Google Nexus 5
I totally did not see this coming, but then I’ve been holding out for a good smartphone. Not that the prior Nexus phones were bad, but I finally bit the bullet on number five. Alas, why now? Because I’m really quite tired of Samsung. Get Outta My Head, Google Nexus 5.
It’s only been a whopping five years since the advent of the Android Smartphone (at least for the public). The Google G1 (HTC Dream) was released October 2008 and I got my grubby hands on one (still have it, too). Since that time I purchased the Motorola Cliq, the Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy S II, and the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Samsung did an amazing job making itself the leading Android device manufacturer. But at the same time they seem to have caught a bit of the Sony-virus (I just made that up). The Sony-virus is the belief that you’re so great, that you can make anything (no matter how crazy it is) and people will want it because it’s just that awesome. Apple does this too, but they have their own operating system.
The last straw for me was the Android Jelly Bean 4.3 update that I (finally) got for my Galaxy Note 2 in early December 2013. The update was ginormous, but a significant portion of that update was bloat-ware from Samsung.
But enough about Samsung, the Google Nexus 5 (manufactured by LG) is pretty slick. I wonder how much interaction LG got from Google on the design (if any)?
The Nexus 5 is a bit smaller than the Note 2, the screen is roughly 14 mm less diagonally (0.5 in), but it definitely has less bezel. Across the top and bottom of the device, there is less bezel as well, but I certainly appreciate the lack of branding (no manufacturer glaring across the face of the phone).
It’s also certainly less weighty than the Note 2; the Note 2 is a chunky phone for this age. The lack of weight is offset by the soft rubber back. I don’t feel like I’m going to accidentally fling it across the room when gesturing while it’s in my hand.
I did immediately notice that the Nexus 5 is smaller in my hand. However, as I am larger human, my hands are abnormally large and so a large phone feels more natural. Going back to a smaller phone sticks out in my mind, but definitely not in my hand.
Since the update to Android, 4.3 the Note 2 has had noticeable lag. The Nexus 5 is very quick, this is likely due to the much faster processor. Although both phones have quad-core processors, the Nexus 5 has a 2.3 GHz, where as the Note 2 has a 1.6 GHz. I also suspect that the mass of bloatware that comes along with the update to Android 4.3 did not help the Note 2. But it should be noted that Google realized the fragmentation of its OS and has drafted a newer, faster OS in 4.4 (KitKat).
Within the first two weeks of use, I’d noticed a strange issue when skipping around in video playback such as Netflix and Google Movies. But I came to realize that it depends on the WiFi connection, not so much the phone. The device isn’t hurting for power, but if the connection is poor, so will be the video performance.
The camera software is certainly less feature packed than is the equivalent in the Samsung UI, but I can’t say that I miss it. The trouble with Samsung is the thought that someone might use the camera for every aspect of human life (not that they may be incorrect in Korea). The simplicity of the default camera software in KitKat is sublime, I don’t need a hundred bells and whistles to make the experience good. If I wanted that, I can install Instagram.
The awesome in Android OS 4.2.2 and higher is the inclusion of the Photosphere. If it seems complicated, it is. The Photosphere is not easy to create, despite Google’s attempts to make it so. But the results are awesome, once you get the hang of it. In the Android 4.3 roll-out to the Note 2, Photosphere was the one thing I was most looking forward to, and yet Samsung did not include it.
Android OS 4.4 KitKat
I’ve certainly covered some features about the Google Nexus 5 already, but what I have not covered is the changes to the operating system. Google has taken a turn away from buttons. The Nexus 5 has three buttons, volume up, down, and power. Everything else is software. The Google Nexus 5 has surpassed the iPhone in simplicity.
There is a high level of intuitiveness in the new OS; things that even I, a user from the outset of Android, was not aware of. One of the things that I appreciate most about the latest revision is the “smart Caller ID”. At first I’d thought that I actually had the contact information when I saw an image of the local repair shop that was calling about my truck. But then I realized that I never took that picture and it fact it was the image from Google maps that was associated with the number of the shop. This works for businesses and people alike, but for people they will have to have their image and phone number publicly available.
Another fine feature of the Google Nexus 5 is that the “OK Google” voice command is at your beck and call. Although not quite as sensitive as the Moto X, the voice command will work as long as the screen is on, since all desktop screens have Google Search across the top. Google’s voice command service is fairly smart in its ability to discern between phrases. However, if the speaker attempts to ask a question in a non-native language, the phone may not recognize the request. My limited use of Siri is almost incomparable to the voice recognition in Android OS
Conclusion, so far…
I could literally ramble on about this phone and it’s features for many pages, but I’d rather just get back to using it. I’m sure that at some point I will revisit this and update it, or else make another post about the phone (maybe the Nexus 6?). The phone is awesome, now if we would just get a 6-inch screen…