A Week With The Nexus 5


The Nexus 5……

We’ve all read the reviews, examined the specs and generally gone over the device with a fine-tooth comb. That’s all fine and good, but what is it like to actually live with it? Is it nothing more than a flash in the pan, or is it a phone you can live with and use for your normal day to day needs? Let’s find out…..

HTC vs Nexus

Out with old and in with the new. On the left the HTC Desire S and on the right the Nexus 5

My Nexus 5 arrived just over a week ago. It replaced my aging HTC Desire S which, while it did a decent enough job, was showing its age. On switching on the Nexus 5 for the first time I was treated to a zero-day update – make sure you have access to WIFI as this update is about 140MB. Once that was done I was taken through your typical Android activation process. It was a very similar process to that on Jelly Bean and there was nothing to really indicate that Kit Kat was running under the bonnet.

Activation over and I was in the home screen – again, pretty much typical Android affair with the expected Kit Kat enhancements. There were two problems though. First of all it has been touted that you can say “OK Google” to activate the voice controlled assistant. I tried saying it till I was blue in the face, but nope, my Nexus 5 just sat there twiddling its thumbs and looking pretty! After a little digging I found that in order to use this feature you need to set the language to “English (US)”. Ah Americans, they think the world revolves around them, how quaint! I tried it out, and yep it worked, but I prefer the Queen’s English so back to “English (UK)” it was and bye bye “OK Google”!

OK Google

OK Google – Only Americans need apply!

Next problem was Google Now. You’re supposed to be able to swipe the home screen to the right and Google Now will be there on your home screen. I tried all the tricks I could find but Google Now refused to cooperate. It seems this is an issue affecting quite a few users and appears to be related to the Google account being used. To add insult to injury it seems that when you activate your Nexus 5 Google Now disappears from all other devices using the same account. I suspect this will need to be sorted by an update from Google.

Those problems were soon forgotten though and I got down to using the phone. Two things strike you on first use. First of all it is a surprisingly light phone and you can feel a substantial difference between the Nexus 4 and 5 even though the actual difference is a few grams. The other is the screen which is absolutely gorgeous. Everything is crisp and clear and the touch response is excellent. Physically the phone is very plain to look at. I’ve heard complaints about this which I think are unfounded. This is definitely a phone which will appeal to the minimalists amongst you and personally I like it.

On initial installation all the apps I regularly use installed and worked without any issues except for one. It seems most apps will live happily with Kit Kat, though I have had a couple crash on me during regular use. Considering how fresh this OS update is I think it fare to say that most apps haven’t yet been tweaked to ensure 100% compatibility. I’m confident that these issues will be ironed out as Android 4.4 becomes more common and developers have a chance to tweak their apps. The phone itself was rock solid though and hasn’t given me cause to restart it yet.

The most important aspect of any smart phone is battery life. The Nexus 5 boasts a 2300mAh battery and here too I’ve heard some complaints about mediocre performance. After a week of use I can say that the battery performance is decent, yet nothing spectacular. It’ll get you through a day of average use without any hassle. So far it hasn’t dipped below 30% on an average work day and I have no reason to think this will change any time soon.

The phone’s performance is excellent thanks to the Snapdragon 800 chipset. I’ve yet to encounter any lag with performance remaining snappy despite opening quite a number of apps simultaneously. Call quality is good too, though I would like to have better network reception – I haven’t found a phone which can replicate the network connectivity I used to be able to get on my old Nokias. This doesn’t mean to say that it has poor reception and I would say it is an average performer. When it comes to texting, Google has pushed everything into Hangouts. At first I wasn’t so keen on this, but after using it for a while it is growing on me and I’ll probably stick with it.

Probably the weakest part of the Nexus 5 package is the camera. Being just 8MP it can’t really compare to the competition. The photos I have taken have been decent enough though and I can’t complain about the overall image quality. Personally a phone’s camera is not high on the list of priorities as I always have a dedicated camera to hand when on holiday.

Nexus 5

After having lived with the Nexus 5 for a week I can safely say that this is an excellent phone. While there were some minor niggles, it has performed excellently and is a pleasure to use. If you’re looking for a new phone then look no further. It blows all the other Android handsets out of the water and I reckon it is even better than the Apple iPhone 5s. The icing on the cake is that this is a Nexus and you’ve got piece of mind that you’ll always get Google’s latest incarnation of Android in short order. When you also consider the price of the Nexus 5 quite frankly it’s a no-brainer. This is the best Android phone out there and it’ll remain that way for some time to come.

Questions about the Nexus 5? Get in touch, lets talk!

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4 Responses to A Week With The Nexus 5

  1. I believe I know what that one app is… although as for the rest of the apps, I hadn’t had a single crash so far nor any issues!

    Otherwise I agree with you on pretty much everything. I just hope Google Now gets sorted, whilst not a deal-breaker, it’s a big pity I’m locked out of it. Although funnily enough, Google Now is still working happily on my S3 and Nexus 7. The weird part is, that on these other 2 devices it gave me information on places I’ve been in earlier in the day, with just my Nexus 5… which leads me to think that Google Now on my N5 is still working, just not allowing me to use it.

    I’ll wait another week, and I’ll give ART a try. Don’t want to do it yet or otherwise I won’t appreciate the difference of the N5 with and without ART 🙂

  2. Eric Cefai says:

    Good read Kenneth!

  3. Eric Cefai says:

    Hey Franco, I had a go at ART and didn’t feel any improvements on my N4, I would assume that if there is any perceptible difference you would feel it even less on your N5s! Expect it to take some time to build the ART cache the first time you boot the phone, around 5x more than building the Dalvik cache and then some apps may not work… in my case it was Whatsapp. In a couple of weeks I’ll give it another try and get some numbers especially with regards to memory usage and battery consumption.

    Btw my Google Now works swiping far left and bottom up 😛

  4. Ken says:

    Hey guys, glad you liked the article 🙂

    I tend to agree with you Eric that you’ll see little difference between ART and Dalvik on high end devices. Where it’ll matter is on mid to low range devices. This is a big market which Apple has failed to penetrate and in which Android is king. With ART Google will ensure Android is an option for all devices.

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