Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: LG Google Nexus 5: The Ultimate Android Smartphone

For: Price, Screen, Build Quality, High Performance Hardware, and Vanilla Android Experience
Against: Not a Stellar Camera & Battery Backup but Not a Deal Breaker in Any Manner

The Google Nexus 5 has been launched in India in November 2013 with price tag of Rs. 29990 for 16 GB model and Rs. 33880 for 32 GB model. The much hyped Smartphone is powered by Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 processor, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU, 16 & 32 GB Internal Memory, 8 MP Primary Camera + 1.3 MP Secondary Camera, 4.95 inches True HD IPS+ Capacitive Touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Protection and Resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels & ~445 ppi and Android v4.4 KitKat Operating System.

There was a time when we Indians could only source Nexus devices from countries like US and it was kind of an alien thing till few years back. With growing popularity of Nexus in our country, Google sensed that India could be one of the potentially large market for its flagship smartphone. Google officially started selling Nexus 4 through PlayStore and online mega marts like FlipKart. Nexus 4 has fantastic specs on paper suffered from below par camera, battery backup and limited storage which made things not so rosy for Nexus 4. Improving on its cons, Google introduced Nexus 5 in November 2013 which is better than Nexus 4 in all aspects and giving prominent flagship devices like Samsung Galaxy S4 & HTC One a run for their money. Let’s have a closer attention on Google Nexus 5!

Screen & Build Quality

Make no mistake, Nexus 5 has one of the finest display & touch screen as compared to other mobiles in flagship segment. You will be smitten with full HD 4.95 inch IPS+ screen which has staggering pixel density of 445 ppi. It is pleasure to view the screen with its amazing contrast ratios, colour saturations and brightness. The earlier Nexus did suffered from poor contrast ratio. Everything is crisp and clear. Viewing angles are good. It is treat to watch photos, videos, movies and play graphic hungry games on Nexus 5. Touch response is feather smooth and responsive. Day time visibility is also impressive. The beautiful screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which ensures peace of mind to some extent.

If we compare Nexus 5 with its predecessors, Nexus 5 is best looking of them all. Google has done away with glass back of Nexus 4 which resulted in poor handling of the device. Nexus 5 is made of soft feather touch plastic body which is not resistant to fingerprints. It weighs exactly as S4 @130 grams. It is light yet sturdy and looks & feels premium. Build quality is up to the mark even with a plastic shell. Samsung might take some cue from this!

There are on screen buttons for home, back and menu functions. A 1.3 MP secondary camera is housed above the screen along with couple of sensors. Earphone is nicely integrated in an unconventional round shape. Display deserves a good quality screen guard to prevent scratches though Google provides a stock screen guard with ‘Nexus’ imprinted on it.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

Google Nexus 5 has retained 8.0 megapixel primary camera from Nexus 4 but with large sensor which results in improved image quality as compared to its predecessor. It also has optical image stabilization & LED flash. When compared to other 8.0 MP units, this one performs at par, the image quality is very good for outdoor shots with average indoor photos. Resultant image size is 3264 * 2448 pixels. Camera app has features like geo-tagging, touch/auto focus, face detection, photo sphere, HDR mode and dual recording. Photosphere mode is for panoramas shots, HDR mode adds further details to your photos and macro mode is very accurate and useful for taking close up photos. The 1.3 MP front camera is very good for high quality video calling. There is no dedicated camera shutter button.

It can record 1080p@30fps videos. One can also take pictures while recording a video. Overall camera experience of Nexus 5 is just above average and may not impress the photographer in you but then who buys a smartphone for photography at all. It is good enough for day to day snapping. In the flagship segment, S4 and HTC One has much better cameras & camcorders. Camera lens is scratch prone - a good quality case is must recommended. 

Call quality is very good. The single speaker is better and louder than Nexus 4. I would like to see stereo speakers on next iteration of Nexus which is expected to launch by 2014 Christmas. Just like Nexus 4, power button is on right side of the phone, volume rocker on left side, a 3.5 mm audio port on top of the phone along with noise cancellation microphone and USB cum charging port at the bottom. Nexus 5 comes with earphones but I haven’t tested those so can’t comment on its quality.

OS/Performance and Battery

Nexus 5 is powered by monstrous Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 processor, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU, 16/32 GB Internal Memory and Android v4.4 KitKat Operating System. There is no SD card support. If we consider all flagship smartphones then Nexus 5 grabs respectable position after Samsung Note 3 which has slight advantage with 3 GB RAM. Performance is not an issue with this device packing powerful processor and GPU. Nexus 5 scores well on benchmarks apps like Antutu, Quadrant standards and Nenamark. Antutu benchmark score is around 30,000. Quadrant standard score is 8822. NenaMark2 benchmark revealed impressive fps score @ 58.9 fps.

Android KitKat runs amazingly fast, smooth & lag free on Nexus 5.Android KitKat has minimum memory requirement of 512MB which makes it very efficient OS. With 2 GB of RAM at disposal, Android KitKat is fluidic, lag free and snappy. Stock Android is bliss to use. Google hangouts integrates SMSes also. Google Now is much improved with voice commands & typing without internet connection. It offers lots of customization options. Gallery app similar to ICS design uploads photos to Google + automatically with customizable privacy option. You can also download albums from web and save for offline viewing. Default music player is Google Play with various equalizers and effects like bass boost and 3d effects. For browsing, Google Chrome comes preinstalled.

All graphic hungry games like Asphalt 8 & Real Racing 3 plays butter smooth and lag free. Nexus 5 is a great device for gaming. While there is no overheating problem but the device does gets bit heated on playing graphic hungry games like Asphalt 8 for extensive periods. Nexus 5 is available with 16 GB/32 GB internal memory options with no SD card support. Non-removable Li-Po 2300 mAh battery usually provides a full day back up on normal use. Battery capacity still has scope of improvement as the CPU & GPU are quite power hungry.


Pricing plays a very important role for any product to be successful in market. With aggressive, mouthwatering pricing, Nexus 5 has become an instant hit as soon as it was announced. If you are able to source Nexus 5 from US then the deal is even sweeter. 32 GB model For $399 = just Rs. 25,000 is a killer price. Availability is an issue especially for 16 GB model with mobile stores going out of stock as soon as new stock arrives.

To sum it all – Google Nexus 5 is the best value for money & performance hungry Android smartphone that money can buy.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality *****
Screen *****
Performance *****
Value for Money *****
Overall *****

Specs At A Glance 

4.95 inches True HD IPS+ Capacitive Touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Protection and Resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels
Quad-core 2.3 GHz processor
 Adreno 330 GPU
16/32 GB internal memory
8-megapixel autofocus camera and 1.3MP front camera
Network Type
SingleSIM, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, Class 12 EDGE &GPRS, GPS, NFC
Non-removable Li-Po 2300 mAh battery
Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)
137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm
130 grams

No comments: