Nexus 5 Review : The Evolution of Nexus 4 with Brilliance of Hardware & Battery Life

The Nexus 5 is the latest and greatest handset from Google in the Nexus service. Like every year, the Nexus 5 this year showcases the best of Android, in terms of software and hardware, according to Google. While the Nexus 5 may share some internals with the LG G2, it is very much a Nexus handset, and not just a G2 in a different hardware shell. Read our review below to find out more about the Nexus 5, and whether it has the same flaws as the previous generation Nexus handsets.

Specs

  • 4.95-inch True HD (1080*1920) IPS+ Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 2.3GHz Snapdragon S800 processor
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2GB of RAM, 16/32GB of internal storage
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi Hotpost, Wi-Fi Direct, LTE, DC-HSPA+
  • Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Gyroscope, Barometer
  • 2300mAh non-removable battery, Qi Wireless charging

Hardware

Unlike the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5 follows the same Nexus design philosophy as the Nexus 7. This means that there is a soft touch super grippy rubbery feeling like plastic on the back, at least on the black version. The back of the white version has a matte touch finish to it, with the sides being covered by protective plastic.

The downside to that grippy back is that it easily attracts fingerprints and dust. There is also ‘NEXUS’ written on the back of the handset in landscape mode, as seen on the Nexus 7. It is nice to see Google follow the same design philosophy across the whole Nexus line-up.

Nexus 5

The front of the Nexus 5 is an evolution of the Nexus 4. The front still carries a very under stated design, and looks like a black slab transported from the future. The 4.95-inch display primarily dominates the front, protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The cut out for the earpiece is a circle, instead of a small rectangle as we primarily see on many handsets nowadays. The (hefty) bottom bezel of the Nexus 5 also includes a multicoloured notification LED.

The right side of the Nexus 5 houses the ceramic Power key, with the ceramic Volume keys on the left. The keys slightly rattle on my unit, but that’s nothing to bother about much. Also, I am not really sure what advantages the ceramic buttons on the Nexus 5 provide compared to plastic buttons on the Nexus 4 though.

The 3.5mm audio jack is at the top right of the handset, accompanied by a noise cancelling microphone on the opposite side. The microUSB port is at the dead centre in the bottom of the handset, flanked by two speaker visual grilles. However, only the speaker grille on the left houses the actual speaker, with the left grille only housing a microphone for calling purposes.

On paper, the Nexus 5 is only 8 gms lighter than the Nexus 4, but the difference in day to day usage is surprisingly pretty big. The light weight of the handset definitely helps in making the phone usable for one-handed operation. Dimensions wise, the Nexus 5 is much thinner than the Nexus 4, but is slightly taller as well.

Rating: 9/10

Display

The display has to be the highlight of the Nexus 5. The 4.95-inch panel from JDI packs in full HD (1920*1080) resolution, with impressive colour reproduction and viewing angles. The panel is a direct evolution of the one that HTC had used on the DROID DNA last year.

Somehow, I really prefer the Nexus 5 display to that of the HTC One. This might be because the Nexus 5 display is hardly surrounded by any bezels, while there is a lot of bezel space surrounding the HTC One’s display.

Nexus 5 Setup

Not all is well with the Nexus 5 display though. You can see a lot of light leakage and reflection when displaying black content on the display, which can put off a lot of people. The black colour reproduction level is also a bit disappointing.

Apart from this minor gripe, the Nexus 5 display is top notch and definitely the highlight of the device. It is, without a doubt, a big step up from the Nexus 4’s display in every possible way.

Rating : 9/10

Performance

The Nexus 5 is the absolute fastest Android device out there. Irrespective of what the benchmarks say and suggest, the Nexus 5 is buttery smooth in every task you throw at it.

The only place where the phone feels slow is the Camera app, but that is more of an issue with the app itself rather than the Nexus 5.

Rating : 9/10

Music

Compared to the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5 speaker is a big let down. While LG and Google have positioned the speaker at the bottom, making it less prone to being muffed during day to day usage.

However, the speaker quality has gone down drastically with the speaker completely missing out on reproducing the lows and mids. The volume levels could also be higher. Compared to the iPhone 5s and the HTC One, the Nexus 5 speaker is nothing short of disappointing.

Music quality via earphones is pretty good, but again it is too low compared to the likes of the Galaxy S4 or HTC One.

