Nexus 5 & Android 4.4 KitKat – Everything you hoped for?

by: Darcy LaCouveeNovember 1, 2013

Friday Debate aa (1)

In this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss a very hot topic indeed. Arguably one of the most hotly anticipated Android devices of 2013, we now have the Nexus 5 on the horizon. With its incredibly powerful Snapdragon 800 SoC, Adreno 330 GPU, 4.95 inch IPS Plus 1080p display, it’s an absolute beast of a device that will be able to go toe to toe with heavyweights like the LG G2, Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, and more. It’s arguably the most compact, most powerful Android device ever made.

Equally exciting is the fact that it will be the first device with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. With subtle refinements across the board, Android 4.4 represents a progressive update in that a lot of ways. Designed to work well on less than stellar hardware, Google has worked hard to refine the user experience and user interface, to add polish to its animations, and to make it run even better than before.

And how about you? Are you excited for the Nexus 5? Have you already ordered one? What are your thoughts on Android 4.4 KitKat? Let us know in the comments down below, and read on to see what we think!

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Darcy LaCouvee

I’m a huge fan of stock Android, and of the Nexus line of devices. This time around, the Nexus 5 is getting the royal treatment. With absolutely top of the line hardware, the latest version of Android, and a price that seems more fitting with low to mid range hardware, the Nexus 5 is the newest, hottest smartphone on the block.

My only concern thus far remains twofold: battery life and what Google plans to do to further monetize Android and its growing army of users. Of course, this is a Nexus device, so Google has full control, cradle to grave. Increasingly their motivations indicate that they desire to further close the ecosystem, and protect their interests now that they’ve attained critical mass.

And the 2300mAh battery, I’m still baffled. With its larger screen, and more powerful SoC, it seems likely that power users will be able to drain its battery in record time, but we’ll have to wait and see. The Snapdragon 800 SoC is an absolute beast, that also seems to know how to sip power rather than guzzle it down like an F1 takes high octane fuel.

Android 4.4 represents Google’s maturing attitude towards the importance of design, and appears to be a minor iterative upgrade on the surface, with the bulk of changes occurring under the hood. Having gotten familiar with stock Android, it’s hard to use anything else.

All in all, I think that LG should be applauded for making devices of this caliber, at these price points, and that the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat will be great for the ecosystem, and for upcoming hardware that caters towards the lower to midrange consumer segments. It will run better on slower hardware, which is great for everyone.

Excited to see how the Nexus 5 compares to leading smartphones of today, and how much of an improvement it is over the phone that changed it all – the Nexus 4.

Kevin Nether

As an Android lover, I am incredilby excited about the Nexus 5. Knowing that Google is continuing this great tradition by releasing a true Google device is exciting. As a Nexus 4 owner, I’m not quite ready to give up on my current device, and jump the gun to purchase a Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 has a lot of great things going for it, mainly the Snapdragon 800. Though, I still feel it is an incremental upgrade and does not justify me purchasing it. I was a bit baffled by the battery choice as well, but knowing Google, it’s likely they have something up their sleeve with Android 4.4 KitKat. It’s possible that they’ve been able to achieve tremendous battery optimization and, as Darcy mentioned, Qualcomm has demonstrated their prowess in this area, and the Snapdragon 800 is one of the most efficient SoC’s we’ve ever worked with. If they have really found a way to conserve the battery while delivering the robust performance we’ve all come to expect, then they’ve definitely got a winner on their hands.

I am thrilled at the fact we are getting a new OS upgrade and application updates. I’m excited to see how much further Google Now can be integrated into the device. I want to get to the point where I don’t need to reach out to Google Now, but Google Now reaches out to seamlessly, intuitively. I feel with this version we are getting one step closer to being able to access it via the home screen. It also provides the ability to say “OK Google” from any portion of the screen to access voice commands. The jury is still out on this portion, but I would hope to see the OS become smoother still. Project Butter has been in effect for a long time now, and it’s made a hugely positive difference for a lot of Android users. But, we expect more, and I really hope that Google has stepped it up a notch with Android 4.4 KitKat

Kyle Wiggers

By all accounts, the Nexus 5 is the kind of smartphone you rarely see: one without compromise at a palatable price. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 800 SoC, includes a quality 8-megapixel shooter, and comes with the newest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. And it starts at $349, unlocked. I think that’s a steal, and judging by the time it took for the first few batches to sell out yesterday, many have the same sentiment. Concededly, the Nexus 5 isn’t perfect – it’s incompatible with several major wireless carriers, and those overseas aren’t getting as nearly as good a deal as U.S. buyers – but it’s tough to deny Google’s subsidization model hasn’t produced an incredibly attractive device this time around.

