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Revisiting the Google Nexus 5

Last updated: November 1, 2018.

Google Nexus 5 Review

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Google has recently announced the release of the Nexus 6 and many Nexus users are currently wondering what to do now.  This year, Google decided to do thing differently, giving their device a larger screen size and a higher price and not everyone is happy about it.  If you want an inexpensive phone that can still get timely updates, consider sticking to the Nexus 5.

This review of Google’s Nexus 5 looks to help you decide if it is still a viable option or if you should look for another phone to meet your needs.

Specs, design and the big picture

The Nexus 5 was announced and released around this time last year.  At that time, the Nexus 5 offered some of the best specs around for a price that was a lot lower than that of its competitors.

Design

  • The Nexus 5 has a plastic casing and this originally came in two variants, either a white, hardshell or a black soft touch. A red model has since become available.
  • The phone is built to be durable, with the plastic build able to withstand drops better than some other phone builds.
  • The Nexus 5 also comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protecting the screen from scratches.
  • Early versions of the Nexus 5 had a problem with loose buttons which would rattle or shake when the phone was moved but Google has released updated versions of the Nexus 5 which have fixed these problems.
  • Some users have reported that the glossy plastic letters that make up the Nexus lettering on the back fall off easily. While this doesn’t affect performance, it does affect the “premium” feel of the phone.

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Display

  • Uses a 5-inch screen.
  • Screen resolution is 1080p for a pixel density of 445 ppi.
  • Though the 5-inch screen could be considered small compared to what else is out there, it was a great looking screen.

Dimensions

  • The Nexus 5 is only around 8.6 mm thick.
  • The Nexus 5 weights only 130 grams.
  • Because of its light weight and relative thinness, the Nexus 5 fits well in the hand and is easy to used one-handed.

Processor

  • The Nexus 5 uses a Snapdragon 800 processor with 2 GB of RAM.
  • At the time of the launch, this processor was enough to enable the Nexus 5 to perform every task expected from a phone.
  • Currently, the Nexus 5 is still considered a fast and reliable phone, with a responsive UI allowing for fast and smooth switching between applications.

Battery

  • The battery performance of the Nexus 5 left a lot of room for improvement
  • The Nexus 5 has a 2,300 mAh battery unit that often just fails to produce enough power.
  • Though the Snapdragon 800 processor is supposed to have battery saving properties, the phone still suffered from a short battery life.
  • The average amount of battery life for a Nexus 5 only comes to around 9-11 hours with moderate use.

Camera

  • The Nexus 5 has an 8MP rear-facing camera.
  • This camera was the first to bring OIS to the Nexus line but unfortunately, the image quality was not as good as was anticipated.
  • Under low light scenarios, images are grainy and washed out.
  • There have been several software updates and a new Google Camera app made available since the launch but there has not been much improvement.
  • The HDR+ mode is the mode in which the best pictures are taken but this requires you to wait a few seconds before image processing can take place. When this mode is turned off, pictures are taken quickly but they are badly washed out.
  • The Nexus 5 also has a front-facing 1.3MP camera but that is also not that great with most images being very grainy.

The competition

We’ve taken a look at the specs as well as the problems and advantages in using the Nexus 5, now we take a look at how it fares against other phones that have been released since it was launched.

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Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 5

Only a few months after Google released the Nexus 5, Samsung announced the release of their Galaxy S5.

  • The screen size of the Galaxy S5 is around the same as the Nexus 5.
  • The similar sizes result in in-hand experiences that are more or less the same.
  • The Galaxy S5 offers dust and water resistance, which the Nexus 5 doesn’t.
  • The S5’s camera rear-facing camera is a 16MP and is much better than the cameras of the Nexus 5.
  • The processing package of the S5 is a Snapdragon 801 which also uses 2 GB of RAM. This is a little newer, a little faster, and a little more energy efficient than that of the Nexus 5.
  • The battery and battery life of the S5 is much better than the Nexus 5. The S5 uses a bigger battery, 2,800 mAh, and when you combine it with the more energy efficient Snapdragon 801 processor, this results in Galaxy S5 users easily getting 12 hours of use on a single charge.
  • The Nexus 5 provides a better phone navigation experience then the S5. Samsung’s software is bloated compared to the Nexus 5 and this bogs down its performance a bit.

HTC One M8 vs. Nexus 5

  • The HTC One M8 has a 5-inch display in an aluminium chassis.
  • The M8 offers its users a more premium in-hand feel but it was also found to be a bit more slippery and easy to drop then the Nexus 5.
  • Though the screen size of the M8 and the Nexus 5 are around the same, the footprint of the M8 is larger because of its speakers.
  • The M8 features some super loud, front-facing BoomSound Speakers.
  • For a processor, the M8 uses the Snapdragon 801.
  • The HTC One M8 uses a bigger battery then the Nexus 5 with a 2,600 mAH unit.
  • The camera of the HTC One M8 is even worse than the Nexus 5, being use a 4-Ultrapixel camera.
  • Performance wise, the HTC One M8 and the Nexus 5 are about the same, with fast moving UI’s and fluid gaming.

Nexus 5 vs. Nexus 6

  • Google offers its users a spec bump in almost every category with the Nexus 6.
  • The display has a 5.9 inch screen and features QHD technology for a 1440×2560 resolution for a pixel density of 493 ppi.
  • The processor of the Nexus 6 is a Snapdragon 805 that uses 3GB of RAM.
  • The cameras in the Nexus 6 are a 13 MP rear shooter and a 2 MP front one.
  • All in all, there has been a massive upgrade made to the Nexus 6.

Worth it?

While spec-wise, the Nexus 5 might have been left behind by some other phones that are now out there, price-wise the Nexus 5 is a great deal.

You can still get a Nexus 5 for the original selling price of $349.99 at Google Play.  Compared with the Galaxy S5 at around $550-600 if unlocked, the M8 for $750-$800 if unlocked, and the Nexus 6 for $650, the Nexus 5 is a bargain.

If specs are not that important to you and you just want a phone that operates smoothly, offers a good Android experience, quick updates and has a good build quality, the Nexus 5 should suit you fine.  Even if it is a “year-old” many users are still quite happy with this very capable device.

What do you think? Will the Nexus 5 perform well enough to still be worth it?

JR

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