Despite it being a phone from 2012, the LG-made Nexus 4 figures to be a staple on the Android smartphone market for much of 2013. That means that it will be competing against the likes of the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, but also high-end devices like the Sony Xperia Z, which unlike the One and Galaxy S4, has already touched down on shelves.
In November, Google released the first LG-made Nexus, the Nexus 4, a device that replaced the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as the company’s current-generation developer smartphone. And while Nexus devices have proven popular with consumers in the past, Google did not foresee the type of demand that came with the Nexus 4 release.
Shortly after its arrival on the Google Play Store and at T-Mobile, the Nexus 4 was completely sold out. It’s a place where the device would remain until about a month into 2013 due to what LG said was a miscalculation by Google in regards to the demand for the device. In other words, Google did not order enough Nexus 4′s to meet demand.
While Google has never admitted it, the Nexus 4 did see intense supply shortages that kept it off shelves for the holiday season, and make it a phone that was both difficult to find and expensive.
Earlier this year, the company finally turned things around and since January, the Nexus 4 has been available not only through the Google Play Store, but through arenas like T-Mobile, Walmart, and Best Buy as well. This availability has transformed it into a much more attractive device as consumers don’t have to wait or pay inflated prices for the privilege of owning one.
It also means that the Nexus 4 is now a viable competitor to other smartphones, smartphones like the recently released Sony Xperia Z.
At CES 2013, Sony took the curtain down around its flagship smartphone for the first half of the year. The device is the Sony Xperia Z, a smartphone that features current-generation features like a 1080p display, quad-core processor, modern design, 13MP camera, and more. Translation, it’s an extremely enticing smartphone.
However, despite its high-end features, there are areas where the Nexus 4 beats the Sony Xperia Z. In fact, there are six key areas where LG’s Nexus bests Sony’s current flagship.
Here are now six ways that the Nexus 4 beats the Sony Xperia Z.
The Nexus 4, unlike the Sony Xperia Z, is a developer phone. This is what the name ‘Nexus’ stands for. What this means is that the device will be supported by Google who of course is the company behind the Android operating system which powers both the Xperia Z and Nexus 4.
This has its benefits as it means that the Nexus 4 will always be among the first to get not only major Android updates, but also smaller bug fix updates as well. That’s because the updates come directly from Google rather than from Sony or from a carrier hosting the Xperia Z.
Typically, devices like the Xperia Z, non-Nexus devices, have to wait several months before getting access to major Android updates and subsequent bug fixes.
For instance, the Nexus 4 remains one of the only devices running Google’s latest operating system, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It will also be one of the first to get Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie. The Xperia Z on the other hand will always have to wait for bug fixes and these big Android updates, something that makes the Nexus 4 extremely appealing.
Pure Vanilla Android
Another nice thing about the Nexus 4 is that because it’s a Nexus smartphone, it features a pure Google Experience when it comes to Android. Typically, this is referred to as vanilla Android because it is void of manufacturer skins and user interfaces. Many Android users prefer this type of Android not only due to its looks but because manufacturer skins can often lead to sluggishness and poor battery life due to their features.
The Sony Xperia Z does not feature a pure vanilla version of Android. Instead, it has a Sony Xperia skin over the top of it that makes it different looking than Android found on the Nexus 4. That means differences in the camera app, app drawer and more.
Its skin isn’t as intrusive as Xperia UI’s in the past, in fact Sony has not even given it a name, but regardless, it’s still there and it’s still going to offer a bit more clutter and bloatware than some buyers might like.
Those who have used Nexus devices can tell you that the look and feel of vanilla Android is virtually unmatched and it’s a reason why enthusiasts always are clamoring for high-end non-Nexus devices with vanilla Android.
Finally, one other software benefit that the Nexus 4 has over the Sony Xperia Z is the fact that Google likes to keep its smartphones updated with the latest software. For instance, the Nexus S was upgraded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a software update that came far past its release date. And given that the Nexus 4 has powerful hardware on board, including a quad-core processor with lots of RAM, owners should expect the Nexus 4 to stay updated for years to come.
Those buying the Sony Xperia Z aren’t guaranteed that kind of support. Sony, which released a number of Xperia devices in 2011, decided to keep them all on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich instead of updating them to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
This, and rightfully so, caused a furor amongst owners who had figured they would get another big time Android update during the course of their two year contracts.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Sony will drop the ball with the Xperia Z, it does mean that there is a good chance that the Nexus 4 will outlast the Xperia Z in terms of software update making it more appealing for the long haul.
Built-in Wireless Charging
The Sony Xperia Z offers impressive hardware but there is one feature that the Xperia Z doesn’t have that the Nexus 4 does have and that’s built-in wireless charging.
LG bestowed built-in wireless charging upon the Nexus 4 which means that owners don’t have to buy a wireless charging kit and can simply buy a wireless charging dock, like the one made by LG, and charge their Nexus 4 without the need for wires. This means that owners can avoid the clutter of cords and easily charge their device next to their bed at night.
The Sony Xperia Z not only doesn’t feature built-in wireless charging, but it also doesn’t have a removable back which would allow for owners to use a wireless charging kit.
This means that those who are looking to wireless charger their Xperia Z are completely out of luck, unless some type of hack is discovered though given its design, that appears unlikely.
One of the reasons that the Nexus 4 is so popular is because of its price.
The unlocked Nexus 4 runs for $299 for a 8GB model and $349 for a 16GB model on the Google Play Store. Those prices are untouchable and they are a reason why the device proven popular amongst consumers. For comparison’s sake, a 16GB unlocked iPhone 5 costs $649 through Apple, a much steeper price tag.
Those that don’t want the unlocked Nexus 4 can snag the T-Mobile Nexus 4. And while it’s on-contract, the device is also much cheaper than most other T-Mobile smartphones. The carrier typically offers it for $199.99 on-contract but we’ve seen it drop the price to as low as free.
Consumers in the United States looking to snag either the Sony Xperia Z, which doesn’t run LTE or the Sony Xperia ZL, which looks like it is capable, will have to pay a hefty fee for the unlocked models. The devices likely won’t arrive on any of the big carriers in the U.S. which means on-contract pricing won’t likely be available.
Already we’ve seen pricing over $800 and that doesn’t even include shipping and handling. Those who had heavier pockets may not find that to be a big deal but those looking to save money will likely want to take a closer look at the Nexus 4 and its premium unlocked price tag.
Better Customer Service
Finally, the last area where the Nexus 4 beats the Sony Xperia Z is in the customer service department. Many of those buying the Xperia Z or Xperia ZL in the U.S. will buy through a third-party retailer which won’t be able to deliver the kind of customer service that a company like Google can.
For example, retailer GSMNation is selling the Sony Xperia Z to customers in the United States. Their policy is similar to many other retailers. The phone will see a year warranty from the OEM, in this case Sony, but GSMNation is absolved of the purchase after a short period of time meaning owners will have to go through Sony directly. This could be a lengthy process and one that takes the phone out of a users hands for a number of days.
Those who purchase the Nexus 4 through Google Play will not only get a year warranty, but they’ll also get access to customer support from both LG and Google.
Those who purchase the Nexus 4 through T-Mobile will not only be able to talk to LG but also T-Mobile as well if a problem arises. T-Mobile also has physical retail locations, something that Sony and third-party retailers don’t have.
In other words, importing the Xperia Z and having to solve an issue could prove to be a hassle and time consuming ordeal. Should a problem arise with the Nexus 4, the issue will likely be much easier to deal with.