While I enjoy reviewing smartphones and smartwatches here at Yologadget, I realize that consumers want the details on the problems with devices. Every device has its problems (no matter how subtle), and consumers and readers want to know what problems are present with each device. I’ve put myself in your shoes, wanting to know what problems await me should I buy a new smartphone, smartwatch, or smart tablet – so why wouldn’t you want to know the same?
The Nexus 5, Google’s latest with LG, of course, is an excellent phone at an excellent, unlocked price of no more than $450 (depending on whether you purchase the 16GB or 32GB model), and comes with all Google services that will make Google lovers rejoice. It’s pure vanilla Android, free from the bloatware that you often find on high-end smartphones, and many Android “purists” appreciate this fact. Android purists are individuals who don’t care for TouchWiz, Sense, or any other Android UI skin that Android OEMs place on their smartphones to make them stand out. Sony’s waterproof and dustproof Xperia Z series is praised for having an excellent camera that relies on vanilla Android to meet your needs. It seems that many Xperia Z customers appreciate Sony cameras, but have little regard for vanilla Android – seeing that it is too bland for their tastes.
However, the Nexus 5 does have its drawbacks, and it is important that we here at Yologadget cover these so that you understand our impartiality towards all smartphones, smartwatches, smart tablets, and other devices – no matter the manufacturer. With my work done on the Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, it was obvious that I’m a huge Samsung fan; with that said, I hope my investigatory work into the Nexus 5 shows that I’m willing to go the distance with other smartphones in order to educate and inform the readership.
With that said, let’s now dive into drawbacks of the Nexus 5 and provide some insight into the bad about this smartphone. By the end, it is my hope that you will at least leave informed. You may leave liking the smartphone or you may leave disliking it more than before, but at least you’ll have your reasons.
Nexus 5 Drawback #1: Does Not Integrate Active and Internet Notifications
In the Nexus 5 experience, the internet left-swipe screen is not immediately apparent to the user. It’s only through my testing out a left swipe that I learned I could easily access the internet by scrolling to the left side of my Nexus 5 display. At the same time, however, it should be. If this is one of Google’s main selling points with its Nexus line, both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 phones, for example, Google should be better about integrating internet and active notifications. When you have the active notifications appearing at the top drop-down window, and internet notifications appearing at the side screen (without any real-time notifications), the user cannot take full advantage of the internet notifications.
Having spent time with the Nexus 5 over the last two months, I can tell you that the active notifications are an excellent thing. No matter where you are, the Nexus 5 will either sound when the volume’s turned on, or vibrate, whenever a new notification such as email or an app update appears. When the volume is turned down, there’s still a notification message in the top drop-down window to alert me that a notification is waiting to be viewed.
This does not occur for internet notifications, however. The only way I can tell that a site I like to read has published a new story is if I left swipe to find out. Even then, hours may pass before I get to read the new story, which by then has turned into a second or third news story. The first is lost with time, and I’ll never know the site published it because Google fails to notify me in the drop-down window.
App integration is important, and, since the Nexus 5 claims a pure vanilla Android experience, notifications should be in the same place at the same time. When you’ve got a so-called “simplistic” phone that does not overwhelm the user, but have active notifications in one place and internet notifications in another, it seems as if the Nexus 5 doesn’t quite have the pure vanilla Android philosophy down to a science yet.
Internet notifications are just as active as the Nexus 5’s active notifications; why then, do they appear in different places?
Nexus 5 Drawback #2: Google + Photos and Photo Gallery: Two Apps for the Utility of One
The Nexus 5 has another type of app in which Google has failed to integrate: photo apps. The Nexus 5 user has two types of photo apps provided by Google, Google + photos (now called Photos) and the in-built photo gallery. Which do you need to use on a regular basis? It depends on which app you want to use.
Google’s formerly-named Google + Photos app is still one that I like, seeing that your photos are integrated into the cloud and you do not have to scroll through them constantly. The photo gallery provides a bit more work in finding your photos, particularly when you consider the fact that the Photo Gallery lacks a search function by which you could find your photos. I enjoyed using the Google + Photos app better than photo gallery, although the photo gallery served my interests here and there when looking for a picture or photo I downloaded onto my phone.
