Google has pushed out the Nexus brand for developers ever since the inception, but the phones, tablets and other gizmos have become increasing popular with regular users who don’t develop on Android or work for an app/web development studio.
The cheap price is the main reason for the vast majority of new buyers and Google has moved the Nexus 7 into the everyday tablet device, advertising it on TV and on the web as the perfect device to use Google services and content.
LG Nexus 5
The LG Nexus 5 announcement was so quiet most thought it was just another rumor, until all tech news sites started showing the phone off and releasing news about the device.
Google decided not to hold an event, make a big announcement or even show off the Nexus, it just simply arrived on the Google Play store with the latest version of Android, KitKat 4.4 and a host of accessories custom to the new device.
Google decided to go with the same manufacturer and this time they grabbed a load of assets from the LG G2, instead of developing a smartphone different from the competition, this move may annoy some users who dislike the design of the LG G2.
Looking at the Nexus 5 from the front, it wouldn’t be a shock to think it was the LG G2. Google has slapped the same design on the front, complete with the thin side-bezels and no physical buttons. The two give aways are the side buttons on the Nexus 5 and the white microphone grill on the white unit.
Turning it onto the back makes the phone stand out, instead of the two back buttons and camera in the center of the device, the Nexus 5 has quite a large sensor sitting in the corner of the smartphone, which extrudes a little making it a target for scuffs.
The design of the smartphone depends on the color, the black version comes with a matte finish on the back and the sides, but the white version has plastic side-accents. Google has added ceramic buttons that are tough and feel rooted into the smartphone, adding to the quality of the device.
Google has went with the crowd on the display, opting for a five-inch 1080p display similar to most smartphones on the market right now. The display is gorgeous as most 1080p screens are but there is one complaint from almost all reviews, colors seem a little washed out on the panel.
Another minor complaint is the speaker on the device, similar to the iPhone, there is only one mono-speaker on the Nexus 5 and it doesn’t sound very good. Even at the highest volume, the speaker just doesn’t work very well – headphones are the obvious way to cancel this problem.
The camera on the Nexus 5 is almost always a poor experience, OIS helps the users from getting blurry photos but the images are just not as good as some of the rival cameras. Taking a photo in good lighting can work out, but getting into darker areas or even where the camera has to try and grab a good shot, it just under-performs.
The Nexus 5 runs the stock version of Android and complete with the Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, it just runs smooth as butter on almost every single application, apart from the camera app that takes a few seconds to load.
Google has added several performance enhancements over the course of the year to Android and without a heavy skin like TouchWiz or Sense on top, the phone just runs incredibly fast and powers through games and applications.
On the battery life side the Nexus 5 doesn’t outperform any of the current flagship smartphones and in some cases it can be one of the worst. Google decided to put a 2300mAh battery inside and some days it can do 10-12 hours and others it can do 5-8 hours.
Google has shipped the latest version of Android, KitKat 4.4, onto the Nexus 5 and it brings a few new design enhancements alongside a small feature-list of changes and new applications for users.
On the design front Google has worked on making everything more transparent and stripped away the old blue and black. This is a redesign change we have been seeing across Google’s services, changing every service to look cleaner and more consistent.
Google Now is a swipe left away, instead of a hard press down on the touchscreen. It is a nice touch and Google has added plenty of functionality to the personal assistant service, with more cards and extra integration with Google services.
Hangouts is now tied into actual SMS messaging, mimicking the iMessage service Apple developed for all iOS users. Google has also added various new APIs, including some new NFC features for developers and manufacturers to use, even if the phone does not have an NFC chip.
Overall the software update feels like a bigger upgrade than the past three Jelly Bean updates and has some big features developers and manufacturers can take advantage of in the longer term.
The Nexus 5 is an incredible smartphone for the price, at $399 for the 16GB model and $449 for 32GB, it is still around $200 cheaper than the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, two of the most well loved Android rivals.
Our problem is we cannot see the market for this type of device – it is an impressive sell for its cost, but most grab phones on contract and the HTC One and iPhone 5S looks like a more well packaged deal, without the camera and battery life issues.
We would recommend the device to anyone who loves stock Android and developers, but to everyday users it may be better to search around and possibly look at spending an extra $100/200 on a smartphone that has everything covered.