First, I wanted to preface this article with the fact that I’ve literally had this phone for less than 24 hours, but first impressions are important will be a part of our final review of the Nexus 5 in the coming weeks. The only reason why I’m doing an initial impressions article is because you guys, the readers, asked us to. We got our Nexus 5 at 8am this morning via UPS pickup from the warehouse and as you’d expect, wasted no time with the phone.
The first thing that happened was that the phone had to download a day 0 125MB update, which was a bit surprising since I expected most Nexus devices to ship with the latest update. That aside, taking the phone out of the box was just like any other unboxing and the truth is that the Nexus 5 is all about the phone and OS and not the packaging.
The first few things I noticed with the Nexus 5 were that the back of the device is basically a huge fingerprint magnet and for someone like me with sweaty palms, a palm print magnet as well. So, you’ll probably want to opt for one of Google’s sharp and sometimes brightly colored cases.
Also, the power button is placed on the right of the device, which isn’t an issue, however, it has a bit too much wiggle for a button. Especially when you consider that the volume rocker is much more rigid. As one person noted to me, it has a bit of a rattle when you shake the phone, but if you hold the power button that rattle goes away. I don’t know if it was intentional on Google’s part to make pressing the power button a more forceful affair, but it just seems a bit odd.
The phone itself is definitely designed for right handed people because if you hold the phone in your right hand with your thumb on the power button, your index finger naturally finds the volume rocker. This is a good design, and I believe this or the top power botton + right side volume rocker are the best power button + volume rocker combination. Note that the SIM slot is right below the power button on the right of the phone…
As someone that is coming from an HTC One, one of my big concerns has been the loss of a front-facing phone speaker. On the Nexus 5, the speakers are on the bottom, like the iPhone. However, please do not try to talk directly into the bottom of the phone where the speaker is when you’re on speaker phone, it just makes you look weird.
The sound quality that came out of the single speaker was incredibly impressive, and actually surpassed my expectations. Coming from the HTC One, the bar has been set pretty high for phone speakers and the Nexus 5 doesn’t necessarily wow, but it also doesn’t disappoint. Even though the HTC One has front facing stereo and the Nexus 5 is just a single bottom speaker.
Also, the Nexus 5 has an interesting front speaker for phone calls and they’ve flipped the front-facing camera on the Nexus 5 to the left, from the right on the Nexus 4.
Overall, I have been pretty impressed with a lot of things about this phone. It has some really great signal for LTE and I was able to get a Speedtest of 39/16 during the middle of the work day, which is pretty impressive in a populated dense area like where I’m located. The speed isn’t just limited to the network capabilities of this phone, the phone itself simply flies, nothing feels slow and all of the animations are incredibly fast and smooth. The phone finally shows us what bare Android feels like on the Snapdragon 800 SoC.
When it comes to certain features, I am really happy with the stock Kit Kat keyboard and have started messing with the always listening Google Now feature. I was seriously impressed with the performance and quality of Google now on the Nexus 5. Because I was able to get it to recognize my command and words while there was a loud fountain behind me, dozens of people talking around me and TVs blaring all around.
I also know that many of you are wondering about the quality of the display and the camera. When it comes to the display, I would say that this display definitely rivals that of the HTC One. When I heard that the HTC One is supposed to have a better display I was a little disappointed, but after looking at this display I have nothing but praise. In terms of the camera, the quality and the sharpness of the images is definitely better than what I was expecting, but the speed of the camera in all modes isn’t nearly as fast as it is on the HTC One. I will attach a few sample photos that I’ve taken recently so that you can see for yourself.
This brings me to the idea of the storage capacity of the 16 GB model. Formatted, it is a 12.5 GB storage drive, and once all of your apps are installed (like mine) you only get about 10.5 GB. Sure, I have almost 100 apps installed, but 10 GB of storage simply isn’t enough for me and I would advise that if anyone wishes to put any music on the Nexus 5, that they spend the extra $50 and get a 32 GB model. I also came to the realization that I needed to buy the 32GB model when I looked at my 64 GB HTC One and saw that I was utilizing 27 of 64 GB of storage and that my normal use case requires more than 16 GB. So, keep this in mind when ordering yours.
We’ll be doing a review in the coming weeks that addresses all of these points in depth and adds a few more aspects to the review that answer any and all questions you might have about the Nexus 5.
More photos, with full shot + 100 crop so that you can see the image sharpness. Some of the sharpness is very impressive. Clearly the OIS in the camera is working quite well.
Now with full 100% crop.
And again, the full image followed by the 100% crop.