This week saw the Nexus 4 go on sale in the Google Play store only to quickly be sold out with more stock “coming soon”, according to Google. Many potential customers had signed up for notifications of the sale but never received any such communications. The ordering process wasn’t smooth for those who did see available stock either. And that’s a shame because after reviewing the Nexus 4, I think it’s the best unlocked Android phone at this price.
Even without LTE, the handset offers fast connectivity thanks to support for dual-carrier HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps. In the right coverage area, speeds nearing that of LTE have been reported: Approaching 30 Mbps down, for example. Of course, if you’re near Wi-Fi hotspots during much of your day, the lack of LTE becomes even less of an issue.
As far as the rest of the phone’s features and aspects: It offers extremely fast performance, comes with Android 4.2 right out of the box and has a much improved camera over its predecessor, the Galaxy Nexus. The screen is bright, vivid and crisp. With a full 2 GB of memory, you can run dozens of apps without any lag. And it shares much of its design with the Galaxy Nexus, but shows improvements: A thinner profile thanks to flat glass on the front and back, along with a more grippy surface on the sides. In short, it’s excellent, provided you don’t mind the 8 GB or 16 GB internal storage limitation.
Also looking very good is the Droid DNA, which was introduced earlier this week at a joint event held by Verizon and HTC. Most impressive is the 5-inch display, which uses a full 1080p resolution. I’ll have a full review forthcoming, but so far, I like what I see in the Droid DNA. Even with the large screen, the phone fits nicely in the hand and doesn’t feel to heavy. Like the Nexus 4, the Droid DNA uses a quad-core Snapdragon chip paired with 2 GB of memory. Android 4.1 is the base software with HTC Sense 4.0+ running atop it. So far, this too is a stellar performer, but I have some initial concerns about battery life.
Although these great phones are hitting the market, I’m still enjoying the Galaxy Note 2 that I purchased a few months ago. The 5.5-inch screen is great for every smartphone activity I can think of and I figured out how to add another one this week: watching live television. For $85, I added an HDHomeRun to my home network. The device is very simple: Inside the small box are two television tuners for digital broadcast television and an Ethernet port.
You simply connect the device to your home network router and to an antenna — I’m using a small non-amplified antenna — and you can pipe over the air digital broadcast television to practically any computer, tablet or smartphone in your home.
Just this week a new Android app called HomeRun TV launched for $2.99 in the Google Play store and it works perfectly on the Galaxy Note 2 with this setup. We have two HDTVs in the house, but they always seem to be in use when I want to watch something. Instead of spending hundreds on yet another television, for under $90, my Galaxy Note 2 — or any other Android device for that matter — can “be” an HDTV.