Back when the Google Nexus 5 launched you couldn't find a better smartphone for the money. A year on and the Nexus 5 is still excellent 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. The impressive thing is that Google is managing to offer it at this price point without a major compromise.

We liked

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

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 like you 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 the OnePlus One trumps the Nexus 5, although it is a little tricky to get hold of and it comes from an unknown Chinese firm.

The Nexus 5 still represents great 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