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Google Nexus 5 review

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

Any faults you can find with the Nexus 5 - and there aren't many - can be easily quelled by the knowledge that the device starts at just $399 unlocked.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anything that even comes close to that price point with the specs that the Nexus 5 boasts.

Nexus 5 review

The new Google phone offers the latest that Android has, 4.4 KitKat, and has excellent performance by nearly every measure.

What's lacking is the camera performance and battery life. Both of those things aren't terrible on the Nexus 5, but they leave so much to be desired.

On one hand, Google promises that software fixes will address those issues, but we don't know how soon or to what extent. If you buy this phone now, you'll have to learn to live with those shortcomings until they're resolved. And even then, you may not be satisfied if those two things are deal breakers for you.

We liked

We love the idea that you can get a smartphone with top-of-the-line specs, like a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 and 5-inch 1080p display, for a paltry $399 or $449 for 16GB and 32GB models, respectively, without a contract.

Nexus 5 review

The newest version of Android is also a lovely iteration of the things we've come to enjoy in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, with the addition of new features and light touches throughout the OS that make the experience a lot better.

When we heard that pricing was going to be a huge deal, and that it was also more than just a modest upgrade over the Nexus 4, we started to worry and wonder where LG and Google would have to cut corners in order to make savings.

In short, it didn't really cut any corners at all. Again, we can nitpick its build - it's not like the iPhone 5S or HTC One - or whine about the little things all day long, but in the end, it's a $400 phone. We can't stress that enough, especially when this is a case of extreme bang for your buck.

We disliked

Our two biggest gripes with the Nexus 5 are its battery life and camera. Both can be hit or miss, as we mentioned earlier in our review.

The camera is capable of producing great photos, but only if the conditions are perfect. In many instances, it struggled to focus or take a shot when we wanted it to. Most of the time we struggled with setting the focus point and taking the shot at the right time due to shutter lag or system response.

Nexus 5 review

The photos themselves are lackluster, but can be fixed and made rich with photo editing apps like Snapseed.

Battery life struggled on some occasions, too. After a full week with the Nexus 5, we can confidently say that we can never be sure when it will last a full day, or when we should bring our chargers and battery packs with us. As you'd imagine, we tend to err on the side of caution, though we really wish we didn't have to.

One minor thing, and it's not really an issue, is that the display seems a little washed out and doesn't get very bright, especially when you compare it side-by-side with the iPhone, HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4.

Again, given its tremendously high resolution, we can't complain much, but highly discerning eyes might take notice.

Verdict

Although the issues we take with the Nexus 5 are considerable, they're not enough to keep us from recommending this device.

One of the issues we have, which is the lackluster camera, might be resolved with a software fix. And even if it were a minor fix, it's not so bad that you'll never be able to take good photos with it.

What really gets us here is what we're not used to seeing, and that's a device with these kinds of specs at this price point. It's not just the specs, either, but the fact that the outright cost of the device means thinking about whether you want to commit to a carrier contract is easy.

The display is nice, performance is fast, Android 4.4 KitKat smoothes out the overall Android experience and, because it's unlocked, it's free of carrier bloatware and restrictions.

Whenever Android is updated, the Nexus 5 will be one of the first devices to get that treatment.

It may not have the tremendous battery life of the LG G2, or the cameras you'd find in the iPhone 5S or Lumia 1020, or the build quality of the iPhone or HTC One, but you're not going to be sacrificing much with what you're paying for the device.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
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
ColourBlack
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 Addresshttp://www.lge.co.uk
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