Nexus 4 vs Lumia 920

If you don't want an iPhone - and, believe it or not, there are plenty of us who don't - for most consumers there are just two choices: a smartphone running Android or one that packs Windows Phone 8. We reckon the Nexus 4 currently leads the Google pack, while Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 is a prime example of Microsoft's mobile platform. But, Google Nexus 4 or Nokia Lumia 920, which is the best smartphone? Read our Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920 comparison review to find out.

Of course, the beauty of not being an iFan is you get to make your own choices about such things as which multimedia apps you can install, how much customisation you can levy and, importantly, which smartphone model you pocket. If you've got your heart set on Windows Phone 8 you might also like to check out our Nokia Lumia 920 vs HTC Windows Phone 8X comparison review, or if you've Android in mind it's worth comparing the Nexus 4 against Samsung's Galaxy S III. And if you're still not sure about the iPhone 5, check out our Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5 comparison review. You can also read our standalone reviews of the Google Nexus 4 and Nokia Lumia 920, or scroll down the page for video reviews of these Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Price

Google scores major brownie points in this category for the Nexus 4's showstopping price tag. This is a high-end smartphone - in fact, we reckon it's the best Android handset on the market right now - with a mid-range price tag. You can grab an 8GB Nexus 4 for just £239, and the 16GB model for £279 - if you're prepared to wait, that is: Google's Nexus 4 has spent much of its first two months on sale sold out at Google Play.

Remember, though, that this is not the norm: Google subsidises its handset to encourage uptake of Android and content sales at Google Play. That the Nokia Lumia 920 costs at least £300 more (currently available at Amazon for £535) doesn't mean it offers poor value. This is especially so if you'll be getting your handset free with an 18- or 24-month contract - in which case, it often makes little difference how much the handset is worth, since you'll still be paying over the odds. Nokia's pinned all its future hopes on the success of Windows Phone 8, and it needs to make some cash. Since it doesn't sell content, that money needs to come from handset sales.

Also note that Nokia quadrouples the Nexus 4's internal storage: you'll get 32GB built into the Lumia 920 as standard. Given that most high-end handsets come on to the market at around £500 - and the equivalent 32GB iPhone 5 costs a huge £599 - it's not as expensive as it might first appear when compared to the Nexus 4.

And if you are determined to get a contract phone and pay nothing upfront, you'll find that the difference in price here is negligable.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Dimensions

The Google Nexus 4 and Nokia Lumia 920 are almost identical in their sizing, but the Nokia's heavier weight (185g versus 139g) makes it feel more brick-like and unwieldy. You shouldn't necessarily be put off by this: you do get used to it, and some people will prefer the reassurance of being able to feel their smartphone in their pocket. It has a slightly smaller screen, at 4.5in versus 4.7in, but the Lumia 920 is a touch wider than the Nexus 4, at 70.8mm versus 68.7mm. Both smartphones are 133.9mm tall and 9.1mm wide.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Build

These are two beautiful smartphones. The Google Nexus 4, on the one hand, is the best-looking Android handset yet, while the Nokia Lumia 920, which was supplied to us in white, is the nicest white phone we've ever set eyes on.

Google's black-only Nexus 4 is cheap only in its asking price: it looks and feels great in the hand, both sturdy and attractive, with a screen that sits flush to the bezel. It's a slippery character, although a rubbery finish to the circumference usefully adds grip.

The Nokia Lumia 920, which is available in yellow, red, white or black, has a one-piece polycarbonate body, with ceramic zirconium camera detailing and side keys. It's very well built, with the only cheap-feeling component the Micro-SIM tray. Usefully, given the snow threatened imminently in the UK, you can use the Lumia 920 while wearing gloves, but you'll need to be careful not to drop it: like the Nexus 4, the glossy Lumia 920 is a slippery smartphone.

