Google Nexus 5 review

I have always liked Nexus smartphones. My last smartphone was Google’s Samsung built Galaxy Nexus, which I had planned to replace with Nexus 4, but after using Nexus 4 for almost a week, I decided against it. So, Galaxy Nexus replacement was long due and I was eagerly waiting for Nexus 5.

When Google revealed that it was bringing Nexus 5 to India soon after release, well as you can guess I was quite happy as getting a phone from US, when you don’t have any relatives or close friends there, can be a pain.

Google finally launched Nexus 5 in India on November 20 and having ordered it the same day from Google Play, I got it in my hands by November 22. For over a week, I have been using Nexus 5 as my primary phone and I am finally ready to share my views about the smartphone.

Before we go ahead with the review, here is some basic backgrounder about the Nexus smartphones. Nexus 5 is the fifth Nexus smartphone (also indicated by 5 in the name, which is also the screen-size (approx.)), other four being Google Nexus 5

Here we go.

Display

Nexus 5 comes with 4.95-inch of full HD goodness, which uses IPS display technology and is a treat to watch. Even when I have switched from Galaxy Nexus, which uses a 4.65-inch 720p AMOLED HD display, the difference is clearly visible. Your eyes might or might not see the pixels but the full HD display on Nexus 5 clearly stands out.

It isn’t almost perfect like HTC One display but is still awesome. It is quite bright and on full brightness, the under-sun visibility is great. Being an IPS display, the viewing angles are also good.

Looks and Design

I must agree that Nexus 5 is not the prettiest phone around and in fact most of the design is quite boring or at least I thought of it that way for the first few days. In reality, as much as you use the phone, the seemingly average design of Nexus 5 grows on you, you start liking it more and more.

The smartphone is quite handy and doesn’t seem like a phone with huge 4.95-inch display, which borders on the phablet segment.

In terms of the specifics, the front of the smartphone is largely dominated by the display, apart from that there is front camera and the circular ear-piece (not the usual sight). As the phone uses on-screen buttons, there aren’t any buttons on the front of the phone. The back cover is not removable, so LG has included a micro-SIM card slot on the right side of the phone, which can be ejected using the bundled SIM-card removal tool. The ceramic volume rocker and power button are quite pleasing to use but I found the placing of power button an inconvenience unless you have giant hands. It is very hard to reach it during one hand usage of the phone and if only it was placed slightly lower than its current position.Google Nexus 5

Performance

Moving on to the performance of the smartphone; thanks to the included Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, the performance of the Nexus 5 is great. The phone feels snappy and I am yet to encounter any lag during any normal usage of the phone. Be it playing Asphalt 8 or browsing the web, the phone just goes on like a breeze.

The new Android 4.4 KitKat also plays an important part in the performance of the smartphone as Google has cut down on all the unnecessary parts of the operating system to make it workable on just 512MB of RAM and as the Nexus 5 includes four times of that minimum-requirement, the OS is a delight to use.

Coming to the loud-speaker performance, the phone is not very loud and falls behind many of the other Android devices. Thankfully, Nexus 5 is a big improvement on the speaker front than my last Nexus phone, which was awfully quiet. Despite what it might look in the images, Nexus does not come with two speakers and there is just one speaker and the right grill on the bottom of the device hides the primary microphone, not a speaker.Google Nexus 5

Battery:

LG has included a 2300 mAh battery on the phone, which isn’t really huge as the phone includes a 1080p display. That display eats a lot of battery and coupled with 3G usage (no LTE in India), you are left with around 15-17 hours of usage with above-average usage. If you are a moderate user, you might get through the day, more likely when you use more data via Wi-Fi than 3G.

Overall on the performance front, apart from the battery, Nexus 5 rules and there is no disagreement there.

Software: True Google Phone?

Now coming to a very important part of Nexus 5 – Android 4.4 KitKat. As you all know Nexus 5 runs on Android 4.4. While KitKat might not seem a lot different from Jelly Bean on most of other devices including Nexus 4, it looks different on Nexus 5, thanks to the presence of new Google launcher.

The inclusion of the new Google launcher brings both under-the-hood and user-facing refresher to Android. Despite being a point update, KitKat seems to be big change on the smartphone, in part because of this new launcher. It also seems to be an attempt by the search giant to make the Nexus smartphone as close of a Google phone as they can, without actually pissing off other Android partners.Google Nexus 5

The Google launcher brings a more polished, lightened, and flatter user-interface, which is pleasing to the eyes. It also integrates Google Search deeply and “Ok Google” hot word is in play on your entire home-screen. While ‘OK Google’ only supports English (US) right now, it works quite nicely with Indian accent.

Borrowing a bit from HTC’s Blinkfeed experiment, Google has given Google Now a full-screen on Nexus 5. While, you can always get Google Now by swiping up from home button or tapping on the search widget, Google Now is now also accessible by going to last home-screen on the left.Google Nexus 5

Among other KitKat specific features, Nexus 5 includes the new and improved Dialler app, which not only can search through your Google contacts, but can also look in your Google Apps account contacts and Google Places listings. No need to go searching for the number of the nearest Domino’s Pizza, just type Domino’s in Dialler app and it brings a list of nearby outlets which can be contacted with just a simple tap.

Nexus 5 also includes Hangouts as the main messaging app, which I don’t really like much but it being an Android smartphone, you always have an option to get another SMS/ MMS app from Google Play and make it your default messaging app.

KitKat is really a decent improvement over Jelly Bean and if you want to read more about the features of this new Android version, you should go through these two articles (1, 2).

Camera

Coming to one of the problematic areas of Nexus 5, its camera. The 8MP rear camera on-board the smartphone is a disappointment. The camera’s auto-focus falters in low-light situations, and detail is missing from the photographs taken from it.

Obviously, you can take good photos with Nexus 5 under best conditions but more is expected from a high-end Android smartphone. We are hearing that Google is hard at work with Android camera software to make it better but until that arrives and fixes Nexus 5 camera woes, it will remain the single biggest issue with this, otherwise great, smartphone.

The front camera is decent and you won’t have problems in taking decent selfies or video chats.

Final words

As I have already detailed in this review, Nexus 5 is not a perfect smartphone. It has some issues, camera being the prominent one, but taking in account the affordable pricing of the device, it is the best Android smartphone that you can buy today (and for the foreseeable near future) at this price-tag.

Then, you also have the special benefits of getting a Nexus device, like fast Android updates, great integration with Google services and stock Android experience (almost stock in Nexus 5). If you are invested in Google ecosystem, there is no better phone than Nexus 5. It brings all the Google goodness and top of the line specs in a great price-tag.

Nexus 5 specifications

  • SCREEN: 4.95” 1920×1080 display (445 ppi) (Full HD IPS) with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • CAMERAS: 1.3MP front facing, 8MP rear facing with Optical Image Stabilization
  • DIMENSIONS: 69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59 mm, 4.59 ounces (130g)
  • BATTERY: 2300 mAh
  • Wireless Charging built-in
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.26GHz processor, Adreno 330 GPU (450MHz)
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC (Android Beam), Bluetooth 4.0
  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8, LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20
  • 16GB/ 32GB internal storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • microUSB (SlimPort enabled), 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • Dual microphones
  • Ceramic power and volume buttons
  • SENSORS: GPS, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Compass, Proximity/Ambient Light, Pressure, Hall
  • Price: Starting INR 28,999 in India, $349 in US

Pros: Display, Performance, Price

Cons: Camera

PS: If you have any specific queries regarding Nexus 5, please note them in comments and I would try my best to answer them.


Post Author: Gaurav Shukla

Gaurav Shukla is the editor of AndroidOS.in. If you'd like to reach him, drop an email at 'gaurav@androidos.in' or connect with him on Twitter (@gauravshukla).

42 thoughts on “Google Nexus 5 review

    Gauri Limaye

    (October 12, 2014 - 9:56 am)

    I would like to know if I buy the Nexus 5 from Singapore or Dubai is it good and will get international warranty. Is it a good idea to buy the phone in India or outside India if it is cheaper. One more query is that if I can insert my old phones memory card in it.

    nasrullah

    (May 27, 2014 - 12:16 pm)

    Does the nexus 5 820 work in india… I dont require 4g Use… 3g Will suffice

      Gaurav Shukla

      (May 27, 2014 - 1:28 pm)

      If the phone is unlocked, it should work on Indian 3G networks as all of them use 2100MHz band, which is supported in Nexus 5 D820.

    Kumar Anshumali

    (February 16, 2014 - 11:57 pm)

    Is it safe to buy Nexus 5 from Google Play Store and How is their replacement or refund policy(which only states about purchases in US, on Google Play Store)?

    If i have to buy it from shop then where i have to look for it???

    hasibul

    (December 29, 2013 - 10:49 pm)

    Hi,is it worth getting the Nexus 5 from Canada without warranty or sud I buy from India with warranty?

    dhaval

    (December 4, 2013 - 4:30 pm)

    I am facing problems with google nexus 5 and want the defective piece replaced… what should I do

    krunalthacker

    (December 4, 2013 - 11:20 am)

    how could you forget about the Speakers ? They are the worst ever .

