Google’s latest flagship smartphone, the Nexus 5, resembles the Nexus 7 in many ways especially when it comes to design. Considering how popular the Nexus 7 tablet has been, this is probably a good thing, and considering that LG and Google have decided to manufacture Nexus devices in similar ways, both the tablets and smartphones are continuing to improve.
Even though it may be a flagship device, the phone is not free from issues and some of those issues may actually be dealbreakers for some buyers. Despite having an attractive price tag ($349), the Google Nexus 5 may not actually be the best Android smartphone on the market, but it comes pretty close to being a market leader.
The Google Nexus 5 is similar to the Nexus 7 (2013) in that it now has a soft-touch back, but outside of that, the phone has one of the least interesting designs imaginable. Unlike the LG G2 or even the Galaxy phones, the Nexus 5 is far from special and practically nothing about its design can be called “unique.”
Sure, the ceramic buttons may be interesting but from what I can tell, they look and feel practically the same as any other smartphone key. An uninteresting design does not make it a bad design however, considering that a plain design is sometimes the best way to go from a practical standpoint.
With smartphones ranging in size from 4-inches to 6-inches, it is difficult to call the Nexus’ dimensions optimal since they will vary for everyone. Personally, smaller devices such as the iPhone 5S tend to fit best in my hand however, the Nexus 5, which is an inch larger than the 5S, feels nearly as good. The increase in size with the Nexus 5 seems to be offset by its sleek and lightweight form factor which can be attributed to LG focussing on plastic for the device.
No matter how you feel about the lack of innovation seen with the Nexus 5’s design, it is hard to deny that the phone has one of the best displays on the market. Coming in at 445ppi, the Nexus destroys the iPhone 5S from a pixel density standpoint and in many ways it is the best display that I have seen thus far on a smartphone.
There are some minor issues with the display, as the colors do not “pop” and the contrast is no more than adequate. So, for people that love high-quality displays, the Nexus 5 is great but does have its fair share of issues despite having one of the best screens in terms of specs.
For those of you that knew something would have to be wrong with the Nexus 5, you are right, and it is the camera. In perfect lighting conditions where you are also capable of holding the phone as still as humanly possible, you may be able to get a good picture. Unfortunately, nobody is using their phone to take a picture in this sort of scenario and as a result, the pictures simply aren’t that good.
The Nexus 5 comes with a 8-megapixel camera but compared to other sensors found on the phone’s competitors, the Nexus 5 has one of the worst cameras on the market. Nearly all of our test photos came out with at least one issue, whether it be contrast or colors, we simply couldn’t attain a great picture.
If this were a mid-tier Android smartphone, it would be easier to give Google and LG a pass and mark off the camera as an expected downside, but the Nexus 5 is not mid-tier. Instead, the phone is meant to be Google’s flagship, so a mediocre camera is incredibly disappointing and now that many people use their phone to take pictures on a regular basis, a bad camera can lead to a bad experience with the device overall.
When it comes to performance, the Nexus 5 can only be described as “smooth”, at least the vast majority of the time. The only situation where I was unhappy with the Nexus’s performance was when scrolling through long documents or web pages. When doing so, there was some buffering and lag but that is something which is nearly unavoidable on most smartphones.
The 2GB of RAM which is built into the phone is more than enough to run Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) without any trouble and no matter how intense an application is, 2GB of RAM should be more than enough to handle it. On top of the memory, LG included a Snapdragon 800 processor which runs at 2.26 GHz. The 800 CPU from Qualcomm is just about as good as it gets in terms of raw processing power for smartphones.
All in all, the Nexus 5 has its flaws (and some very significant ones.) Without a doubt, the Nexus 5 is one of the best Android phones on the market if you can deal with a sub-par camera. Outside of the camera, there are very few “issues” with the device however the lack of a unique look or style with the phone does make it a bit boring.
Price: Google Store ($349)