Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nexus 5 Intial Impressions

So after months of aniticipation I finally got my Nexus 5 Wednesday. After immmediately rooting it I restored all my settings and apps from my Galaxy SIII and am up and running. I plan to do a full hands on review soon, but for now I'd like to share my intial impressions.

Opening the box I thought I knew exactly what to expect. There have been so many leaks leading up to the releae of the Nexus 5 that I didn't expect there too be much of a wow factor. I was wrong. I was immediatley impressed after opening the box! I love soft touch plastic and matte black so I am really happy with the finish on the Nexus 5. The black model is pretty much just a  5" display wrapped in a  clean and classy soft touch matte black casing. I am a big fan of the simplistic design of the Nexus 5 and 7. I haven't seen the white model in person yet but I have heard good things about its finish. I'm not a big fan of white phones but as far far as white phones go it looks nice to me. I would have rather seen it white all the way around personally instead of of the half and half design that that seems to be popular with manufacturers.

The first thing that really jumps out as you as you remove the phone from the box is how light it is. Now part of this for me is probably due to the fact that my Galaxy S3 with 4500mah extended battery was a huge brick, but the Nexus 5 is really light and thin! Build quality is great in my opinion, the materials seem well crafted and everything is put together quite solidly. I really dislike the plastic cheap feel of most of Samsung's Galaxy phones, despite how good the phones actually are, but Google did a good job of making plastic feel higher end. 

The next thing that stands out is the crisp IPS+ Gorilla Glass 3 display. There are other displays on high end Android phones that may slightly out perform the Nexus 5, but none that I've seen do so in a significant way. Without the device's being side by side chances are most  won't notice any difference. I'd be surprised if someone didn't like the display on the Nexus 5, I am really impressed! I do think Google needs to tweak the auto-brightness feature though, as it is at times overly/unnecessarily bright, causing unnecessary drain on the battery. Fingers crossed Google addresses this in the rumored upcoming Android 4.4.1 update. Definitely not a deal breaker though and obviously can be tweaked to your liking.

Volume rocker
Power button (and sim card tray)
The Nexus 5 only has a few actual hardware buttons since all navigation buttons are on screens intended by Google (and defiantly ignored by most manufacturers). On the right you have the power button (and sim card tray) and on the left the volume rocker. The buttons are very well  and made of a nice ceramic material. After the cheap buttons on my Galaxy S3, the buttons on the Nexus 5 are a huge improvement, with just the right amount of give when pressed and protruding just enough to be easily found by touch. 

I've only had the phone a few days so I don't want to make any judgement calls on many of the features until I've had more time to test them, but overall I am very pleased with little complaints.

The phone is super smooth and snappy and Android 4.4 KitKat  some nice new tweaks that I'm sure will prove to be more and more noticeable as I use the device for a while. The phone is very smooth and responsive, opening apps and switching between tasks is blazing fast and so far it has handled everything I've thrown at it with no problems. 

The camera, at least initially, seems pretty good. I've only snapped a few shots so I will reserve final judgment for a bit but so far I'm at least satisfied. The new HDR+ takes noticeably more detailed pics, but requires more time to snap and process a photo. I will definitely have to test the camera some more to get a true feel for how it performs, but if you were worried about the camera because of the track record with Nexus cameras, don't be. I'm sure with future updates the camera software will receive additional tweaks and only get better. I've posted a few of the first sample pics that I took really quick while playing with the camera below.
HDR+ (I think I moved while it was still processing)
Taken in pitch black room
My biggest area of concern is battery life. I was really disappointed that Google only went with a 2300 mah battery. The jury is still out on how this will impact battery performance. The first few days have been ok, but I'll see how it does over the weekend. I work in a cellular black hole (and generally have terrible Sprint service) so any phone struggles with battery life at my job. This weekend will give me a better idea of how  performs in normal coverage conditions. Even with the poor coverage I have gotten about 8-9 hrs of light use these first few days, which at my job is actually pretty decent. Depending on where I am in the building, even my old Galaxy S3 with 4500mah battery that typically lasts 20+ hours under moderate to heavy use, struggles to get through a full day often tapping out around 15-20% or less after 10 hours. So comparatively, the Nexus 5 might have done ok. Again, this is a horrible means to make this assessment so I'll sum it up as initially seeming to be ok, but still needing more time to truly gauge it. 

My only complaint so far honestly is the speaker. It is disturbingly weak! Music is inconsistent and often sounds like a whisper. The speaker (which is actually only one of the grills on the bottom, the other is a mic... Yeah, no stereo speakers) is easily muffled by a misplaced finger making the problem worse. Speaker phone also left a bit to be desired. I've also read about playback inconsistencies where some apps handle audio a bit better than others for no apparent reason. I've been concerned that I won't even hear notifications, but have mostly been on vibrate the last few days so I haven't tested this much yet either. The good news is Google has acknowledged the audio/speaker issues and stated an update to rectify them is on the way. 

I'll have a full review and video soon once I've had more time to test things out, but my initial impressions are very good! The Nexus 5 is a quality device that gives you Android as Google intended at a unbeatable price. It also provides a freedom not many other phones can, supporting the networks of 3 out of the 4 major US carriers (Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T) granting you the power to jump from carrier to carrier and take your phone with you. (Now if the other carriers would follow T-Mobile and drop contracts they might have to to actually compete based on service quality and price). If you're considering the Nexus 5 I can confidently say, go for it! 

Thinking of getting the Nexus 5? Already got one? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below! 


  1. Great initial review, do you have the 16 or 32gb and do you know if Sprint supports the 32gb

  2. Thanks Phil! I have the 32gb. I am still a little concerned with not being able to have external storage. I would have been completely comfortable with 64gb. But I've shifted largely to the cloud so I think I can get by with 32.

    Sprint does support the 32gb. I order mine directly from the Google Playstore and got it activated at a Sprint store before they even launched their model. They had to pull up some internal emails/memos but they worked it out. I assume they're more experienced with it by now and can get it done quicker. Google lets it go $100 cheaper than buying it direct off contract from Sprint/Best Buy.

  3. Replies
    1. No problem thanks for checking out the review. Soon as I find the camera I'll have more