Google isn’t actually making an attempt to construct the perfect Android phone. What it’s making an attempt to do is get the web, Google-model, in as many fingers as doable, and it realises the way in which to try this is to supply its personal inexpensive, desirable handset.
And but it’s getting very near the proper Android phone with the Nexus collection, nearly unintentionally. Final yr’s Nexus four got here extremely near nailing the profitable formulation – only a disappointing camera, comparatively small battery and low storage choices saved it from whole brilliance.
With the Nexus 5 we’ve bought a 5in 1080p handset (built by LG) with Snapdragon 800 brains, an 8MP camera and 4G. Primarily it’s what each different producer is doing, however for lower than £300 (most rivals are £200-odd extra). What’s extra, it runs the cleverest mobile OS we’ve ever seen in KitKat, full with Nexus 5-only tips.
Whereas Apple performs meet up with Maps, Siri and iCloud (options and companies that take years to good), with the Nexus 5 and KitKat Google is leaping ahead with enhanced voice controls, in-app search and Google Now.
Inside a couple of iterations of effectively-specced handsets and tablets (with the assistance of LG andAsus) Google’s Nexus line has gone from revered dev fodder to supremely designed, vastly fascinating items of mobile kit. Nothing makes this clearer than the attractive, all-powerful, squished-full-of-genius Nexus 5.
DESIGN AND BUILD: IF THE NEXUS 7 AND G2 COPULATED…
…then the Nexus 5 can be the end result. It is a pretty phone – not eyes-out-on-stalks, run-away-to-Mexico-collectively pretty just like the HTC One – however nonetheless beautiful.
From the entrance it’s virtually all display screen, with super skinny bezels making it only a contact taller and wider than the outgoing Nexus four regardless of the bigger show. Spectacular – and it manages to make the One’s facade look downright cluttered by comparability.
It’s mild in comparison with heftier rivals such because the LG G2, too, at simply 130g, which is only a smidge heavier than final yr’s Nexus four. With completely no flex to it, it is one sturdy LG build, and the black mannequin is nice at keeping off put on and tear.
(Instances may not be vital, however the 5 will work with LG’s QuickView vary. Additionally look out for wireless charging equipment for the reason that tech is constructed-in.)
In the event you’ve received a Nexus 7 you’ll really feel proper at home with the matte black or white polycarbonate again, right down to the embossed Nexus logo. The one essential variations between the designs are the curved prime and backside edges on the Nexus 5, and the handset’s protruding digital camera lens, with LED flash beneath, offering both a shot of character or disappointing protrusion relying in your private choice.
Total it’s an understated design with neat and tidy speaker grilles both facet of the microUSB port on the underside, refined (however unusually sharp) energy and quantity buttons flanking the display and a microSIM tray that you just’ll want the instrument within the field to open. After we’re not by accident protecting up the only speaker (the opposite’s the mic), sound is good and punchy.
It’s barely slimmer, extra pocketable and simpler to seize for the small-handed than the G2 – which could sway legions in direction of the Nexus – though the place the polycarbonate meets the entrance glass on either side might be smoother (see the HTC One). And when the Nexus is tapped or shaken, the digicam lens makes a quiet rattle. A small level but it surely might get annoying.
Nonetheless, we can say that with the Nexus 5 Google has lastly found cool.
SCREEN: NEXUS, THE DETAIL HUNTER
Put simply, inventory Android appears gorgeous on a show this sharp, and KitKat’s minimalist icons and menus look very stylish indeed on the Nexus 5. Larger and better-res than theNexus 4’s 720p effort, the Nexus 5’s 4.95in, 1080p, 445ppi display is up there with the perfect we’ve seen all year.
Every part from text in Play Books to Android video games appears splendidly crisp and clear. Colors in HD motion pictures such as Pacific Rim are pure, with a barely cooler color palette than each the LG G2 and HTC One. If we’re being choosy the Nexus can look a tad washed out, however in each downloads and streamed motion pictures, there’s easy movement and luxurious element.
Net pages are much less effectively served, and may look creamy subsequent to the most effective on the market. Except you’re evaluating facet by aspect you’re unlikely to complain, but it surely does imply all the pieces seems to be that bit extra dynamic on the likes of the HTC and LG.
