Mobile devices Nexus-5-Black

Published on December 4th, 2013 | by Souvik Roy

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Nexus 5: is it worth it?

Nexus-5-Black

The Nexus 5 is currently one of the hottest smartphones in the Android realm. It was launched in India late last month with a price tag of Rs. 28,999 for the 16GB model and Rs. 32,999 for the 32GB one. The phone is priced much lower than its competitors and it ticks all the right boxes to be considered a flagship. So here’s our review of the Nexus 5 and how it fares against its competitors.

Hardware and Design

The design of the phone doesn’t brings anything new to the table with its simple candy bar shape. Don’t get us wrong though, the phone isn’t ugly, it’s just that it won’t turn as many heads as you would expect. The camera ring at the back is quite large, mainly to accommodate space for OIS. The phone is pretty slim at 8.69 mm and is well-built. The back of the phone is made of soft touch plastic and is very smooth. We recommend you to use a case like Ringke Fusion (which I am using) which doesn’t add much to the thickness and gives good protection too.

Wireless charging is built into the Nexus 5, a feature that can be found only in Nokia’s Lumia devices and  is a very rare breed in Android. It can be charged with any QI compatible charger which are easily available in the market. And did we say, the phone weighs only 130g!

Picture of the phone will be posted later

Display

The phone comes with a 4.95″  True HD IPS+ display and  has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 which gives a pixel density of 445 PPI. The texts are sharp and you can clearly read everything even in full zoomed out view. The colours are great and the screen produces natural tones unlike AMOLED screens which tends to oversaturate colours, which may or may not be to your liking. Sunlight legibility is above average, though not as great as AMOLEDs. Overall the display is great and you should have absolutely no issues with it.

Processor & RAM

The Nexus 5 comes with top of the shelf Snapdragon 800 with four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3 Ghz along with Adreno 330 GPU. The phone is an absolute powerhouse  and easily keeps up with other flagship phones. Gaming is an absolute joy on the Nexus 5 with no lag in any of the games that I have played. The 2 gigs ofRAM is enough to handle all your multitasking needs. Everything is smooth and silky as you would expect from a phone of this caliber and thanks to stock Android KitKat (more on this later) with no bloatware installed (*cough* Samsung *cough*), the phone is easily the fastest out there.

Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-41-51

Android 4.4 Kitkat

Android 4.4 is the latest and greatest from Google. It comes with a number of substantial features and introduces Project Svelte which is an upgrade to Project Butter which premiered in Jelly Bean. Project Svelte improves performance in low-end Android devices with 512MB RAM which means it would fly in a device like the Nexus 5. There is a camera shortcut on the lock screen and it’s accessible by swiping to the left. The launcher has been updated with Google Now integration. The icons looks bigger and widgets can now only be added by long pressing the homescreen.

Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-34-25 Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-34-34 Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-34-58 Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-35-02 Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-37-43 Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-35-08

Another important feature that debuted in Kitkat is ART runtime. It replaces the Dalvik runtime but is still in beta stage and after using it for some hours I can say it makes the phone a bit faster but you have to look very hard at the animations to spot it. The downside of using ART is that it increases the size of the applications installed and some popular apps are not even compatible.

Screenshot_2013-12-04-16-16-03

Google Now is closely integrated with Android on the Nexus 5. It is easily accessible by speaking the phrase “OK Google” on the homescreen. You can ask Google Now about the time, weather and stock reports, set alarm or note, and even open applications. It works flawlessly and is quite capable of doing tasks.

Screenshot_2013-12-04-15-47-17 Screenshot_2013-12-04-16-22-55

Another new feature in KitKat is Immersive Mode. It’s actually not available in the stock ROM but can be enabled through a custom ROM. It’s actually quite useful and removes the navigation bar which can get in the way while performing tasks such as playing games.

Screenshot_2013-12-04-16-28-59 Screenshot_2013-12-04-16-29-12 Screenshot_2013-12-04-16-29-07

Other small features added in KitKat is the Home option in settings where you can set your default launcher, SMS integration in Hangouts (which I found a bit irritating). I was forced to fix it by flashing a custom ROM which brings back the the Messaging app.

Camera

The Camera is 8MP and comes with Optical Image Stabilization. The size of the sensor is 1/3.2″ which is much larger than its predecessor. The camera interface is buggy and I really mean it. I had a very hard time focusing objects and it’s almost impossible to focus on low light. Another thing that bothers me is how slow the phone is to capture pictures. It takes around 4 secs to capture a picture in HDR+ mode. Google is said to release an update to fix all these issues.

 

Screenshot_2013-12-04-13-35-17 Screenshot_2013-12-04-15-18-48

Now the main thing that matters is camera quality. I would say that it’s above average, the amount of detail is good and the picture looks natural without being oversaturated. It’s better to take pictures in HDR+ mode since it capture way better pictures than the default mode.  The picture in default setup comes washed out and the sky looks white rather than blue. Only downside in using HDR+ mode is that it needs a bit more time to capture pictures since it takes pictures of multiple exposures and processes them. Although it takes time to capture pictures it more than makes up for it with better image  quality. The macro shots in particular look stunning!

Here are some samples

IMG_20131204_132955 IMG_20131204_133103 IMG_20131204_133127

The video quality is good and the camera captures at FullHD at 30fps. The focusing issue is still there and there’s no “Touch-to-focus” option. We will try to add a sample video later on. You can experience less jerkiness in the video footage due to Optical Image Stabilization. It’s worth of note that Google have implemented OIS since its still rare to find it in Android phones these days.

Video sample will be added later

Audio & Call Quality

The audio quality is good although we have seen many phones with much better quality. The is the place where LG and Google have made cost-cutting measures in order to keep the price of the phone low. The sound is quite feeble and is barely audible in loud environments. We have noticed that if we play songs from the “Play Music” app the audio is quite loud but in apps like YouTube or while playing games the sounds are feeble.

Thankfully the call quality is quite good and we did not experience any issues on either side. Hopefully the loudness will be fixed in near future.

 Battery

The Battery is another cost-cutting measure by Google and LG. It only has 2300mah which is quite low for a sub 5″ phone with a FullHD Display. The phone lasts for 12 hours on a single charge with medium usage which means if you start using your device from 8AM in the morning with full charge it will come down to 10% by 8PM. It’s really mediocre at best and hope Google will do some software tweaking for improving the endurance.

Conclusion

We were impressed with the Nexus 5 and more so with the price at which you are getting it. The nearest competitor is the LG G2 which costs around Rs. 10000 more than the Nexus 5. There is the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 that have inferior processing power compared to the Nexus 5 but has additional OEM customization which you may or may not like. But the one thing you won’t get in any other Android phones is regular OS updates. You are sure to get all latest Android goodies for the next 2 years and with stock android you will hardly see any lag in day to day usage.

 

Good

Impressive Display

Good camera

Powerful CPU and GPU

Android Kitkat

 

Bad

Design is average

No Micro SD card slot

Average audio quality

Poor Battery endurance

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