Nexus 5 drop test, straight from Google’s Android lawn

by: Bogdan PetrovanNovember 7, 2013

We’ve done drop tests in many places, some of them quite exotic, but today brings a first: we’re dropping the brand spanking new Nexus 5 right in the heart of the Googleplex. Forgive us, Matias Duarte, we had to do it!

Going for just $350, the Nexus 5 is definitely worth its price tag, and then some, but some have wondered if its build quality is up to snuff. For sure, the Nexus 5 is more durable than its glass-backed predecessor, but just how durable?

Our Josh Vergara took upon himself to find out, and what better place to test the endurance of a Google-designed phone running a Google-made operating system than in front of building 44 of the Googleplex, home to the world famous Android statues.

Josh dropped the Nexus 5 from three positions, to gauge the phone’s resistance to shocks applied to its back, sides, and front. We tested the white Nexus 5, which swaps the soft touch of the black edition for a firmer texture, but the black version should generally behave the same. Note that the white version has a glossy plastic black strip on its sides, that might be more prone to scratches than the soft strip on the black version.

The results are interesting. Dropping the Nexus 5 on its side did a bit of cosmetic damage, and the back plate (held in place by plastic clips) tended to come off, though it’s easy to snap it back in place. But just one dreaded face drop shattered the screen of the Nexus 5, even exposing some of the circuitry behind it. However, even in that sorry condition, the display remained useable, and Josh was even able to use the navigation bar, where the screen was most damaged.

There you have it – the Nexus 5 failed our test, by breaking at the last drop, but the silver lining is that the display remained, more or less, in working condition. Now, tell us, did you buy a case for your new Nexus?

  • In the face of shatterproof glass …

    Cover mandatory!

    • Me

      Did Google said the glass is shatterproof? (it’s a genuine question)

      • Android master

        nah, i suppose your talking about gorilla glass. Its scratch proof, not shatter proof..

        • Fievel

          If you were to Gorilla Glue the Gorilla Glass back together, you’d find that there are no scratches in the glass between the cracks.

  • Cecil

    Moto X next?!!?!?!

  • VasyaPupkin

    It is stupid to make any conclusions basing on a drop test of one device… Waste of money.

    • VasyaPupkin

      Yes, yes, yes – you need to drop at least 10 to get somehow proved results. Maybe this device hit ground in way it happens 1 time from 100???

    • Nathan Buffington

      Sorta. There are like billions of scenarios, including surface it was dropped on, height, speed of drop, and where it hits. This is just a helpful preview of what might happen

    • districtjack

      Whatever conclusions are drawn, everyone should have a case on their phone if spending a lot of time on concrete. I use a Ballistic case every time I go outside. Nexus 5 was still usable after 3 serious impacts, so even a cheap case might prevent the damage shown in the video.

  • Deo Reyes

    I cried for every drop :(

  • Ab

    Just a quick message from a long time subscriber:
    I waited till 4:30am australia time and the phone was supposed to come out at 5am then i had to go to the doctors coz my sister had a stroke and when i came back all of the nexus 5s were sold out so if you are actually lucky enough to get one please dont drop it like that

    • Santeri

      Oh god.

    • Nathan Buffington

      this is America and we do what we want. sorry though

      • jayelldga

        haha. no we don’t. the only thing we do well is mass shootings. quiet down red neck.

        • Nathan Buffington

          Actually that’s the middle east, check your facts. And america does do what we want. Quiet down democrat.

  • Balraj

    Awesome..I love drop tests
    Another fail :-D

  • le_lutin

    It broke cos you didn’t count down properly!!! You have to give it a chance to brace itself for impact!!!

    • frederigoxcz305

      My Uncle Harrison recently
      got a nice year old Chevrolet City Express Minivan just by working online with
      a macbook air. find out here now w­w­w.B­I­G­29.c­o­m

      • Mikael Chuaungo

        3 retards likes your comment wtf. who likes an AD ??

  • I_like_my_N4

    Strange (or glad?) to see despite the front panel is obliterated, it still works. Can’t say the same with my N4. Cracked bottom left hand corner, and the entire soft key section (plus a similar row above it) is unusable, which makes the phone near useless as there’s where most of shortcuts (including keypad in dialer) are located. And no, didn’t have a case.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Am I the only one who found destroying a Nexus 5 in front of Google HQ disrespectful?

    • districtjack

      The word “blasphemy” comes to mind.

      • Luka Mlinar

        Indeed. I love the drop tests. It is much needed information. Just don’t do it there :/
        Like pissing on a church.

        • poop

          Like pissing on a church, on Easter or Christmas.

