Home / Reviews / Nexus 5 Review: Reasons To Buy, Pt. 1: Improvements In Design

Nexus 5 Review: Reasons To Buy, Pt. 1: Improvements In Design

Google’s LG Nexus 5 was announced on Halloween Day, October 31st, and has made its way to even Israel in the time Google announced the phone’s arrival from its blog located in Mountain View, California. At the time, the Nexus 5 was the only device in the smartphone and tablet market (or anywhere else, for that matter) running Android 4.4 KitKat. KitKat made waves in the tech community when, last September, Google revealed the chocolatey bugdroid so symbolic of Android OS to those present for the statue unveiling. While the search engine giant always unveils a new statue to honor each new OS update annually, the tech world did not expect “KitKat” to become the new name.

Nexus 5 display

For so long, tech writers and enthusiasts alike had been spreading the word about “Key Lime Pie,” considered to be Android 5.0 in news circles. To their surprise, the incremental update to Android was not 5.0 but instead, 4.4 – and it was not named Key Lime Pie, but KitKat. Google’s reason for changing the nomenclature? Most US consumers, the company said, were not familiar with Key Lime Pie (and many Americans had never tasted the dessert to even know what Key Lime Pie tastes like). KitKat would be an instant hit because it is one of those chocolate indulgences that most Americans have tasted, no matter the state in which they reside. With a popular OS name and premium hardware, Google and LG teamed up to release the LG Nexus 5.

In this review, we’re going to take a look at the reasons why you should buy the LG Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 is nearing 4 months old at this point (which is still a rather young age for a new smartphone), and other smartphones on the market are out and vying for your attention. Before we take a look at all the wonderful reasons to buy the 2013 Nexus smartphone, however, we want to provide the specs, features, and pricing of the Nexus 5 to refresh your memory.

Nexus 5 Specs, Features, and Pricing

  • 4.95-inch, Gorilla Glass 3 Liquid Crystal Display
  • 1920 x 1080p full HD resolution (445ppi)
  • 2.26Ghz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 8MP rear-facing camera
  • 1080p video recording
  • 2,300mAh battery
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • LTE
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Video Image Stabilization (VIS)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB memory storage
  • micro USB
  • OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Price: $349 (16GB) or $399 (32GB)

Google introduced the Nexus 5 on Sprint’s network, leaving the unlocked Nexus 5 for AT&T and T-Mobile customers. Sprint customers had preferential treatment in the Nexus 5, but I hope that the 2014 Nexus smartphone will be the exclusive of Verizon Wireless. We already have the Moto X and as of late (the last week or two), the 2013 Nexus 7 LTE tablet. Now, we just need to add the 2014 Nexus 5 or Nexus 6 to America’s most reliable 4G LTE network. The Nexus 5 may be available on either contract or prepaid agreement in your part of the world as well.

Now that we’ve covered the specs, features, and price for the LG Nexus 5, let’s get into reasons to buy this Google smartphone.

 

Reasons To Buy the LG Nexus 5

Nexus 5 front and Spigen case

With devices such as the Galaxy Note 3, Moto X, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5C, Galaxy Note 3 Neo, Sony Xperia Z1, HTC One Max, and others available on the global market, why should you purchase Google’s LG Nexus 5? This is a good question. As someone who’s always intrigued by the latest smartphone release, I’ve found that this is a fitting question for consumers who are simply overwhelmed by the number of smartphones that are released onto the market each year. Many consumers grow weary of simply upgrading their smartphone every two years because the industry demands it and manufacturers force their hands. In some cases, the incremental improvements in the specs of smartphones is seen by consumers as nothing more than a means by which carriers and manufacturers steal money from consumers who just want a smartphone that works well. Why then, should you go out of your way to spend approximately $400 for a Google smartphone?

The answer is simple: Google’s made so many improvements to what was a solid contender in the smartphone space. The difference is that now, most consumers can live with the Nexus 5 – as opposed to Google’s 2012 Nexus 4.

 

Reason To Buy the Nexus 5 #1: Improvement Over the Nexus 4

Nexus 5 back plate is no longer glass, but a soft matte finish

If you’re a Google fan and owned the Nexus 4, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here. The Nexus 4 was a premium device, but there were a number of problems with it. First, the device had a glass back – nothing short of a health hazard if the glass cuts your hand and you start to bleed. A number of tech analysts believed that Google’s Nexus 4 felt premium, but you cannot understand how premium a device is if it gives beauty with the left hand but poses a danger with the right hand.

Next, the Nexus 4 only had 3G wireless technology. I realize that this may not be an issue in many parts of the world, but it is a problem when you live in an area where 4G LTE is standard internet but cannot access it because of your smartphone’s lacking capabilities. 3G wireless is not bad at all; however, when you enter into an area where good internet is hard to come by, or coverage turns spotty, having 4G wireless is sometimes vital to give you an internet signal you may need to send a quick email.

To add to its glass back and short wireless capabilities, the Nexus 4 also had a washed-out screen resolution. Have you ever done laundry and used Tide to wash your colored T-shirt – only to see your t-shirt turn from a vibrant red to a “lighter pink” after the fact? The same washed-out look of a red T-shirt that turns to a reddish-pink color is the same look of the Nexus 4’s screen resolution. I owned a 2012 Nexus 7 and could see the washed out look on Google’s tablet, but it was just as obvious to Nexus 4 users. Part of the user experience involves screen resolution and how images and words are presented to you on your touch screen. If you are turned off by the presentation of images, pictures, and words on the screen, how can you have an enjoyable experience? The Nexus 4 got a lot of applause but had enough criticism with which to lace the same applause. If Google was to make a device that would garner attention, it would have to improve these areas.

