Nexus 4 vs Nexus 7

Nexus 7 vs Nexus 4This might seem like a strange topic for a post, after all The Nexus 7 is one is the best 7″ tablet on the market and the Nexus 4 is a leading mobile phone that has been sold out since it came to market.

These two devices aren’t direct competitors. So why am I attempting to compare them?

The undeniable reality is that my tablet usage patterns have changed since buying my Nexus 4 and I thought it would be interesting to share the experience.

I would also be interested to hear your stories so please let us know how your tablet fits into your life, leave a comment or say hello on Twitter.

Tablet vs Smartphone

So these two devices are both running Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1.  And although there are some subtle differences between Android on a tablet and on a phone the overall experience is essentially the same.

Hardware wise the two are again similarly equipped, with the obvious difference in screen size. The Nexus 4 however manages to pack in a decent rear camera.  I’ve never really quite got the desire for tablet cameras but I see the value in having one in my phone.

Tablet vs Phone Apps

A common criticism of the Android market ecosystem is a lack of HD tablet ready apps.  The good news is that with Android tablets proving popular around the world the inevitable roll out of enhanced apps has been quick to follow.

Having both an HD tablet and smartphone allows me a good opportunity to compare the two.

The native Gmail app is as good an example as any, the above screenshot shows my email view on the Nexus 4 (left) and Nexus 7 (right), you can immediately see the difference in layout between the two screens.  It is clear that the smartphone version of Gmail, and other apps, have to make some compromises when it comes to deciding what can be displayed on any given screen.

The message that I want to get out however is that if the small screen version is well designed, as the native Google apps naturally are, then this doesn’t actually have to harm the user experience.  Whilst it did take me some reorientation to work out how to access various functions once I got the hang of things I was flying around apps just as fast.

That said, certain things are just better on the bigger screen.  The list is pretty obvious, reading, video and games.  In fact gaming is the one thing I haven’t warmed to on the Nexus 4’s smaller screen.

Usage Patterns

nexus 7 tablet and the nexus 4 phoneThe Nexus 7 effortlessly displaced my Netbook throughout my life.  So it was interesting to see what affect buying the Nexus 4 would have on daily gadget usage.  I did of course have an old smartphone but it was a slow, cheap under powered unbranded device that was a pain to use, the N4 changed everything!

The real advantage of the N4 was having access to the mobile data networks, something that I don’t have on the Nexus 7.  Whilst it was easy to adapt to an offline world for commuting purposes, embracing apps that allow downloading for later consumption,  at the end of the day having full access to the Internet won out.

I also find that the phone is just much faster.  Navigating between apps is a joy and everything just works instantly.  Perhaps it’s a problem with my Nexus 7, as I’m sure it wasn’t always so sluggish but there you go (a factory reset is imminent).

The Nexus 7 is still getting use but it tends to be around the home, and I expect it will come on holiday.  It is still the go to device in the living room and my core media player (since buying a Bluetooth receiver to stream too).  However the Nexus 4 is winning out overall.


Again the Nexus 4 wins out here.  Despite being a similar price, LG have managed to pack in a whole lot more.

Camera: As mentioned in our review, the camera is no match for a quality dedicated device, but the shots are perfectly good and I have no issue with capturing key life memories with it.  I do stand by the belief that a tablet doesn’t really need a camera, and it’s not the most practical!

HDMI:  A real big omission from the N7 in my opinion.   I don’t really have a way to play Internet movies (ie Netflix etc) on my living room TV so this would have been great.  I’ve yet to try it but I do look forward to buying a Slimport to  HDMI adapter.  Hopefully Miracast, once more established, could be the way forward.


Nexus 4 on a Nexus 7

If I had to choose one device I guess it would be the Nexus 4. It simply offers more functionality and it’s the ultimate portable computer.

Fortunately I don’t have to make that choice because games, movies and photos are always going to look better on a bigger screen. The battery life on the phone is also limiting and you’re not going to want to run down your battery playing games if you might need to make a phone call!

It’s definitely a big advantage having them both on the same platform and hopefully they will both receive Android updates at the same time.  Overall I would have to recommend this pairing, great functionality and great value.

Do you own both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4?  How are you getting on with them?


  1. Michael_G says:

    Thanks for the comparison. I’ve got an elderly Samsung Galaxy S+ due for upgrade this year and based on your earlier N4 review I’ll definitely be looking at it if the supply side is sorted out. All my AV kit is Samsung but I really like the commonality with the N7 and N4. That said, for me they’re separate things for separate uses and I wouldn’t see even a superb phone like the N4 supplanting the tablet. Others MMV.

  2. I have the Nexus 10 and Nexus 4 and wonder if this makes for a better pairing? I always know which one I want to use.

    Things are either a tablet task or a phone task in my world!

  3. “Things are either a tablet task or a phone task in my world!”

    Exactly what I was lamely trying to say :-)

  4. how is the camera of nexus 7?

    • The Nexus 7 camera is very basic. It only has a forward facing camera designed for video chat (which it does well enough). You won’t want to use it to take pictures.

  5. I have both and I seem to see a few apps that are not compatible with the 7 but work on the 4 – Office 365 being an example. Slightly irritating – does anyone know why this might be?

    • Yes, this inconstancy is frustrating, especially when both devices are ultimately running the same version of Android. Surely a phone app can “just run” on a tablet? OK so it won’t look great if they haven’t optimised the interface but you know what that’s OK for some apps.

      Why does it happen? Not sure, I think as a developer you can specify supported devices and perhaps they are saying they don’t support tablets (or the N7)? Seems strange to me thought. Definitely review and feedback your thoughts on the App in the Play market store. The more people that complain the more chance they’ll fix…

What do you think?

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