Google Nexus 5 review

You can't beat the Nexus 5 at this price point

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This is where we find ourselves a little more apathetic when it comes to the Nexus 5. The camera is often hit or miss, with more misses on some days that hits.

The Nexus 5's camera is certainly a huge improvement over the Nexus 4, but when compared to the likes of the iPhone, Nokia Lumia 1020 or LG G2, it pales in comparison.

Nexus 5 review

But first, let's talk about what's new and how the camera performs.

You'll find that the default camera app looks much like it did on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, barring any manufacturer UI and customisations. The focus ring looks the same, and you can long press it to bring up options like HDR+, exposure compensation, settings, flash and switching from the front or rear camera.

Nexus 5 review

It also has a panorama mode and Photo Sphere, which was first introduced in the Nexus 4. Panorama mode is obvious - you pan the camera from left to right to capture a panorama photo.

Photo Sphere allows you capture 360-degree photos, and you do so by panning the camera left to right and up and down, filling in all the spots you miss, so that you get a general idea of the scene around you. The app will give you guides so that taking the Photo Sphere image is easy.

You can view Photo Spheres nicely in Google+ if you want to share with all your friends.

HDR+ takes a quick series of photos and blends them together to retain highlight and shadow details in your photos. At least, that's what it should do, but it doesn't work so well.

In many cases, we had a hard time distinguishing photos that were taken with HDR+ turned on, and where it was turned off. Hopefully a software fix addresses things, amongst other issues.

Nexus 5 review

One big thing that kills us is the camera's fickle focusing nature. Sometimes it focuses just fine, and other times it won't focus at all. The app isn't as responsive as we'd like, too. Sometimes we touch the area we want to focus on, and nothing happens. It will occasionally take two or three taps to get the focus ring to where you want it.

Even with high contrast, well-lit scenes, the camera will take its sweet time focusing - whether it even focuses at all. In apps where you don't have fine control over focusing, this will make you pull your hair out.

Another issue we have is with shutter lag. There are some instances when you won't get the shot you expected because of shutter lag. It's not terrible, but it makes a difference between getting a good or bad picture in some cases.

The camera can also be slow to start sometimes, especially if you jump straight into the camera from the lock screen. It's odd that this isn't faster, especially when other manufacturers are boasting sleep to shot time. Motorola claims the Moto X takes two seconds to go from sleeping to being ready to take a photo - all with a flick of the wrist.

Now that we have all those gripes out of the way, we can say that the camera is just adequate for day-to-day use. You don't get the same speed as the iPhone 5S, for example, or the massive resolution of the Lumia 1020, but you get a shooter that will get the job done most of the time.

One thing we do like is the addition of OIS, or optical image stabilisation, as it helps a little in video and in low-light scenes where you might otherwise get blurry photos.

We believe that many of our issues can be resolved with a software update. But until then, manage your expectations and you'll be fine.

Nexus 5 camera image quality

Onto image quality, we were mildly unimpressed with the files that the Nexus 5 was giving us. While photos were sharp and colours looked natural, they also lacked contrast and punch, which makes them look washed out.

Of course, we can rarely ever complain about how colour and contrast looks because of the dozens of free photo apps out there that fix this. But if you want to just shoot and go, you'll be dealing with flat looking photos, even in the best light.

We're going to be dealing with the camera a lot more over the next few days and comparing it with the likes of the iPhone and the LG G2, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here are some photo samples.

Nexus 5 review

Nexus 5 review

Nexus 5 review

Nexus 5 review

Nexus 5 review

Nexus 5 review

The Nexus 5 shoots 1080p HD videos, which is becoming standard on most high-end smartphones these days.

However, even with OIS, we found that videos can be quite shaky or jarring. We're guessing that it's a combination of our attempts to be steady and the OIS compensating for movement.

It's not horrible, but it's certainly noticeable for anyone paying attention.

Video sound quality is a mixed bag as it is with all smartphones. Ambient noise is always a distraction, and we've found that even with the slightest breeze, videos can get a bit noisy.

The video also seems to have a hard time adjusting exposure when you're panning from a dark to a bright scene, and vice versa. Same goes with focus, but then again, it doesn't perform that much worse than other Android smartphones in this respect.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyNexus 5
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameLG
Battery Talk Time17 Hour
Product ModelD821
Screen Size12.6 cm (5")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)130 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.4 KitKat
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density445 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.3 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedMicro
Height137.8 mm
Width69.2 mm
Depth8.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time300 Hour
ManufacturerLG Electronics
Product NameNexus 5 D821 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.26 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineNexus 5
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Barometer
Manufacturer Part NumberLGD821.AGBRBK
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

More Light, Less Shake

Nexus 5's 8 MP OIS camera incorporates advanced technology to shoot vivid imagery with a wide range of colour and light intake. And while you're holding the camera, Optical Image Stabilization will steady the shot even with shaky hands, so your photos and videos will come out sharp and clear.

Capture Extraordinary Moments

Life is remarkable. Take home the best of it with help from imaging features like HDR+, combining multiple exposures for one perfect shot with vivid daytime and sharp nighttime images-or Photo Sphere, which creates unmatched, immersive 360° views so you can capture and share the full story.

Standard Memory2 GB