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November 02, 2012

Curiosity factor: the camera of the LG Google Nexus 4

The review embargo has been lifted for the LG Google Nexus 4 Android smartphone, and various technology websites have published their review findings using advance units of the phone that sports an 8mp camera with a flash, and Android 4.2 and the Photo Sphere feature that sort of enables a Street View type of a picture using JPEGs and XML open metadata. Here come the reviews:

+ The Verge - two different sections of the review talk about the camera/photography module - by chief Vergist Joshua Topolsky
+ ABC News with Joanna Stern (formerly of Engadget) with Photo Sphere samples on Google Plus
+ Ubergizmo
+ Slash Gear
+ Tech Crunchington Post
+ CNet
+ Android Community
+ Engadget
+ The NeXT Web
+ Wired
+ more via Techmeme
+ overall benchmark performance tests (no camera tests) at Anand Tech (via Ars MCO forum)

Photographer-priority concerns
From a photographer perspective, there are two potential issues with this phone:
1) the lack of 4G LTE which can be a problem if your local area T-Mobile and AT&T HSPA is slugfest slow
2) storage space. The $300 phone has just 8GB of memory, while the $350 phone has 16GB of storage. No micro-SD card!

The combination of the two are also an issue for photographers. With a fast network connection, you can at least off-load recently taken pictures to the cloud and reclaim the 8GB on-board storage. With a slower connection, this may be more of a challenge. This of course assuming that you are not near Wifi and that you have a generous data plan or you are willing to pay the premium price of data. So for some people, 4G LTE may not necessarily as big of an issue as some of the reviews present it. The storage though is less flexible. You have 8GB or 16GB and nothing can change that.

Having said all that, it is amazing that Google is offering a flagship type of a smartphone for $300, unlocked and without a contract commitment. Contract-free flagships from other companies typically cost twice as much. You have a choice of AT&T or T-Mobile or any of the other companies that live on their networks. Or you can use it as a Wifi-only device. Your choice.

Idea: Data Hungry Plan
If you are looking at this as a data-priority phone (eg immediate transferring of pictures to the cloud) and you don't need a lot of talk time - or if you are looking at this as a second, parallel phone (common practice with some frequent travelers), you may want to look into the "secret" T-Mobile data-hungry plan. For $30 per month, you get 5GB of full-speed 4G data on HSPA, along with 100 minutes of talk-time and unlimited texting. The catch with this is that you have to make sure HSPA performs to your satisfaction in the areas you frequently frequent. This is a pre-paid month to month plan. No contracts. You can only get this plan at the T-Mobile website (Web Exclusive $30 plan) or at W*lm*rt. T-Mobile brick and mortar stores do not offer this.

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