Last Thursday Google announced their new smartphone, the Nexus 5. I ordered one the same day and it turned up yesterday. Needless to say, I was excited and remain so. My Nexus 4 (the predecessor) has been a cracking phone and cheap enough that I could justify buying it outright, leaving me with just a SIM only contract.
As well as a new look and modified internals the Nexus 5 is the first device to have Android’s latest version of the OS, KitKat.
Let’s talk about each of these in turn, with an obvious comparison to the Nexus 4…
Still made by LG, the glass back of the Nexus 4 has been replaced by a rubberised back – it’s not as exciting but is easier to grip in use. However, it is a bit of a fingerprint “magnet”. The camera lens is a lot larger and sticks out from the back by a small amount.
Otherwise, pretty much everything is as before – ports and buttons are in the same place (although those buttons are now ceramic!). The SIM card slot has been moved from left to right and, oddly, the USB socket has been switched around 180 degrees.
On the front the rectangular earpiece has been made round.
Although the screen is larger – 126mm, compared to the previous 120mm – the phone itself is only 4mm taller and 0.4mm wider. Incredibly, it’s 0.5mm thinner than the Nexus 4 and 9 grams lighter. Bear in mind too that the battery has been improved from 2100 mAh to 2300 mAh.
CPU and GPU
The Nexus 4 sported a 1.512 GHz quad-core processor, with an Adreno 320 GPU. For the Nexus 5 a 2.28 GHz processor is in play with an improved Adreno 330 GPU.
To put this into perspective, the BaseMark X benchmark, used to indicate how good a phone is with games, showed the Nexus 5 to have TWICE the performance of the Nexus 4 and to be the 2nd most powerful games phone, only beaten by the iPhone 5S, which has only the third of the resolution.
Both phones have 2 GB of RAM. The Nexus 4 had the option of 8GB or 16GB of storage, whereas the Nexus 5 has 16GB or 32GB. Personally, 16GB was always enough for me so I picked this version.
No removable storage is available.
Apart from the aforementioned screen size increase, it is now using Gorilla Glass 3, rather than the Gorilla Glass 2 of its predecessor. However, the big change her is the resolution – the Nexus 5 has a 1920×1080 pixel screen, giving full HD output. The Nexus 4 had 1280×768. This gives the Nexus 4 a PPI count of 445 – the iPhone 5s “retina” screen is just 326, in comparison.
The camera on the Nexus 4 was always “good” but nothing more than that. This was less due to the software and more to the hardware. Well that hardware has now been updated and, whilst still 8MP resolution, includes improved low-light capability  and built-in image stabilisation. Both of these work wonderfully well.
However, the quality is not as good as, say, the latest iPhone. Some issues have been experienced with focusing being slow and Google promise a software update in the coming weeks to resolve this. None-the-less, it’s still a cracking camera and the Android camera software, now with HDR+, is easy to use as well as providing a number of quite powerful features.
Rather than include a number of my own (probably rather boring) photos, Android Central have already done the hard work and taken a number of pictures, and video, with the Nexus 5 to clearly identify strengths and weaknesses,.
Video is, as before, full HD with excellent picture and sound quality (although the latter can suffer from wind noise), now enhanced by the image stabilisation.
Connectivity & Sensors
The Nexus 4 already had a plethora of the latest connectivity and sensor options, including NFC and QI wireless charging. However, some additional options have been added…
- GLONASS as well as GPS
- WiFi now supports the recent 802.11 ac
- Step counter and detector
- Support for LTE 4G
Android 4.4, Kitkat
The Nexus 4 has the latest version of Android, named KitKat. Only a “point” release this indicates a minor release. To be honest, it is. There are a lot of changes “under the hood” but visibly not a great deal. The interface has been updated with new icons and colours, moving away from the Holo theme of the past. Additionally, the top status bar is now transparent, allowing the main screen to appear behind it – this is particularly obvious with the wallpaper on the home screen. Lastly, and related to this last point, the OS makes if easier for apps to truly make full use of the screen size.
A number of apps have had a change as part of the upgrade, including integration of SMS into Hangouts.
So, nothing revolutionary, but still worthwhile.
Whether you have the Nexus 4 or Nexus 5, you have a “pure” version of Android – not a version modified by the manufacturer, nor your phone network. Android updates comes to you quickly, compared to the months you may wait for other smartphones.
In the rectangular box you get the phone, charger (consisting of a micro USB cable and a wall charger that you can connect it to), micro SIM tool (to get the SIM slot open!) and some brief “getting started” leaflets. That’s it – minimal.
Environmentally, I appreciate the use of recyclable card for most of the packaging but I’m not sure, when they’re in their own sections, the cables require bags around them. Equally, the amount of plastic wrap on the phone itself seems excessive, bearing in mind the additional packaging around it.
Practically, more help on getting started would always be useful, as would a set of earphones.
This is the important bit. The 16GB Nexus 5 is the same price that the 8GB Nexus 4 was upon release – £299. That’s half the price of the current top-of-the-range smartphones and yet has comparable, if not better, capability.
Battery life could be better and the rear is a bit ugly. Plus there’s no support for battery replacement of memory expansion.
However, it’s incredibly quick to use and the screen is fantastic. With “stock” Android in use you’ll always have the latest version of the OS and just look at that price – for what you get it’s fantastic value for money.
Why haven’t you ordered one yet?