One month in.
The Nexus 5 is my first ever smartphone. I'm upgrading from a Nokia brick phone, but the jump wouldn't be as big as you would expect. I've owned a few Android tablets in the past, though I've never been able to access the full scope of the mobile environment like I am able to now.
The front of the phone is a rather unassuming black slab.
Unlike the front, there's too much clutter on the back. Maybe if it was only the Nexus "X" logo, but with both LG and the Nexus branding it's just too busy.
One of the more frightening things I noticed right away that came with owning a smartphone is how it is able to suck you in. During my first two weeks, I frequently found myself pulled into a massive time sink, where I spent hours fiddling around with my phone's controls and doing things I otherwise could have completed much faster on my desktop computer (like typing up this review). I like to imagine part of this time sink as "breaking in" the phone.
As an Android device, the user experience is not as finely crafted as something the iPhone offers. Although it is indeed simplistic and usable right out of the box, doing so would've been a waste of the operating system's full potential. What Android truly offers is almost full end user control over the software of their device. This degree of personalization allowed me to tailor my experience to exactly how I wanted it. The process isn't for everyone, and if you're looking for something that won't require some tinkering, look elsewhere.
I'm an avid photographer, so camera performance is a deal breaker for me when it comes to judging a smartphone's appeal.
Although the Nexus 5 is no iPhone 5S or Lumia 1020, its camera performance has been decent and the 8MP back camera has great detail capture, allowing a sufficient margin to crop my photos for better compositions. The autofocus can be a beat (or several beats) slow when starting the camera, and this will lead to frequent missed shots. After the first picture though, the autofocus does its job properly. The photos below are all taken with the Nexus 5. A few have been lightly retouched with apps.
If there's one thing to remember when shooting with the camera it is to turn HDR on. Without it, the Nexus 5 tends to skew its exposure to the sky and it throws the rest of the picture into darkness. It should be pretty obvious below which picture has HDR switched on.
I picked up a case along with the phone. It's a black TPU case with a frosted backing. It does its job, but it bulges slightly on the left side, which is just shoddy manufacturing. I guess I can't expect a lot quality from something that was just a free add-on.
Possibly the largest gripe I have with the Nexus 5 is its piss poor battery life. Any internet usage at all on the device will quickly drain the battery until it is all but useless. I had to resort to using a portable battery pack to sustain a sufficient charge throughout the day. Without this unappealing range extending option, data usage and screen brightness have to be used conservatively, and features like Google Now suffer setbacks without a constant internet connection.
The placement of the lock button directly across from the volume rocker makes it uncomfortably easy to change the volume while trying to unlock the phone. It's a minor annoyance.
It's interesting to note that although the Nexus 5 sports two speaker grilles at the bottom, sound exits only out of the left grille. This is found in the iPhone as well, and I can only presume that likewise, the other grille is used for the bottom mic.
The Nexus 5 isn't without its good points. It surprised me with a very responsive touchscreen and it packs a quad core processor under the hood to do some heavy lifting. There is virtually no lag and 2GB of RAM is plenty for some mobile multitasking. The screen rivals the iPhone in resolution and quality. The Nexus line is Google's ambition to display their latest and greatest in software, and the Nexus 5 was the first phone to come with Android 4.4 KitKat. Google is slowly mastering how to craft a beautiful user experience and I can't wait for their upcoming Android L release.
The Nexus 5 is a budget phone, priced at only $350 and asking it to contend with the iPhone 5S or high end Android phones like the HTC One or the LG G3 is certainly asking too much. The camera is decent but if I wanted a good photo, reaching for my compact is a better idea. For such a cheap offer though, Google and LG's collaboration performs admirably. It is well worth its price, packing powerful specs at a low cost.