We'll talk more about the software later in our Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920 comparison review but, when viewed side by side, you can't help but take a shine to Microsoft's tile-based Windows Phone 8 interface, with its big, bright, bold colours. That the Lumia 920 looks great is not only down to Nokia's design, but the attractive OS it runs. In comparison with Android, Windows Phone 8 is quite the looker.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Screen

There's little difference in the displays selected by Nokia and Google (or LG, as that company actually makes the Nexus). Both are in-plane switching (IPS) panels, protected from scratches and accidental damage by Corning Gorilla Glass, and capable of displaying a 1280x768-pixel resolution. As Google stretches its pixels across a slightly larger screen - 4.7in vs the Nokia's 4.5in - there are fewer pixels per inch. Whereas the Nexus 4 packs in 320 pixels per inch, the Lumia 920 has 332; you may not notice the difference - both are in Apple's 'Retina' territory, in which individual pixels are indistinguishable to the human eye - but in this category Nokia takes a small lead.

We found the Nexus 4's screen stunning, with excellent contrast, rich colours, fantastic viewing angles and good detail. In our tests it performed particularly well when viewed in direct sunlight. Meanwhile, Nokia refers to its display as a 'PureMotion HD+' screen, and claims it as "the world's brightest, clearest, fastest touchscreen". It certainly offers excellent contrast and eye-popping colours.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Processor & performance

Google's Nexus 4 runs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, clocked at 1.5GHz and paired with 2GB of RAM. The Nokia Lumia 920 also has a Snapdragon S4 chip clocked at 1.5GHz, but this is the dual-core version and it's paired with just half the memory.

It's easy to assume that the Nexus 4 is the faster phone, given that it has double the processor cores and memory allocation of the Lumia 920. But that would ignore the hardware requirements of the operating system: the Nokia's spec is sufficient for Windows Phone 8, while Android requires a little more oomph for smooth operation.

Unfortunately, two of the three benchmarks we use to test smartphone performance, Geekbench and GLBenchmark, are not supported in Windows Phone 8. That's bad news for the Nexus 4, given that in these tests it delivered excellent results. Google's 2,009-point score in Geekbench is the fastest we've ever seen from a smartphone, while the Nexus 4's 39fps tally in GLBenchmark is evidence of very good mobile gaming framerates.  

It gets worse for Google: in the only benchmark that is supported by Windows Phone 8, the SunSpider JavaScript test, the Lumia 920 kicked ass. We recorded 922ms for the Nokia, which is not too far off the very impressive 903ms of the iPhone 5, and a comparatively sluggish 1,906ms for the Nexus 4.

In our subjective tests, both smartphones are very fast. The Nexus 4 has the edge overall, if not in web browsing, while we found some apps could take a couple of seconds to load and menus would judder when scrolling slowly on the Lumia 920.

NEXT PAGE: Nexus 4 vs Lumia 920 storage, cameras, connectivity and software >>

We continue our Lumia 920 vs Nexus 4 comparison review with a look at storage, cameras, connectivity and software.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Storage

Neither Nexus 4 nor Lumia 920 support storage expansion through removable memory, so it's worth noting that the Nokia offers significantly more internal storage for your music, movies, photos and apps than the Nexus 4. While Google's handset is available with 8- (£239) or 16GB (£279) of internal storage, Nokia fits a more generous 32GB (£535).

The inability to add capacity is becoming increasingly common in the smartphone world, with the top model in each camp - Nexus 4, iPhone 5, Lumia 920 - restricting you to your pre-allocated amount. This is likely due to the provision of - and push toward - decent cloud-storage services. Whereas Google offers Play Movies & TV, Books, Magazine, Music and more, for storage and streaming of your media, Nokia has Microsoft SkyDrive. With the latter service you get 7GB free, and can rent more if needed. SkyDrive works much like Apple's iCloud, enabling automatic upload of your content, plus a backup of your settings, apps, Internet Explorer Favorites and texts.

If you will be taking advantage of the cloud to store and stream content, you'll want a fast web connection. While both handsets support wireless 802.11a/b/g/n - the Nexus dual-band and the Lumia with channel-bonding - the Nokia also boasts 4G LTE connectivity in the UK. We'll talk more about connectivity later.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Cameras

On paper, there's not a lot of difference in the camera stakes. The Google Nexus 4 has an 8Mp rear camera with LED flash, also capable of full-HD (1080p) video, which the Nokia bests with an 8.7Mp 'PureView' camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and dual-LED flash. The tables are turned for the front-facing camera, and the Nexus 4 offers a slightly higher resolution for video chat at 1.3Mp, versus Nokia's 1.2Mp (both support 720p HD).

