The Nexus 5… Now

February 13, 2014
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We’ve come a long way since the first Nexus device, appropriately named the Nexus One. Currently, we are in a new era of ultra powerful, seemingly forever evolving smartphones. However, for the latest Nexus smartphone, Google didn’t make a big deal about its announcement and subsequent release. I don’t think they really needed to either.

But that was then, and this is the Google Nexus 5… Now.

Thoughts on the release

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LG being given the opportunity to manufacture the Nexus 5 made it clear that the company was getting Google’s nod. After all, following the success of the Nexus 4, it probably made sense to continue that momentum.

As I’ve already mentioned, what struck many users was a lack of a big press announcement or event for the Nexus 5. Following an announcement via a press release online on the Google blog, it was as if the Nexus 5 just appeared in the Google Play Store. Granted, the barrage of leaks prior to the official release meant that we already knew everything there was to know about the smartphone, and the unassuming launch was certainly indicative of that.

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The lack of fanfare didn’t stop the fifith Nexus iteration from selling like crazy though. Seeing the device sold out, regardless of color option, which included the new Panda White, or storage version, had quickly become the norm for a while. Even if it was simplistic in design, inside and out, it was still very competitive in specs, and more importantly, price.

The Nexus 5 continued what has become a tradition of the line itself, to be an affordable and thus very accessible entry point into the proper Android experience. The Nexus line may have been considered more of a reference device for the industry and developers, but when you put a good $349 price tag on top of power, and the promise of a pure and completely up-to-date Android experience, general consumers would understandably go nuts too.

Now

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Months later, the Nexus 5 continues its stoic, unobtrusive forage into the palms of Android users, without fanfare, and without any showboating. Its minimalistic design was once thought of as perhaps a step back from the more daring design of the glass on glass aesthetics of the Nexus 4. But even back then I thought the Nexus 5 was better described as sturdier, simplistic elegance, and it continues to be so. Underneath the hood is a processing package that is still one of the most powerful, which provides a reliable and very snappy experience, that powers the most advanced version of Android currently available.

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While the somewhat mediocre battery life was initially a downside, once my usage sort of evened out, things got better, or rather, more average. But I still get bummed out at times when I have to reach for the charging cable earlier than I would like. The issues with the camera were taken care of with a software update that made the imaging experience serviceable, but still not top tier.

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Just like with previous editions, it shouldn’t be surprising that the success and appeal of the Nexus 5 lies in the software experience. As still one of the few devices available today with Android 4.4 Kitkat, the value of the Nexus remains, and it brings an experience powerful enough to successfully use daily, without being overbearingly feature, or even design, heavy. Depending on your particular setup, it’s pretty safe to say that the number of hoops you may have to jump through to get to your destination is still considerably fewer, when compared to most other versions of Android. Even if Google Now takes center stage in this exclusive launcher as a second screen, the overall stock Android experience continues to exercise its clout, mostly when it comes to Search, without ever getting in the way of what you may prefer out of your experience. 

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This ready canvas has become more important for a great number of users, than any extras a manufacturer may cook up, and in the end, that is probably what makes the Nexus 5 a consistent first choice. It gives you just what you need, and even more importantly, won’t fight you as you are trying to get to where you need to go.

It’s release might have been less flashy than many expected, but at the end of the day, you still got what you needed, and that’s a rather fitting metaphor for the general experience of the Nexus 5, even until today.

No More Nexus?

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Finally, I’d like to address the rumor that at some point soon, the Nexus line will cease to exist. First, it’s important to note that current speculation is all over the place, varying from a full discontinuation of the line, to just a re-branding to Play Edition devices.

I can somewhat understand this move in terms of Google’s hope that it will get manufacturers in line regarding their own modifications on Android. However, I tend to believe that the Nexus line as a whole has proven itself time and again, initially as a reference point for developers, followed by its current role as the pure, yet affordable, Android experience. Without the Nexus line at all, users will likely have to rely on the generally much more expensive Google Play Editions to get their pure Android fix.

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Of course, the most ideal situation is that the Nexus line remains. If not, then perhaps a re-branding. But, if we have to go without a line of devices that addresses the key issues of updates and affordability, it’s an unsettling rumor indeed.

Until 2015, which is when the rumor posits this will all happen, the Nexus 5 should still continue to get its updates, and have some staying power. When it’s all said and done, I guess the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope that this isn’t the end of our Nexus journey.

If you’re hoping to get your hands on the Google smartphone, don’t forget to check out our international giveaway of the Nexus 5!

Comments

  • Brendon Brown

    Top specs and latest Android software, this article should be on like the Xperia Z or HTC One maybe S4 .. not the latest and greatest

  • Shark Bait

    Still awesome! and the cameras better now!

    • AndroidBoss

      But the speakers aren’t :P.

      • Shark Bait

        Speaker. And yes it sucks and its put in a crap place, but I mostly use headphones so I cope

        • AndroidBoss

          Same I use headphones as well.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            I use a jambox

    • AndroidBoss

      Awesome phone.

    • Jesus

      Battery is still shite compared to the competition.

      • Shark Bait

        Its not great, but o lasts a day. Frankly I don’t think any phone since the old school days has impressed me with its battery.

