October was a great month for Android fans, with the official announcement of Android 4.4 Kitkat and the subsequent launch of the Nexus 5. As always, the updated Android OS introduces a host of new features and enhancements, that allow for a smoother and faster experience.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Nexus 5!

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Since the Nexus 5 runs stock Android , albeit with the Google Experience Launcher, some of these tips aren’t only particular to this device, but to Android 4.4 Kitkat. Granted, it may be a while before a lot of us see the latest of flavor of the OS on our devices, but if you have a Nexus smartphone or tablet, you should definitely check them out. Let’s get started!

#1 Lock Screen Quick Camera

lock screen quick camera

The first tip doesn’t even require unlocking your device. To access the camera quickly, hence “Quick Camera,” all you need to do is put your finger on the camera icon on the lock screen, and swipe left to open the camera interface.

#2 Take Better Photos

Nexus 5 Review - YouTube 25 001110

The Nexus 5 camera has received its fair share of flak, and even with an update to Android 4.4.1 to improve camera performance (check out our review of the update here), so here’s a tip on how to take better photos using the Nexus 5. While the camera is good in decently lit situations, for better quality snaps in dim lighting, you may want to set the camera to HDR (High Dynamic Range) for non-motion shots. Make sure you update to Android 4.4.1, as the camera is improved quite substantially.

As you may know, HDR combines two images that are taken at lower and higher exposures, allowing for a picture that is more saturated, high-contrast, and rich in color.  You can find out more about HDR photography here.

#3 Default SMS Application

default SMS app

One of the much-talked about features in the integration of SMS in Google Hangouts, with this feature being pre-configured in the Nexus 5. While many may find this useful, there are some who prefer a separate SMS application. If you fall in the latter group, this option is available as well.

You need to go to Settings -> More (under Wireless and Networks) -> Default SMS app. In that menu, you can pick the option that you wish to choose. Since the Nexus 5 doesn’t include a separate SMS app, you’ll need to download a third-party app from the Google Play Store.

#4 Quick Settings

quick settings

Quick Settings is a very useful trick that was introduced with Android Jelly Bean, but is often unknown to users and overlooked. Sliding down from the top of the screen with one finger opens the notification center, but if you do so with two fingers, you can directly open the Quick Settings and Toggles menu.

#5 Business Look-Up

business lookup

Instead of doing a Google Search to find the phone number of a local business, you can now do so directly from the Dialer. Using the search bar at the top, you can find the number of any local businesses such as restaurants, stores, and more. This also cross references with the Caller ID. So when you receive a call from an unknown number, Google looks up the number and when applicable, matches it with a local business.

#6 OK Google Voice Settings

Google Nexus 5 black aa 9

We know that saying “OK Google” while on your homescreen opens up Google Now. Keep in mind that this only works if the language is set to US English. To enable this, go to Settings -> Language & Input -> Voice Speech (under the Speech section) -> Language. In the Language options, tap English, and then choose English (US). Now you can go back to your homescreen and say “OK Google” to activate voice search automatically.

#7 GPS Location Data Settings

battery saving mode

It seems like more and more applications require GPS Location data to function properly, but keeping GPS enabled all the time also drains the battery quickly. Battery Saving GPS Mode minimises the number of reference points used to obtain your exact location, and reduces the amount of power required. To enable this, go to Settings -> Location -> Mode, and choose Battery Saving. You can also directly access Location settings from the Quick Settings menu (see #4).

#8 Lock Screen Controls

Nexus 5 Review aa yt (2)

When the phone is locked and you’re listening to Google Play Music, Play Movies, or using Chromecast, you can press and hold the Pause button to skip ahead, or rewind the media.

#9 Developmental Feature – ART


With Android 4.4 Kitkat, users get to user ART(Android Runtime) for the first time, to replace the aging Dalvik. ART uses ahead-of-time compilation, which means that your apps are compiled in a ready-to-run state after the first time you install them. The end result is that ART  launches apps much faster, and without the lag issues that are sometimes found in Dalvik.

For now, you can enable and test it out, although not every application currently works. To enable this, go to Settings -> About Phone, and tap the build number section multiple times until it says “you are a developer.” Now go back to Settings -> Developer Options -> Runtime, and choose ART. You can check out the difference in speed between ART and Dalvik here. ART is a developmental feature, and will certainly see marked improvements with future versions of Android.

#10 Background Process Stats

process stats

In the same Developer Options menu mentioned above, you can also find Process Stats. It shows you the background applications and background processes, and is a great tool to show you what the device is actually running.

Check out the best accessories for the Nexus 5! 

Don’t forget to share your favorite tips and tricks for the Nexus 5 in the comments section below!

Ankit Banerjee
My primary profession lies in the Network Design Engineering field. I have always been passionate about the latest trends in mobile communication advances around the world.
  • Azeem

    Love this!

  • RanRu

    Very useful. I had forgotten all about the quick settings.

    Is the hidden permissions manager from 4.3 still functional in 4.4?

  • Melad360

    half of these were there in jellybean or before, I thought this was going to show stuff for nexus 5 only, hence the title. but nice feature recap nonetheless

  • mumusen

    Nothing that I didn’t already know about.

    • RanRu

      Then the article wasn’t intended for you, smart-Aleck.

      • mumusen

        Ahhhh, how can I forget, there are always articles for dim-witted people. Happy reading this one. Hit me back if something goes over the top ;)

        • kimis

          Ahhh, how can I forget, there are always articles with those dim-witted people who act like they built the phone and developed the features, yet don’t realize, they at one point ALSO came to articles, or read an instruction manual to learn about these tips and tricks. Awesome.

  • longhairbilly

    Is there a setting I’m missing to use the volume button to skip to the next track while playing music? I loved that feature on my GNex. I guess it was a feature of the ROM I was running, but it still feels like a no-brainer for Google to have by now.

    • Jayfeather787

      Feature of a ROM, not stock.

    • Halin

      With Xposed Framework (root) and Gravity Box you can do that. Or a ROM as jayfeather787 said.

  • juan
  • EvenInTheDarkestHour

    Just switched to ART. Read it can help battery life on the Nexus 5. I already get good 9 to 14 hours depending, so it’ll be interesting to see…

  • Terrance Veigas

    This has to be the best video about the nexus 5

  • Pauladev

    The Android Runtime tip should have a warning for us less able users, in that I didn’t realise the significance of “it may not work with some apps”.
    It has been known for some time in Android that WhatsApp doesn’t work using ART and worse, if you attempt to reinstall to get it working, it leaves a file behind that prevents reinstall, and can only be solved by rooting the phone and removing the file, or a complete factory reset.
    I didn’t like either option so am without WhatsApp until either the developers or Android come up with a fix that doesn’t require rooting.

  • jay

    funny on those articles are that is a professional side and people knowing all that.

  • Mrgwaps

    You don’t have to press the target button on the screen to take pictures, hold the phone in portrait mode and press the volume down button to take a picture.

    • More details please.. so without Camera App opening?

  • Arise Rayamangalam

    If you facing the problem of typing wrong keys often while typing go to input-google keyboard settings- auto correction-set very aggressive
    Now forget about errors just type and press space android will automatically print the correct word

  • vishy

    can you find out how many hours of call time made in this nexus 5 device

  • William Swartzendruber

    Why do all of these “Nexus 5 Tips and Tricks” mention Google Wallet? It now works on any carrier with any card.

    EDIT: On the Nexus 5 and Moto X, it works on any carrier.

  • Daan

    I have a question, is it possible to switch languages on nexus 5 within whatsapp to type with? Now I have to go back to settings every time and I use two languages in my daily dealings. Thank you