The quality of photos captured by each smartphone is very good - although, given that Nokia's claims mean the Lumia 920 has slightly more to live up to, we were somewhat disappointed by the loss of detail in some shots. Regardless, colour balance, saturation and exposure were all of a good standard in our test shots, and the Nokia performs well in low light. Video shot by the Lumia 920 is very good, thanks to a floating lens.

Given the different OSes, the Nexus 4 and Lumia 920's camera apps differ. In Jelly Bean 4.2 Google offers Photo Spere, a 360-degree panoramic mode; you also get the ability to take HDR shots and more. Meanwhile,  Nokia offers a Smart Shoot best-shot selector for group snaps, Cinemagraph for quirky animated video clips and, exclusively, the Creative Studio editing suite.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Connectivity

As we mentioned earlier, the Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the first handsets to support 4G LTE in the UK. However, unless you're lucky enough to live in one of the select cities in which 4G connectivity is available, you won't be able to take advantage. Chances are, by the time 4G rolls out in your area you'll be ready for an upgrade. If you can get 4G, though, you won't be disappointed by its performance - the speed difference is akin to switching from 3G to Wi-Fi. However, you may be put off by its pricing: EE supplies 4G on plans costing from £36 per month for 500MB (this will be very quickly gobbled up) up to £56 for 8GB.

Look beyond 4G and the connectivity specs are very similar. Both Nexus 4 and Lumia 920 support wireless charging, near-field communication (NFC), 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (the Nokia with channel bonding and the Google dual-band), Bluetooth (Lumia 3.0, Nexus 4.0) and GPS. They each have a 3.5mm headphone jack, are fitted with a Micro-SIM and charge over a Micro-USB connection. Only the Nexus 4 has a SlimPort HDMI connection, however, for hookup to an external display.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Software

A major difference between the Nokia Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 4 is the software they run: the Nokia runs Windows Phone 8, while the Google has Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

For now, each is preinstalled with the latest version of their respective mobile platform, but in time this will change. Buy a Google-branded handset and you can be sure of always being first in the queue for new software releases; with a Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8 handset, only time will tell whether upgrades are offered in a timely fashion - if at all. It's notable that users of Windows Phone 7.5 are unable to upgrade to Windows Phone 8, and instead are offered the cut-down version 7.8. When Windows Phone 9 comes around, there's no guarantee it will be available to existing handsets such as the Nokia Lumia 920.

At present, Google Play has many, many more apps than the Windows Store - although these aren't curated in the same way as those found in the Windows Store, and you'll often find yourself uninstalling some Android apps as quickly as you installed them.

Regardless of which is the better smartphone, it is a fact that Android is the more popular mobile platform. Thus, developers tend to write apps first for iOS, then Android, while Windows Phone 8 is often an afterthought. Microsoft says 46 of the top 50 apps are currently in the Windows Store, and over time more will appear. Of course, Microsoft can't force developers to write apps for Windows Phone, so whether more genuinely are forthcoming depends entirely on the success of Windows Phone 8.

We hope Windows Phone 8 is successful - and it could well be, with some great features (Kid's Corner, Xbox Live Hub, SmartGlass and more) and a growing group of extremely loyal supporters. But Android has already proven its worth, and Jelly Bean is slick and intuitive. There's a Google app for everything you can think of, and that's before you even look to third-party wares.

Nokia has added to the mix some of its own apps in the Lumia 920, including augmented-reality app Nokia City Lens, Nokia Maps, which now works offline, Nokia Drive for turn-by-turn directions, Nokia Transport and Nokia Music. The latter is a subscription-free service that's said to offer more than 20 million tracks and offline caching.

