6 Ways the Nexus 4 Beats the Sony Xperia Z

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.

Read: 6 Ways the Sony Xperia Z Beats the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

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.

The Nexus 4 is Google's latest Nexus.

The Nexus 4 is Google’s latest Nexus.

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.

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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.

The Sony Xperia Z has finally arrived on shelves.

The Sony Xperia Z has finally arrived on shelves.

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.

Quicker Updates

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.

Guaranteed Longevity

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.

android-key-lime-pie-evolution-of-android-640x128-575x1151

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie and beyond will come to the Nexus 4.

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.

Nexus 4 Wireless Charger Review - 07

The Nexus 4 features built-in wireless charging. The Xperia Z doesn’t.

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.

Price

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.

The Nexus 4 features a cheaper unlocked price.

The Nexus 4 features a cheaper unlocked price.

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.

LG Nexus 4 unboxing

The Nexus 4 features higher quality customer service.

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.

  

Comments

  1. Ken says

    Hmmm I wonder if the author did some research at all before writing this up. 3 Points are almost completely invalid to go against the Xperia Z.

    - Pure Vanilla Update is completely subjective. Sony’s been shaving away alot of their skins, only putting in their services apps at most. Some are even welcome, say the Album app that actually uses touchscreen to the user’s benefits. This point is really up to the user’s like. Also, if you haven’t noticed, all benchmarks across multiple sites have the Z beating the Nexus 4 easily when they both used the exact same chipset. So Pure Vanilla doesn’t mean it’s better, why? because it doesn’t mean the OS is optimized by it’s manufacturer. Sony, though having slower updates, does manage to optimize the OS much better than Google, yielding better results.

    - Price. You have to know that the Nexus 4 is built by LG. They’re known for their sub-par quality of devices, hence low durability. That’s why the price is much lower than all competitors. Consumers who want Xperia Z with LTE and HSPA+ have 2 options. They can go for the C6602 Model which supports HSPA+ for both AT&T and Tmobile. They can also opt for the C6606 model that supports BOTH HSPA+ and LTE for BOTH AT&T and Tmobile. So the US people are not limited to just the C6603 model, which isn’t where it’s being sold or targeted.

    - Customer Service. Like I said above, the Xperia Z will be offered in the US. So users are not left with importing some model that isn’t supported. They will get one of the 2 models from the official channel in the US market. Sony DOES have the Sony Store after all. Therefore, the warranty point is completely negated.

    If the argument is that you’d have to send your device to Sony for warranty. You should know that Sony pays for the shipping for any device under warranty, and they provide excellent service from my past experiences. So you pay $0 with all liability.They even give freebies for the trouble (accessories). So I’m left with only 3 points that the Nexus 4 have the upper edge on, but the Z alone has many more points that can edge the Nexus 4 hands down.

    • Bjorn says

      100% agree on that reply, Ken.
      The writer seems to be to much nexus biased.
      Always try to keep a neutral balance when comparing.
      I have read maybe 20 different reviews on both phones and Adam Mills seems to have read nothing.
      This article is worthless!

    • daas88 says

      LG offers subpar quality products? Disagree. LG phones might not have the best design and sometimes get buggy software(fortunately there’s cyanogen mod for that), but they make sturdy and durable phones. I have an LG Optimus 2x, which is very old, but for instance the case and screen is better than the HTC one s, Sony xperia u, which are newer but with similar specs. And though I haven’t seen the xperia Z in person, I can compare the nexus 4 to the sgs3 and it beats it hands down in performance.

      • Ken says

        Optimus 2x is a high-end phone at the time. You can’t compare that to the One S or Xperia U that are low ends. Their screen size are not even the same. Compare the Optimus 2x to the Ion or Xperia S/Acro S if you want a fair comparison.

    • Jon Do says

      Ken don’t worry, Adam sounds like a huge Nexus fanboy, just consider this whole thing as bias, and pass over it. No wonder, gottabemobile is sub-par, just like LG’s build quality.

  2. Nex'd Out says

    Calm down there.

    Fact: Sony literally announced that they wont be updating their 2011 devices. Thats just what happens when you buy Sony. At least the Nexus devices will be supported for years.

    People want phones with longevity which is probably the best point Adam made. Phones arent cheap, and people want their OEM’s to give updates, and have lot of accessories etc. Which if you have ever bought a Sony device, you’ll realize the variety is so small. The Nexus 4 already has a lot of variety in the Play Store itself.

