Google Nexus 4 Bumper Hands-On (Video)
There are certain advantages that come with having a glass back on your smartphone. For instance, it looks sleek and it doesn’t block radio signals like metallic surfaces can. There are also some downsides to that glass back as well. Now that some of the hype around the Nexus 4 has started to wear off, let’s take a look at one of its only available accessories: the Nexus 4 Bumper.
Tucked away in its deceptively huge shipping box is the very lightweight, and relatively expensive bumper. Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t just a rubber band that wraps around your phone. Instead it’s more like a bezel that LG and Google just forgot to ship with your phone. The bumper itself is made from two pieces (buttons not included), one is a matte black, hard rubbery plastic, the other is a metallic ring, much like the stripe that runs around the phone when it’s naked. The bottom part of the bumper has a bumpy texture that adds quite a bit of gripping surface. You install it on your Nexus 4 by simply inserting your phone from the top and working your way around.
The bumper adds very little to the weight or other dimensions to the Nexus 4. Once it’s in place, if you didn’t know any better, you would think the bumpered version of the Nexus 4 was the way Google and LG intended it to be. It goes on very easily, yet feels very secure once installed. Physical buttons are supplied for both volume up/down and power, as well as pass-throughs for headphones, USB, and microphones.
Once installed, the bumper not only adds a little bit of cushion to the sides of the Nexus 4, it also keeps the front and back from touching whatever surface it may be sitting on. This will undoubtedly help keep scratches at bay, but more importantly, you won’t have to worry about your phone sliding off your desk any more. And yes, the Nexus 4 is really that slippery.
The front of the Nexus 4 has a very graceful roll to the right and left edges of its screen. This touch is very subtle, but noticeable and welcome when swiping left and right. Unless you’ve held a Nexus 4 in your hands this graceful detail may go unnoticed, but it’s there, and I love it. Unfortunately, the bumper interrupts that. To swipe left and right you now have to start inside the screen rather than off the glass. It’s annoying. Is the added protection worth it? If you drop your phone a lot, yes. Otherwise, you may want to go naked.
Since the bumper is elevated from the screen (and the back), dust, grit, and even lint tend to gather around the edges. What’s annoying about grit is that it can scratch glass if it’s made of the right materials. That gracefully curved bevel on the front also serves as a collection well for said grit.
And then there’s cost and availability…
Cost & Availability
As far as availability goes, it’s hit or miss with the bumper. If you want one, get it while you can! I probably would have purchased the bumper with my Nexus 4… but it was sold out. Now, after the fact, the sticker shock is a bit hard to swallow. US$25 for a bumper, shipping, and taxes? Seems a bit steep to me. I guess we have to look at it from the perspective of screen breakage insurance, and $25 is a lot less expensive than costs to repair a broken screen or to buy a new device. Unfortunately, the warranty that comes with the bumper doesn’t provide any remedy for screens that break while the Nexus 4 is wearing its bumper, so the only “insurance” that you actually get, is theoretical.
Take a look as we unbox and install the Nexus 4 Bumper, and let us know what you think in the comments below!