5 days with Nexus 4

Feb 19, 2001
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Okay. So let's go over a few things:

First, I come from an SGS2 with CM10. This is an international SGS2. I thought it was relatively fast for an Android phone. It's noticeably faster than my Nexus S and Motorola Milestone.

Second, I carry an iPhone 5 for work. Man that thing is fast. I did my 3 days with an iPhone 5 review here: http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2282852

With that squared away let's go over similar topics:

1) Speed/fluidity: I thought that my SGS2 was fine. I know it wasn't buttery smooth seeing a Galaxy Nexus, but I thought it could get close. The Nexus 4 definitely felt faster. Faster than my Nexus 10 too. My basis is just swiping homescreen to homescreen. It's very nice and smooth. I felt like this was finally worthy of comparison in fluidity to the iPhone and Windows Phone. For the record I do have a Windows Phone. A Titan 2 with a 1ghz single core processor....

Launching apps is fast too. I went back to my SGS2 for a few minutes to copy files over and then I saw the speed difference. Yikes. I wasn't really complaining before, but finally this thing feels fast. I'd say it's about as fast as the iPhone 5. Maybe faster in 1 or 2 things, but in fluidity I don't think Project Butter is as good as a fully GPU accelerated UI.

2) Battery: My SGS2 would routinely run low where I have to charge during the day. I'd blame a good bunch of that on reception. The Nexus 4 seems to have fixed that a bit. I see FAR fewer wakelocks too. I run the same apps and sync the same things. The Nexus 4's better reception seems to make battery life better. If I try to keep the phone on idle, it drains slightly more than my iPhone 5, but during use I see my Nexus 4's battery drop significantly.

Just a few minutes of on screen time seems to drop the battery quite a bit. The back starts getting hot to. This is just reading news articles from Pulse. Not much loading, more reading. I don't see how this causes the phone to warm up so much.

While battery life has improved both in capacity and perhaps the usage thanks to better reception/antenna, I think in general Android still has a potential to use a lot more battery.

Let's take Saturday for example. I went skiing. I took a bus ride that took me 4 hours to get up to the mountains. A good chunk of that had no reception. I fell asleep most of the way, but when I woke up my Android phone dropped to like 80%. My iPhone on the other hand dropped from 65% to 54% (forgot to charge my iPhone the night before). At the resort, reception was fine. I had full HSPA connectivity. I took 2 pictures on my Android phone for the rest of the day and performed 3 foursquare checkins. I probably had 2-3 screen on events only, but I found at the end of the day my battery had dropped to 37%. My iPhone was still at 40%. I had even surfed on my iPhone while eating lunch. I checked my battery consumption and it seems an app ate up 2 hours of CPU time. I'm guessing that because my phone was out of reception for a good amount of time, my Exchange mail app kept trying to download mail and failed. Touchdown to be specific, caused my phone great harm. Sorry forgot to explain but I have my exchange mail use 6 hour polling intervals during off peak hours (peak hours = weekday work hours).

Now this is again my rant against Android's pull technique. In order to get Tweet notifications you need to have Twitter periodically sync. There are many other apps that function just like that. So either I need to pull data or get zero notifications at all. iOS on the other hand offers pure push. In terms of battery savings in good reception and low congestion, pulling won't hurt you that much on top of push notifications so long as you keep the polling interval long enough. Say every hour or so. But in times of bad reception, who knows how the app behaves? Perhaps it tries once or twice and gives up. My Exchange app went on forever. Android OS also had high % use. Not even sure why, but I want to say it probably tried to connect a lot and failed.

I find that this phone overall idles better than my SGS2, but as always I find it difficult to use my phone liberally without being worried about battery life. On the other hand I seem to be ok using my iPhone 5 without worrying too much.

3) Android 4.2: I hear the floods of complaints about Android 4.2 but of course I dismiss a lot of them thinking its PEBKAC.

Then my Nexus 10 rebooted all the time, and I got a bit pissed. Surfing XDA only made me realize that it was indeed a real problem. Fortunately, my Nexus 4 didn't have any significant issues at all. However, Android 4.2 puzzles me and offers a few noticeable issues for me:

- Camera is nice but why is there no gallery shortcut after I take a picture? In the old camera I could quickly tap the picture in one of the corners and it shows what was just taken. Quick easy to share. How am I supposed to win the Windows Phone challenge like this?

