Google Nexus 5 Review
Nexus phones used to serve a different purpose. They were supposed to be the phones for app developers.
But slowly Nexus phones evolved. The result of this evolution is the new Nexus 5. It is arguably the first Nexus phone aimed at mainstream consumers and not only at developers. It is also the first Android phone where Google-services are integrated deep within the operating system.
But can it beat other flagship Android phones? Is Google’s Android better than the version of Android put out by companies like Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC?
In short, the answer is yes. Nexus 5 is a fantastic phone. And there is one primary reason for that…
It’s fast, fast, fast
Outside the synthetic benchmarks, Nexus 5 is the fastest Android phone you can buy in the market. It has no user interface lag, which can be occasionally seen on even flagship devices like Galaxy S4 and LG G2. Apps feel very responsive. Demanding games play smoothly. Scrolling through lists is smooth. Browsing is fast and lag-free. Call quality is fantastic.
Nexus 5 is as fast as the top iPhone. In fact, it feels faster than iPhone 5S because the slower animations in iOS 7 make the user interface the Apple’s phone feel a bit slow.
There are two reasons why Nexus 5 is so fast: Premium hardware and Android KitKat aka Android 4.4, which is the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.
KitKat = Google + Android
Other than the speed, KitKat offers several unique features and a slightly tweaked user interface. Broadly, it is the same old Android. You get a home screens and few more screens where you can put widgets or app icons. The usual app drawer is there and so is the notification drawer with toggles for frequently accessed settings.
But icons are bigger and the user interface has a fresh paint of gloss to make it more modern and cleaner-looking. KitKat looks really good. The notification bar is now transparent, just like how it has been on Samsung phones for a while now. Similarly, instead of the solid black colour, the wallpaper now also serves as the background in the app drawer.
A bigger change is how KitKat integrates with Google services.
Phonebook is the primary example of this integration. When you look for a contact on Nexus 5, you see results from your phonebook as well as from the web. For example, if you search pizza, you will not only see the number of your friend who is a manager at Pizza Hut but also the publicly available numbers of local pizza joints.
Another example is Google Now. The left screen adjacent to the home screen on Nexus 5 is reserved for Google Now. Thankfully, the Google Now service is rather nice and useful – it pulls in information like local weather that could be relevant to users — so it is good for users. Google Voice now doesn’t require a user to tap on the speaker icon in the search bar. It responds if a user says “OK Google.”
The old SMS app is now gone. In its place, KitKat gives users Hangouts. This is an app that integrates SMS as well as Google Talk in one place. This is similar to iMessage on iPhone but not as good. Thankfully, a user can install a third-party SMS app and use that as the default app instead of Hangouts.
Unlike the earlier versions of Android, KitKat makes it very clear that this is Google’s operating system. Chrome is the default browser. Quickoffice is preinstalled.
From the perspective of users, the changes are welcome. They make Nexus 5 a more complete phone.
Two reasons not to buy Nexus 5
Nexus 5 has average battery life and camera performance.
The good news is that Nexus 5 shoots much much better images than what Nexus 4 was capable of. But it doesn’t compare well to phones like Galaxy S4, iPhone 5S and Lumia 1020. The images shot with Nexus 5 lack the amount of detail that better cameras can manage. Also, in low light the colours in images do not have adequate contrast.
The biggest problem with Nexus 5 camera is how it struggles to get focus, especially in low light. You can’t take it out, point and then shoot to get a nice image. You can get a good image with it but only if you are willing to shoot two or three images and are careful enough to keep an eye on the quality of focus.
The videos are captured at 1080p. The phone shoots clear videos but the contrast and colours are not as punchy as what phones with cameras can manage.
Battery life is another disappointment. When used with a 3G connection, the phone lasts around 10 to 11 hours. This is with fairly heavy use. If you don’t browse the web much or do not use the phone to access social media apps, the battery will last more.
Best value for money
At its asking price of Rs 28,999 on the Google Play store – in retail stores the price is Rs 29,999 – Nexus 5 is a very good buy. It is a fast and capable phone with great screen and future-proof hardware, including Wi-Fi AC that is faster than standard Wi-Fi and hardware to track physical activity like walking.
Nexus 5 also a phone that will get future Android updates without any delay. This is a very important factor to consider.
But Nexus 5 doesn’t make other Android flagship phones irrelevant. If battery life is important to you, you should look at LG G2. If you want stylus and related features, Galaxy Note 3 holds a lot of value. If you want a fantastic camera, Galaxy S4 is the phone to buy. If design matters to you, Xperia Z1 or HTC One are good picks.
Very good screen
‘Pure’ Android experience
Guaranteed fast Android updates for around two years
Average camera and battery life
Speaker has low volume
Display: 4.95-inch IPS touchscreen (1080 x 1920 pixels resolution);
Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Processor and RAM: 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, Adreno 330 graphics chip and 2GB RAM;
Storage: 16 and 32GB internal storage, no microSD card support;
Camera: 8-megapixel camera, 1080p video recording, optical image stabilization, 2MP front-facing camera;
Connectivity: 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS;
Battery: 2,300mAh non-removable battery
Price: Rs 29,999