      Kiran Kumar A

      (December 4, 2013 - 1:15 pm)

      Very very bad actually.

    Biswajit Barman

    (December 3, 2013 - 8:10 pm)

    which phone heats up too quickly? Nexus 5 or Htc One??

    george

    (December 3, 2013 - 7:54 pm)

    Are there any problems with ordering a nexus 5 from the u.s other than no LTE or warranty? Will it work on the networks available here like idea ?

      Gaurav Shukla

      (December 4, 2013 - 12:15 pm)

      Yes, it will work just fine…

        george

        (December 5, 2013 - 9:40 pm)

        Thanks. Wasnt really expecting a reply.
        The review was really good,btw.

    cythe

    (December 3, 2013 - 2:17 pm)

    Wi-Fi Direct is broken. Couldn’t get it to send or receive image and video files. Tested with Galaxy Note.
    Can you guys check on your phones?

    Hardik

    (December 3, 2013 - 8:52 am)

    What does he mean by almost Stock in Nexus 5?? It is the stock version of android..

      Gaurav Shukla

      (December 3, 2013 - 11:57 am)

      Not technically, Google has increasingly started to put more and more proprietary technology in Nexus devices, like Ok Google implementation or Google Now on left home-screen in Nexus 5. Even Photosphere is closed-source.. All these parts are not available in AOSP (which is the stock Android, rest all versions we see are tweaked as per requirements by manufacturers or device vendors to suit their needs, Google has started to do the same to make Nexus device more Google-centric). Initial Nexus devices like Nexus One, S or even Galaxy Nexus (at launch) were pure Android but same is not the case with Nexus 4 or 5.

      Nexus 5 still comes with the most unadulterated version of Android but it can not be dubbed as stock Android technically.

    Kiran Kumar A

    (December 3, 2013 - 2:02 am)

    I also had heating issues when using hang outs video!!!

    itsmuks

    (December 3, 2013 - 1:21 am)

    What do you mean by “OK Google” only in US???
    Also what made the author move away from N4?
    In terms of performance there is hardly any difference between N4 & N5!

      Gaurav Shukla

      (December 3, 2013 - 12:00 pm)

      “Ok Google” only works when you use English (US) as your phone language.

      About N4, I didn’t like it personally, it might have included upgraded specs than those present on Galaxy Nexus but the performance improvements weren’t so huge.

    Subbiah Palani

    (December 3, 2013 - 12:24 am)

    Hey thats a really accurate review kudos!!, I own a Nexus 5 I was hoping if you could help me with an issue Ive been facing with the screen. I have an array of white pixels that light up on screen near the right side bezel. This happens in some apps and home screen however it is not visible on the web browser. I’ve attached a picture showing the same, Could you check out the same with your device and share your findings?

      Kiran Kumar A

      (December 3, 2013 - 2:04 am)

      Dead pixels may be??

        Subbiah Palani

        (December 4, 2013 - 1:02 pm)

        Nope did the Dead pixel test and results came out negative, If you own a nexus 5 could you please check this out, Also there are stray white pixels lighting up around App icons that have any White pattern on them. That’d be a really great help to me

          Kiran Kumar A

          (December 4, 2013 - 1:14 pm)

          My phone does not seem to have this unfortunately..!

            Subbiah Palani

            (December 4, 2013 - 1:18 pm)

            Hey thanks for checking up man, I’ve getting lotta positives regarding this case to a point where I thought this was a region wide SW issue. Your comment helped me a lot bro

    Ravi Kumar

    (December 2, 2013 - 11:31 pm)

    which color is good white or black?

      Kiran Kumar A

      (December 3, 2013 - 2:03 am)

      I had a white and it looked gorgeous… Than black.. But it all comes to personal preference.

    Rahul

    (December 2, 2013 - 10:59 pm)

    BTW is there any problem with the microphone? There were rumours that the microphone is problematic.

    Snehashish Chowdhary

    (December 2, 2013 - 7:54 pm)

    I wish to ask a couple of things – my device heats up when i play Asphalt 8 for more than 15 mins and the icons appear a bit bigger and smudged as compared to a Nexus 4 (4.4 updated). Why is it so?

      Gaurav Shukla

      (December 2, 2013 - 8:22 pm)

      Some heating is normal and Nexus 5 includes the new Google launcher, which packs bigger icons than the ones present on Nexus 4.