- Notifications always vibrates. What the hell is the point of the vibrate option in notifications in gmail, gchat, etc. when the phone ALWAYS vibrates? I want vibrate when my phone rings with sound, but other times I want to be in vibrate mode only for calls. But that forces all my notifications to vibrate too as long as I have a notification tone selected. I googled and this seems to be a Jellybean (4.1) problem? Can someone clarify/confirm? I've been running CM forever and from what I see CM10 was the same as any other CM. Unless vibrate options were checked for the app, notifications were silent in vibrate mode. This is a boneheaded mistake IMO, and was the biggest complaint of mine in Windows Phone 7.5 I either had to go full silent or have my phone vibrate all night. If CM10 is supposed to resolve this, then I'm sure 10.1 will fix this soon once the features are ported over, but this stupid mistake by Google makes me long for CyanogenMod.

- Lockscreen. Uh... Ok, so we get to add widgets, but it's not straightforward like Widgetlocker. At the same time I miss the circle lockscreen where you slide the other way for the camera. Before everyone starts telling me just swipe to the right screen, that's a different gesture. Having the 4.1 circle lockscreen means putting your finger at the same location but swiping a different direction. Quite natural. It's not that big of a deal to me for this change, but now it goes back to the question of why the hell do we have a circle lockscreen that ONLY unlocks the phone now? In CM10 I saw the right as unlock, left as camera, and top as Google Now. Seems pretty cool. 4.1 AOSP users should confirm whether this is the case in stock Android too (I know the camera swipe left was there, but was Google Now?). At least with 3 possible gestures for 3 different actions I see the circle unlock making sense (combine that with CM's ability to let you add 5 shortcuts for 5 different unlock swiping directions). Now in 4.2 I have a circle unlock that snaps in 45 degree intervals in 360 degrees and ALL I can do is unlock? I'm kinda confused why Google did this and to make the camera a whole different gesture now. Kinda dumb, but whatever.

- Clock. This is a huge step up. I really like the fact that we can customize snooze time more, and the whole interface looks nice. I do question the fragmentation though. This interface seems nice but a departure from standard Android Holo interface. It's got a bit of Windows Phone Metro mixed in. Is this the new theme of Android? Or are we going to see this one app look cool but the rest of the apps look different still? There wasn't much wrong with the 4.0/4.1 clocks, but this is cool. I'm partially thinking that it was nice they spent time here, but there are Google apps like Google Voice that could use a huge step forward in UI.

- Notification toggles. Decent, but it's not a real toggle like the CM or Samsung or HTC toggles. It's only a shortcut. I guess it's still a step forward. I prefer the more compact look of the CM Notification Bar widgets, but the fact that I keep swiping to find the battery % is annoying. Thank goodness for CM's battery indicator?

Anyway, I flashed CM 10.1 after 3 days. I gave up. Even though CM isn't perfect at this stage, it still brings me a few nice features.

4) Screen: 4.7" is huge. Now my SGS 2 feels tiny. Is this phone too large for me? Well I did have an HTC Titan 2. That was huge too. 4.7" is noticeably bigger than my SGS2 in my hands too. The screen is nice especially the 720p part. It pales in comparison in terms of colors compared to my SGS2 and Nexus S. Remember those two phones are AMOLED screens. But my SGS2 is completely uncalibrated. It completely pales in comparison to my Nexus S. I thought SAMOLED+ was great right? But yeah it doesn't look good at all. The HTC One X outdoes it, and I feel like some SLCD screens look almost as good too. I wish calibration existed for my SGS2.