And improve it did.

In stepped the Nexus 5 four months ago, a device that made Google fans and tech enthusiasts alike sit up and take notice. Gone was the washed-out 1280 x 768 screen resolution, replaced by a full HD, 1920 x 1080p screen resolution whose brightness can be too much at times; a near 5-inch display that is comfortable to hold in your hand, yet just small enough to avoid the 5-inch “phablet” moniker that’s become so common for similar display sizes. Google also removed the glass back, replacing it with a soft matte touch back that gives you an “ooohhhh” and “aaahhhh” feeling when you hold it in your hands for the first time. The “ooohhhs” and “aaahhhs” will leave after a while as you get used to this feeling, but it’s nice for the first time. Holding the device took me back to the Spring of 2013, when I held the iPhone 5 in my hands outside of my local Apple retail store for the first time.

Last but not least, Google improved the Nexus 5 experience by replacing the Nexus 4’s infamous 3G wireless with 4G LTE – a move that made Nexus fans rejoice. Finally! – a Google phone that did not have to compromise on wireless capability in order to remain affordably priced. I had an iPhone 5 prior to my switch to the Nexus 5 with T-Mobile, and my iPhone 5 was not perfectly compatible with T-Mo’s network. What a joy it was to upgrade to the Nexus 5 and actually see the letters “LTE” beside my cell bars! LTE has only enhanced the Nexus 5 experience for me, and I’m sure it will do the same for you.

As you can see, Google’s stepped up its wireless internet, premium back plate, screen resolution, and device size in the LG Nexus 5. But this is only part of the story. The next part shows Google’s prowess in its software offering.

 

Reason to Buy the Nexus 5 #2: Software Prowess

Nexus 5 services, compliments of Google

Behind every good machine is good software. This is true with printers and computers, but it’s easy to conceive of your smartphone as a mini-computer that’s always with you. Smartwatches are taking on this concept, too, but smartphones are still the head of the line when it comes to mobility and consumer adaptation. Google’s LG Nexus 5 is another mini-computer whose software must also be evaluated. After you get over the premium look and feel of the Nexus 5, you must learn to enjoy using the Nexus 5’s software. Since Google is renown for its services in the Android community and even with iOS (Gmail, Google +, Chrome OS, etc.), this is no surprise.

To show you the extent of Google services you’ll enjoy in the Nexus 5 experience, I’ll list Google’s pre-installed services below:

  • Google’s Photos app
  • Gmail
  • Google +
  • Google Maps
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Keep
  • Google Drive
  • YouTube
  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Play Newsstand
  • Google News & Weather
  • Play Store
  • Play Movies
  • Play Books
  • Play Games
  • Play Music
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Earth
  • Google Wallet

Google provides a little something for everyone. There may be services offered by Google that you never use, but they’re still available if you have the faintest desire to use them in the future.

Let’s take time to cover a few of these, since they comprise such an integral part of the Nexus 5 experience.

Google Photos

Google photos on the Nexus 5

Worried about consuming your memory storage? It’s the concern of every iPhone user I’ve ever met who continues to rely on iCloud for extra photo space. iPhone users are proud of their iCloud, but I think it’s because they’ve never met Google photos up-close and personal.

Google’s unlimited photo cloud storage (yes, I said unlimited) is what makes the LG Nexus 5 shine unlike any other. In today’s world, consumers have cloud storage pushed at them left and right, as they are told to add extra storage to their daily bleeding memory storage so that they can capture precious moments that can be relived over and over again. Cloud storage has become a new frontier for companies that otherwise lack attention with consumers, and this is the case with reason: without cloud storage, memory expansion is impossible.

And yet, even within the race to have as much cloud storage as possible, Google still shines. Google Drive offers 15GB of cloud storage immediately, but Google’s photo cloud storage is unlimited. I’ve uploaded thousands of photos to Google’s photo storage, and I’ve not yet been told “you’ve consumed too much data storage.” Can you imagine having photo cloud storage to such an extent that you can use more and more and more – and never run out? This is what makes Google a software master. It provides its own unlimited cloud storage for your photos, and makes the offerings of cloud storage companies Box, Dropbox, SugarSync, Copy, Loom, Amazon, and others look paltry at best. Even when you’ve exhausted all your memory storage on your Nexus 5 (whether 16GB or 32GB), Google’s still got your back. Your new photos have a place to belong.

Google’s unlimited photo cloud storage can be accessed via Google + on iOS and Android; the difference with the Nexus 5, however, is that it can be accessed by the touch of a simple Photos app. Within seconds of taking a picture, your photo is uploaded automatically to the Photos app, and you never have to look for your photo again. In my experience with Google + for iOS and Android, photos taken today may not upload until the end of the week. With Google’s automatic upload, your photo will appear in no time at all in your LG Nexus 5’s photos app.

In the last two months I’ve spent with the Nexus 5, I’ve noticed that, when on a reliable Wi-Fi or cellular data network, my Nexus 5 photos upload to Google’s photos app immediately. Photos are denied, however, when your Nexus 5 is not on a reliable internet network, but even 2G EDGE data qualifies as a solid internet network.

I’ve started covering Google services here, but Part 2 is right around the corner. Stay tuned.

About Deidre Richardson

Deidre is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who discovered her interest for tech a little later in life. Since meeting the Samsung Galaxy S3, however, her life has been changed -- and tech's become such a big part of it. She currently owns four Samsung phones (GS3, GS4 Active, Note 3, GS5), and has owned the Galaxy Gear and Gear S smartwatches. In addition to Yologadget, Deidre writes for SamMobile.com, the largest Samsung fan site on the Web, as well as Smartwatch.me, and general tech site Aptgadget.com.