    Varun

    (December 2, 2013 - 6:50 pm)

    crap…..my nexus 5 has a yellowish screen, going to RMA it.

    trampoint

    (December 2, 2013 - 4:43 pm)

    One wonders why they dropped the camera module of the LG G2, which received excellent reviews, for a weaker one from hardware & software point of view.

    View From The Top

    (December 2, 2013 - 3:16 pm)

    @ Gaurav – “… no LTE in India …”

    Surely, we do have LTE service in India. Airtel has their LTE service here in Kolkata, but it’s inordinately expensive.

    What you must have meant was – “The LTE version of the phone is not sold officially in India”. And that would be correct. Even the American version won’t work here because it isn’t TDD/FDD Dual Mode LTE. 🙁

      John O'Connor

      (December 3, 2013 - 1:47 pm)

      This works fine with Sprint’s TDD/FDD setup. Which bands are you using in India?

        View From The Top

        (December 3, 2013 - 7:04 pm)

        What I meant was that the Nexus 5 is not interoperable between TDD and FDD. We use TDD in India unlike the US and the US spec Nexus 5 is FDD only and so, won’t work on Indian 4G networks.

        Sprint/Clearwire’s combined TDD/FDD network means (to the best of my understanding) that both ‘TDD only’ and ‘FDD only’ phones along with obviously the dual mode ones like the upcoming Galaxy S5 etc. will work on their network.

        Frequency is a scarce commodity in India, so cellular operators do not have the luxury of a large available frequency band. So TDD is more of a requirement than a choice, at least that’s what I’ve been given to understand.

    Biswajit Barman

    (December 2, 2013 - 2:09 pm)

    what is the available amount of RAM after just turning it ON??

    Confused btw Nexus 5 and HTC ONE… Suggestion…!

      View From The Top

      (December 2, 2013 - 3:35 pm)

      No anecdotal evidence, but the Nexus 5 is already a better device overall, and when you add the price to the equation, it becomes an absolute no brainer the way I see it.

      Unless the camera is absolutely the most important consideration for your purchase, the Nexus 5 is definitely the way to go IMO. The value (price-performance ratio) is just unbeatable.

      Also, it will have a much more vibrant developer community which will ensure future custom ROM’s long after Google stops providing Android updates after the promised 18 months.

        Biswajit Barman

        (December 2, 2013 - 5:42 pm)

        how to buy it from play store using debit card?

          View From The Top

          (December 2, 2013 - 6:55 pm)

          RAM – Firstly, to answer a previous query of yours that I had missed earlier, RAM availability is not going to be an issue at all. For a very, very long time. You should have close to 1GB available with nothing running in the background. Even with Google Now, location services, BBM etc. running, you should still get well in excess of 500MB available IMO.

          The more RAM your device has, the more it should use. Don’t worry. This is expected behavior. This is supposed to happen. ‘Cuz unused RAM is wasted RAM. And you do not want your precious hardware to go wasted, do you? 😀

          Kit Kat uses RAM more efficiently than previous Android versions, which means the moment a foreground service (app etc.) needs more RAM, the OS itself will cut down on it’s usage. You may never see 1+GB free, but you’ll be able to run apps that consume well over 1 GB without any real slowdown or lag IMO.

          Debit Card – Gaurav said in an earlier article – “As far as we know Debit cards do not work. You will need a credit card with India billing address to purchase Nexus 5 from Google Play.” . I cannot however verify or refute that personally. Just don’t know what the real deal is 🙁

          Link for that article – https://www.androidos.in/2013/11/google-nexus-5-india-launch-everything-need-know/

          PRAVIN SALGAONKAR

          (December 3, 2013 - 9:36 am)

          I already tried buddy,it’s not working with SBI Debit card.I read somewhere that only ICICI Debit card works.

            Nexus5Guy

            (December 3, 2013 - 11:10 am)

            Yup, i bought with an ICICI debit card

    shahul haq

    (December 2, 2013 - 1:12 pm)

    Surely the weakpoints of Nexus 5 is camera and battery backup. I’ll go for G2 which is best in both camera performance and battery backup

    Balaji SVG

    (December 2, 2013 - 12:35 pm)

    When we have all Indian LTE operators planning for Band 40, what is the point in having a mobile with the following bands?

    LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20

      sanketj

      (December 3, 2013 - 11:25 am)

      Because, my friend,by the time it is implemented with a decent area coverage and gets affordable….at least 2-3 years would have passed. You won’t be using nexus 5 then…

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