Equally, viewing angles are good, however not the perfect – contrast and colors fade whenever you tilt the Nexus horizontally back and forth. We all know nearly all of the time you’ll be using the Nexus straight on nevertheless it’s a disgrace when rapidly exhibiting YouTube vids to associates.
However, we predict four.95in is a superb dimension, making the iPhone’s display look positively puny. The Nexus does keep on with onscreen Android management buttons, and we’d want some trendy capacitive buttons (there’s definitely room under the display), however the dock on the backside of the display screen is now translucent so you’ll be able to at the least see what’s occurring beneath.
PERFORMANCE – NEXUS HOLD’EM
The mixture of the processor du jour, Qualcomm’s beastly Snapdragon 800clocked at 2.26GHz, along with 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 graphics and improvements to the touchscreen responsiveness of the Nexus makes this fingers-down the smoothest Android expertise we’ve ever encountered.
That’s proper, ever.
Gaming is a blast on the Nexus 5, and with KitKat re-engineered for pace, all the pieces from multi-tasking to net looking is noticeably sooner. Take search, as an example: it opens immediately in order that Google outcomes are all the time one second away – reassuring.
We haven’t skilled a single crash and even a lot as a hiccup when testing the Nexus 5, though it will possibly warmth up after a session with the 8MP digital camera or throughout an enormous recreation obtain. Till KitKat arrives on different handsets, it’s exhausting to say what’s right down to hardware and what’s right down to software program, however the entire lag when scrolling round menus and the like on the Nexus 4 is gone.
With the Snapdragon 800 making star turns within the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Notice three, we thought we’d roll up our sleeves and do some benchmarking on the Nexus 5. OnAnTuTu, the Nexus 5 scored a properly-deserved 26010 – in need of the G2’s champion rating of 34191 however nonetheless mighty respectable. Over on Geekbench three it racked up a rating of 2767, which bests each LG’s flagship and the HTC One.
Connectivity now consists of 4G (notably absent from final year’s Nexus 4) plus NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and significantly quick twin-band Wi-Fi (downloads fly, streaming is impeccable). The microUSB port can be Slimport-enabled, which simply means you don’t want to purchase a separate HDMI cable to hook the Nexus as much as your telly.
In truth the one letdown is the dearth of expandable storage. It’s higher than the meagre 8GB and 16GB choices of the Nexus four, however the brand new Nexus remains to be solely obtainable in 16GB and 32GB flavours, and also you’re very more likely to hit 32GB within the first six months in the event you’re utilizing this media-muncher as it is best to. It’s a disgrace, and whereas we applaud Google for less than charging a £40 for the 32GB model, a microSD slot would have been a greater guess.
CAMERA: COULD DO (AND MIGHT BECOME) BETTER
So KitKat ushers in a brand new daybreak of voice search and Now playing cards – however what concerning the issues we already do with our smartphones, resembling snapping that police horse that appears weirdly like our flatmate… for instance?
Google knew it had work to do after the Nexus four’s cam received a lukewarm response, and the Nexus 5 boasts an enormous enhance in each software program and hardware, so that you now get an 8MP rear snapper with Optical Picture Stabilisation, a brand new HDR+ mode and a 1.3MP snapper on the entrance, plus Auto Backup to Google Plus and Auto Superior for animations, panoramas and photograph sales space pictures.
We actually needed a blinding digital camera on this Nexus, however outcomes fall simply brief, with some muted colors and hassle exposing accurately. Indoors, outside – we regularly acquired barely disappointing photographs even when tweaking publicity within the fan-formed pop-up settings menu.
That’s to not say photos are dangerous, however subsequent to one of the best shooters the shortage of distinction and issues coping with tough gentle change into extra obvious. Nonetheless, element is spectacular (even subsequent to the 13MP G2) when zooming in on topics within the distance, and when you have time to arrange a shot, HDR+ is beneficial outside. Auto-focus is quick sufficient and night time photographs are higher than these of every other smartphone at this value.