        • districtjack

          Well now that I have screamed blasphemy, we can look at the bright side. Josh smashed the n5 on google grounds and it still works. Google is most likely happy about the whole thing taking place at the android temple in front of those idols.:-)

          • Luka Mlinar

            If i was coding all night on the new version of Android, and came out of the cave in the morning to see this dude destroying a N5. I would kick the shit out of him. Hey, just sayin’ :D

        • Chandradeep

          i call it treason!!!!!!

  • RanRu

    Nothing a bit of Scotch tape can’t make right.

  • Reclaimer1

    These guys dropping the nexus 5 when I still didn’t receive mine as yet. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    • MadCowOnAStick

      haha same

  • Tom Clowes-Whitby

    bit of a pisstake to shatter a nexus 5 right infront of hq of google

  • wangba

    whether the display works or not, I wouldnt use something like that.

  • Loic Lacomme

    Can you recommend a case then?

  • John Locke

    Disappointed even though these tests aren’t scientific.

  • solstice1221

    I got my Nexus 5 on Monday. Compared to my previous phone – an HTC Titan – the Nexus 5 is incredibly lite. It feels like it’s going to fly out of my hand if I don’t have a good grip. I normally don’t like cases but I feel I am going to have to get one for my Nexus just so I can feel some heft when holding it.

    • MadCowOnAStick


      • solstice1221

        Lite (adj. slang) informal variation of the word light meaning to have less substance or weight. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the word synonym.

        • MadCowOnAStick


  • Pete Tandon

    Can you test that the sensors function properly after the drop test? Google Sky might be a good measurement app to see if the sensors got messed up from the dropping.

  • Tylerstravis

    I’m scared to watch this…

  • Tylerstravis

    Does anyone have a recommendation of a screen protector that is 1. Smooth and 2. Helps with shatters (I don’t care about scratches)

    • Timmy
      • Tylerstravis

        Thanks, but it looks like that is more about cases and scratch protection. I want shatter protection for the screen only.

  • Luis H Gonzalez

    Te vas a ir al infierno, just kidding you are hearthless

  • MadCowOnAStick

    Now how about the black version… apparently the soft plastic wraps around the whole side on that one :P
    and brb getting a case

  • Guest

    Hoping this is the Nexus 5 in the weekly giveaway…

  • Jeremy

    Hoping this isn’t the Nexus 5 in this weeks giveaway…

  • systemupdate

    when they do car crash tests, i say it is for the safety of the driver; but why do we need to crash test the phones? such a shame?! :(

  • Wes

    Your counting is really annoying….and your drops are so inconsistent between videos.

  • Andy

    awesome vid Josh, great humour and also informative

  • chasechs

    i was like “DAMNNNN!!!!” when i saw the front drop test………

  • Guest

    no other phones that are stronger than Sony Z1!

  • SContrerasMer

    Now i’m expecting LE55ONS’ video on how to repair THAT

  • Craig Jacobs

    I have seen a lot of Nexus 5s on eBay already with cracked screens – mine is one of them. Anecdotally they seem quite fragile compared to iPhones that I’ve had – My phone fell less than 3 feet onto gravel and the screen cracked. I’ve dropped my iPhones numerous times and not had a problem.

    • Dubster

      Same here. I have had iPhone 3GS & Galaxy S3 and they all survived higher drops without damage. The Nexus 5 (and 4) lack of survivability is ridiculous for a portable device.

      Bottom line is – yes it is a great phone but it is NOT designed to survive daily wear and tear so I would not recommend anyone buying it. There are a range of covers now on the market but unless you select one designed for tradesmen and the military, ie it becomes big and bulky, buy another phone.

  • Jesus

    “the Nexus 5 failed our test”

    Do any phones survive these tests?

  • Mikael Chuaungo

    This wasnt fair.. it was more like 2 vertical drop+ 1 frontal drop. His first drop was near vertical in impact.
    Btw has any phone passed the drop test?

  • nematoda

    I feel lucky. I dropped my Nexus 4 on a hard wood floor from about 2 feet the day after I got it. It hit hard, but there was no damage. I’m very happy with the phone for now, but the fragility of the screen has me worried. I really don’t want to use a case, since it defeats the purpose of having a nice, thin phone. I did put on a screen protector, though, since I’ve seen videos in which a screen protector does help the screen from shattering.

  • Broken Nexus 5
  • Lexis

    I’ve had my Nexus 5 for one month. Had to stop using the yellow case for discolouring only one week in and so got the smart case.
    Dropped my phone from about knee level onto stone with the smartcase on it. It landed on it’s face and shattered on the corner on the right reaching across the bottom.
    So cases clearly don’t work either…
    This, plus the camera bug (it doesn’t open) that Google support couldn’t fix for me, I’m seriously going to have to cut my losses and change phone.
    You get what you pay for that’s for sure.