quick access to software updates is what matters to you most, then there’s no reason not to pick up a Nexus 4.