Full HD video is detailed and has clean movement however once more, rivals do a greater job of exposing and colors aren’t all the time one hundred% correct. If you happen to had been crossing fingers for a high smartphone cam on the Nexus you will be disenchanted, however preserve an eye fixed out for updates: Google says software program tweaks within the coming weeks will enhance image high quality.
UPDATE: ANDROID 4.4.1 CAMERA UPDATE MEANS FASTER FOCUS, PUMPED UP COLOURS
Nexus 5 launches, reviewers grumble concerning the digital camera, 5 weeks later Google rolls out a brand new model of KitKat (four.four.1) to ‘repair’ its camera. That’s the way you replace a smartphone, children. Sure, sure, we all know 4.four.2 has additionally now landed however that is a bug repair replace. So we’ll be concentrating on whether or not Google has executed sufficient to raise the Nexus’ camera to LG G2 and iPhone 5s ranges of brilliance. So … has it?
Fast reply? Probably not. The massive benefit is focussing which is now one entire second sooner for each AF and faucet to focus – that makes a giant ol’ distinction if you’re making an attempt to seize your boss doing his finest jazz arms. It is also extra correct, we constantly get barely out-of-focus photographs with the pre-replace Nexus whereas the unit working four.4.1 nails it everytime.
Distinction ranges have been ratcheted up and for probably the most half this can be a massive plus, making every thing look crisper and serving to to negate that ‘washed-out’ high quality that is irked some Nexus snappers. Some element will be misplaced because of this, as on the Pretzel packets picture above, it is not a lot although in case you’ll be working with the pictures blown up it is apparent facet by aspect.
Colors too, notably reds, are extra vibrant and for this reason most Nexus 5 customers can be glad when the replace comes by way of – on the smartphone’s display pictures positively pop extra. So what is the hassle? They don’t seem to be all the time as correct because the likes of the LG G2 and iPhone.
Instagrammers and the like will not fear an excessive amount of about photographs appropriately representing actuality however we might decide a little bit extra muted and correct everytime i.e. someplace in between the previous Nexus 5 photographs and the brand new ones. We all know, we’re onerous to please. For colors and distinction, the LG G2 will get it spot on everytime as demonstrated beneath by our motor porn.
Elsewhere, the Auto White Stability now does a advantageous job indoors and out and the Nexus 5 does a a lot better job at appropriately exposing for the sunshine, for example when taking pictures 1080p video. Low gentle efficiency may be very shut between the pre-replace and put up however the Nexus does do an honest job of brightening up gloomy rooms indoors, as on the Tetris lamp picture. One niggle right here is that the Night time scene mode forces Auto Flash and blurs the choice to show it off however we acquired some good outcomes with the flash on. General it is no doubt an enchancment but it surely would not go far sufficient to catch as much as one of the best smartphone cameras – to be trustworthy we did not count on it to with out some kind of imaging voodoo.
However let’s face it, when you personal a Nexus 5, you are not going to shun a KitKat replace. That is the phone with the very best Google software program on earth, voice managed and continuously updating and people .1 updates will hold coming, as will refreshes to Google apps just like the Chrome browser and Drive. Simply do not be stunned when every thing seems barely rosier in your Nexus than it does out the window.
ANDROID 4.4 KITKAT – THIS IS IT
With Google Now and search entrance and centre, Android four.four means a complete new sort of enterprise. Greater than only a lick of polish and a sprinkling of latest options, KitKat actually will change the way in which you employ your phone.
This newest Android model has, Six Million Greenback Man-type, been taken aside and put collectively once more to be quicker and sleeker. It’s not the apparent visible overhaul Apple went for with iOS 7, and the modifications are refined – menus are white the place they was darkish, for instance – however they do make a distinction.
Icons are larger within the app drawer and a few, such because the digicam app, have been redesigned superbly. The navigation buttons now have a translucent bar and in some apps, corresponding to Play Books, the buttons and standing bar disappear if you start studying in Google’s ‘immersive mode’. Gallery now helps different cloud providers, not simply Drive, so all of your images are in a single place, and when watching motion pictures on a Chromecast the Nexus shows fullscreen paintings on the lockscreen with play, pause and search controls. Photographs could be a bit low-res in the event that they’re simply pulled in from Netflix, however it’s a really useful contact.
