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Google Nexus 5 - Review


Google Nexus 5 - Review

The Nexus Series is known for bringing the purest form of Android out to users and the Google Nexus 5 which introduces Android 4.4 KitKat is the newest member of that family. The Nexus 5 is a powerful device with a 5 inch full HD display and a Snapdragon 800 processor. It also stands out for its 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) which should result in high quality photos, even in low light.

PROs CONs
  • 5 inch full 1080p HD display
  • Camera has (OIS) optical image stabilization
  • Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor
  • Affordable price
  • LTE connectivity
  • Lacks microSD storage expansion

Ever since Google announced their first model, the Google Nexus One, the company has used the Nexus platform as a means to showcase its latest version of Android. While the Nexus One was a pricey purchase, Google has since worked with manufacturers to make their Nexus lineup an affordable alternative to the regular carrier subsidized device option.

With last year's Google Nexus 4, the company managed to offer a smartphone at an impressively low $299, forcing competitors to find new ways to make their products more appealing to the end users. However the Nexus 4 did have its share of issues, like the lack of LTE connectivity, its poor battery performance and less than optimal camera. However the Google Nexus 5 aims to rectify all these issues while introducing the latest standards in hardware and the newest version of Android to its customers.

Google Nexus 4 - Review
The Google Nexus 4 features a 4.7 inch HD touch display, up to 16GB of internal storage an 8 megapixel camera capable of 1080p HD video capture and will be powered by a quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. Here's all you need to know

Building the Nexus 5 has been contracted to LG, much like with the Nexus 4 and the company has clearly worked hard at making the new Google flagship standout where it matters. Other than for the hardware improvements, the Nexus 5 has also given up the glass shimmery back panel for a more modest plastic one. While this does reduce the premium feel of the device it doesn't take anything away from the experience.

The updated hardware has also resulted in an updated price, however the new base model comes with 16GB of internal storage instead of 8GB, so we find the $349 price on the newest nexts quite satisfying.


UNBOXING

Due to its affordable price, the Nexus 5 comes in a modest package. The box includes a micro USB cable, wall charger, SIM removal tool and getting started guides alongside the device, and not much more.



HARDWARE

While last year's Nexus 4 featured a premium design with its glass panel on its rear casing, LG and Google have chosen a more subtle design this time around. The Nexus 5 will in no way feel premium when compared to handsets like the iPhone 5s or the HTC One, but it can easily match and even overpower many of its competitors in performance.

Google Nexus 5 - Specs
The Google Nexus 5 specs include a 5 inch full 1080p HD display, 16GB and 32GB storage options, an 8 MP camera with OIS, a 1.3 MP camera for video calls, 4G LTE connectivity, wireless charging with a 2300 mAh battery and a quad-core CPU with 2GB of RAM.

The device itself shares several design similarities with the recently released Google Nexus 7, and it is impressive to see how Google has maintained a similar look across their Nexus devices, even when it comes from two different manufacturers. The Nexus 5 is constructed entirely out of polycarbonate plastic, which has a soft touch matte finish to it. This is no way makes it feel cheap as the construction feels solid and comparable to Nokia's Lumia devices. The overall size is almost identical to its predecessor despite its larger screen and we are happy to see that the design changes make the Nexus 5 easier to hold in the hand with its softer rounded curves.

The front is mostly made up of its 4.95 inch display, which is marketed as a five incher. The bezels on either side of the display have been minimized similar to the LG G2, ensuring that the handset is still easy to handle. The display also features an advanced in-cell touch technology, which means that the touch panel is closer to the surface – giving it a “floating” appearance.

This IPS display has a 1080 by 1920 pixel resolution which results in a 445 ppi pixel density. It also offers improved outdoor visibility and sharp details. The display itself has an added layer of Gorilla Glass 3 protection to keep it safe from scratches.

Above the display we have the earpiece in the center and the 1.3 megapixel front facing camera on its left side. The ambient light sensor and proximity sensor are also located in this area, but seem invisible to sight.

While it looks empty below the display, Google has actually hidden an LED notification light here. It will pulsate in different colors based on your incoming notifications.

On top of the device you will find the 3.5 mm headphone jack and the noise cancelling microphone pinhole. A design which has remained the same since the Nexus 4.

The power button is located to the right of the device, while the volume rocker is on its left. Both traits are borrowed from the previous Nexus device for familiarity and we have to say that they are well built and respond well to our input.

Below the device you will find the microUSB port which can be used to charge your device or sync your content and what looks like stereo speakers. Actually only one is used for the speaker and the other for its mic. We are still extremely happy with the design choice to move the speaker to the bottom instead of the back like on the Nexus 4. The micro SIM slot is located below the power button this time around and will require the provided key if you want access to it.

Turning the device face down reveals its 8 megapixel camera which is protected by a large glass casing, which makes the camera look enormous. This panel protrudes a bit to ensure that the Nexus 5 camera lens is kept safe from scratches. However we are not certain if Google has taken the right measures to protect the casing itself.

The camera features auto-focus, an LED flash, 1080p video recording, backside illumination, an f2.4 aperture lens and optical image stabilization - A combination which should easily rival the smartphone flagships in the market with high quality photos. We will get into more detail of the camera's prowess as we progress with the review.

You will also see the 'Nexus' proudly and prominently etched into the back cover followed by a more subtle LG logo below it. The entire rear looks almost identical to the design of the new Nexus 7 and we are happy to see Google maintain the design similarities giving the user a clear feel that they are using a Nexus device.

The back-cover of the Nexus 5 is not removable, despite the cutout lines that separate the front and back parts of the phone. This means you have no access to your battery or to a means of expanding your storage if you are unhappy with the native 16GB of 32GB configurations the phone offers.

