Nexus 4 design flaws revealed by internal shot, battery might be easily replaceable after all

by: AdrianNovember 5, 2012

Credit: @nerdtalker, Anandtech

LG and Google’s Nexus 4 is all everyone’s talking about lately, but, with so many great things going for it, it was only a matter of time until people started finding the 4.7-incher some faults. After all, you can’t make a quad-core super-phone with Android 4.2 on board available for $300 and not sacrifice something, right?

But while we already knew about the lack of 4G LTE speeds, microSD support and the non-removable battery, one major concern that seems to only arise now refers to a possible mediocre build quality. The guys over at XDA Developers analyzed an internal shot of the Nexus 4 and found that design flaws overwhelm the strong points.

Though it is obviously far too early to give out any build quality verdict – with the phone still not being up for grabs – the observations seem to be mostly valid, so let’s dig in.

Out of the four design minuses noticed by XDA, the biggest cause for concern is probably the “lack of impact zones”, meaning that the Nexus 4, as it is built, might be more fragile than the average smartphone.

It’s definitely not recommended to drop your mobile device (that is, if you don’t have Darcy LaCouvee’s bizarre hobbies), but if the Nexus 4 does happen to slip your hands, impacts might alter the “physical structure of the board, causing components to come loose”. Oh, well, you can always protect the phone with a case, right?

Credit: @nerdtalker, Anandtech

Another design flaw that XDA found is the using of spring antenna connections, which can easily cause signal losses on the long haul. This is an issue that won’t be noticeable firsthand, but that might plague Nexus 4 users once the phone will age or after an unfortunate drop or impact due to warping of back plates and loss of tensions between them and the board.

The using of tape instead of structure and shielding might be another thing to make the Nexus 4’s internals look a bit cheap, being messy and leaving residue on components. This is definitely another reason for concern on the long run, especially if the tape comes off.

The fourth and last design minus noticed by XDA is one we already knew about – the non-removable battery. The phone’s robustness can definitely be affected if you try to change the battery, but hey, that is to be expected. After all, Google and LG don’t want you to take it off, so why would they make it easy for you?

Then again, as one Reddit user found, the Nexus 4’s battery might not be impossible to replace after all, requiring the simple use of a screwdriver and some basic handy work. Of course, the fragility issue stands, not to mention that it’ll be very difficult to find a spare battery for the phone.

Still, it is nice to hear that, come an emergency situation when, say, your battery is fried and your warranty void, you might just be able to do something to save the day. Happy to hear that? How about the supposed design flaws found by XDA, are they really reason for concern? Do you think that LG will do something about those before the Nexus 4 will see the light of day?

  • aatifsumar

    I think its only fair that you point out that the person who originally took those shots was @nerdtalker from Anandtech and give him due credit. I simply shared my Twitter conversation with him where he posted the shots.

    • Adrian Diaconescu

      Done! Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Tim Spansow

    Damnit LG you had ONE JOB!

  • The phone is a quad core, android 4.2 powerhouse with a screen that trumps any screen of any phone on the market. This article just goes to show how petty and arrogant people can be. The iphone 5 has great build quality, im sure, yet it has been plagued with nothing but problems. People are just afraid and in denial that a device this amazing could be so cheap. I dont think it has any other reason than thats just how amazing google is. Apple used to hold the crown and now theyre failing. And im glad. IOS is shit. Google is the future. And my Nexus 4 order will be placed as soon as the window opens on November 13.

    • Dwayne_Chapman

      “Trumps any screen of any phone on the market” you do know the HTC J Butterfly is on the market and this phones screen does not trump that. Probably not the One X either.

      • trhtrhtr

        A higher ppi does not equal to a better screen quality. 260ppi for a phone is already good enough, unless you use your phone 2cm away from your eyes. And we have not yet seen the display of the Galaxy S4. So hold your horses.

        • Dwayne_Chapman

          Go read any hands on review of the J Butterfly.

      • I don’t even include HTC when I make my personal choices on android. I had the inspire 4G and I absolutely despise HTC Sense. HTC is the only company I’ve found that managed to make the most beautiful os in the world look like shit.

        • Xia Zhu

          I actually LOVED Sense… once you get used to it, it’s very intuitive… I had a REALLY hard time getting used to my GNex after coming from an HTC Desire… until I found Swiftkey on sale

          • Every HTC phone looks the exact same to me. I had a galaxy nexus and I loved it. Samsung has always been my first hardware choice. The s2 and the s3 are two of the most amazing phones I’ve ever used. But I don’t know what it is about HTC that I just hate. I just cannot like Sense.

          • Andy2

            TouchWiz is lame compared to Sense. I do like S3’s hardware specs and it’s ability to remove batteries and the expansion SD slot, but TouchWiz absolutely suck as a UI.

