In October, due to Hurricane Sandy, Google hastily announced its latest Nexus smartphone and the first made by the LG, the Nexus 4. The Nexus 4 replaced the Galaxy Nexus as Google’s yearly Nexus and will presumably remain the most current Nexus device until later 2013 when Google likely unleashes its next Nexus unto the world. While that may or may not be the case, one thing is for sure. The Nexus 4 is going to be competing against 2013′s crop of smartphones and one of those devices will likely be HTC’s rumored flagship, the HTC M7.
Every year, Google releases a smartphone that it dubs the Nexus. Each of them, there have been four, has been given a different name. The first, made by HTC, was dubbed Nexus One. The second, by Samsung, was the Nexus S. The third, also by Samsung, was called the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. This time around though, the Nexus wasn’t created by HTC or Samsung.
Instead, Google bestowed the honor upon Korean manufacturer, LG. The device that launched of course was the LG Nexus 4, or quite simply, the Nexus 4. And in November, LG launched its first Nexus smartphone. And because LG and Google launched the Nexus 4 so late in the year, the device will likely be competing for customers attention well into the new year, just like the Galaxy Nexus did in 2012.
That of course means that it will be competing against the next-generation devices that will start hitting the market over the next few months. We’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S4, the iPhone 6, phones from Sony and LG, and also, a flagship device from HTC called the HTC M7.
2012 was a rough year for HTC from a business standpoint, though it did release a couple of high-quality smartphones including the HTC One X, the device that the HTC M7 is said to be replacing. And with HTC CEO Peter Chou telling the Wall Street Journal that his company plans better phones and better marketing for 2013, it’s hard not to be excited about the HTC M7.
Fortunately, thanks to leaks, we have a pretty good idea about what to expect. But just how does 2012′s Nexus, the Nexus 4, stack up against the rumored HTC M7? Let’s dive in and take a look.
Google and LG announced the Nexus 4 back in October and then released both a T-Mobile model and an unlocked model shortly afterwards in the first half of November. And while the build up to the launch of the Nexus 4 was anticipated, no one expected what was to happen next.
Google’s Play Store crumbled under the load of those trying to snag a Nexus 4 and once the smoke settled, many users were left with back orders or no Nexus 4 at all. That’s because the initial stock of unlocked Nexus 4 variants sold out within a few hours. Google promised that orders would ship out in a few weeks and fortunately, it kept its promise. Back orders started heading out two weeks later and things seemed to be returning to normal.
Then, the Nexus 4 hit the Google Play Store again and the same thing happened. However, instead of selling out, Google let the shipping times linger to point that they were in months instead of weeks. In early December, both the 16GB model and the 8GB model sold out and have remained sold out through the Google Play Store since.
The Nexus 4 that’s attached to T-Mobile’s network has seen its fair share of ups and downs as well as it has sold out and returned to stock numerous times over the past few weeks. Luckily, it appears that all T-Mobile stores are expected to see some new stock sometime this month.
That being said, the Nexus 4 is hard to find in 2013 and those seeking to get instant gratification have to spend quite a bit of money to get it through third-party sites like Craigslist, eBay and re-sellers.
The HTC M7 is just as hard to buy as it isn’t even out on shelves yet. Thus far, there have been two rumored launch dates for the HTC M7 with CES 2013 and MWC 2013 both cropping up as potential launch dates. CES, at this point, seems unlikely though still possible while Mobile World Congress 2013, which is set to kick off in Barcelona in late February, seems more likely.
It was at MWC 2012 that HTC announced the HTC One X and it could take the stage in Barcelona and do the same with the HTC M7. January, with the HTC One X+ and Droid DNA already out on the market, seems a bit too soon for a big flagship announcement.
The company is said to be trying to get the device out in the first half of 2013, with a launch in Q1, and it could be that HTC follows a similar path to its HTC One X launch and debuts the device at MWC and releases it in the weeks afterward.
American carriers typically are last when it comes to these devices so we may see the U.S. get the device a month after other regions around the world. When it does arrive though, don’t expect it to have the same type of supply problems as the Nexus 4.