If you're keen on watching catch-up TV such as iPlayer, playing casual online games and enjoying web video, it's worth noting that neither handset supports Adobe Flash. Developers are gradually turning their attention to HTML5, but we reckon there's still a need for Flash video in the computing world. Read our advice on how to add Flash to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Battery

It's difficult to give a meaningful estimate of smartphone battery life, since everybody uses their handset in different ways. The Nexus 4 has a slightly larger-capacity 7.8Wh battery than the 7.4Wh-rated cell inside the Lumia 920, but the operating system in use can also affect runtime. In what we would refer to as 'normal' use, we found the Nokia had 25 percent of its battery remaining at the end of day one, and the Nexus 4 required a charge at the end of our second day's use.

Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Verdict

If only things were as easy as saying the Nexus 4 has a faster processor and more RAM than the Lumia 920, so it's the better smartphone. The truth is it doesn't really matter what hardware is found inside: the Nokia's spec is sufficient for Windows Phone 8 to run smoothly, while the Google handset is amply prepared for Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. We can't say with complete confidence that the Nexus 4 is significantly faster than the Lumia 920 - indeed, in web browsing the Nokia crushes Google's performance.

What we can say is that in many categories - build, screen, camera, connectivity - the Nokia Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 4 are very evenly matched. The Nokia might offer 4G LTE connectivity, but it's still early days for the technology (in the UK at least). Likewise, the Nexus 4 might be cheap, but that may not matter if you're either not on a budget or getting your smartphone free with a contract. The Nokia comfortably wins in the storage category, but both platforms actively push media storage and streaming in the cloud. And both smartphones are beautiful.

Your choice between Google Nexus 4 and Nokia Lumia 920 will most likely come down to the operating system in use. There's a lot to like about Windows Phone 8, but it represents a risk: tie yourself into a two-year contract now and there's no guarantee developers will come good on their promise to produce more compatible apps; don't, and thousands others like you make the same choice, and those same developers lose their motivation to create decent apps for Windows Phone. The answer is to plump for Windows Phone 8 only if you're happy with what you get right now. We're not, and for that reason we can't recommend the Nokia Lumia 920 over the Google Nexus 4 - but that doesn't mean it's not a very appealing smartphone.

Google Nexus 4: Specs

  • SCREEN: 4.7" diagonal,768 x 1280 pixel resolution (320 ppi),WXGA IPS,Corning(R) Gorilla(R) Glass 2,MEMORY:16 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less),2 GB RAM
  • OS: Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) S4 Pro
  • CAMERAS: 8 MP (main),1.3 MP (front)
  • BATTERY: 2,100 mAh Lithium polymer,CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB,SlimPort HDMI,3.5mm headphone jack
  • WIRELESS: Wireless charging,WiFi 802.11 b/g/n,NFC (Android Beam),Bluetooth
  • SENSORS: Microphone,Accelerometer,Compass,Ambient light,Gyroscope,Barometer,GPS
  • NETWORK: Unlocked GSM/UMTS/HSPA+,GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz),3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz),HSPA+ 21
  • SIZE: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • WEIGHT: 139g
  • SCREEN: 4.7" diagonal,768 x 1280 pixel resolution (320 ppi),WXGA IPS,Corning(R) Gorilla(R) Glass 2,MEMORY:16 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less),2 GB RAM
  • OS: Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) S4 Pro
  • CAMERAS: 8 MP (main),1.3 MP (front)
  • BATTERY: 2,100 mAh Lithium polymer,CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB,SlimPort HDMI,3.5mm headphone jack
  • WIRELESS: Wireless charging,WiFi 802.11 b/g/n,NFC (Android Beam),Bluetooth
  • SENSORS: Microphone,Accelerometer,Compass,Ambient light,Gyroscope,Barometer,GPS
  • NETWORK: Unlocked GSM/UMTS/HSPA+,GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz),3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz),HSPA+ 21
  • SIZE: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • WEIGHT: 139g

OUR VERDICT

Google Nexus 4 or Nokia Lumia 920, which is the best smartphone? Read our Google Nexus 4 vs Nokia Lumia 920 comparison review to find out.

Find the best price