Market analysts would say that the average turnover rate for most smartphones is two years, which is exactly how long most contracts last anyway. That is true even for Google’s Nexus devices. In that sense, the Nexus 4, launched way back in 2012, is way past its due date. But for those still with a perfectly serviceable unit, news of its death has been largely exaggerated. Especially now that there’s a CyanogenMod 14.1 nightly image for it, bringing the nutty goodness of Nougat to the phone.
To be clear, this is far from being a “stable” version of Android 7.0 Nougat for the Nexus 4, though CyanogenMod itself has done away with such labels for its rolling releases. The nightly builds, which are cooked, well, nightly, come with no guarantee of stability, which may change daily. But those who own a Nexus 4 hungry from some new dessert, they will most likely take what they can.
The biggest question will be whether it will be worth it for owners to risk running CM 14.1 nightly on their smartphone. The Nexus 4 definitely doesn’t have the hardware to support many of the features introduced in Android 7.0 and the upcoming 7.1. At the very least, the device’s aging hardware might not be able to handle much of those features in the first place. Still, as far as having the latest Android version is concerned, it is one of the only paths available for those who want to live on the cutting edge.
There is, however, no guarantee that the nightly builds will continue ad infinitum. Unlike Cyanogen OS, CyanogenMod development and support for devices is a purely volunteer-based work of love and enthusiasm. Should maintainers for the Nexus 4 branch meet an insurmountable problem, they are likely to drop work on it. Or wait for Android O.