At first glance, the LG Nexus 4 looks a lot like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Up close though, it’s a different story. While it does employ a plastic frame, the Nexus 4 also sports a glass back that, in certain light, seems to glitter.
As far as specifics are concerned, the Nexus 4 totes a 9.1mm design with a weight of 139 grams which means that it’s both thicker and heavier than some current-gen smartphone models, including the iPhone 5. Still, it’s thin enough not to cause a problem inside jean pockets and lightweight enough that it won’t feel like a drag when holding it in a hand.
Just to get an idea of the size of the Nexus 4, below is a photo showing it next to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the iPhone 5. The Nexus 4 from LG can be seen in the middle of those two devices.
As for the HTC M7, there are currently two potential design rumors. The first, is that it sports a unibody design made of aluminum. If true, that’s the same type of design found on the HTC One X, last year’s flagship.
Today however, a new school of thought emerged as a rumor claimed that the device may take on some of the same design qualities as the Droid DNA. The Droid DNA features soft-touch polycarbonate, which is much different than the metal back of the One X.
Specifics are unknown but look for HTC to keep the HTC M7 thin, as it did with the Droid DNA, and look for it to be fairly lightweight. Maybe not as light as a feather, but certainly not a brick.
LG, like most Android manufacturers did in 2012, outfitted the Nexus 4 with a large 4.7-inch display, same as the HTC One X, with 720p HD resolution. The Nexus 4 display may not be 1080p in quality, but it does have a high PPI count.
The Nexus 4 features 320 pixels-per-inch which makes for crisp images, video and text. The screen also feels spacious but not overbearing like the 5.5-inch display of the Galaxy Note 2.
Like all the other rumored 2013 smartphones, the HTC M7 is rumored to have a full HD 1080 display. Yet, unlike many of those displays, the HTC M7 display is said to be 4.7-inches in size, smaller than the rumored 5-inch displays on other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S4.
What’s more is that a new rumor suggests that it could have some startling resolution. It could be that HTC outfits the HTC M7 display with 1080 x 1920 display and 468 pixels-per-inch, an even higher PPI than the Droid DNA. If true, that could mean beautiful quality images and text, images and text that would more than likely blow the display of the Nexus 4 out of the water.
At the very least, given the Droid DNA’s display, 1080p resolution seems very likely.
The Nexus 4 includes two cameras that are both good but not spectacular. In other words, they’ll get the job done but don’t expect the cameras to win any best of awards.
On the front, the Nexus 4 has an 8MP camera that takes photos that are in some cases on par with the iPhone 5′s camera. A sample from the Nexus 4′s rear camera can be seen below.
On the back, it has a a 1.9MP front-facing camera that is good for video chatting with friends and colleagues.
This is another area where HTC might deliver a big blow as the HTC M7 is rumored to feature a 13MP camera in the rear and a 2MP camera in the front. The rear camera is rumored to be able to shoot 1080p video as well. HTC made it a point to offer high quality cameras in its devices last year, the HTC One X camera was one of the very best, and it would be surprising to see it slack with the M7′s cameras.
As we’ve said many times, mega-pixel count doesn’t meaning everything, but given HTC’s past, we expect the HTC M7 to deliver high-quality cameras, and potentially two of the best on Android for 2013.
Obviously, both of these devices include more than just a frame, a display and cameras. From processors to batteries, smartphones like the Nexus 4 and HTC M7 have much to offer consumers. Here, let’s take a closer look at some of the other specs and how they match up against one another.
First, the Nexus 4.
- 4.7-inch IPS Display 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
- 1.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor
- 8GB/16GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Camera
- 2100 mAh battery (Non-Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
- Wireless Charging
And now, the rumored HTC M7 specs.
- 4.7-inch 1080p Display
- 1.7GHz Quad-core Snapdragon Processor
- 32GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
- 13MP Camera/2MP Front-Facing
- 2,300 mAh Battery
- 2GB of RAM
The Nexus 4 does not have a removable battery or a microSD card slot. This means that users are stuck with the battery on board, which fortunately delivers good battery life, and either 8GB or 16GB of storage. And it’s looking like the same from the HTC M7 as it apparently will not come with a microSD card slot and if it does come with a unibody design, it won’t have a removable battery either.