Now going back to the Nexus 4, this screen is like wtf. Google, did you calibrate at all? The Optimus G I played with looked pretty good. Maybe not HTC One X good, but darn good. The Nexus 4 is just disappointing. The colors just look pale and washed out. The only way to make your screen look good is to choose that colorful stock wallpaper that's new with 4.2. The rest kinda just look meh. The reason I mentioned my SGS2 is that it's very uninspiring in colors. With CM it barely looks like a SAMOLED screen, but when compared to my Nexus 4, it looks great again. I'm quite disappointed Google fails again at managing colors on its screen. This was a failure with the GNex and the Nexus S. Both had ridiculously purple screens and dull colors. In some review (was it Verge?) they mentioned that HTC, Samsung, etc. do fine with calibrating displays, but Google seems to drop the ball everytime.

A nice positive is the 720p though. I liked it on my GF's SGS3, and I like it on this phone. Text is razor sharp. Good thing we've grown past the 720p growing pains, but some apps make text on the small side. On my Nexus 10 this is a huge issue as there's just some apps that produce microtext. I'm young so the N4 isn't an issue with smaller text. And we're supposed to be able to boost the text size right? I'm wondering if this phone is acceptable for my parents to use who are older and don't have the best vision.

5) Size: Since I mentioned the phone screen, I figured I should go talk about size. There's the crowd who thinks 4.7" or whatever is too big, and the crowd that wants to push into 5" territory. I think that 4.7" is getting too big already. For one I have to definitely shift my hand around to reach the top. When Google discarded the menu button from the navigation buttons, it decided to add a soft menu button in apps in Android 4.x. The issue with that is now that sometimes its at the bottom awkwardly inserted next to my 3 navigation buttons, and other times it's at the upper right. When it's on the upper right I have to stretch my thumb to the top. It's possible, but somewhat awkward to reach there without shifting my hand around. I also find this a potential for phone dropping when using 1 handed.

1 handed operation is significantly harder. With power button shutter in Cyanogenmod, I could manipulate my phone with 1 hand on my SGS2, but on my Nexus 4? Practically impossible without a hardware shutter. I'm not going to do any 1 handed operations unless I feel like shattering the phone in a drop.

If I have 2 hands on the phone it's fine most of the time, but this screen size is definitely forcing me to stretch my fingers more than I'd like. I'd like to conclude that the screen size is nice, but not as practical for everyone as it would seem. The 720p improvement is great, but just because it came a larger screen size doesn't mean the only direction to go in is a larger screen size. I'd like to see smaller phones with great screens too.

6) Build quality: I won't get into cracked backs or whatever, but the phone feels great. No creaks, solid build. I like this. Perhaps some way to mitigate the back glass issue would be nice, but this phone feels very well constructed in my hands. My only complaint is I hit the power button a lot accidentally in my pocket. The 2 min screentimeout would be a bit dumb with that issue, so I turned it down to 30 seconds. The official case sems to have very easy to press buttons which is nice in my hands but an issue in my pockets as the screen is on a lot by the time I pull my phone out of my pocket.

7) Reception: Brian Klug has already noted this phone has excellent reception. I get mediocre to poor reception at work with 3-4 bars if I hold my SGS2 in the air, but 0-1 if I hold my phone with 2 hands (attenuation). I get lots of spikes in data speeds maxing out at 2mbps, but with my Nexus 4 I've reached 5mbps no problem. While the bars performance might be +1 bar in performance or even not that noticeable in change, the increased speeds and lack of spikes is very nice. I've also seen my home speedtests jump from 3-4mbps to 5-6mbps on my Nexus 4. I like that. Not really sure if this is just an antenna issue or phone issue. After all they're both connected to HSPA+.

8) Odds and ends: The phone getting warm is quite annoying. I don't have many games. Just some news apps, social networking apps, etc, but the fact that my phone gets hot so easily is quite concerning. Not sure if it's the modem working (which gets hot on all of my phones) or the CPU is really picking up. I can't see reading news to be so tasking on my CPU.

Let me also add that I'm happy the NAND is pretty fast in this case. Connecting the phone to my computer, I can transfer files pretty quickly. My SGS2 and HP Touchpad were dog slow though... Ugh.

9) Issues/Bugs: I notice my speaker crackles sometimes when pressing a button that's supposed to create an audible tone. I work in vibrate 99% of the time, but I find it odd. It's like as if the speaker turns on to emit sound but since I'm at vibrate, it emits a 0db sound. The fact that it even turns on is like wtf?

