Tuesday, November 5, 2013

LG Google Nexus 5 first impressions

Today I took delivery of the new Google and LG flagship, the Nexus 5. As I have been needing a new smartphone since July, I decided it is time to ignore my LG bias and check the device out. After all Google has been very impressive when it came to shipping this out so soon after announcement (next day!). Call this a late birthday present.

The Nexus 5 is a clear design evolution of the Nexus 4. You will find that the same basic shape is retained but the screen has been upgraded to a 5" 16:9 1080p LCD IPS display, which bumping the pixel density up, is simply gorgeous to look at. This is one of the best displays I have ever viewed in door, and that includes the HTC One.

While the removal of the glass back plate in favour of polycarbonate made the Nexus 5 feel cheaper than the premium-feel Nexus 4, it has made the new flagship significantly lighter and thinner as well. Yes, plastic may feel cheaper in your palm compared to glass, but I am sure it will probably be able to sustain a bit more everyday abuse than the crack happy Nexus 4.

I found the power button, which is located on the left side of the device next to the micro SIM card tray, to be a tad too small and too close to the top edge of the device. A power button located in the middle of the phone, similar to those found on Lumia and Xperia devices, would have been far more comfortable. A 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone can be found on the top, while the metallic volume rocker sits on the right side. You will find a pair of iPhone 5-esque loud speaker grills on the bottom with a micro USB sync/charge port in between them.

The backside is a design in simplicity, with a 8MP camera and a single solitary weak LED flash. While the back cover looks removable, I have been told it isn't. If you went for the white version like I did, you will find that the Nexus 5 sports a two-tone colour, which I admit looks rather neat. The camera itself isn't something to write about, especially after my brief affair with a Lumia 1020, and the camera app is still annoyingly basic. With only 8MP of data, you won't be cropping pictures a lot, but OIS and a faster lens for low light photography is a welcome upgrade regardless. Only time will tell if the camera here is a good enough improvement over the Nexus 4's poor camera.

With a top of the range Snapdragon 800 and the latest Android 4.4, the Nexus 5 is mighty fast. In fact it is so quick, you wouldn't have to install a slim down launcher like Nova (though I installed it anyway as I detest the fixed Google search bar). Android 4.4 does not appear to feature any ground breaking innovations as far as the GUI is concern, though the Nexus 5 does sport a voice wake up feature first found on the Moto X.

Overall the Nexus 5 isn't the most gorgeous looking device out there, but it is very functional. Everything is where you expect to find them, and while I would have preferred the power button to be located near the middle of the device, at least it isn't on the top (glares at HTC). As far as 5 inchers goes, the Nexus 5 feels great in my palm. Android isn't exactly a one-hand use friendly OS, but it doesn't become too irritating.

The Nexus 5 is available right now from Google Play, starting from £299, making it one of the cheapest Snapdragon 800-powered smartphones around. It is also available subsidised on various wireless carriers such as Three UK.

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