Fortunately, unlike the Nexus 4, the HTC M7 appears to be coming with 32GB of storage space rather than 16GB or 8GB.
The HTC M7 will almost certainly have a quad-core processor and it’s possible that it will also have built-in wireless charging as the Droid DNA for Verizon comes with the feature readily available.
One of the best parts of the Nexus 4 is that it is a Nexus smartphone. This means that it’s a Google experience phone, and for many users, this is the way to go if buying Android. First, it means that it runs a vanilla version of Android, void of any user interface tweaking typically found on big name smartphones. Second, it means the Nexus 4 will always be one of the first devices to receive major Android updates, even the model that is carrier-locked to T-Mobile.
In addition, bug fix updates will come much quicker than a normal Android smartphone, like the HTC M7, which will more than likely see lengthy wait times due to carrier interference.
The Nexus 4 is also one of the first devices to run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Google’s latest version of Android. It brings a host of new features from Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and our favorites can be seen in the video below.
The HTC M7 is heavily rumored to feature Android Jelly Bean though the version remains unconfirmed. Android 4.1.2 is evidently being tested on it right now, but that could of course change by the time the HTC M7 makes it to shelves. HTC would be wise to, at the very least, include Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board, especially with Android 5.0 on the way.
It also won’t run a vanilla version of Android, and instead, will be running HTC Sense over the top. Rumor has it, it will be a new version of HTC Sense, presumably HTC Sense 5, that is said to be both simple and clean and tack on some new features including a new lock screen and simplified apps.
Another unique aspect of the Nexus 4 is how its carrier situation is set up. As we mentioned, there are two formats to the Nexus 4. The unlocked model, found in the Google Play Store and the T-Mobile carrier locked Nexus 4 that is sold through T-Mobile.
The locked model, the on-contract version for T-Mobile, runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network which is its fastest 4G network. A comparison between HSPA+ 42 data speeds, and 4G LTE data speeds can be seen in the video below.
HSPA+ 42 is fast, but in most cases, not as fast as LTE. And while T-Mobile will be offering 4G LTE sometime this year, the Nexus 4 likely won’t run on that network.
As for the unlocked Nexus 4, owners of this model will be able to run it on AT&T and T-Mobile without the need for a contract. For AT&T, the Nexus 4 will run on its HSPA+ 21 network and below while on T-Mobile, it can run on HSPA+ 42 and below. Users will need the proper SIM card in order to use the device on these networks. For more information on the network differences for the unlocked Nexus 4, see our comparison.
The HTC M7 on the other hand will likely be sold through the carriers that it arrives on and through third-party retailers, not Google. It will also likely run on the 4G LTE networks of wherever it arrives, including T-Mobile’s.
Thus far, we’ve heard that the device is being tested on Sprint’s 4G LTE network and AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all been mentioned as possible carriers. If true, that would be a much bigger launch than the HTC One X, which only arrived on AT&T.
Maybe the biggest draw to the Nexus 4, at least the unlocked version, is that it has an unbelievable price. While most unlocked smartphones are expensive, the Nexus 4 is a mere $299 for an 8GB Nexus 4 and $349 for a 16GB Nexus 4. Those prices, found through the Google Play Store, are virtually unbeatable for a device of the Nexus 4′s caliber.
That being said, because it’s sold out, those looking to get it in a timely manner have had to shell out for the device on sites like eBay where it is going for well over Google’s asking price.
The subsidized price for the Nexus 4 on T-Mobile is the familiar $199.99 on-contract, which is still a pretty good deal for a phone like the Nexus 4.
Thus far, no rumors have cropped up about the HTC M7 price though it would be odd to see HTC make it any less competitive than the $199.99 asking prices of both the Samsung Galaxy S3, and presumably the Galaxy S4, and the iPhone 5. $199.99 on-contract has been the sweet spot for high-end smartphones and at this point, that’s where we expect the HTC M7 price to land.