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!

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