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14 November 2013

Nexus 5 - review

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Introduction and hardware

Nexus 5 was by far one of the most expected smartphones of this year, partially because it was released together with the Android 4.4 KitKat, but also because it represents the perfection in a DROID smartphone.

When thinking about buying a smartphone which cost less than $400 your expectations weren’t that high, right? With Nexus 5 the situation changes. You get excellence at an affordable price tag.

The Nexus 5 is sold for $350 and delivers such features that situate it in the top-shelf devices category.

I think it’s harder to manage to get one of these amazing handsets, than saving all the money needed to get one! From the first day, stocks from around the world were cleared. Let’s see if all the fuss made around it also has a grain of truth or is just pure marketing!

Hardware

Since Nexus 4 was unveiled last year, it rocked our world! Because it was offered at a great price point and it was delivered in an elegant design and with specs, which were, despite the expectations after seeing the cost, quite high-end specs. Also it performed amazingly well, and the display was clear and bright. But it didn’t enable LTE support and the white version was launched just in mid-2013. The storage capacity was rather limited, and what we’re trying to say it’s that Nexus 4 left some room for improvements. Which were delivered by the recently unveiled Nexus 5!

Nexus 5 packs an excellent display, a powerful processor, a fair amount of storage space and is available both in black and white from the beginning. And, yes, it provides LTE support, as well, but we’ll talk more about this aspect a little bit later.

nexus 5

The 4.95 inched HD IPS display with capacitive touchscreen, is now protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. And the back is made from polycarbonate plastic which gives you the best feeling when holding this smartphone in your hands. What’s quite appealing is that the body texture is slightly different with each color - for instance, the black edition has a smooth and matte touch finish, while the white one seems to be the definition of silky.

The design is simplistic and minimalistic at its finest! The smartphones’ measurements are 137.9mmx69.2mmx8.6mm. The new shape transformed the smartphone into one easier to hold, although the weird way in which the sides and the back meet are making the phone a little less comfortable.

A new detail is the material from which the lock button and the volume rocker are made - ceramic! The lock button is placed on the right side and the volume rocker on the left. The speaker grille is housed now on the bottom along with the micro-USB port. A micro-SIM compartment is placed next to the lock button, and on the top we have the microphone.

nexus 5

On the front of the screen, it has a notification indicator which can be noticed in the bottom area of it. It will be coloured in white by default, but you can enliven it by installing third-party apps like is the Light Flow which will allow you to change the nuance of it. You will also see the 1.3MP front snapper, the usual sensors and a porthole-shaped earpiece.

The Nexus 5 can be wirelessly charged using the standard Qi technology, like the Nexus 4 did as well. The smartphone will also provide connectivity via Bluetooth, USB, SlimPort, DLNA, Wi-Fi and NFC.

Display and software

Display

Nexus 5 is delivering a 4.95 inched HD IPS display counting a resolution of 1080 px, providing a pixel density of 445 ppi. It offers magnificent viewing angles and you can use without any problems the handset outside. The colors aren’t as vibrant as on a Samsung Galaxy S4 for instance, but if you’re not a fan of saturated colors, this is just the perfect smartphone for you.

Software

LG Nexus 5 was released with the latest flavour of software created by Google, the Android 4.4 KitKat.

Google is addressing to KitKat as Project Svelte, and the explanations are quite simple. What they’ve been looking for is the performance optimizations and on this line the operating system and preloaded apps have been substantially downsized. What’s really cool is that Android 4.4 will also be compatible with future products with only 512MB packed.

nexus 5 display

The homescreen looks pretty familiar, but not identical. The icons are now a bit larger and you can expand up to 22 panels. Into the menu we’ve noticed some important differences. We found wallpaper underneath the grid of icons.

The status bar and the navigation bar are now translucent, but this is such a subtle change, that users might not even observe it.

And the new camera button placed on the lower-right corner of the screen caught our attention as well.

Some important apps received the needed updates with the latest software release. Among these we have Google Now, the dial pad, Google Hangouts and the email client. Google Hangouts finally integrates SMS and MMS messages into the same app, and is great having all of your conversations in just one place.

nexus 5

Also the dialer has changed a bit. It looks the same, but now it can display a list with the most important contacts.

And thanks to the NFC feature the Google Wallet apps actually works!

KitKat also represents the debut of QuickOffice, which is now a pre-installed app.

Last, but not least, let’s mention that Android 4.4 brings to Nexus 5 such functions like IR blaster support, two new Bluetooth profiles, a refreshed location Settings tile and Closed captioning.

Camera and final impressions

Camera

Nexus 5 sports an 8MP rear camera with autofocus, LED flash and optical image stabilization, capable of video recording, geo tagging, face detection, HDR capture, touch to focus and photo sphere. On the front, it has a 1.3MP snapper.

It can record video in 1080p at 30fps.

nexus 5

The quality of photos is more than decent. It’s clear that Nexus 5 isn’t looking to make a selling point from its cameras, but you can capture some great pictures with this smartphone for sure.

Final impressions

We think that Nexus 5 is all about excellence! Giving the opportunity to customers with a reduced budget to get a $350 smartphone is the best strategy they could’ve used! The only complains could be made regarding the battery life and the LTE support which is doubtful in some aspects.

But the minimalistic and comfortable design, the clear display, the decent camera, the powerful processor and the enhancements brought by Android 4.4 KitKat are making from Nexus 5 the smartphone of anyone’s dreams.

We truly love and support Google’s message to other manufacturers - that you can offer performance at a normal price.



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