It is apparent here, however, that the Nexus 5 still has yet to integrate its photo apps – a sign that things have not changed since Google’s Nexus 4 unveiling. Google, please be sure to integrate these two apps in the future so that users are not confused about where to go.
The same can be said for cloud apps like QuickOffice, Google Drive, and Feedly, that involve cloud services (not just cloud storage). Google owns these apps, but the company needs to do more to integrate them so that users are aware that Google owns them. Integrating QuickOffice and Google Drive into one app is an excellent start.
Nexus 5 Drawback #3: Lack of Google Voice App and Integration
Did you know that Google has its own Google Voice app? You may or may not know this, but the lack of a Google Voice app in the Nexus 5 experience is painfully apparent to those who cherish Google’s Voice services. When it comes to a Google smartphone such as the Nexus 5, it seems that Google missed a golden opportunity to showcase one of its most popular services.
Think about it: one thing that sets Android smartphones apart from Apple smartphones is that you can virtually use these phones without a SIM card. One thing I cherished about the Nexus 5 is that I turned it on the moment I pulled it out of the box and didn’t need to wait for a micro-SIM card before using my Wi-Fi network to send emails, browse and surf the Web, and catch up on the daily news I’d missed.
Google Voice is an alternative to traditional SMS and phone services that allow you to send all of your phone calls to one number instead of a few. If you’re a business professional who has one phone number for your personal phone, one number for your work phone, and another phone for your house phone or a prepaid phone, you get tired of having to answer all three phones and check messages on each phone in order to stay afloat. Wouldn’t it be nice if one phone number worked for all your devices? This is the selling point behind Google’s Google Voice.
At the same time, Google Voice is not waiting in the wings for greatness. In fact, Google Voice is its own worst enemy. To use Google Voice, you can choose to port your number over – but you’ll have to straighten things out with your carrier first. Oh, and, by the way, you still need a traditional SMS and phone carrier for Google Voice.
That’s right: Google wants you to rely on them for phone calls, texts, and so on, but you still need a traditional carrier. This brings up the question, “Why would I even switch to Google Voice if I can use the traditional phone and SMS services to make calls and send text messages? Your guess is as good as mine. Having one number instead of three to check on is nice, but Google Hangouts will still accomplish this. Even on your two or three phones, you can download Google Hangouts, make it your default app, and still receive calls and text messages. You don’t really need Google Voice to do these things, so what’s the point? Google Voice seems almost irrelevant today, considering the number of text messaging and phone call apps that are available across multiple platforms. You can download BlackBerry’s Messenger app on Android, for example, while still using it on BlackBerry – so why would you need Google Voice to reroute your calls?
Here’s what I think: Google should do something spectacular with Google Voice by promoting it as a Wi-Fi phone and SMS service, without the need to have a specific carrier. If you want to buy the Nexus 5 and use Google Voice, you’re left unable to do so because Google’s not marketing Google Voice as a Wi-Fi calling service.
Apple stepped up its game last September when, in a surprise move, it introduced Wi-Fi audio calls as part of iOS 7. For so long, FaceTime was a data plan deal, only available to those who had data plans. If an iPhone user had a small data plan that ran out for the month, he or she could no longer use FaceTime to make audio calls. Now, iPhone users can place calls without the need to video chat, and Google should take a hint from Apple and Microsoft (with Skype, of course).
Think about it: Nexus 5 users may find themselves in an area where their carrier coverage is poor; what app can they fall back on to make phone calls and send texts? Republic Wireless offers Wi-Fi calls and text messages with its own technology, but Google could take full advantage of this and win Android users over to Google Voice. If Google charged just $5 a month, the company could earn more money from users while offering them an integrated experience. With all the Android users in the world, I’m sure that Google could use this extra cash cow and earn some cash to put towards its geeky projects such as Google Glass, Project Tango, and its modular phone project codenamed “Project Ara.” Google should promote Google Voice more in the future product presentations than they have. There are a large number of Americans that have never heard of Google Voice, and the company seems to be toying with the idea of affordable Wi-Fi phone calls, rather than chasing this market down as usual.