Rating : 7/10

Camera

The camera of the Nexus 5 was hyped incessantly before the device was even announced. Thanks to the teasing from Googlers like Vic Gundotra, people were led to believe that the camera on the Nexus 5 is going to be a stunner.

On paper, the Nexus 5 camera is impressive as well. An 8MP sensor coupled with OIS and 1.5u pixel size means the handset could easily challenge the likes of the iPhone 5s and HTC One. Sadly, the Nexus 5 disappoints terribly in real life.This is more of a fault with the camera app rather than the camera hardware on the handset.

The Camera app is completely bare bones in nature and hardly offers any advance features for experienced users to play around with. Worse, it is extremely slow and has an unintuitive UI as well. The Nexus 5 also takes an us usually long time to focus, further ruining the experience. Chances are, most of the time you will end up with a blurry mess rather than a useful image.

When clicking pictures of still object, the quality of images is pretty damn good. Even in low light, the Nexus 5 can perform admirably while clicking pictures of still objects. However, introduce a moving object, and irrespective of the lighting conditions, the image is going to be blurry.

Google has also included a new HDR+ mode in the Nexus 5 that works extremely well. Bad part? Switching to HDR+ mode takes an additional second or two, which is simply unacceptable.

The good news is that all the above issues can be solved with a simple software update, which Google is already working on. The Camera hardware of the Nexus 5 is top notch, and the images have remarkably low amount of noise. It is only the poor Camera app and the slow focus speed that ruins the experience.

On the video recording side, the Nexus 5 can do Full HD videos at 30FPS. The ability to record videos in [email protected] or in slow-motion is missing though. A point to note here is that while the Nexus 5 supports noise cancellation while video recording, it is horribly broken right now.

None of the gimmicky and useful features that we generally see in Camera app from other OEMs like Dual Shot, Burst mode, Scene modes, Face tracking etc. are present in the stock Camera app.

As with previous Nexus devices, the Camera experience of the Nexus 5 remains its weakest point. While the camera hardware is a big step up from the previous generations, the software is a big let down.

It will be interesting to see how much the future OTA update from Google will improve the Nexus 5 camera experience.

Camera Sample:

Update:

Late last week, Google rolled out the Android 4.4.1 update for the Nexus 5 that has fixed nearly all the issues I have mentioned above. The camera app has received a major speed boost, and opens much, much faster than before. Even the shot-to-shot time has gone down drastically.

The camera algorithm has also received a slight tweak which makes the colour pop a bit. The overall saturation and contrast levels have also been tweaked a bit.

Rating : 8/10

Battery

When Google unveiled the Nexus 5, most people cried about the paltry 2300mAh battery inside the handset. All the latest high end flagships usually pack in at least a 2600mAh battery, with 3000mAh being the bare minimum to get one day of battery life under moderate to heavy usage.

Even with its puny battery size though, the Nexus 5 manages to have an impressive battery life. While it won’t beat the likes of the Note 3 or LG G2, it can definitely stand its own against the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Moto X.

On a day of moderate usage, I have consistently ended with more than 50% battery life over a span of 12-14 hours with nearly 1.5 hours of screen on time and 40 mins to an hour of voice calls.

On heavy usage, I managed to get nearly 5 hours of screen on time over a period of 10 hours with a mix of Wi-Fi and 3G.

Rating: 8.5/10

Conclusion

The Nexus 5, is undoubtedly, the best Android smartphone you can buy inside the 32,000 range in India. Being a Nexus handset, potential owners of the device are entitled to Android updates for the next 18 months as well.

Other phones inside the same budget include the Xperia Z, ZR and other previous generation handsets from Samsung or LG, all running an older version of Android.

The only problem in buying the Nexus 5 is stock shortage. While Google has handled the launch of the Nexus 5 much better than its predecessor — the Nexus 4 — there is still a shortage of stock due to the high demand.

Pricing:

Nexus 5 is priced at Rs 28,999 and is available in India. This version listed is 16GB and is available in Black. The White and 32Gb version is out of stock as of now. Expect at least 1k extra if you buy from retail.

Technospot.Net Verdict
  • Display & Screen Quality - 9/10
    9/10
  • Build Quality - 9/10
    9/10
  • Battery Life - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Camera - 8/10
    8/10
  • Performance - 9/10
    9/10
  • Music Quality - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value for Money - 8/10
    8/10
8.5/10