Nexus 5 hands-on: photos, benchmarks, first impressions

November 4, 2013
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In the Nexus 5 you'll find Google's biggest effort yet in their unique "pure" take on Android, both physically and metaphorically. You've got LG-made hardware here with a display that's the most massive Google has issued for a Nexus smartphone, appearing at 4.95-inches of LCD with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. That's 445 PPI, and beaten only by the HTC One's sharpness of 469 PPI due to it's smaller display at 4.7-inches with the same amount of pixels.

This device works with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, matched up with the LG G2 in more ways than one. This device was clearly based on the LG G2, coming in with a design language built as a cross-breed between LG and Google's new vision for the Nexus, as seen first in the 2013 Nexus 7.

On the back of this smartphone you'll see Google's first landscape-oriented logo on a smartphone. Though we're still directed to use the device in portrait mode most of the time, it would appear that Google is readying the world for a change of flavor when it comes to utilization. They began this trend when they first decided to put their home buttons inside the display, in the software, rather than out with capacitive buttons as a standard.

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The LG-made Nexus 5 does not feature a microSD card slot, instead opting to offer only internal storage at 16GB or 32GB sizes. You'll have Wi-fi along 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.0. With Bluetooth 4.0 you'll have Bluetooth LE, or Low Energy, allowing you to work with the next generation of wireless devices working with essentially no drain on your battery life.

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You've got a 1.3-megapixel camera up front and an 8-megapixel camera around the back. This 8-megapixel camera works with OIS - Optical Image Stabilization - and we're to understand that it works great in low-light situations. You can be the judge of that in this first collection of example photos.

Next we're moving in on benchmarks. You'll not find much left to be desired in this collection of chart-toppers. Working with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core SoC tends to have that effect on tests. We'll be putting this device's real-life abilities through the grinder over the next few days and weeks.

As for our full review - the contents are up to you! We depend on you, the reader, to let us know what you'd like to see on the Nexus 5, including tests and real-world applications. Send us a note or comment below with whatever you'd like us to do with this device - only some holds barred!

Also stay tuned in our ever-expanding Nexus 5 tag portal for more!


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  • Nick

    I’ll stay with my note 3

  • disqus_38wpHT7MDy

    And I will stay with my Nexus 4.

  • dsadas

    And i will stay with my Nokia 3310

  • Matt

    Battery,battery, and more battery reviews. I’m a heavy user I don’t want to watch how I use my phone during the day. Its pretty much this or the G2.

    • anehlo

      This.

  • Matthew

    I’m very happy with my Nexus 4 but damn do I need 32gb.

  • Sean

    Can you let me know how well the GPS function works

  • itpromike

    Wow these benchmarks leave a lot to be desired. I hope I can’t tell once I start using the device.

    • BananaBob

      It’ll score higher down the road. Alot has to do with them not being optimized for 4.4

  • DJ_suMo8

    Hey Burns any know why that Geekbench is so low? Been seeing live runs no less than 2600…

  • BananaBob

    The benchmarks probably aren’t yet optimized to work with Android 4.4. I’ve seen that happen to devices in the past. It’ll change after they update the apps

  • aka

    The Antutu benchmark seems low, and no its not only because other brands cheat.
    Its definitely low for a snapdragon 800 cpu, can you post a more detailed antutu benchmark plz? memory speed and all?

  • iPhone user

    Why buttons inside the display? They should’ve made the bezel thinner if they weren’t going to leave it empty

  • mprost

    Does it support aptX? I can’t find this confirmed anywhere.

    Thanks.

  • Amador cuqui

    My suggestion for the Nexus 5 review is to focus on a real world camera test (which I guess is one of the grey areas of the phone, together with the battery).

    Let me explain what I mean. In real world and for most people, the phone camera is used to take day-to-day photos, i.e. kids playing, friends hanging out and similar stuff. These are many, many times “targets in motion” rather than the typical photos used in camera reviews where you have static urban/landscapes or macro takes where reviewers exclusively focus on things like colour accuracy, level of detail in 100% crops, depth of field and so on.

