As we noted earlier, in order to hit Google’s US $299/$349 price target, LG had to make some cutbacks and the main camera suffered the most. While competition and for that matter LG’s own Optimus G that shares a lot of features and specs with the Nexus 4 has a 13-megapixel sensor, the Nexus 4 had to settle for a 8-megapixel camera.
The camera app is quite decent and you get an option to shoot HDR photos as well. You can set the resolution, ISO, white balance, focus mode, turn LED flash on/off, switch to front camera or go directly into settings menu from the menu accessible by touching and holding your finger on the main screen. The Android 4.2 camera UI takes some getting used to, but it is a bit better than the one used in Android 4.0 and 4.1.
The app also has a button located in the bottom right corner where you can switch between panorama, photo sphere or camera mode. Since it lacks a dedicated shutter button, you are stuck with that blue one on the screen.
The Photo Sphere panorama mode is a lot of fun but takes a lot of patience and only makes sense if all objects in the picture are static.
As expected the photos are far from impressive. Like most smartphones before it, the photos look quite good on the smartphone, but when you transfer them to something with a bigger screen you notice that they suffers from a lot of aggressive post processing, leaving the picture with lot of soft edges and without a lot of detail. The color reproduction is decent but contrast suffers in poor lightning conditions.
The HDR mode somewhat helps but still pictures are far from what you can see on some flagship smartphones. It simply lacks enough dynamic range to cope with high contrast scenes.
Indoor it is even worse and although it has an LED flash, don't expect much from it, as it works in close quarters and sometimes even makes things worse by overexposing the picture.
The Nexus 4 also supports 1080p video capture at 30fps and with stereo sound, but once again the quality doesn't match current gen high-end smartphones.
On the other hand, considering the price tag, the camera doesn't look as bad. It is good enough for casual photos and and videos, don't expect it to be a replacement for a real compact camera.
Performance is a mixed bag and as you might have read all around the net, the Nexus 4 suffers from a bad case of thermal throttling and we simply did not want to benchmark the phone while holding it on a block of ice or inside the freezer. We repeated the benchmarks for several times and the results certainly vary from time to time. After a few cycles, we did manage to get some results that can be averaged out.
The LG Nexus 4 manages to hold its ground in Quadrant and actually delivers a pretty good result in Antutu considering that it was pitted against much more expensive smartphones. GLBenhmark 2.1 scores show that its GPU can get quite impressive results. It actually managed to outperform all tested smartphones in Browsermark 2.0.
In CF-Bench it still holds its ground quite well, but limps behind most high-end smartphones but for some reason. AndEBench favors the Nexus 4 putting it well above most smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S III.