We had to buy it. Once you’ve bought your first Nexus phone and extracted yourself from the subsidised 24-month contract world, upgrading every year, regardless of whether you need a new phone or not, becomes the new Paying £36 A Month addiction. So, when the Nexus 5 was announced, we had to buy one. Had to. It took 24 hours to actually make the final decision and pay up for the purchase, but here it is.
We went for the white model, which arrived in two working days and without the sort of stress and stock shortages we’ve seen dog all previous Nexus phone launches. So that’s an improvement. Well done to Google, manufacturer LG and UK shipping partner Expansys. And it looks great in white, like a sort of retro, stylish, art deco thing from behind.
Around the front, though, it’s rather bland and featureless, and feels completely different from the Nexus 4. The Nexus 4 was solid, heavy, covered in shiny glass and felt expensive. The Nexus 5 is lighter than the 4, has that matte plastic back, shiny plastic sides and lacks the “Wow factor” you felt when lovingly groping the Nexus 4 for the first time.
This lightness makes you initially question its build quality, but, in just over a week of use, we’ve not any any reason to worry about its durability.
One thing we initially rambled about on Twitter was the way the lightness and slim chassis makes the phone feel smaller than it is. Despite having a large and virtually 5-inch display, the Nexus 5 feels smaller than the Nexus 4, even though it’s bigger. It’s a reverse Tardis, much more pocketable and, thanks to the plastic rear, doesn’t have the Nexus 4′s slippery-slidy tendency to fall off things.
But we didn’t like the feel of the Nexus 5 much for the first few days, to be honest, as it feels like less of a high-end piece of tech when compared to the Nexus 4. Which is odd, as the Nexus 5 costs more. If LG and Google sold the Nexus 4 at a loss last year, we suspect both are making up for it — and raking it in — with the Nexus 5 at the loftt £299 price point for the 16GB model.
The white Nexus 5 comes with a white earpiece in the front of the phone, a nice design feature that also gives you a quick visual clue about which way is up when the phone’s lying on a table in standby mode. The display is very bright and clear, and we have no whinges about colour reproduction. Everything looks good at 1080p resolution.
And Android 4.4 is the operating system. It’s quite a change from 4.3, with enhanced Google Now integration that gives it its own Home screen if you activate it (and removes it completely if you don’t), a custom number of home screens, a reworked Dialler and quite a bit more to discover.
Rather oddly, Google has completely changed its approach to widget installation in 4.4, rolling it back to how it used to be in the olden days. Gone is the selection of widgets in the app drawer, replaced by a long-press on the Home screen and the rather swish new drag & drop UI seen above. You can re-order Home screens too, as Google nicks yet more features from the skins of its Android manufacturing partners and rolls them into the core Android experience.