Today, Google announced 2 new devices, and an update to the Android mobile operating system. They also announced an update to their 7" tablet, the Nexus 7. However, I can't but help feel miffed at the updates. I probably wont be getting any of them. <!–more–>
The nexus 4 is an update to Google's nexus line of phone's, replacing the Galaxy Nexus as the flagship Android device. While this is technically an upgrade, in some statistics, it is lacking in several key statistics. I will not be purchasing one, partially of my own choice, and partially because I cannot use the device on Verizon Wireless.
Google missed an important chance to simplify mobile device selection. They could have released one device with a radio that covers every currently used mobile spec, as Apple has done with the iPhone 5. This has numerous advantages, for both developer and consumer.
Developers need to target fewer variations of a single device, which is a plus, and for testing their products across different networks, a single phone can be swapped between networks with ease. While it wouldn't make a significant impact in the fragmentation problem of Android, it would help.
As for consumers, allowing them to purchase a single device, unlocked, that worked on multiple networks, would greatly simplify their options, as well as ensuring everyone has access to a standardized device. A very large percentage of the United States mobile market is on CDMA-based carriers, such as Verizon and Sprint, as well as MVNOs, such as Virgin. These users cannot use this device. This is, in many ways, a downgrade from the Galaxy Nexus, which had multiple CDMA models (Toro and Toro+), and has had the best network coverage of any Android device to date. For those of us on Verizon with a Galaxy Nexus, Google has effectively left us no nexus-based upgrade path.
People may interject that this is due to the way Verizon handled the nexus, delaying its launch, providing little-to-no advertising, directing sales reps to steer consumers towards other phones, and delaying Android updates for months. But in this war between Verizon and Google, the consumers lose.
Wouldn't it have been better for Google to allow consumers to purchase a device, and then take it to their carriers and get it on the network. According to FCC regulations, the carriers, particularly Verizon, are required to comply with such requests.
No SD Card
Neither the Galaxy Nexus nor the Nexus S had SD card slots. It isn't as big a problem with either phone because they have 32GB options available. But the Nexus 4 is only availble in 16GB variations, which puts a high dependency on online storage services, something that, as carriers add more and more mobile data restrictions, is even less appealing. The lack of SD card on all but the first nexus devices is a flaw, but here it is a particularly sore point.
No removable battery
The lack of a removable battery seems to break tradition with the previous nexus devices, which almost proudly allowed their users to purchase larger and larger batteries to extend their device lengths. With a removable battery, you cannot do this. You are effectively shackled to the existing battery, which, according to specs, isn't that big, and probably won't have a very long life.
Also, with the new induction-based charging pad, there is a higher chance people are going to cycle their battery more often, which will shorten the life of the battery, resulting in diminishing battery across the life of the device.
All previous nexuses, except for a few Nexus 1 devices, have had OLED displays. These displays have extremely good color gamuts, and are known for their vividness. They also have extremely low energy usage, important on a mobile device with limited battery capacities. The most power-hungry part of a mobile device is the display, and every ounce of energy efficiency is important.
OLED displays have a minor Achilles heel, their use of the Pentile pixel matrix, which is purported to reduce resolution and make images appear fuzzy and blurry. I feel that this is mostly the efforts of a FUD campaign by purported experts, as I have no troubles with the display on my nexus, and can easily read agar-sized fonts.
I have no issues with the Nexus 10 device, it truly looks remarkable. However, I cannot afford to get one, and my current tablet, an original Wifi Xoom, suits me well enough for its uses, mainly web browsing and book reading. But it really feels like Google has dropped the ball regarding the Nexus 4. It appears that a hit-skip pattern is starting to emerge with the nexus devices, where every odd device is great and every even device is mediocre. I will be keeping my Galaxy Nexus till a worthwhile update is released, whenever that may be.