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

In this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss a very hot topic indeed. Arguably one of the most greatly anticipated Android devices of 2013, we now have the Nexus 5 on the horizon. With its incredibly powerful hardware and Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, it represents the best, most current Android experience in the world. Are the updates enough to peak your interest? Has Google done right with Android 4.4? Read on for more!
November 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″]