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Google Nexus 5 review

Still a solid smartphone, but it's no longer king of the price point

Back when the Google Nexus 5 launched you couldn't find a better smartphone for the money. More than a year on and the Nexus 5 is still good value for money, but it now has some tough competition.

It's still satisfyingly fast and refreshingly minimalist, but the truth is that there's no real star feature on the hardware side.

Don't get me wrong, the hardware is extremely good, but it doesn't really trump other Android flagships on the market. It's also a lot harder to come by now with none of the main networks or key retailers still stocking the Nexus 5, so you'll have to search if it still takes your fancy.

We liked

A focus on the really important features means that the display and processor are still up there with the better smartphones around - the Nokia Lumia 930 sports the same Snadragon 800 chip under the hood. The display is excellent for reading, watching videos, or playing games.

The Android 5.0 Lollipop update has really given the Nexus 5 a new lease of life, it's like I'm using a completely new phone.

From the Material Design look, to the new Guest User mode, to the swathes of beautifully rendered animations and the fantastic way it handles notifications, Google's latest Android update is one of biggest changes to an operating system I can remember and Android 5.1 is set to add a few more features.

That price makes the Nexus 5 a really compelling proposition. It puts pressure on other premium smartphone manufacturers and potentially frees people from the tyranny of the contract.

We disliked

Better battery life is top of most people's wish lists when it comes to mobile technology and it's easily the worst thing about the Nexus 5. It's distinctly average, even with Project Volta in Lollipop.

I'm used to a daily charging schedule already, so it's not much of a hardship, but if you're out and about for long periods then this is the only potential deal-breaker I can see. The fact that you can't remove the Nexus 5 battery will exacerbate the issue for some.

It's always nice to have the option of extra storage with a microSD card. Google doesn't gouge you like Apple does, but £40 is still a lot of money for an extra 16GB and there's no 64GB version. Not everyone wants to be forced into the cloud.

The camera is much improved after the update, but low light performance is poor and it doesn't match the 2014 flagship brigade in terms of quality.

Verdict

Google has learned from the OEMs. It has learned from previous smartphones in the Nexus line; there are no obvious omissions here, like the lack of LTE in the Nexus 4.

The really important things have been nailed. What you are compromising on when comparing the Nexus 5 with the rest of the premium market is the camera, storage options and the battery life, but you get a decent processor with a wonderful display.

You also get Android 5.0 as Google intended, refined, elegant, and efficient, with a full eco-system of services.

It doesn't have it all its own way though. If you're looking for the best bang-for-your-buck high-end smartphone then there are a few, such as the OnePlus One, which trump the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 still represents decent value for money, and for the Android purists out there who aren't desperate about having the latest and greatest specs it still offers an excellent smartphone experience.

First reviewed: October 2013

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