I’ve not yet downloaded Skype onto my Nexus 5, but I’m tempted to do so. The reason has to do with the fact that, once I remove my T-Mobile service from my Nexus 5, I can still text and make calls by way Skype and even Facebook messenger. As for Google, the Nexus 5 should have seen the integration of both Google Hangouts and Google Talk so that users can have both audio and video calls. As we’ve seen, there are a few areas of app integration that Google must pay attention to in order to make the 2014 Nexus 5 (or Nexus 6) a better device than Google’s 2013 offering.
Would you expect the Nexus 5 to come without YouTube pre-installed? If you’re answering this question subconsciously with “no, I wouldn’t,” then you understand the problem behind Google’s failure to add Google Voice to the Nexus 5 lineup.
Nexus 5 Drawback #4: Battery Life
Google’s Nexus 5 smartphone comes with a 2,300mAh battery that can last anywhere from 12-20 hours (in my own personal tests). At the same time, it is also true that using the battery for long periods of time tends to drain battery quickly. For example, I sat and read the news for 2 hours and had a loss of 40% from my battery. When I’m not using the Nexus 5, my battery lasts in good fashion, but heavy usage will drain it. While the Nexus 5 battery is no different in this regard than any other smartphone battery, Nexus 5 users will find it to be a pain.
If you’re the type of individual that does not like losing battery life and seeing your device dwindle down to nothing, then I suggest you buy a battery pack with your Nexus 5 and keep it charged all the time and at your side.
There is an app that can help with battery life, however: since the Nexus 5 does come with a Qualcomm, Snapdragon 800 processor, I suggest using Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app to accompany your Nexus 5. Qualcomm’s processors are one of the top models in the world; why would Qualcomm’s battery app be any different?
Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app works by learning how you use your phone for 2 days before saving on your battery life. It then takes another week to continue learning the consistency of your phone experience to optimize the savings on battery life. After this 9-day period, the battery app works to stop battery drainage on apps and processes that are unneeded or unused. This will help volumes when it comes to how much battery life you can eke out of your device. My normal battery life on the Nexus 5 has been 12-15 hours consistently, but Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru app has helped me get about 22-24 hours of battery life out of the Nexus 5. So, Qualcomm’s battery app does help – just don’t expect any magical 30 or 40-hour runs out of the Nexus 5.
With that said, I do have to give Google credit here for the Nexus 5 battery. I assumed that it would have low life and low power when I started using it, but I was pleasantly surprised about its battery life. This just goes to show that sometimes, we often assume things based on a device’s spec sheet that may prove to be false assumptions in the end. I’ve always heard it said that you can’t let the spec sheet fool you, but so far, it hasn’t. As for the Nexus 5’s battery life, it was a pleasant surprise – but it still leaves room for improvement. If you’re interested in getting the Nexus 5, know that your battery life will probably leave that of the iPhone 5s in the dust; at the same time, however, it’s no Sony Xperia Z2, Galaxy S5, or Galaxy Note 3 (and Galaxy Note 4).
It’s been said that Motorola’s Moto X provides better battery life (24 hours) on a single charge, and this alone makes the Moto X better than the Nexus 5 (according to some); at the end of the day, however, the Moto X may have better battery life but not much else to commend it. Why in the world would you want to buy a Moto X with 2012 specs, when you can buy a Nexus 5 that has nearly 24 hours of battery life plus excellent specs such as a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution, 5-inch display, and LG’s premium hardware build? Some have even decided to go for the Moto X on a two-year contract in the US, but again, this move doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you want to get a two-year contract with a phone that, by the time your contract is over, will be forgotten?
The Nexus 5 battery life is good and will easily get you through a workday, but you may find yourself plugging it up when you arrive home so that it won’t die on you at the end of the night.
These are the majority of Nexus 5 drawbacks, but there are two more to cover in detail. What are they? You’ll have to stay tuned for another portion of our Nexus 5 review to find out.