Conclusion: I really do like this phone. Glad to see development take off so quickly, and I do hope CM 10.1 starts porting more features over. Things like notification vibrations just pisses me off and it realy bugs me how Google can foul up something this simple. I wish battery life were better under normal use, but other than that it seems to idle quite well. While I do love CM, I dislike the fact that I have to rely on modifications to make my phone useful.

The phone overall can match the iPhone 5 no problem. I see some advantages for both camps, but I don't think you can go wrong. I was pretty sure my SGS2 was the wrong matchup against an iPhone 5, but at the same time it bugs me that a phone with better specs than an iPhone 4S can still suck so bad. Yes I know technology evolves, but seeing how GNex users here say what a big difference this makes is concerning too. I spent Saturday evening on the ride back playing with my friend's Verizon GNex and it just felt slow. Sluggish even. I probably blame the amount of apps installed on the phone, and a clean wipe and switch to CM10 would probably make things run fast again. But this goes back to the whole software problem of Android. The software is still not 100% there. Phones are outdated not because their hardware is lacking but because the software isn't there. If you look at my iPhone 5 review, I could say the same things with an iPhone 4S. The Nexus 4 is such a huge upgrade to previous phones because Android still has lag issues that's evident in 2011's phones.

Cliffs: After using both iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, I think it's safe to say my life can work with either phone. It's not as clear cut as most fanboys make it seem. But I'll tell you this--if you're familiar with a certain platform, it's easy to stick with it. Besides app investments and other purchases, I think all us tech geeks can get used to another platform. In the past 6 months I've extensively tested Windows Phone 7.5, iOS, and Android. Windows Phone is probably the biggest laggard, though I hope WP8 helps it catch up a bit. I can get by with all 3 dealing with Exchange mail, chatting, social networking, taking photos and tweeting, etc. As for iOS and Android, I think the race is tighter than ever. Android's really closed the gap in the last year and in many ways has surpassed iOS. I'm curious as how Apple will respond with the last couple of salvos from Google.
 
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Face2Face

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2001
4,100
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Great job and nice review! My wife just exchanged her HTC 8X (Too many issues) for a iPhone 5. She is now missing android and wants this phone. Too bad we are on verizon....
 

bigrash

Lifer
Feb 20, 2001
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Nice review. If you could only use 1 for your daily use, would you go with the iphone 5 or Nexus 4?
 
Feb 19, 2001
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Nice review. If you could only use 1 for your daily use, would you go with the iphone 5 or Nexus 4?

Nexus 4. But I think I stated in my iPhone 5 review that I'd pick Android simply because of the ability to customize (yes I'd take my broken hwcomposer SGS2 over an iPhone 5). It's really just my flashaholic syndrome because I know there's always something better on the horizon to be flashed.

I know there will be some custom kernel out there to address battery, or to enable dual booting, or whatever. There will be ROMs out there to improve feature X, Y, Z, or to add feature A, B, C.

If I were to carry the phone for stock features alone, I'd probably go with the Nexus, but back with the SGS2 vs iPhone 5 it's not so clear. After Thanksgiving I realized I could go with the iPhone 5 no complaints as well, and that with my SGS2 I was attached because that's where I chat on Whatsapp with my friends. It's just the Nexus 4 is so much faster than previous Android phones and has a nice screen now that I think it makes it a better daily carry.
 

ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
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I'll address some of the 4.2 Android points since I used stock GNex since ICS. Notifications works fine on 4.2.1 on Galaxy Nexus. No vibration here. Never had any problem and I've been using this phone for a year. Until 4.2, stock lockscreen had swipe left for camera, swipe right to unlock, and swipe up for Google Now. I think 4.2 lockscreen change is in response to Apple lockscreen patent and Apple lawsuit. So maybe blame Apple for the lockscreen unlock change. I'm also annoyed with no gallery preview after camera shot. I want my preview back.

USB OTG is broken on Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 on 4.2.1 yet works on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. This tells me Google is still figuring out Nexus 4 and 10.
 

TuxDave

Lifer
Oct 8, 2002
10,572
3
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Thanks for the review. Will be forwarding this to family who were interested in comparing the two.
 

