I was compulsively checking availability on the N4 for a while, as well as looking into the possibility of going back on-contract for a S3 or 1X+, but I fell back on my bargain-hunting ways and picked up an Xperia Ion second-hand from Ebay. It's my second Xperia and fourth Sony/Sony-Ericsson phone. They reliably have great cameras, often interesting designs, and because Sony's handsets are perpetual also-rans in the US market, they're a great way to get feature parity with the market leaders at a fraction of the price. I got mine for $200 and currently spend about $30/mo on AT&T prepaid (GoPhone). If I jump carriers, it will probably be to Straight Talk, but AT&T has the pro of being pretty flexible--for a while I was getting by on $10/mo. It helps that my main number is Google Voice, so I can supplement voice and texts with GVoice and GrooveIP.
Compared to the N4, my Ion has a previous-gen processor and half the RAM, but dual core and 1GB are more than adequate for Android. It also has a 12MP camera, FM radio, the Sony Bravia Engine graphics accelerator, and the big one: microSD. I had half resigned myself that I could live with a 16GB Nexus 4, but it was such a relief to just slide my card out of my old phone and into the new one. I think I'm already using more than 16GB between the 16GB on-board and the 16GB card, and all my music and settings backups for various apps were right there. After loading my launcher and dialer of choice, any additional OS branding is all but invisible. I've rooted and installed custom recovery for backups, but I haven't even bothered removing the bloatware yet.