Much like all the other flagship smartphones we've’ve been seeing in the space, it packs connectivity features such as aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC. Unlike some of them, though, it doesn’t add on a handy dandy IR blaster. However it does feature 4G LTE connectivity this time around.

Interestingly though, it comes it two different configurations. To be more specific, the North American bound Nexus 5 (D820 model) has support for 9 LTE bands, which includes domestic carriers like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Unfortunately it does not support Verizon. As for the second model, D821, it has support for six LTE bands, which which should work well with other networks outside of North America.

The Nexus 5 also features one of the top processors in the market - the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. This SoC (system-on-chip) features a quad-core Krait 400 CPU which has been clocked at 2.3GHz which should offer a fluid and snappy performance. The processor is combined with 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 RAM and the Adreno 330 graphics, which should ensure the premium performance of your device.


SOFTWARE

As you may know by now, the Google Nexus 5 is the first handset to feature Android 4.4 KitKat. This is to a most part a pure form of KitKat, but Google has included some added enhancements to the Nexus 5 which we will discuss in further detail

Android 4.4 KitKat - Here's All You Need to Know
Its been over a month since Android 4.4 was officially announced, but Google has just announced what we can expect from the next version of Android alongside their unveiling of the Google Nexus 5. Here's all you need to know

With KitKat, we clearly see that Google has worked hard to simplify the overall Android experience, by giving it a sleeker and cleaner look. From the lockscreen you can swipe from the right to access the camera, swipe from below to call Google Now or swipe from the top to look at your notifications. You will notice that the lock-screen widgets are no longer available. This has been removed by default as a security measure, but you can still enable them under Settings.

You will also notice that the black bars found on the notification panel and navigational panel are no longer there, instead Google has chosen a translucent effect. Google has even brought this translucent effect to the Apps Drawer allowing you to peek at your wallpaper while you scroll through you apps.

Another big change you will notice is that Google Now has been integrated into your home-screen, allowing you to access the service by swiping to the far left most home-screen. Additionally you can also initiate Google by speaking the phrase "OK Google" from anywhere on your home-screens without having to open the Google Now app. Unfortunately this is not the same always on implementation found on  the Motorola Moto X, as you still have to unlock your device and be on one of the home-screens to initiate the command.

Messaging

A new inclusion in Android KitKat is the ability to send and receive SMS through the Google Hangouts app. Unfortunately the Hangout messages and the SMS still remain separate and we wish Google had chosen to merge them into a single thread to allow us to carry on conversing with a particular contact over SMS on Hangouts.

Google has also chosen to include emoticons into their keyboard, allowing users new ways to express themselves.

Dialer

The Phone Dialer in KitKat has gone through some impressive changes, both visually and functionally. Visually, it displays the most commonly contacted people – with our favorites lining the top section of interface. Beyond just simply viewing contact information or placing phone calls, the phone dialer acts very much like a yellow pages phone book, seeing that there’s a search bar at the top that populate relevant data. Therefore, rather than launching a separate app like Google Maps to search for local pizza places, we can search for them through the dialer. Overall, it’s nice that it now integrates this feature – lessening our need to juggle between various apps.

The QuickOffice productivity suite, which was purchased by Google earlier this year is now installed by default on the Nexus 5. As a clear competitor to Microsoft's Office on Windows Phone, Android users will now be able to access and edit their office documents without having to purchase an Office 365 subscription

Multimedia

The Gallery app has not changed much since the previous version of Android. You get tools for editing your images. Google has introduced a new Photos app with KitKat which allows you to manage and edit your photos with Google's Auto-Awesome feature.

You can enjoy your music through the Google Play Music app, but you may find the internal speakers on the Nexus 5 less than impressive. While we do applaud Google and LG placing the speakers below the phone instead of on its back, the audio tends to crackle at its loudest volume.

Camera

The Nexus 5 comes with an 8 megapixel camera, which by itself doesn't feel comparable to some of the top flagships. However Google and LG have added optical image stabilization, backside illuminated sensor, and an f/2.4 aperture lens to the mix. While the 1/3.4” sensor size by itself is less than compelling, the Nexus 5 is easily one of the top cameras in the market.

Details are nice and sharp, just as long there’s plenty of lighting, while lower lit situations tend to cause noise in the photos. Self shots taken with the smartphone's 1.3MP front-facing camera are of average quality.

The Nexus 5 captures video at 1080p, offering sharp detail and clear audio recording. Much like with the still photos, low lighting situations result in noisy photos, which is not too surprising.


Call Quality

The new design on the earpiece is something that would quickly catch your eye on the new Nexus. However it doesn't seem to affect the quality of the calls too much, though we did find the Nexus 4 slightly better. Much like during media consumption, the Nexus 5 did tend to emit some cracking at the loudest setting.


Battery

The Nexus 5 features a 2300mAh battery which isn't that impressive. If you are a heavy phone user, you cant expect more than half a day of use before your device needs to be charged again. This was an issue we found quite cumbersome during our Nexus 4 review. However the battery should get you through a normal day with minimal use.


Conclusion

The Google Nexus 5 is definitely a must have device for those who are looking for:
  • Getting updated to the latest versions of Android quickly; 
  • Paying an affordable price for a premium device; 
  • Having a smartphone camera which wont let you down; 
  • Having a powerful smartphone which can easily outmatch those expensive flagships.
The powerful Snapdragon 800 processor combined with its full 1080p HD display and 8MP OIS camera, make the Nexus 5 one of the best smartphones in today's market. Granted it wont appeal to those looking for a "pretty" phone, the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKat will surely win the hearts of those looking for an affordable workhorse.

Even though the Nexus 5 is not perfect with issues like its underwhelming battery and call quality performances, its positives will easily outweigh its negatives.

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