Nexus 5 review

£300
Price when reviewed

Image quality is so-so. We often found that it missed focus entirely, resulting in soft, blurry photos, even though it takes an age to lock-on. Metering is an issue as well: with areas of light and dark within a frame, such as a bright sky and a shadowy city street, the camera struggled to balance the two, either overexposing the former or underexposing the latter.

This is a shame, because the sensor and optical image stabilisation system are capable of producing detail-packed snaps. The camera is effective in low light, too, and can shoot steady, handheld video at 1080p. Also, if you switch on the new HDR+ feature, it largely sorts out the metering issues, lightening foreground areas and keeping bright skies in check. However, this slows shot-to-shot times further, and doesn’t work well with action photographs.

Nexus 5 - HDR+ vs standard photo

Software

One of the principal attractions of investing in any Nexus handset is the fact you always get the latest Android updates as and when they’re released; owners of HTC or Samsung handsets have to wait. The Nexus 5 is running Android KitKat, the successor to Jelly Bean.

KitKat isn’t a step-change for Android, but it brings with it a number of significant refinements and small new features. The first is a slightly cleaner, simpler design. What were clearly delineated bars at the top and bottom of the screen are now transparent, which makes the homescreen feel more spacious and less hemmed-in, and the Widgets tab on the app drawer has been done away with. (To add a widget in KitKat, you hold a finger on the homescreen background for a second or two.)

Google Now has been given more prominence, too, with a swipe from the left of the main homescreen – in addition to the familiar drag-up from the home button – now launching the search/personal assistant. The Nexus 5 comes with the Quickoffice office suite preinstalled, complete with word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software, integration with Google Drive and 25GB of Google Drive space.

Nexus 5

Google’s new Caller ID service makes an appearance: this attempts to match business names with incoming numbers for callers not in your address book. You also get extended voice-control features, and, in a strangely counterintuitive move, Google Hangouts now handles text messages.

Connectivity and audio

Finally, as you’d expect from a top-end smartphone, the Nexus 5 leaves no stone unturned when it comes to connectivity: you get dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4, GPS and 4G support. Audio quality is fine, too, both in-call and from the speaker at the bottom edge of the phone.

The one black mark against the Nexus 5 is the absence of a user-replaceable battery or a microSD slot. However, as reported on teardown site iFixit, the rear panel can be removed far more easily than most.

Verdict

The Nexus 5 is a superb smartphone: we like the design; it’s as powerful as they come; the screen is great; it runs the latest version of Android; and the camera – although a weak point – is capable of producing good snaps and video if you’re patient.

It’s the price, however, that really swings things in favour of this top-notch Android handset. At £299 for the 16GB version, and £339 for the 32GB one, it undercuts its rivals significantly. That, coupled with its all-round capabilities, pushes it to the top of the PC Pro A-List.

Details

Cheapest price on contractFree
Contract monthly charge£22.00
Contract period24 months
Contract providermobilphonesdirect.co.uk

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted17hrs
Standby, quoted12 days 12hrs

Physical

Dimensions69 x 8.9 x 138mm (WDH)
Weight136g
Touchscreenyes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating8.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size4.95in
Resolution1080 x 1920
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes

Software

OS familyAndroid

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