The oft-forgotten Folks app has nifty tips – contacts are auto-sorted by who you regularly speak to and the dialler now contains search in an effort to sort in ‘taxi’ and it’ll pull up native outcomes. It really works like a appeal and utilizing Google Maps’ enterprise data additionally operates backwards, so when you get a name from an unknown quantity that’s listed on Google it’s going to pull within the information so you realize who is asking. Easy genius.
On the Nexus 5, Hangouts turns into your default messaging app with SMS assist. However in contrast to iMessage, textual content convos and Hangouts chats keep separate and Google contacts are prioritised. And if, like us, you’re working three Google accounts you will get contacts in a tangle. It’s greatest to decide on one Google account then begin importing contacts out of your SIM or elsewhere then you definitely solely have to maneuver between accounts in Hangouts for Google-primarily based chat.
GOOGLE NOW AND SEARCH – OUTSOURCE BRAIN
It truly is all about Google Now and search, although. With a brand new house to the left of your most important homescreen, you’ll spend extra time checking Google’s thoughts-studying number of location, search and climate based mostly playing cards than ever (not simply the Google Doodles). It may well now recommend internet pages, too – and you’ll nonetheless entry it by swiping up from the underside of the display when in apps, as earlier than.
Search is all over the place in KitKat, together with the dialler, with a search bar on the prime of each homescreen – sure, even on the Google Now display. With the large G’s search engine benefit, and Maps’ enterprise and journey data on its manner, Siri actually is a goner.
That’s as a result of Google’s Voice controls have additionally actually come on in functionality. Change to US English in Google Now’s settings and you then’re good to go along with the OK Google command. While you’re on homescreens (that is Nexus 5 solely) or Google Now say “OK Google”, a la Glass, to voice search, open apps or discover contacts. Most of it’s sooner than ever, though opening apps takes longer than it ought to, and we reckon it might make chatting to our phones a actuality – lastly. You won’t do it on the road simply but however we’re positive you’ll come round to it.
And there’s extra: it’s not reside but however Google has app companions on board, together with IMDB and OpenTable, to begin integrating the data in apps into KitKat’s Google Search. Because of this not solely will we use Google to entry information from the online but additionally navigate to what we’d like from apps.
All the pieces will probably be one voice command or typed search away – from instructions to a gig venue to the recipe for the dinner we forgot we have been presupposed to be making. See what we imply about altering the best way you utilize your phone? You could by no means click on on an app icon once more.
With Google Now and voice search Android has been completely invaded by Google’s companies and that makes KitKat scarily highly effective. Extra importantly, with an understated construct, terrific display screen and unflappable efficiency, the hardware is a worthy match for the wonderful Android 4.4 software program. Whereas no system bearing the Nexus identify has misstepped, with the frenzy across the 5 it’s spectacular to say that it lives as much as the hype.
There’s no query that for anybody seeking to purchase a handset outright, that is the very best £300-£350 you may spend. Google is making it attainable for extra folks to purchase nice handsets SIM-free, escaping from the clutches of sky-excessive 24 month contracts. And whereas it could not have the resale worth of an iPhone, in a year’s time we doubt you’ll need to promote. Nexus handsets are first to be up to date, in spite of everything.
However the very best of Google doesn’t make one of the best smartphone and as tremendous-specced, good worth and funky because the Nexus 5 now could be, high smartphones such because the LG G2 take higher care of the fundamentals that actually matter.
So Google’s nonetheless one killer digital camera and beefy battery away from complete domination in smartphone hardware, however even now the Nexus 5 stays a cracking conduit to Google’s imaginative and prescient of the net, and it goes straight to number 3 in our record of one of the best smartphones on the earth consequently.
Google Nexus 5 Tech Specs
Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Processor: 2.2.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Screen: 4.95in IPS 1920×1080 display (445ppi)
Camera: 8MP rear, 1.3MP front
Storage: 16GB/32GB (non expandable)
Battery: 2300 mAh
Dimensions: 69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59mm
Wireless connectivity: Dual-band WiFi (2.4G/5G), 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; NFC (Android Beam); Bluetooth 4.0; wireless charging
Sensors: GPS; gyroscope; accelerometer; compass; proximity/ambient light