Android 4.4 KitKat, while iterative, includes subtle changes that bring the operating system more in line with Google’s cloud-connected, wearable vision. Features like a more tightly integrated Google Now, app data indexing, and dialer search improvements are indicative of Google’s ultimate ambition for Android: a contextually aware, always-online operating system that blurs the line between internet and local content. From what I’ve seen of KitKat’s capabilities, that’s a future I’m ready to embrace. (Full disclosure: I have an unlimited data plan.) Other improvements, like reduced memory usage, support for new sensors, and Bluetooth MAP point to potential support for watches. In fact, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, we might see a smartwatch from Google as soon as next month. I’m not completely sold on the idea of an Android watch, but if it’s as comparatively cheap as the Nexus 5, I may reconsider.

Honestly, I’m impressed with what Google managed to accomplish with the Nexus 5 and KitKat. Sure, the Galaxy Nexus won’t receive the update (not surprising considering Texas Instruments, the company that manufactured its SoC, ceased driver support a year ago), and not all Nexus devices will have the same KitKat featureset (understandable, considering the dedicated hardware functionality like always-on listening requires), but minor quibbles aside, Google’s new hardware and software really delivers.

Robert Triggs

Finally the wait is over. And despite all the teasing, I can’t say that I’m disappointed.

KitKat seems like another decent incremental upgrade to Android. However, I don’t think that it’s a major update quite worthy of the build-up, but then again Jelly Bean isn’t broken. Always-on Google Now, WiFi TDLS, and a step counter are all nice little improvements, but how useful they’ll be to the majority of users is somewhat questionable. However, I do quite like the look of better security via SE-Linux, the improved storage framework, and the enhancements to audio and video functionality.

But the feature that I’m most happy about is Project Svelte, which will help KitKat run on handsets with weaker hardware and could help address the platform’s fragmentation problem. Sadly though, I still doubt that many manufacturers will bear the costs of updating their aging in handsets. Hopefully the amateur development community will be able to pick up the slack. Instead, perhaps we should see this as a sign of Android’s future, where handsets don’t go out of date so quickly.

Handset wise, I really think that Google has nailed it again with the Nexus 5. Just like the Nexus 4, the pricing is pretty spot on and the features are top of the line. For those that really care about specs, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better piece of hardware for the price. SIM free, the Nexus 5 is half the price of the Galaxy S4 in the UK.

Of course, the lack of a removable battery and absent micro SD card are a little bit of a disappointment, but for the price I’m willing to overlook this. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m very tempted to buy one.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

[poll id=”410″]

  • MasterMuffin

    Google has done it, they finally even put a good camera in a Nexus! That 2300mAh non removable battery is the “meh”, but just looking at that beauty makes you forget those small flaws of hers ;D

    • MadCowOnAStick

      uh, the white version doesn’t look that great since its front isn’t white as well :/

      • MasterMuffin

        Get the black one. Or drop it in a paint pot. Problem solved :P

        • MadCowOnAStick

          yeah, i’m getting the black one, not dropping it into a paint pot :P

          • MasterMuffin

            I guess that’s a better idea!

      • Brandon Miller

        Maybe I’m in the minority but I actually really like the panda look that the white one has going on.

        • adam evans

          I like it too, think that’s the one I’ll buy. And I usually hate white phones

        • rdeleonp

          The Panda Edition really showcases the N5’s design.

  • Siphiwe

    The comment by Joe Hindy, isn’t it the same stuff he said last week about stock Android?

  • Humberto Hernandez

    I was hoping for a new nexus 10 as well.

  • adam evans

    4.4 is more than I expected. I thought a few small design tweeks here and that would be it. On the surface it seems to be a minor iteration but when looking at all the changes their should be some big changes to performance and battery life. Coupled with new looks and a slew of new features it seems a pretty big deal!

    As for the nexus 5 its everything I thought ( and hoped) it would be. Great specs at unbeatable price. I’m just annoyed they put a bigger markup on here in the UK and I was really hoping for a massive battery too…… But I’ll still buy one in December. I feel like I need my nexus 4 to see out a year !

