In this review of Nexus 5, we will have a look at the specifications and more importantly the overall everyday performance of this smartphone. I have been using Google’s Nexus 5 for 3 weeks now, so i can write this review as a day to day user of this phone.
Nexus 4 which is now the predecessor of Nexus 5 was a great phone at a lower price point. Lets compare the specifications of the two phones.
As you see from this table, Nexus 5 makes up for all the things that we wished Nexus 4 should have had – faster processor, bigger screen, higher internal storage, larger battery, LTE and all this in a slightly bigger but lighter device.
Build and Design
Build quality of Nexus 5 is amazing. Despite of being a device with 4.95 inch display, the phone feels surprisingly light in your hands, the size and weight of the Nexus 5 are perfectly proportioned. I have ordered the black version of the phone which has a soft-touch matte back, it feels great to touch and helps grip the phone better. There is a downside to this back that it is a fingerprint and smudge magnet, i have to constantly wipe the back because i like to keep it clean.
Initially Nexus 5 was available in two colour choices: Black and White, but recently it is also been made available in Red colour.
The back cover of the phone is not removable and hence the battery of the phone is non replaceable. On the right side of the device is the power/sleep/wake button and a micro sim card tray. On the left side is the volume up/down button, on the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise cancellation microphone. Below the phone are speaker and microphone grills and micro usb charging port for charging the phone. On the back cover of the phone NEXUS is engraved in landscape orientation which looks great.
Nexus 5 packs in a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and a Adreno 330 GPU. It also has 2GB of RAM. What this means for everyday use is that the phone can handle whatever apps and games you throw at it.
Nexus 5 has a stunning 4.95 inch True HD+ display and a screen revolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which means 445 pixels per inch. This display panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 which is really tough and scratch resistant to a great extent. This screen size is best suited for playing games and consuming media. I have been using an iPhone before coming to Nexus 5, so the screen size made lot of tasks easier for me, however i found the display of Nexus 5 to be little washed out in terms of colours. For everyday use the viewing angles are great and brightness is very well adjusted to suite the lighting conditions that surround you.
The front facing camera on Nexus 5 has a 1.3MP sensor which is good for video calling. The rear camera has a 8MP sensor, and Optical Image Stabilisation(OIS) which helps taking better pictures. The Auto focus on Nexus 5 is not so great, it takes a lot of time to focus. The camera takes great pictures in perfect conditions, but for taking photos with a smartphone camera we don’t always have perfect conditions. So i would call the camera of Nexus 5 just Moderate. I was expecting the camera to be really great with OIS and HDR+ feature. Let me say this again: in the right light, with a steady hand and no moving (or slow-moving) subjects, the camera can take excellent photos, but in real life situations we don’t get to take pictures in such perfect conditions, so i am disappointed by the camera.
Android 4.4 KitKat
With the Nexus 5 came the latest version of Android – 4.4 KitKat. Android 4.4 is a significant update over the previous versions of of Android OS. Some of the aesthetic changes in KitKat seem to be focused on getting user interface elements out of the way – for instance, the status bar at the top is now translucent, allowing apps or pictures to use up every single one of the Nexus 5’s pixels. Icons, text and symbols seem clearer, crisper and larger in Android 4.4.
Google search is integrated deep into KitKat, Google Now is just a left swipe away from the main home screen. There is also an always listening mode in KitKat where you have to just say “ok google” to start voice search, but its only listening when you are on the home screen of the phone, so it might not be as useful as you previously thought.
Further in KitKat the widget drawer has been axed and combined with a contextual menu where you can also select wallpaper and open general Google settings.
The Hangouts app now fully integrates SMS and MMS, and replaces the “Messages” app from previous versions of the software. I am not a fan of this integration of messaging app with Hangouts. You can install other messaging apps from google play store and use that app as your main messaging app. There can be little stutter here and there while scrolling through large pages, but i think that is due buffering and not so much due to graphic performance of Nexus 5. However in everyday use, you will not experience any lag or stutter in this device. So overall Android 4.4 KitKat runs like butter and its minimalistic look matches perfectly with the Nexus 5.
The battery life of my Nexus 5 for first 3-4 days was all over the place, sometimes i was hardly able to last for 8 hours with moderate use and sometimes it surprised me by lasting over 16 hours on moderate use. Now i consistently get the battery to last whole day, so the battery life of the phone is just ok. It has a 2300mAh battery but we have to understand that the large display uses a lot of battery, so i would call the battery to be moderate. If you want the battery to last longer then try playing less of heavy graphics games as they drain the battery super fast. It would have been great if the battery would have been 2600-2800mAh, but those are the trade off’s we have to make to get a super fast and smooth android smartphone at this price range.
This is where it gets interesting, getting the top smartphone with a stunning display that has 445 ppi, LTE, 8MP rear camera, premium build quality and latest Android KitKat costs you only $349 (Rs.29,900) for 16GB and $399 (Rs.33,900) for 32GB without carrier contract. This is the sweet spot where Google managed to offer such great specifications at really reasonable price.
Leaving aside the moderate camera and the mixed battery life, i think Nexus 5 is the best Android phone at its price range in the market right now. Google has promised to improve the camera with some software enhancements in its upcoming KitKat update, so the camera issue may be solved. The gorgeous display and smooth KitKat makes it a great experience. Performance of the phone is top notch. Google is clearly sending a message to smartphone makers that it’s possible to make high-quality handsets without costing consumers a fortune.
If you love Android and want to experience it as Google intended, free from custom skins (that slows down the phone), then Nexus 5 is the phone for you. Let us know your views on this phone in the comments section below.