LG Nexus 5 review roundup: What are people saying about the new pure Android phone?

After getting leaked more times than anyone can count, Google finally announced the 2013 Nexus, which is aptly called the Nexus 5 since it has both a 5.0 inch 1080p display and because it’s the fifth Nexus smartphone to come out. The phone officially went on sale on Halloween for $349 for 16GB or $399 for 32GB, both SKUs include 4G LTE connectivity on all of America’s networks, except for Verizon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy one since I had a flight to catch, but lots of other sites have had the device for a few days and have published reviews. Let’s round them up, shall we?

Update: Our review just went up as well, make sure you check it out!

The Verge

Joshua Topolsky wrote this one, which says a lot, since he normally doesn’t write too much these days because he’s too busy running one of the largest tech sites on the internet. So let’s cut to the chase, does Josh like the Nexus 5?

“I would love to be able to recommend this device wholeheartedly, but I can’t do that until Google sorts out the issues with the Nexus 5’s camera.”

If photo taking isn’t that important to you, then you really can’t beat this phone when it comes to price, but what about the other aspects of the device? Josh says “the Nexus 5 is just astonishingly fast”, though sadly “battery life seems to fall somewhere between bad and okay”.

And as for KitKat, it’s “a solid improvement over earlier versions of the software”.

Gizmodo

Brent Rose reviewed the Nexus 5 for Giz, and his headline really says it all: “Nexus 5 Review: The Best Android Can Offer“. But there’s more to the story than that. What does Brent think about how the phone looks?

“On the outside, the Nexus 5 is unremarkable. That doesn’t mean bad, just that nothing really stands out.”

And then there’s speed. He calls it “the fastest Android phone we’ve ever used”. No word on battery life in the review since the phones have been in people’s hands for barely 72 hours, but Brent does say he can get home with the phone alive.

How’s the software?

“KitKat (4.4) doesn’t really seem like much more of a jump than 4.2 was to 4.3, and it probably could have retained the Jelly Bean moniker, but our guess is that it had been over a year and Google was antsy to put a new name out there.”

Is there anything Brent doesn’t like? Yes, the camera. It’s “decidedly lackluster”, and it “falls a bit short is in low-light”, and “it really struggled to find focus”. So like Josh, Brent doesn’t really like the shooter.

The Telegraph

Matt Warman, Head of Technology at The Telegraph, starts his review by saying “the Nexus 5 feels like it should cost a lot more than the £299 recommended price.” That’s always a good sign. Unlike Brent or Josh, he likes the camera, but he does call out the battery life, saying it’s “adequate”, though after 16 hours he started worrying about his phone dying.

And moving on to the software, it’s “evolutionary”, which again, isn’t a bad thing. Like Josh, Matt says Android “continues to improve on the feeling of slickness in previous versions”, something you’d obviously expect software to do as hardware gets more and more powerful.

TechRadar

Gareth Beavis wrote this review, and he starts by saying: “The new Nexus 5 manages to offer a huge step up in power while maintaining a brilliantly low price tag.” Seems kind of obvious, but it bears repeating, a lot of the faults of the Nexus 5 are masked by the absurdly low price tag. Note that he only had about a day with the phone, so he doesn’t have anything too concrete to say about the battery life or the camera.

What Beavis does manage to say, at least three times in the article, is that this phone is cheap, cheap, cheap. Oh and it’s fast, but you’d expect that with a Snapdragon 800 under the hood and 2 GB of RAM.

Pocket-lint

Mark Prigg, like Beavis, only had 24 hours with the device. He starts by saying:

“It really feels like a truly high-end phone in the way that even the previous Nexus 4 didn’t, and Google has clearly spent a lot of time perfecting not just how it works, but crucially how it feels.”

And then that’s pretty much it. His “conclusion”, if you can call it that with such limited exposure to the phone, is that “this is arguably the best Android handset on the market”.

Conclusion

Personally, I’d wait for AnandTech, Pocket-now, and AndroidPolice to publish their reviews before making a buying decision. They’re some of my favorite sites, and they haven’t said anything yet because they actually need at least a week with a phone before writing anything worth reading. No offense to the five sites quoted above.

The sausage factory known as journalism aside, the themes above are obvious. It’s a great phone at a great price, though you’ll be stuck with decent to terrible battery life and a camera that’s a bit of a mixed bag. The only reason the Nexus 5 is even getting so much attention is because it’s a Google product. Had LG released this phone, with the exact same specs and software, but at the price of a Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5s, no one would have batted an eyelid.

But again, $399 for a 32GB 1080p phone with 4G LTE?

Total steal. Just buy an external battery too.

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  • Rob Caldecott

    My two biggest complaints about my Nexus 4 are battery life and the incredibly mediocre camera. The fact that the N5 doesn’t look much better in this regard means I’ll probably be looking for a non-Nexus device as my next phone. The AnandTech review will decide it. No-one reviews hardware like Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi.

  • martin carlosena

    Brent saying that 4.4 is like the jump from 4.2 to 4.3 is pretty stupid.

  • lalala

    so you doing any reviews yourself ,stefan?

  • Jeff

    I have seen nothing from my Nexus 5 that tells me it’s not a good camera. This comparison between it and the 5s camera makes me wonder how some of the reviewers from this article test the cameras on their phones.

    • Kaboose

      It’s definitely competitive with the iphone, especially with the HDR+ mode.

  • Charles

    Matt Warman is a technology writer for The Daily Telegraph.

    -Charles Arthur, technology editor, The Guardian.

  • Guest

    *4.95 inch screen