The nexus 5 is Google’s new flagship Android phone. Following in the well-trodden footsteps of its predecessor, the nexus 4, it dons a pair of bigger boots that are proving incredibly difficult for other manufacturers to fill.
Initially, I was a little dubious about the transition from custom Android ROMs on my I9100 to stock Android. However, I wasn’t disappointed. Android 4.4 KitKat is easily the best one yet, without a doubt. I particularly like that Google are now really pushing out the whole ‘make the experience yours’ attitude with the option to change your default launcher and SMS apps.
Google have also phased in their Google Now very well and it’s not especially intrusive. Overall, it’s been very helpful in providing traffic updates on long journeys and keeping me up to date with those all-important football scores (you can turn off live score updates for certain teams if you want). In fact, it even reminded me of an appointment I had totally forgotten about… phew!
After seeing video snapshots of people playing around with the ‘OK Google’ voice prompts, I was disappointed to find that this doesn’t work if your language is set to UK English. I changed it to US English but it then had a bit of trouble understanding the British accent, as expected. Oh well, not a major deal breaker. The Google caller ID lookup is also incredibly efficient at telling me who’s calling even if their number isn’t saved in my Google account.
The 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor combined with 2GB RAM and Google’s bloat-free OS ensure that you get the best experience available to any Android user right out of the box. It handles virtually anything with finesse and the whole mobile experience, for the first time in a long time, truly feels seamless. We threw a couple of games on there, expecting some framerate lag somewhere along the way but were truly amazed at the performance.
The Nexus 5 is also equipped to handle 4G straight out of the box and boy does it handle well! Even in the dreary depths of Coventry, I could load up Reddit and browse to my heart’s content.
All this speed and amazing hardware does come at a price, albeit not a monetary one. The battery life suffers slightly if you don’t remember to turn off your data and location services when you’re not using them. Personally, I use my phone excessively for around 3 hours a day during my commute between home and work. During this time, I’m listening to music through Spotify, constantly refreshing Facebook and Twitter, loading up videos on YouTube and reading the news. It does quite easily last a whole working day without any sweat and is out of juice by about 7pm.
The camera is really nothing special. It takes decent pictures but isn’t anything revolutionary like the Sony Xperia Z1 or Nokia Lumia 1020. The video capabilities were beyond expectation and the phone does a great job of negating any shakes and bumps in your footage whilst also capturing surprisingly good audio. The HDR function is disappointingly slow, but if you’ve got a few seconds to take that snap then by all means go for it! The Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) is the only thing that’s really different between the Nexus 5 and other smartphones. It ensures you get a nice crisp image every time… if you’re willing to wait for the slow shutter.
The Nexus 5 is Google’s new flagship Android phone.
Straight out of the box, it’s obvious that for a reasonably cheap £300 smartphone, the finish exceeds all expectation. The soft plastic finish provides you with a nice sense of grip, unlike the plastic Samsung models and glass iPhones. The ceramic lock and volume buttons on the sides are subtle but work great. If you don’t get on with the flatter buttons then you might want to invest in a case to help. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the ceramic buttons to reveal their small flaw. About 3 days in to using the phone, we started to notice a rattling noise whenever there was any haptic feedback from button presses. Turned out this was coming from the power/lock button. Whilst it’s not always noticeable, you can definitely hear it quite easily when you’re in a quiet room.
If, like me, you have ridiculously small hands then it might take you a little while to get the hang of stretching out your hand a little more than you would with other phones. The screen is a nice size for viewing though, and it’s bright enough for outdoor use on a sunny day.
Sadly, the speaker leaves a lot to be desired. In comparison to the HTC One’s Beats Audio experience, it’s incredibly quiet and can be hard to hear in noisy environments. On a day out in Greenwich my phone rang 3 times on full volume and I didn’t even hear it. Pair this with the fairly weak vibration motor and you’re in for a bad time if you work on a building site or anywhere else that’s noisy.
Overall, the Nexus 5 is definitely the best Android phone on the market. It’s priced to undercut the iPhone 5, HTC One and Xperia Z1 by a huge margin and outperform them at the same time, leaving them in the dust. Unless you’re after a phone with a larger screen or expandable storage, this is a very safe bet.