        • Dwayne_Chapman

          So then you disregard the quality of its screen because you personally don’t like the skin? That’s fine but its still on the market.

        • Andy2

          Anthony, you talk too much and you’re an idiot. HTC Sense is by far the BEST UI for Andriod. Were it not for Sense, I’d not be using andriod phones. HTC FTW!

      • arcwindz

        Phablet, not phone. If it was a phone the J would be an enticing one. But well, it’s not, nexus 4 it is lol

      • Riley

        Yes, but I wouldnt even take the J Butterfly into play considering it’s a Japan only phone, and i dont live in Japan. I also still wouldnt agree with Anthony considering that almost every review claims that the colors lean towards the cool side, and seem a bit washed. The One X looks crisp, but i have never been much of a fan of HTC. Also, the vanilla android is pretty much a must, which HTC does not have on the ONE X.

        • Dwayne_Chapman

          Ok you don’t live in Japan and that’s fine but guess what the Nexus 4 isn’t even shipping yet!

          • Riley

            And that is why ill wait until it DOES start shipping.

      • didibus

        Well, it’s only in the market in Japan.

    • Nessim

      I totally agree with u bro! but what’s wrong about giving us some of those info?!
      I’m not living un the US neither in Europe and where I’m there’s not even 3G.
      I was worried about the microSD slot and I was very very disapointed even if US customers dont give a shit about that…
      I was really hesitating for a Nexus4 16GB but after what I read in XDA forum and here… I Can assure you I’ll get a Galaxy S3 or Note2…
      Maybe a Nexus next year or a very cheap and used Galaxy Nexus.

      • I have a galaxy S3. I’m on it right now. Dont get me wrong, I love my S3. But pure Android is an experience I can’t find anywhere else. And i am switching for the nexus 4. I have been through a countless number of android phones, and let let me tell you, LTE is nice, but I always have WiFi so I don’t care. The nexus 4 is a beast. And I can not wait for it.

        • didibus

          I feel the same. No phone had been as awesome as my time with my Nexus One. There is something about the vanilla OS, and the updates they bring to it that is just wonderful. I admire Samsung, it is making really great phones, so is HTC, and I would probably get an HTC or Samsung if it ran Vanilla Android, and was assured to get prompt updates on all it’s future versions, but it does not, so here comes Nexus 4 and I hope that the people on XDA are wrong about the build quality.

    • Paul

      Listen, it’s expected they had to cut manufacturing corners somewhere in order to meet the price point. We can’t expect the world of this device and the build quality to smoke that of $500 of $600 phones, just isn’t going to happen. You don’t expect a $200 Nexus 7 to beat a $600 iPad, why would you expect a $300 Nexus 4 to beat a $600 Note II or SGS3 or HTC One X+ or even the Optimus G. What makes this phone great is that if in 6 to 8 months you’ve dropped it too many times and it’s failing, you can pick up another super cheap and no contract, vs spending the same $300 on a Note II and being locked into a 2 year agreement and having to spend twice as much to buy a replacement Note II out of contract. Consider the phone semi-disposable. The Nexus 4 isn’t a ‘flagship’ phone, but it’s not priced to be, it’s a ‘damn good phone for a damn good price’ and there you go. So tape, no impact zones, etc. is expected, they had to cut costs, it’s a given. But if using the phone for developing or occasional use, it’ll last a while, if using it daily and heavily, by the time you break it, you can pick up another at a good price and keep on going. At least all your data is mostly stored online.

      • But I own a nexus 7. And it does in fact perform better than an iPad. The iPad is a large iPhone and its complete shit.

      • Sheldon

        Good points, I’d imagine that since google worked so closly with LG, and the Nexus line is literally their flagship representing the company itself, Google would have done some rather long term QA over all and extensive testing.
        I would not imagine they would want to take the risk of their devices all failing after say 6 months, even though its only a 300 dollar device, the sh*t storm (ala iphone antenna) that it would cause I think would cause them far to much bad publicity as well as “we told you so” from the apple peanut galary.

        Id be interested to see the actual build on Nov 13th, these tester/review units may be quiet different from what we actually get on Nov 13th, especially now that attention has been brought to this as well.

    • There are more than just specs. i would rather have something that isn’t quite as powerful and flashy, but with better internal build quality.

  • Zeals

    Damn it Google, you design a beautiful phone that people don’t want to cover up with a case, that’s also extremely fragile, and with an easily crackable back panel as well apparently : Hopefully these are flaws only found on these early review devices, but I wouldn’t keep my fingers crossed.

    • drsd

      But it’s only 300 dollars, with no contract. If you’re really worried, buy a see through case or something.

    • Rahul Kerur

      U do know that both the front and back are Gorilla Glass 2

      • EducatedToPerform

        Josh from The Verge had his smash on first drop, and mentioned that Rubin had a broken screen on his too.