    • adam evans

      Also where’s my nexus 4 and 7 update google hmmmm???

  • Alain Lafond

    And what about a vote fore Nexus 4 owners: Are you gonna upgrade for the Nexus 5… For me, a definitive NO…

  • joser116

    I was really hoping for the launch of the Google Experience Launcher on the Play Store along with the update to the Google Keyboard on the Play Store.

    • adam evans

      I think it’s comming, Google launcher is now merged into the same apk as Google search and now so I believe and update will be rolling out soon

      • joser116

        Yeah but I don’t think ICS devices will get it, it doesn’t have the Search/Google Now app, unless Google made the Search/Google Now app work with pre-Jelly Bean versions of Android, which would be awesome.

  • John Locke

    To be honest, maybe its because of all the leaks, but I’m really underwhelmed by the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4…

    • joser116

      Did you also take “a Google experience for everyone” seriously?

      • John Locke

        Yeah I thought they were going to launch a launcher for all Android phones providing a stock Android experience. That was the thing I was really looking forward to.

  • Danger3hren

    WHERE IS THE NEW NEXUS 10??????!

  • Groud Frank

    Anticlimactic. I am one of the few who care more about Kit Kat than the Nexus 5, which is a great phone BTW. I was mostly excited because of the rumours that it will work fine on aged hardware so I had hopes for my Galaxy S GTI 9000 but hearing that Google will not update the Galaxy Nexus was a party pooper and the magic wore off pretty darn quick after that. If Google of all people don’t update their phones then what hope is there for us with phones from those money hungry and unruly OEMs?

    • NeedName

      their official “18 month” from introduction policy has really put a damper on the Nexus line and Android for me. I was hoping that as hardware got better devices would get longer support and last long, similar to computers. Seems that isn’t happening. Sad. . .

      • Maher Salti

        Yes and no, you still got XDA which will create tons of roms :)

        • Needname

          Yes, my hope is the cyanogenmod company will make it uber easy. . .

          However, if that isn’t the case, I and people I recommend devices to do not really want to bother with ROMS. . . thus I’ll be looking at non-Android devices if the above doesn’t pan out — I’m honestly a bit sick of tweaking tech devices. 18 months, 6 months after end of sales, IMO, is not long enough support for devices $350 and up, especially those on contract.

          on a side note, someone on XDA already has 4.4 running, roughly, on the gNexus.

      • lollicup04

        so project ara and phonebloks then?

      • Groud Frank

        I think I will stick with Oppo phones from now on. At least with Cyanogen Inc I know I’ll get timely updates with an update life expectancy that is even better than Google’s. The Galaxy S has a 4.2 custom ROM from Cyanogen.

    • On a Clear Day

      Sometimes the hardware simply isn’t capable of handling the new software and thus you get “end of life” (as far as upgrades go).

      The Nexus 5 sounds like a really good phone; makes me wanna buy one. Alas, they did not include my sina qua non – a removable battery – making purchase of it a non-starter, non-issue.

  • Mr T

    I’m rather concerned about the battery. Otherwise I think the design is quite good and the rest of the specs are amazing for the price. Also AOSP Kit Kat looks awesome, and probably feels as good. At last I can get rid of these navigation/status bar in landscape mode on my Nexus 7.

  • ZeroG

    Android 4.4 was also supposed to come with 64bit support…..i have been reading up on all the news regarding 4.4 but couldnt find any….so did 64bit support make it into 4.4? Just a question before anyone starts cussin

  • utilitybelt

    I’ll get a nexus 5 once it’s 0 down at t mobile. My nexus 4 will last a while longer once it has 4.4

  • Mystery Man

    Nexus 4 had the shittiest battery life. I don’t expect much better from nexus 5

    • Luka

      Got to agree with you there. Even with good optimisation it’s still 2300

  • Anders CT

    I’m kind of dissapointed. What about 64 bit support? What about windowed or split-screen multitasking? Better support for game consoles, watches and laptops?

  • Alexandana Theng

    Nexus 5 is so beautiful, awesome and the best smartphone for 2013

  • John

    as a gnex owner; sucks that they dont do something about the gnex…i understand the issue with TI drivers; but if they say that kikat is good for older devices; why not show that it works on your own device???

  • generly
  • Shahir

    Could u guys please do a video of the OTG support on the nexus 5