The Google Nexus 5 is the fifth generation of the Google-designed Nexus Android smartphone line, which is now faster, slimmer and even better.
The Nexus line represents the best of Google in a smartphone. Google chooses a manufacturing partner – in this case LG as it did with theNexus 4 before it – and gets involved directly with the creation of the hardware as well as producing the software.
The result is a keenly priced premium smartphone without the £500+ price tag, in this case available at £300.
It is Google hardware, running Google software, and is as close to the iPhone’s one-company manufacturing model as is possible with Android. The Nexus 5 is built by LG, but it is a Google phone through and through.
As with previous generations of Nexus smartphones, the Nexus 5 is based on pre-existing internal hardware from LG – in this case the LG G2. That’s a good thing, as the LG G2 is a superb phone hampered with poor software integration, something Google can completely iron out with its Nexus line of phones.
The Nexus 5 is, as the name might suggest, a 5in phone. It is a relatively small 5in phone, however, as there is barely any bezel around the screen’s left and righthand sides. The bezel above and below the screen is about one little finger’s width, and holds the speaker, front-facing camera and ambient light sensors up top, with the notification LED at the bottom.
It is worth noting that a 5in phone is quite hard to use one-handed if you have small hands. With my average-sized hands, I can more or less reach every corner of the screen with my thumb, but it can be a bit of a stretch. It is a trade off for a large screen, but for those moving from a 3.5 or 4in phone like the iPhone 5, it certainly takes some adjustment.
The phone looks rather understated and plain in black – not something that is necessarily bad – although a white model is also available. Short of the glass front, the rest of the phone is coated in a soft-touch plastic, which feels almost silky in texture and provides a good balance between being smooth and having enough friction to stop the phone sliding out of your hand.
A rounded back to the phone also feels very nice in the palm of your hand, while the light 130g weight makes the phone easy to hold one-handed. For comparison, the similarly shaped HTC One weighs 143g, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 weighs 130g, and the smaller iPhone 5S 112g.
Short of the Nexus logo, a small rear camera bulge in the top left-hand corner is the only feature of note on the back. It means the phone rests on it when laid down flat, which is an odd choice giving it little to no protection.
The front of the device is dominated by the 4.95in screen. It is a pin-sharp full HD IPS Plus LCD display, which means text on websites and ebooks looks crisp and easily legible, with photos and videos looking detailed and colourful. The screen is also very bright, making it much easier to read in direct sunlight than some competing screens on other devices.