Google Nexus 5 review

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

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Our Verdict

Great smartphone for the money, mediocre camera and battery life

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 17 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Great screen
  • Low price
  • Blazing performance

Against

  • Lackluster camera
  • Inconsistent battery life
Scores in depth
Nexus 5 review
Nexus 5 review
Nexus 5 review
Nexus 5 review
Nexus 5 review

Update: The Nexus 5 should be receiving Android 4.4.3 KitKat any day now, and it would be the latest and most up-to-date version of Android. Rumors said that the update would've arrived by this time, but users aren't seeing the update just yet. Given the increase in rumor activity, however, we'd imagine it could happen any day now.

Android 4.4.3 should squash a lot of bugs and bring some minor improvements to your day-to-day use of the device, but there won't be anything major. No new camera interfaces or anything like that. Still, anything that improves the quality of day-to-day use is fine by us and we're pretty eager to get our own devices updated! The update will also hit Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices, too.

The Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKat carries on the recent tradition of top-tier specs and relatively budget prices from Google, and in this review, we're going to take a look at whether the device hangs with the best of them.

We've come to expect Nexus devices to be developer-only handsets that never reach the type of hype or adoption that the HTC One or Galaxy S4 would get. Google doesn't really advertise Nexus devices to the masses the way that Samsung or Apple does, and Nexus devices are generally not on par with other flagship handsets in terms of build quality and performance.

When the Nexus 4 launched in late 2012, the most enticing thing was its initial $300 price point. For an unlocked device with decent hardware, it seemed like a steal. But we soon learned that its shortcomings were often too much to bear.

Nexus 5 review

Now we're at the Nexus 5, a solid smartphone with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 chipset and 2GB RAM. It has a 2,300mAh battery and a 5-inch 1080p display. It also features the latest version of Android - 4.4 KitKat.

Nexus 5 review

You'd think it would come with a hefty price tag, but for 16GB and 32GB versions, you're only looking at $349 and $399, respectively, in the U.S. That's unlocked.

If you're thinking it seems too good to be true, we can't blame you. What, if any, corners did LG and Google have to cut in order to bring the price down to affordable levels?

Let's skip the boring Nexus history lesson and dive right into what matters - the Nexus 5 itself.

Design

First, let's talk hardware design. The Nexus 5 features a 5-inch 1080p IPS display - that's 1920 x 1080, giving us 445 PPI. If you can pick out the pixels on this display, please donate your eyes to science.

The display itself is crisp, although its colors are less saturated than what you'd find on the HTC One or iPhone 5s. The Nexus 5's display doesn't get as bright as those devices, either, but it's not a big deal.

Nexus 5 review

If punchy colors and contrast is your thing, the Nexus 5 might only disappoint you if you consistently compare it to other devices. Otherwise, you won't notice it over time.

Being a 5-inch display device, the phone itself is pretty large, but not entirely unwieldy. It measures 5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches. Because the bezel is so narrow, the device itself isn't pushed wider by its large display.

Nexus 5 review

And because LG opted for plastic here, rather than a glass front and back like the Nexus 4, it's not too heavy.

Above the display, there is a round earpiece, and it gets surprisingly loud given its size. To the left of that is the front-facing camera, and down below the display is an LED notifier. You don't see anything down there unless you have notifications, and the glowing light seems to come from nowhere. Magic.

Nexus 5 review

The base of the Nexus 5 has a microUSB port for charging and syncing, and two grills - one housing a speaker, and the other a microphone. The top of the device has a 3.5mm headset jack and a small hole for a microphone that may act as a noise cancellation feature.

Around the edges of the device, there are ceramic volume and power buttons. The left has a flat, almost sharp-edged volume button, and the power button is to the upper right side.

Nexus 5 review

Some colleagues of ours say the ceramic buttons are a nice touch, although it feels weird given the sharp edges. It's nothing that bothers us, but something we noticed.

Flip the device over, exposing its backside, and you'll see the word "Nexus" emblazoned on the soft-touch cover. There is an 8MP camera in an unusually large module, and an LED flash just beneath it.

Because it's a Nexus device, you can't remove the cover to replace the battery, and there is most certainly no microSD card slot for those of you wondering. If you buy the 32GB version, which we would recommend over the 16GB version, you shouldn't have to worry too much about space.

In-hand feel and use

Now that you have a good idea for what the Nexus 5 looks like, let's talk about using the thing. Because it's still a 5-inch display smartphone, it will be large for many hands. We have some tall folks on our staff with bigger than average hands, and stretching up to the corners with our thumbs was still a little much.

Nexus 5 review

One thing we noticed immediately when picking up the device was its weight. It's very light, thanks mostly to LG's use of plastics here. It certainly doesn't have the same premium feel that the HTC One or iPhone 5S has, but it's easy to forgive because of its price point.

The soft touch back can get pretty greasy even if you wash your hands frequently, but it's easily wiped away. We tend not to get so picky with these things anymore, but we know there are folks who like their devices looking pristine.

While we're going to dive deeper into the software, we will say this: it is fast. Given its lack of garbage apps and widgets from carriers, and perhaps buggy interfaces from manufacturers, the Nexus 5 flies.

We didn't have any real issues with software except for the occasional app crash, but that might have more to do with apps not being fully optimized for this new version of Android.

Nexus 5 review

If you're buying the Nexus 5, chances are you already know what you're getting into. While we'd like to believe otherwise, most of the folks we know buying the Nexus 5 have known about its coming for some time.

For those of you who don't fall into that group, though, keep on reading.

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