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Google Nexus 5

Posted by in Cell Phones | Comments
Google Nexus 5
 

Google isn’t really trying to build the best Android phone. What it’s trying to do is get the internet, Google-style, in as many hands as possible, and it realises the way to do that is to produce its own affordable, desirable handset.

And yet it’s getting very close to the perfect Android phone with the Nexus series, almost accidentally. Last year’s Nexus 4 came incredibly close to nailing the winning formula – only a disappointing camera, comparatively small battery and low storage options kept it from total brilliance.

With the Nexus 5 we’ve got a 5in 1080p handset (built by LG) with Snapdragon 800 brains, an 8MP camera and 4G. Essentially it’s what every other manufacturer is doing, but for less than $300 (most competitors are $200-odd more). What’s more, it runs the cleverest mobile OS we’ve ever seen in KitKat, complete with Nexus 5-only tricks.

While Apple plays catch up with Maps, Siri and iCloud (features and services that take years to perfect), with the Nexus 5 and KitKat Google is leaping forward with enhanced voice controls, in-app search and Google Now.

Within a few iterations of well-specced handsets and tablets (with the help of LG and Asus) Google’s Nexus line has gone from respected dev fodder to supremely designed, hugely desirable pieces of mobile kit. Nothing makes this clearer than the gorgeous, all-powerful, squished-full-of-genius Nexus 5.

Sound too good to be true? Read on to find out how the Nexus compares to the finest (and most expensive) flagship smartphones in the world.

t’s light compared to heftier rivals such as the LG G2, too, at just 130g, which is just a smidge heavier than last year’s Nexus 4. With absolutely no flex to it, it’s one sturdy LG build, and the black model is good at warding off wear and tear.

(Cases might not be necessary, but the 5 will work with LG’s QuickView range. Also look out for wireless charging accessories since the tech is built-in.)

If you’ve got a Nexus 7 you’ll feel right at home with the matte black or white polycarbonate back, down to the embossed Nexus logo. The only main differences between the designs are the curved top and bottom edges on the Nexus 5, and the handset’s protruding camera lens, with LED flash below, providing either a shot of character or disappointing protrusion depending on your personal preference.

Overall it’s an understated design with neat and tidy speaker grilles either side of the microUSB port on the bottom, subtle (but strangely sharp) power and volume buttons flanking the screen and a microSIM tray that you’ll need the tool in the box to open. When we’re not accidentally covering up the single speaker (the other’s the mic), sound is nice and punchy.

It’s slightly slimmer, more pocketable and easier to grab for the small-handed than the G2 – which might sway legions towards the Nexus – although where the polycarbonate meets the front glass on each side could be smoother (see the HTC One). And when the Nexus is tapped or shaken, the camera lens makes a quiet rattle. A small point but it could get annoying.

Still, we can say that with the Nexus 5 Google has finally discovered cool.

Put simply, stock Android looks stunning on a display this sharp, and KitKat’s minimalist icons and menus look very classy indeed on the Nexus 5. Bigger and higher-res than the Nexus 4’s 720p effort, the Nexus 5’s 4.95in, 1080p, 445ppi screen is up there with the best we’ve seen all year.

Everything from text in Play Books to Android games looks wonderfully crisp and clean. Colours in HD movies such as Pacific Rim are natural, with a slightly cooler colour palette than both the LG G2 and HTC One. If we’re being picky the Nexus can look a tad washed out, but in both downloads and streamed movies, there’s smooth motion and sumptuous detail.

Web pages are less well served, and can look creamy next to the best out there. Unless you’re comparing side by side you’re unlikely to complain, but it does mean everything looks that bit more dynamic on the likes of the HTC and LG.

Similarly, viewing angles are good, but not the best – contrast and colours fade when you tilt the Nexus horizontally from side to side. We know the majority of the time you’ll be using the Nexus straight on but it’s a shame when quickly showing YouTube vids to friends.

On the other hand, we think 4.95in is a great size, making the iPhone’s screen look positively puny. The Nexus does stick with onscreen Android control buttons, and we’d prefer some stylish capacitive buttons (there’s certainly room below the screen), but the dock at the bottom of the screen is now translucent so you can at least see what’s going on underneath.

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