Google Nexus 5 review
- Incredible display
- Android KitKat
- That price tag
Google has finally unveiled the worst kept secret in technology - the Nexus 5 smartphone, made by LG. With wireless charging, a Full-HD display and the latest version of Android KitKat on board it has been designed to take on the likes of the iPhone 5c but without the premium price tag.
The Nexus 5 is on sale now, and T3 was invited to the exclusive launch at Google’s San Francisco office to try it out.
Available in either black or white with the option to buy a number of different coloured cases the Nexus 5 will cost £299 for a 16GB version and 32GB for £339.
Google Nexus 5: Size and Build
It’s a huge step up for Google, and for the Nexus range - this is a real quality piece of hardware, with levels of craftsmanship we’d only really expect from Apple before.
The first thing that’ll hit you is the weight - this is a REALLY light phone, weighing it at 130g, it's also pretty thing measuring in at only 8.59mm making it thinner than the iPhone 5s but still a little thicker than the Samsung Galaxy S4.
However, Google hasn’t skimped on quality, and it feels solid, in the way a lot of rival handsets don’t - making this one of the most impressive Android handset we’ve ever tried.
With a specially developed rubber back, the Nexus 5 has a solid, extremely well built feel to it. The front panel only shows the small circular speaker grill, with no logos or buttons when the phone is off. There are solid metal buttons, although they do have rather sharp edges.
However, the white model is a little bit of a disappointment, with only the back cover actually being white.
Google Nexus 5: Screen
With a full HD 1920x980 display and a 5-inch screen, it’s a really impressive bit of kit once the screen is switched on - and KitKat has improved the Android world greatly.
The display is surrounded by a much smaller bezel than that found on the previous generation Nexus 4, in many ways it looks (unsurprisingly) quite similar to the design found on the LG G2.
Google Nexus 5: Features
It’s not a radical, iOS 7 style overhaul, and more of a behind the scenes revamp with some cosmetic tweaks - but boy is it fast. It’s the most impressive Android experience we’ve had, with search popping up instantly, voice commands working well, and Google Now available with a simply left swipe from the homescreen.
You'll also be able to ask the Nexus 5 to perform commands via Google Now straight from the Home screen without having to press a button, mimicking the features found on the Motorola Moto X.
Google has completely re-engineered Android to run on pretty much every handset, addressing the fragmentation issue that its has faced.
Google Nexus 5: Camera
Now featuring optical image stabilisation, along with a brand new HDR+ mode, the camera on the Nexus 5 should provide greater snaps than last year’s model, even though the megapixel count still stands at eight, and on first impression that seems to be true.
We’ll have to give it more time, and a full test at T3 towers before we can say for sure but early signs are that it's a reasonable performer - although not great in low light.. There’s also a 1.2MP camera up top, which provides nice and clear Hangout chats.
Google Nexus 5: Performance
Boasting a 2.3Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB RAM and the under the hood improvements that come with Android 4.4 Kit Kat, the Nexus 5 really does scream.
We’ve only had a short time with the device, but even from our brief hands-on it’s clear to see that scrolling through menus is snappy, web pages load quickly and everything just feels, well, down right smooth. The Google Nexus 4 was quick, but this is another level.
Google Nexus 5: KitKat
While Android KitKat isn't a huge overhaul, it's full of useful tweaks such as a redesigned dialler app that makes finding contacts a lot quicker.
It also flies, with every app having been recoded for speed. Search, for instance, now starts immediately when you tap on the Google box, thanks to a new high speed animation, and everything feels slicker and more polished than any other version of Android we've seen.
Google Now is also now even better, and accessed with a left swipe from the homescreen. Google also plans to integrate third party apps into its search results - so hunting for a recipe will show results from apps as well as web pages, while third party cloud apps are also supported, so in gallery mode you'll see Box files alongside Google Drive.
Google Nexus 5: Verdict
As you'll see from our Google Nexus 4 review we really liked how LG had taken a step back and allowed Android to become the main event, allowing hardware to become a window simply for the software.
From our short time spent with the Nexus 5 it appears as though LG has lost none of that knack, creating a seamless Google experience that feels fresh even if KitKat isn't the overhaul that Apple's iOS 7 might have been. To be truly sure though we'll need to spend more time it, so stay tuned for our full Nexus 5 review.
Google Nexus 5 release date: Out now
Google Nexus 5 price: £299 (16GB), £339 (32GB)
Hands-on review by Mark Prigg. Additional reporting by Tom Tamblyn and Max Parker