Is this the phone that will usher the Android platform into 2013? If so, it might be a rocky year for Google’s mobile platform.
Belarussian tech site Onliner managed to get its hands on the rumored LG Nexus 4 (or LG Optimus Nexus, depending on whom you ask) and posted photos of the device. This appears to be a legitimate leak. October 29th is the rumored launch date for this phone and it makes sense that near-final versions would be getting into the hands of tech bloggers at this stage.
The LG device, whatever it ends up being officially named, will be the first Nexus phone (the designation given to Android’s flagship phones–at least in terms of software) since last fall’s Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Though the LG Nexus 4 (we’re going to go with that name) certainly looks like it will compete in terms of specs–(it’s expected to have a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 display–it’s the design of the phone that has everyone talking–and the response has not been positive.
We’ve seen some very pretty new phone designs in recent weeks. The iPhone 5 wasn’t a large departure from the look and feel of the iPhone 4 and 4S, but there’s no denying that Apple’s industrial design is still top-of-the-line. The glass and aluminum used in iPhones makes them look and feel like premium devices.
Over in the Windows Phone 8 world, recent phones like the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X both represented a major step forward in terms of color, shape and overall design–they were the first phones in a while to deserve to be called “sexy.” Though the operating system itself might not have nearly the same kind of momentum as Android, the refreshing design of Windows Phone 8 devices could start to turn the tide.
The LG Nexus 4, however, brings almost nothing new to the table in terms of design. The front face of the phone looks almost exactly like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the back is extremely underwhelming. It looks like more of the same rounded, textured and cheap plastic that we’ve seen time and time again on Android phones. There’s nothing at all inspiring about the look or feel of this device.
Why wouldn’t Google, in partnership with LG, aim a little higher here? Perhaps Google is still hesitant to take on its partners and make the Nexus series the true flagship line of Android phones. There are are few who would dispute that the stock Android experience that’s only available on Nexus phones is the best Android experience from a software perspective (and quite possibly the best mobile operating experience overall). However, it appears that Google isn’t ready (or is unable) to try to compete with the Samsungs and HTCs of the world in terms of hardware design.
In the end, software is far more important than hardware and the new Nexus device, however uninspiring its design may be, is likely to become one of the very best phones on the market. Still, it’s disappointing that such a great software experience can’t be paired with equally great hardware.