Review: Google Nexus 5

The Nexus 5 from Google which was supplied to me by Rogers is the latest iteration that a phone that was meant to be disruptive. The whole idea is that the Nexus 5 is meant to have aggressive price, excellent performance, and a smart design. So lets see if this phone lives up to that.

The Nexus 5 fits into your hand nicely and the back while extremely fingerprint prone due to the matte black finish, is designed to make sure the phone doesn’t slip from your hand. The power and volume buttons are apparently made of a ceramic material, but they didn’t feel “different” in any way to me. In terms of the screen, besides also being a magnet for fingerprints, the IPS display on the Nexus 5 is excellent. It has gorgeous colors and phenomenal maximum brightness. Although in bright light, the ambient light sensor seems to want to increase the brightness a lot so that it appears to me that it is too bright sometimes. Overall the build quality is excellent. There were no loose bits or anything that would make it feel cheap. It should be noted that the battery cannot be removed and the case cannot be opened.

In terms of specs, here’s what the phone comes with:

  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 4.95-inch 1080p IPS display
  • 2.26Ghz Quad Core Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 1080p video capture
  • LTE, WiFi (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC

Android 4.4 KitKat (version 4.4.2 on my test phone) is the absolute latest version available on an Android device. I like this version as it was very clean looking and intuitive to use. Also, the messages app is gone with SMS and MMS messages going to Hangouts which will be welcome by many. Google Now is present and unlike the Moto X, I had a much better time using it via the voice commands as I could not really find anything to complain about. The phone is pretty much devoid of non Google software and user interface enhancements. As a result, the phone is completely open for you to customize.

The overall speed of the phone was easily in line with the LG G2 and the Sony Xperia Z1 which puts the Nexus 5 near the top of the Android phone food chain. Speaking of speed, over LTE I got an average of 27 Mbps downstream and 15 Mbps upstream using Speedtest on the Rogers network which is far from being slow. One thing to note is that the Nexus 5 that  Rogers offers comes with 16GB of storage and you cannot expand it. Thus you’ll need to take care when it comes to what to store on the phone.

When it comes to the camera, it’s a 8MP shooter and it can take pics while shooting video at 1080p. That’s a handy feature when shooting pictures and video of planes landing at Pearson Airport in Toronto. How does it perform? Let’s start with the pictures. Click to see it in full size:

IMG_20140110_165756

For a picture taken in low light, it’s not bad. One thing to note is that in low light, the camera does sometimes have problems auto focusing. How about the video? Here it is and make sure to run it in full screen and to set it to 1080P:

Again, for being a low light video, the results aren’t bad. It did have some focus issues at the start though that I noted.

In terms of battery life, I got a day when I used this as my daily driver. By that I mean that I got up at 7 AM, went about my day, and had to recharge when I got home at 7 or 8 PM because it was down below 20% of a full charge. That’s what I get with my iPhone 5, but many other Android devices such as the LG G2 do far better in terms of battery life. What makes that kind of odd is the fact that the Nexus 5 is made by LG. I am guessing that LG kept all the cool battery tech for themselves. Thus you may want to keep a charging cable handy to top off the phone if you’re a heavy user. Or you can dispense with the cable entirely as the Nexus 5 supports inductive charging. I simply put it on the Qi Universal Wireless Charging Plate that I reviewed a few months ago and it started charging right away.

So, what is the Nexus 5 going to cost? Rogers has the Nexus 5 for $99 on a 2 year plan or $499 outright. When compared to the LG G2 and the Sony Xperia Z1, it’s a bargain. I can easily recommend the Nexus 5 as with the exception of battery life, it has all the features that any smartphone users would want. Put it on your list to look when shopping for a smartphone.

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