Chrono

Diamond Member
Jan 2, 2001
4,959
0
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Don't mind this guy, he's an Apple fanboy troll.




I actually thought you might be joking - the difference between ironic sarcasm and insults can be hard if there's no smiley. But if you are serious, your post did not contribute anything to the discussion beyond a dubious allegation of bias. This is a warning to please post constructive comments that actually address the points under discussion and not personal attacks on the credibility of the poster.

Moderator PM
 
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richierich1212

Platinum Member
Jul 5, 2002
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For quickly checking out a picture you've just taken, swipe from right to left in the camera app.
 

deathBOB

Senior member
Dec 2, 2007
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Sucks about the heat. That's one issue with some modern smart phones that really annoys the heck out of me.
 

OBLAMA2009

Diamond Member
Apr 17, 2008
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let me update this for him:

9) Durability: yestaday i pulled ma nexus4 outta ma pockit and da glass back wuz shattad. i took ma iphone 5 outta da same pocket and it wuz fine. oh well they goes anutha hundred bucks
 
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Zink

Senior member
Sep 24, 2009
209
0
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let me update this for him:

9) Durability: yestaday i pulled ma nexus4 outta ma pockit and da glass back wuz shattad. i took ma iphone 5 outta da same pocket and it wuz fine. oh well they goes anutha hundred bucks
Can you clarify? The Nexus 7 did have some issues with poorly glued glass being very fragile. I haven't hear anything about the Nexus 4 spontaneously shattering. If you are trying to make some kind of humorous comment you my need to explain a bit further. Maybe it has something to do with bent iPhones?
 

TuxDave

Lifer
Oct 8, 2002
10,572
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Can you clarify? The Nexus 7 did have some issues with poorly glued glass being very fragile. I haven't hear anything about the Nexus 4 spontaneously shattering. If you are trying to make some kind of humorous comment you my need to explain a bit further. Maybe it has something to do with bent iPhones?

I see it as a bunch of Samsung users rattling their phones to emphasize the uberness of plastic backs.

And then you have this article that they can use for fuel.

http://www.droid-life.com/2012/11/2...-idea-since-the-last-phone-with-a-glass-back/
 

ControlD

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2005
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I see it as a bunch of Samsung users rattling their phones to emphasize the uberness of plastic backs.

And then you have this article that they can use for fuel.

http://www.droid-life.com/2012/11/2...-idea-since-the-last-phone-with-a-glass-back/

I'm not going to disagree that a glass back probably isn't the best choice, although I have used an iPhone5 and own a 4S and actually prefer the glass back for some reason. That being said, I find it somewhat humorous that the author of that article claims to take better care of his phone than almost every other human but still managed to break two in two weeks! Just struck me as funny. Maybe try using a case Mr. Protection?

Still, a glass backed phone is probably not the wisest design choice in the world.

Edit: reading again if it is happening due to temperature variations that really does point to rather poor design. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a widespread issue.
 
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Ravynmagi

Diamond Member
Jun 16, 2007
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I'm not going to disagree that a glass back probably isn't the best choice, although I have used an iPhone5 and own a 4S and actually prefer the glass back for some reason. That being said, I find it somewhat humorous that the author of that article claims to take better care of his phone than almost every other human but still managed to break two in two weeks! Just struck me as funny. Maybe try using a case Mr. Protection?

Still, a glass backed phone is probably not the wisest design choice in the world.

Edit: reading again if it is happening due to temperature variations that really does point to rather poor design. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a widespread issue.

The Droid-Life author is just full of crap. There is NO FREAKING WAY the temperature difference from your hand to the cool surface of a metal stove is going to shatter glass. I don't think that guy even realizes out ridiculous that sounds.

I made a comment in the story on what I thought was a more likely cause of a glass phone making contact with a metal stove surface... he dropped it too hard. And Droid-Life deleted my reply. Haha.

The fact this guy actually broke the glass on two phones make me think he's just a clumsy oaf.