        Where’s my damn magic graphene magic batteries science??

  • Phil Rigby

    Can anyone give specifics about the battery life? Did it improve with software updates? How long does a full charge go with “average” use?

    • James Sarino

      Battery life for me after awhile has been decent, was getting 15-20 hours of use. It’s hard to say what the “average” use is, because what one person thinks is average might be too much or very little use to another. The software updates (4.4.1 and 4.4.2) were more focused on the camera and speaker issues. For those of you that are rooted, and want to get some better battery life, you can download Franco kernel (the paid app, not the free one). Install the kernel, and without any more tinkering (it is already optimized), expect an improvement. Mine improved maybe a couple more hours from the 15-20 I had before, but one day, it went as long a 1.5 days on a single charge!

    • Jesus

      Just as long as you use it ‘minimally’, you will be OK. Don’t ‘waste time’ on it, like by going on Facebook on the bus, reading the news on the train etc. Use it when you NEED it.

      But you’ll always have that fear, that it will run out of juice before the day ends.

    • Arturo Raygoza

      the awnser is so subjective, in my case I go a full 9-10 hours on it streaming music they Bluetooth over to my jambox. till I charge it again after work. that’s without doing anything else on it other than a few texts and a few calls.

  • Joey Alessi

    The Nexus line won’t be discontinued. Look at what they did with the Nexus 7. There was a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 7 2013. They’re getting ready to release a Nexus 10 2014 soon. There will just be a Nexus 5 2014 (or 2015) next.

    • Nathan

      2015, but I think they will just change the naming.

      • Joey Alessi

        Good theory. Too early for me to agree or disagree yet. I don’t think that they will, but Google is full of surprises, right? Too early to know for sure. All I do know is that Google wouldn’t let the name be the reason they would discontinue the Nexus series. :-)

        • Nathan

          I’m not sure about them dropping the Nexus brand, but they will certainly not name it the Nexus 6.

          • Joey Alessi

            Agreed. Unless it is 6 inches (in which case I will not hesitate to buy it), it won’t be called the Nexus 6

  • Jeff Weatherup

    I got my Nexus 5 *just* after launch, from a person selling his on Swappa. I still love it. With every phone before, I was in a perpetual search for the perfect balance point of Android OS/bloatware, memory, camera, smooth experience, and size, mainly. I never kept a phone longer than a few months because I was never satisfied with the experience that I got, or the modifications I needed to make. With the Nexus 5, I’ve found literally just about the perfect balance of all that. I don’t think I’ll be replacing this device any time soon. Also, I’m not sure where the talk of bad battery life is coming from. Mine gets excellent battery life. (Then again, I’m not a gamer, and I’ve invested in a couple of Qi charging pads that I tend to use, so there’s that.)

  • Oli72

    Nexus lifer. Great article. Nexus 6 will be Lenovo/Motorola a beastly phone.

    • Nathan

      I hope HTC.

      Edit: Or Sony as second choice.

      • Oli72

        no sir. lenovo/motorola will have the nexus 6 htc will do the nexus 10. thats what im hearing on the wire.

        • grumpyfuzz

          Do you think any of the rumors now are facts? They are all made up for the most part.

          • Oli72

            LG reps meeting with Google in hopes to continue partnership by showing off their new tech. Got info from talk android.
            LG or Lenovo/Motorola I think will get the Nexus 6.

    • James Sarino

      I’m OK with seeing LG getting it again, Lenovo/Motorola, Sony, or for it to come full circle back to HTC. Regardless who will make it next, I like the minimalist design language they’ve been doing across all the Nexus products, so I like to see that continue.

  • Ryan5609

    I don’t see what all the complaints about the battery are about. Running ART runtime my battery life has been good to great in daily usage. Throughout a normal day of work (8-5) and all other daily activities, I am usually above 50-60% by about 9-10 PM. I cant say my GS4 did that well. The N5 has much better idle performance IMO.

    • Sean Royce

      The screen on time isn’t that great either though. Idle is good with most phones. My GS4 sits on idle for hours only losing 1-2% here and there.

  • James Sarino

    I got mine a couple of days after I had ordered in on Halloween. Now going on four months, I still enjoy using it as much as I did when I first got it. People may harp on the design, but I rather like the minimalist, functional design LG went with this time around. The bugaboos (esp. with the camera and sound) got cleaned up quickly after two updates, which you can’t say with most phones when it comes to software fixes (Moto X is the exception). Unlike a carrier-branded phone, I’ve done only minor tinkering (unlock and rooted), and left the stock OS alone. It has just about all the features you need to get the job done.

    It would be a shame to see the Nexus line go away if that does come true. What I’ve liked about the series since the Nexus One (which was my first Android device) was it was the blueprint of what an Android device should be in terms of hardware and software. I hope to see the Nexus line continue for years to come!

  • Arturo Raygoza

    no mention of the red nexus or speaker grill update

  • Jayfeather787

    Still an awesome phone with best software

  • http://www.kissntale.com/ Khiem Nguyen-Trong

    I love my Nexus still… but I’m surprised there’s no mention of the noise in video… and the crappy microphone in phone calls. Anyone else has experienced this? There’s a super long thread in Google forums about those 2 issues… that are still not resolved even when you RMA the phone.