Nexus 5

november 21, 2013

I bought a Nexus 5, I returned a Nexus 5. I liked the hardware, kind of. I liked the software, kind of. There were some flaws and eventually, I decided that it was not worth an upgrade from a Nexus 4.

On the hardware front, the Nexus 5 is a decent piece of hardware. The specs are fantastic and I won't go into reiterating them since they are all over the internet. The soft touch back was really nice compared to the fragile glass back of the Nexus 4. The screen is fantastic, colors are rich and pop off the screen. Unlike the Nexus 4, Google (smartly) decided to adjust and tune the colors of the Nexus 5 screen. The general feel of the hardware is great and does not feel cheap. While heavier than the iPhone 5, the Nexus 5 feels lighter.

There were some issues I had with the Nexus 5 hardware. It is really large, be ready to use it with two hands. The proximity sensor on mine did not work at all. Mine also had a cluster of dead pixels about two-thirds of the way down the screen and off to the right side. These dead pixels were annoying because once I found them, I could not unfind them and I was always seeing them. The camera on the Nexus 5, while better than the Nexus 4, was still not that great -- especially when compared to pictures taken on my iPhone 5 (work phone). Worse yet, the camera is still molasses slow and having it focus on anything is a test of patience. The speaker on the Nexus 5... well, there is no getting around this: The speaker on the Nexus 5 sucks. It is not loud enough and when anything plays through it, it sounds like a small echo chamber.

Kit Kat was a nice update to Android. I like that they are stripping out the blue theme from the OS, making it look more professional and less geeky. The choice to make icons larger was a good choice also. The software felt a bit snappier than Jellybean, but that could just be because it was running on faster hardware. I really like how they made the Application Drawer an application drawer again -- no more Widgets in the applications drawer! The underlying changes are not readily visible to end-users though -- the ability to have Kit Kat running on lower spec hardware and the introduction of ART.

I did have some issues with Kit Kat though. I did not like the condensed font that Google switched to. It did not look right at all. VPN seemed to be broken and I could not get PPTP to work with Kit Kat -- it worked fine with Jellybean on my Nexus 4. Tethering was broken on the Nexus 5.  Eventually, I got it to work after I called T-Mobile, though they said they had changed nothing on their end.

So why did I return the Nexus 5? The cluster of dead pixels was one reason -- I could have exchanged my unit for another though. In the end, the Nexus 5 did not feel like much of an upgrade from the Nexus 4. The hardware was nice, it was fast, but it was not that much faster than the Nexus 4 in day-to-day use. Kit Kat was nice, but I would get it on my Nexus 4.

I ended up getting an iPhone 5S to replace the Nexus 5. I will write more on that later.

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