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10 Jan 2014
By Jamie Waterhouse
Jan
10
2014

Google Nexus 5 review: a thing of beauty

Nexus-5-review_hero

As soon as I took the Google Nexus 5 out of the box, I was impressed.

The phone is gorgeous in a really effortless way. It sits comfortably in the hand and the soft backing feels nice to the touch, while the classic design is visually pleasing.

To me, it was love at first sight.

The device and display

The 5-inch screen seems to be the perfect balance between the so-big-it-slaps-you-in-the-face-when-lying-down and the why-haven’t-you-just-UPSIZED-already!

The HD screen is super-crisp. Like, perfectly crisp. So crisp I could eat it with dip.The colours aren’t the brightest I’ve seen, but the crispness of the screen doesn’t need it at all.

The Nexus 5

Android™ 4.4, KitKat® features

What I loved about the Nexus 5 was that all the traits of other Android devices I disliked are updated in this phone. For those who don’t know, the Nexus 5 features a ‘clean’ install of the Android OS and is the first phone on the Telstra network to feature Android KitKat.

Google Now is easily accessible with a simple swipe to the right, allowing you to quickly see your distance from home and sports scores. I’m not one for sport, but it does feature a wide range of hidden Easter Eggs, seeing me laying on my couch screaming, “DO A BARREL ROLL!” and “MAKE ME A SANDWICH!” excitedly for at least five minutes. Fun!

Immersive mode is pretty awesome too, with the status and navigation bars minimising on several apps, allowing you to become completely lost in the app. The simple clean-ups that Android KitKat presents make it worth upgrading. Visually, one of the only flaws I could find was that some of the app icons appeared fuzzy, as they were designed for older versions. However, I imagine this will improve over time.

The SMS question

Before starting this review, I was warned that the Nexus 5 doesn’t have a dedicated SMS app. As Google’s flagship phone, it features Hangouts.

I can see how this could be a drawback for some but to be honest, I barely noticed. I’ve never been a fan of the built-in SMS functionality on Android devices and already use a third-party app.

By the time I thought about sending a text, my Google account had already synced and downloaded my favourite SMS app (Go SMS Pro for those playing at home). All I had to do was assign it as my default app, then I popped them both in a ‘conversations’ folder on my hot seat for easy access. Easy!

Hardware

I have seen complaints of battery life around the traps and I would have to agree that it is not the best. Battery life is always a problem for me though and didn’t find it any worse than other smartphones I’ve used.

The camera was pretty good and took some lovely shots in bright conditions. Where it struggled was in low-light, as it appeared to take darker photos to begin with.

(Edit: apparently the latest software update from Google comes with camera fixes that may have improved this but unfortunately I handed back my review device before the software came out so haven’t been able to try it out.)

A photo taken with the Nexus 5

Photo: the view from my office, taken with the Nexus 5 on a sunny day

The audio quality of the phone was amazing! I was pleasantly surprised with how sharp it sounded when streaming music using 4G over the Telstra mobile network.

Verdict

Perhaps as the community manager for our Google+ channel, I was positively predisposed to like the Nexus 5. Perhaps I just like pretty things! Whatever the reason, I adore the Nexus 5 and may have been seen tweeting that “I want a gazillion to hug in my sleep and whisper sweet nothings to.”

To sum, I wholeheartedly agree with Kate when she wrote in her BlackBerry Z30 review that the hardest part of this review is that I now have to give the phone back.

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Posts: 21

1 Comment

  1. Gwynn says:

    I’ve had my Nexus 5 for nearly two months and have been absolutely loving it. I’ve stepped up from the Galaxy Nexus that I had for two years and, after initially being skeptical of the larger screen, I’ve found I do more on my phone than ever before.

    I’m constantly amazed by the sheer speed of the processor and the quality of the display.

    I’ve only found three minor things I dislike with the Nexus 5. The positioning of the main camera and the way it sticks out so much from the back made me paranoid I’d scratch the lens. I eventually solved this by ordering a case for the phone. This also addressed another issue, the lack of curvature in the display. I loved that with my Galaxy Nexus I could just place it face down on a surface and not worry about the display. With the Nexus 5 that isn’t possible. However my Ringke Slim cover solved that issue too.

    That other bugbear, is that the ear speaker has quite a narrow band for use. Move the phone too far forward or back from your ear and sound quality is compromised. It’s not an issue I’ve encountered with a phone before as they’re usually pretty forgiving. However this might be me needing to just tinker with some settings or a software issue that needs to be adjusted.

    But as I said, these are minor issues and given the phone’s size I was always looking at buying some type of case for it, it just happened that the camera and lack of curvature narrowed down my choices somewhat.

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