    So, in my opinion the most important aspects when reviewing a phone camera targeted at a mass audience should be things like level of blurriness when capturing moving targets, quickness and accuracy of shutter speed / autofocus and other similar things.

    Most reviews usually pay limited attention to these basic aspects which I believe that in the end are the most important ones for the typical day-to-day use of a phone camera.

    I’m not saying that perfect colour accuracy and level detail or not having softness in photo borders are not important for me (an average phone camera user) but in summary what I would like to get out of a review of the Nexus 5 camera is an answer tu questions like:

    can i take a quick, focused and no blur picture of my little kids playing football?

    can I use the nexus 5 to take decent photos in a dinner party with friends when people are contantly moving and talking to each other and lightning conditions are not excellent (but not extremely bad either)?

    can I take a quick picture of my wife running in the park which shows decent detail and no blur?

    And then if the answer is yes, I will take a look at super sharpness and super color accuracy as a bonus. But the type of photos I would like to see first in the review are the real world photos that I mentioned above.

    It all comes down to what the average user will use the phone camera for.

    Just to give you another example:

    My wife is very much into photography. Apart from what I call normal use of the phone camera, she also uses the phone for so called art photography. So, she probably would care more about more technical aspects of the phone camera. Given her profile she owns, as many other photography enthusiasts, a DSLR (a Canon 5D Mark III) which takes incredible photos. But she is also an “average user” for the phone camera as she obviously doesn’t carry the 5D with her everyday when taking the kids to the park or to football games or when she goes out for dinner with her friends.

    She’s seen the Nexus 5 commercial on the web (which is mainly focused on the camera) and she’s asked me the following:

    “I’m sure the HDR+ feature is good but I’m also certain is way worse than any picture I can take with the Canon 5D. What I want to know is, for example, if that HDR+ feature can be used for taking a photo of Carlos (my older kid) learning to ride his bike or wether I may only use HDR+ as a “cheap” substitute for DSLR photos in static environments.”

    In summary, I would like to have phone camera reviews more focused on what they are used for… just like people don’t review productivity apps for tablets/phones using the same benchmarks they would use to review the new 2013 Microsoft Office for PCs

    • Dreamer

      If you’re looking for a camera, I think you’re on the wrong page mate!

      • Nikita ‘NikitaRus’ Fomishyn

        Don’t be a square… Have you even read the reply? It makes total sense to state such things on a phone camara “review”.

        A person looking for the first impression of the phone probably will think that the camera is amazing, if he doesn’t pay attention that those are static objects and probably the camera could take pictures really bad in real life situations.

      • Dreamer

        Yes I have read the reply. You want too much from a $350 phone. And you’d still complain even if someone gave it to you for free!

  • GrebGoneBad

    I think theres one very important factor being left out here. Price?
    The Nexus 5 has amazing scores in these results, regardless of the fact that they might not be the highest. It’s not as if It’s being beaten by a HTC Wildfire is it? XD The thing to consider is, it is scoring up there with all the other top end, flagship devices, and considering it costs nearly half that of all of them it has the best price to performance ratio of anything else to date. And as has already been pointed out, KitKat is a new OS (Okay, new OS version, but still…), and with it brings new bugs, problems and incompatibilities. As soon as these benchmarks have been optimised for KitKat, and KitKat itself has had a couple of updates to fix bugs and whatnot the scores are pretty much guaranteed to increase. This has happened with every other Android release before it so it stands to reason at least. =)
    I persoanlly cannot wait to get my hands on my own Nexus 5, it will be a far cry from my current Samsung Galaxy S3 that’s for sure. =P A Nexus 5 coupled with my Nexus 7 will be a truly remarkable pair of devices that I will be proud to own and not at all ashamed at the fact that they are not ‘premium’ devices.

    • Fulaman1984

      Amazing scores? It is benchmarking poorly compared to other devices with the exact same processor. Heck even weaker devices with weaker processors are benchmarking better. Poor optimisation

  • phissith

    Yeah this is oversight for AC i mean how can S4 beat new Snapdragon 800. If is not ready please don’t post it!