        • Bludshotta

          Hairline crack on the back of Josh from The Verge’s unit, and he alluded to the same thing on Rubin’s. Smashed seems to indicate that there were multiple cracks on the back, which was not the case.

    • ANCYouthLeague

      the only way to tell the true quality of this phone is when it has been in the market for at least 3 months. These articles are unrealistic because they don’t test the phones properly on a day to day basis.

  • at the rate people change phones, especially unblocked (contract free), users likely won’t reach the point where they will notice these – read, springs in the antenna and tape for protection. I think it actually makes sense, excluding the small impact zones, if the objective is to save costs. The iPhone 5 costs 1000 dollars unblocked, this one costs 349, what were people expecting? A miracle?

  • TNM

    My only concern is that LG intends to sell the Nexus4 for 599 in other markets where Google Play is not available.

    So, we of course agree that for a pricetag of 299 the phone may even be more fragile as, say, the Optimus G. But once the price goes up, and it does in alot of places, it becomes a problem.

    So yea, i think this is a flaw, both the spring-antennas and the casing. Battery, not so much, build in batteries are planned obsolecense after all, 800 cycles are maybe 2,5 years of usage.

  • louis kurian

    This is a product to fail. Whatsoever the deal breakers are insufficient internal memory with lack of memory card slot. Nexus 4 is clearly useless for a normal person. Google trying to attract users with the handset’s CPU and RAM. But we know this will not grip as Nexus 7,10 tablets grip. I am a proud owner of Nexus 7 but feel so sad on looking at Nexus 4.

    Google is going to spoil its reputation by partering with LG for Nexus 4 release. The reason is unrealistic price.

    • ANCYouthLeague

      unrealistic pricing? what are you talking about? you know that most phones cost a fraction of their actual price and that if anything this is the first phone to be actually priced properly in terms the standard profit margins in the electronics industry? Apple came up with a system of ripping customers off by overpricing the iphone so that customers have no choice but to get into terrible contracts. But here you have google working to break that system and give the power back to the customer and somehow they are the bad guys? I don’t get it.

    • PreachJohn

      Now that over 3 years have passed with my Nexus 4, rooted and LTE, LP 5.1.1, I have to say that It’s still a very good phone. No pressing need yet to buy up. Likely Nexus 5 or 5x will do.
      And I will upgrade to Marshmallow, as the specs are easily up to snuff. The problem right now being so many ROMs available to choose from.
      Of course I protected the so impractical glass back with a 2-part cheap case off E-bay and the screen with Ghost Armor. Investments that I made into the phone that it turns out have paid off.
      For my original $300, I got a whale of a deal all things considered.

  • Rajiv Jathan

    I seriously was curious about this!!! and then we have this dissection done here!!!
    Arrgh LG still sucks at build quality also a concern is the battery life, I have heard a lot of overheating of the LG batteries. dunno if it could be trusted.

  • Trevor

    Please help me, will the simcard in my iphone 4s fit into the Nexus 4?? please anyone

    • ANCYouthLeague

      don’t worry. you can go to your provider and get a sim card that fits for free. so no need to stress about this at all.

  • Let the drop tests decide whether its fragile or not.

    • AdamOutler

      TheVerge met with Andy Rubin. It was noted in the Verge’s video that the back cover broke on not only their phone, but was broken on Andy Rubin’s as well.

  • Abdullah Kahraman

    This article is bull-shit. I can say, as an electronics engineer, that whoever wrote this in XDA doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.. See more:

  • fran farrell

    Lack of LTE speeds. I think not. Large up/downloads are best done on WiFi. Unless you have to fix an unanticipated error in your latest upload, while riding in a taxi. You have no more need for 4G LTE, than you need to light cigars with dollar bills.

  • ray01000101010101

    This could been a testing model instead of a production model

  • ray01000101010101

    Better get a good case for this

  • Savbers

    Looks like I’m getting the Huawei Ascend D Quad XL now.

  • uk

    non user replaceable battery is a real drawback & fragile body.

    Otherwise the best phone one can buy for an extremely cheap price

  • Mahyar Souri

    Hi, I’ve heard that it’s Battery is located inside is it right?
    if yes, What should we do when our handset is Hanged or at problem?
    tnq & another question is, there are several Specifications, But why it’s Just 300$?
    Im looking For your answer, Very needdddddy!

  • I had a nexus 4 for 3 months before my phone stopped picking up 3G and was intermittently dropping off network coverage completely. I guess this was down to dropping it at some point and knocking the antenna out of place or something. With the phone being smooth glass on both the front and back it just slides off of almost everything that isn’t perfectly flat. But to be honest that didn’t really matter I just phoned up Google at 8pm and received a replacement the next day. Overall the pros of the phone outweigh the cons, absolutely love the phone it looks great. performs outstandingly, and the screen is beautiful.

  • huila

    most stupid review.