  3. abu afak says

    The only way Nexus is better is … it’s AVAILABLE.
    Sony has not’ released or even announced a sale/presale date in the USA.
    Remarkably, the S4 may beat it to market.

    Stunning incomptetence

  4. John says

    Well it’s hard to find a positive review of Sony products from U.S.-based authors. It’s significant that this author gave a lot of weak reasons favoring the Nexus over the Z, mostly having to do with software updates he assumes will happen more frequently with Nexus because Google makes Android.
    As for concrete reasons, there’s the Xperia Z’s stunning 1080 display that Livemint (a division of WSJ), a UK site, says beats even Apple’s Retina. And unlike other larger phones, the UK reviewer says the Z is “so sleek and the overall design so good the phone doesn’t look or feel bulky”–which addresses the issues people have with bigger phones. Not only that, but it’s also waterproof “without being heavy”. Not that it’s just about design. The Livemint writer says it’s a great gaming phone that plays 3D shooters smoothly, thanks to its powerful graphics engine.
    I think these are more solid reasons than those relating to software support and updates. The best reason that the Z outclasses its competition is that its sleek and beautiful like the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Nexus but, being made of fiberglass and high-quality plastics, as well as being waterproof, it’ll give you peace of mind knowing you can take it through a rainstorm, drop it in the toilet or on the sidewalk and it’ll probably be fine.

  5. JKH says

    Poorly written article – that really only makes one point – the nexus is better because Google make the software too. Wait, isnt that Apple’s business plan?

  6. Danial says

    What the hell!!This article is obviously wrong…It says that the Nexus 4 beats Sony Xperia Z by 6 reasons..but they didnt told us that Sony Xperia Z beats LG Nexus 4 by many ways…e.g.
    1)Better camera which is 13MP while Nexus 4 has 8MP only
    2)Water and dust resistant
    3)Better design
    4)Has expandable memory slot up to 32gb
    5)Bigger and better screen display
    6)Have body protection such as the body which is made from material that is made for making cars
    7)Better music quality such as the Sony 3D Surround Sound

    And more!!!Come on guys,just admit that now Sony is one of the best phone manufacturer ever!

  7. Paul says

    Who ever said LG are sub par do have not got a clue, they are top notch, just because mobile phones are not their first port of call it does not make them sub par. The phones are very similar but is the Sony worth the extra cash?, I have seen no reason to splash out for the extra unless you use it for picture editing and like to store loads of data on your phone, then maybe the Sony will be better. Otherwise why not just go straight to google with the LG Nexus?

  8. deem says

    Yes that’s correct, because my opinion (which has been replicated in other reviews) doesn’t match yours, I am automatically a ‘troll’

    If I had anything further ‘negative’ to say I would have added it in my initial post.

  9. Ken says

    By using the word “garbage” just gives out the hint. Some reviews give the Z a good review on the screen, some don’t. The Z comes with many batches of display, and some site got the bad one. Some Z lots comes with the JDI display (which isn’t the good one), while most comes with the Sharp (which is better). Early batches will receive the JDI lot. To say without any foundation of evidence, and using a word that overly exaggerates the truth like “garbage” is what a troll comes from.

  10. deem says

    I couldn’t give a single toss about different batches, the z WHICH I AM USING TO TYPE THIS MESSAGE (hint this is evidence) has pathetic colour reproduction.

    It is garbage in that respect.

  11. Ken says

    So saying so would prove that you have a device? Plus, if you didn’t like it, why don’t you return/exchange it for something else? Why are you keeping it? Keep a phone just to talk trash about it? That sounds contradicting to me.

  12. Ken says

    It’s cuter that you disagree people calling you a troll, and now you name me a Sony worker for just contradicting you. That’s “cute” :)

  13. Ken says

    It’s not an official site, smart man :) Try to gather more evidence next time before accusing anyone.

  14. deem says

    Its cute that you are all upset, Sony worker are we? Dampen down any negative comments…

    And don’t worry, I will be selling it and replacing it. Good to get a proper use of a handset first though don’t you think? Especially as the next 2 most popular android handsets haven’t been released yet.

    You can’t replace with something that isn’t available Ken.

  15. deem says

    Moquery, please take this as constructive criticism, but I didn’t write this review.

    I left a comment on it.

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