Google's LG Nexus 4: Exit Interview

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I get the same question every day: Which Android smartphone should I buy? For the last year, my answer has always been the same: Buy the one Google's own employees use.

And for the last year, that has meant the LG Nexus 4.

The reasons for making your Android phone a Nexus are:

1. No crapware. Not from the handset maker, nor from the carrier. It's just like when you buy an Apple Apple product of any size or shape.

2. You get your software updates directly from Google -- not from the handset maker or the carrier. This means you get them right away.

3. Google's employees use Nexus. This means that if there's a need for a security patch or a desire for new functionality, a Nexus will get them as fast as possible.

4. Price. Presumably somewhere between Google and the handset vendor, a Nexus device is sold either at cost, or Google may even throw in a subsidy. This will save you $200-$300 for an all-cash purchase.

5. No SIM-lock, no contract. Choose from the cheapest pay-as-you go plans from any carrier, in any country in the world. This could save you up to $50 per month here at "home" in the US, and in some cases several hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars per day when you're traveling abroad.

The Nexus 4 was introduced on Oct. 29, 2012, and sales started a few weeks thereafter. Demand was high in relation to supply, and it took a few months until the backlog had been cleared. Google has sold out of the Nexus 4 now, but it is still selling at outlets such as T-Mobile, Fry's and Amazon. Cash prices range from $200 to $500, so be sure to check the terms.

Judging from the more than ample Internet rumors, the Nexus 5 is going to be introduced -- in conjunction with Android 4.4 KitKat -- on Oct. 14, and presumably be available within weeks thereafter. So why this review now, on the eve of its retirement? <story_page_break>

Well, just like when ABBA retired in early 1983, the band may no longer be in production, but the records will be on store shelves and played on radio stations for years to come. So it's likewise important to understand why the Nexus 4 was the best smartphone of its time.

In late 2012, the LG Nexus 4 replaced the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as Google's reference smartphone. The shift was more than about going from Samsung to LG. It was also about going from a Texas Instruments CPU to a Qualcomm CPU. TI was exiting the high-end smartphone CPU business, and Qualcomm had come from nowhere in the CPU business, to outperforming the market's performance expectations.