I’ve never been a fan of Samsung’s touchwiz. I find it a bit fisherprice if I’m honest, clunky and a not particularly quick. The stock dialer, contacts and messaging apps on the Galaxy S3 are, if I’m completely honest, rubbish. They’re slow. I’m quite demanding when it comes to mobile phones, they need to be instant for near all actions. I had been running a custom touchwiz-based ROM on the S3 and replaced the dialer, contacts, messaging and keyboard apps with replacements. Thankfully now that the CyanogenMod nightly builds have become stable enough and pretty much feature-complete I’ve blown that away and I’m running with CM 10.1 as my daily driver. This means I have a stock Android 4.2.2 build running on the S3 and it simply blows Samsung’s own ROM out of the water. The only two replacements I’ve put in are the launcher (replaced with Nova Launcher Prime) and the camera (replaced with a port of the Huawei camera that works even with the flash enabled which stock camera does not). The CM team have worked hard to iron out as many bugs as possible and the ROM is really coming together nicely. There was a leak of the 4.2.1 Samsung ROM recently which allowed the latest drivers to be ripped and ported so that has helped with GPU performance.
If Samsung would just pull their socks up and sort out the shoddy performance of their customised apps then I might consider moving back at some point. Its nice to have the choice though.
I picked up the Nexus 4 last Friday so I’ve had a week with the device to use as my ‘daily driver’. Here are my thoughts.
Things I like:
• Premium-feel device – with glass both sides and no front facing buttons, its a handsome phone and makes the Galaxy S3 look like a bit of a toy in comparison
• Vanilla Android OS – as you’d expect with it being a Nexus device, its loaded with Android 4.2.1 just as Google intended for it to be presented and used. Just the way I like it.
• Super quick – that Snapdragon Pro processor and 2gb ram make it a bit of a monster
• The screen – fantastic SLCD IPS display puts the quality of the screen above just about everything else out there
Things I don’t like:
• Fragile – I look after my phones but this really feels like it needs a bumper / case for it. I know my SGS3 will survive a few drops whereas this doesn’t stand a chance
• Non-expandable storage and no OTG support – you get 16gb and that’s all you’re having which ain’t much in a high-def, big game world
• Useless battery life – standby time is average but turn that screen on and you can literally watch the battery percentage plummet. Deal-breaker for me.
• Disappointing camera – with all the hoo-har about Photosphere I had big expectations. Bottom line is that it takes decent photos in good light but rubbish photos in lower light conditions. And the autofocus pisses its pants occasionally
• Bug-ridden – considering this is meant to be Google’s reference device its got too many bugs to make it a reliable phone. Wakelocks, camera problems, signal drop issues, Bluetooth problems – its a bit of a joke really. Will be fixed via software update but that’s besides the point
• Hotter than the sun – general use will make the phone hot to the touch, play a few 3D games and expect to have to put the phone down to let it cool off
I really wanted to love the Nexus 4 but couldn’t. Simply put, now that I’ve got my SGS3 set up the way I like it the Nexus 4 falls some way short of being a replacement candidate. With the software bugs fixed it would come closer but the poor battery and camera performance are deal breakers for me. As a result its going back to Google for a refund.