I was out of town when the Nexus 4 first went on sale. If I recall correctly, I was in New York City that day for a one-off HTC press event – the announcement of the DROID DNA. I wasn't able to stay up late the night before to hit the 3:00 AM EST window and buying a phone was the last thing on my mind, since I had to catch a plane at some ungodly hour in the morning.
I landed, took a taxi straight to the event, covered the event, shot a hands-on video, took some pictures, stopped by a FedEx and hopped on a plane back to Charlotte.
Needless to say, it was a chaotic day. And at some point between 3:00AM and finally getting home at 10:00 PM, the Nexus 4 sold out in the Play Store. Ever since November, the story of Nexus 4 availability has been bleak. T-Mobile had stock for a while, but was selling the device on-contract, and the unsubsidized price was $200 higher than that in Google Play. Not to mention, its stock levels were meager and unpredictable, at best.
There were no official updates on Google Play availability. Google pointed the finger at LG. LG denied there was even a supply issue. And wanting customers held their collective breath.
This Wednesday, after an excruciatingly long wait, the Nexus 4 came back in stock at Google Play. The minute I saw the news, I shot over to the Nexus 4 product page and placed my order without the slightest hint of hesitation.
Earlier this month, I had written off the Nexus 4 due to the supply issues. I figured it would be old news before we saw it return to the Play Store, so I planned to cut my losses and just buy the next Nexus phone. However, I said this just one day into my HTC DROID DNA challenge. After I returned to using two smartphones, I decided that two phones is no longer ideal – it's a messy solution a problem that doesn't really exist.
I thought long and hard about my ideal setup and narrowed it down to two pairs of devices that would eventually have to choose between: the Nexus 4 with my AT&T SIM and an iPad mini on Verizon or the iPhone 5 on Verizon and a Nexus 7 with my AT&T SIM. Ultimately, I decided the iPhone 5 and Nexus 7 combo wasn't going to work for me. The iPhone 5 is simply too small; I struggle with typing, pinching to zoom and virtually anything that requires any sort of accuracy with my thumb.
So the Nexus 4 and iPad mini it is.
I got lucky with timing and the Nexus 4 came back in stock just in time. I had not a doubt in my mind that it was the Android phone I wanted to carry as my daily driver.
It arrived just over an hour ago. When I took the Nexus 4 out of the box, it immediately felt wonderful in the hand. The build quality is nothing short of superb, though I have heard many horror stories of the glass panel on the back cracking at the slightst bump, so I saved myself the heartache by covering it with a vinyl skin with a carbon fiber design.
I removed the SIM from my Galaxy Note II and popped it in the Nexus 4. I spent about 30 minutes setting it up – logging into my Gmail accounts, updating the software, etc. But it only took a couple seconds after powering on the display to realize just how large of a jump in display size there is between the Note II and Nexus 4. Sure, on paper its easy to see these two are at the opposite ends of the high-end Android spectrum. The Note II has a 5.5-inch display while the Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch display. But that difference doesn't truly sink in until you're holding the two devices side by side.
One year ago, 4.7-inches was considered quite large. The original Galaxy Note had only been around for a few months, but it was the only recognizable smartphone larger than 5-inches. 4.7-inches was the standard. Fast forward to the present and that standard has increased to 5-inches, and 4.7-inch phones are comparably tiny. Not to mention, the Nexus 4 has on-screen buttons versus the dedicated buttons found on essentially every other current, high-end smartphone.
After using the Galaxy Note II for so long (and temporarily using the 5-inch HTC DROID DNA), the Nexus 4 feels miniature.
Sure, I've also been using the iPhone 5, so you may be thinking, "If you also use the iPhone 5, why does the Nexus 4 feel so small?" The answer is quite simple. It's a context switch. I'm used to iPhones being small. I'm used to using iOS on a device that I consider to be too small for my personal preference. After using Android on 5-inch (or larger) smartphones, I got comfortable with the size.
Using the Nexus 4 alongside the Galaxy Note II makes the Nexus 4 feel approximately the same size as the iPhone 5. Its chassis is much closer in size to the iPhone 5 than the Note II (and so is the display, technically). Icons look tiny and browsing the Web feels noticeably cramped. I like the phone, though, and this is something I'm going to have to get used to. There is no way I need a Galaxy Note II if I will soon be carrying an iPad mini in lieu of the iPhone 5.
I imagine this is not unlike overcoming the size difference when downsizing from an SUV to a more eco-friendly car … of even a sports car.
None of this is to say the Nexus 4 is a bad device. Nothing of the sort, actually. I'm already falling in love with it and stock Jelly Bean 4.2.1. That said, it's truly mind boggling how using a phablet for three months can change your perception of what would be a normal smartphone. For me to say the Nexus 4 is a tiny device is absurd – I know that. But that is exactly how my brain is processing the data.
Have you struggled to transition to a smaller phone after using one of the larger Android smartphones for a time? Did you find the transition easy to deal with? Or was it more difficult than you expected? This is the second time I have and, already, I can definitively say it was easier the first time around.