However bad bloggers aside. I do have some concerns of scratching the glass on my Nexus 4. I didn't realize the glass back was flush with the rim around it, I thought it was recessed in a bit. So because of this, it looks like it might be easy to scratch this phone if I put it down on some less than clean surfaces. And unlike any phone I've ever used, the front glass is raised above the rim around it.

I bought the bumper case, but the lip of this case is pretty big. It's a nice case, but when I saw people on eBay paying $90+ for them, I decided to sell mine to someone that wanted it a hell of a lot more than I did. So instead I bought an XO Skin screen protector for $12 (50% off Cyber Monday sell). It comes with a screen protector for both the front and back glass. And I'm really happy I got this. It gives the back glass a softer feel with a bit more grip. The front protector isn't as smooth as the glass was, but it's still pretty smooth and feels nice. I sure have a lot more piece of mind with the screen protectors on. This is the first time I've ever used screen protectors too.
 

Ravynmagi

Diamond Member
Jun 16, 2007
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Battery/heat: My battery life has in general been okay. Not sure it's as good as my Galaxy Nexus, but I get through a day. Fortunately I have the opportunity to charge through out the day if needed. But like the OP I notice that when I'm doing things it can start sucking up battery life pretty quick. And just simple web browsing warms up the phone, don't think I ever felt my Galaxy Nexus get warm just browsing the web.

Haven't played any games on it yet (seems like a lot of mine still haven't been updated for the Nexus 4 or Jelly Bean), but I'm a bit worried I'll probably suffer from throttling when I do game. Brian Klug mentioned that Qualcomm is looking into the issue, maybe the governator is too aggressive.


Display: The display looks okay. Why is it I seem to read reviewers rave of a display, only to see it myself and not be nearly as impressed as reviewers were. Same thing seemed to happen with the Nexus 7 and 10 as well. Those weren't good displays, they had good DPI, but poorly calibrated. My Nexus 4 looks a bit washed out. I think what bothers me most is that when I hold the phone in landscape mode I can see fine horizontal lines.

I did an RMA, but the replacement was exactly the same. I think it's just the way it is. After all the problems with purple displays I went through with the Galaxy Nexus, I guess this is an improvement.

I agree though, Google needs to stop neglecting displays so badly. You can't just get a high resolution display and say that's good enough. It's starting to show when your competitors are paying attention to these small details and you aren't.


T-Mobile: They just suck in Phoenix. 3 to 6Mbps download speeds. Oddly the first day I had the phone I got 9Mbps once and thought this phone was going to be much better than my Galaxy Nexus, but that turned out to be a fluke. Oddly this HSPA+42 phone is getting the same speeds as my Galaxy Nexus HSPA+21 phone. And sadly neither of these phones are getting speeds all that much faster than my old 3G Vibrant. Oh well, I'm paying $30 a month for 5GB of data, so I can live with it.
 

Ravynmagi

Diamond Member
Jun 16, 2007
3,102
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Yeah an obvious Apple iFan. Don't read too much into it.

You two guys sound more like the trolls. He provided an intelligent opinion of his experience of the phone. If you disagree, feel free to state why so we can have an adult conversation about it.
 

openwheel

Platinum Member
Apr 30, 2012
2,044
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Anyone can write a fictional story, but an author's intent and credibility is sometimes key to the real story. Just stating what I see. Free speech and all.
 

Ravynmagi

Diamond Member
Jun 16, 2007
3,102
24
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Anyone can write a fictional story, but an author's intent and credibility is sometimes key to the real story. Just stating what I see. Free speech and all.

I have had the phone for about 2 weeks. Much of what he said is spot on in my opinion. It's a good phone, has a few issues, but it's good and fast.
 

openwheel

Platinum Member
Apr 30, 2012
2,044
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not arguing with the content. Just reiterating someone else's observation with my own. There are plenty of other reviews with same observation, but more emphasis on the good, than the bad.
 
Feb 19, 2001
20,158
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but I give Chrono's more than yours...
Then you two can go party it up. go to your nearest grocery store and buy an Apple to piss on it. Buy some Keystone Light while you're at it.

You can feel free to refute anything I say, but obviously I'm just expressing my opinion and writing about my 5 days of use. If I wanted to troll I could troll. It's not too hard. Why would I bother writing all this wall of text?