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Sunday 2 April 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Review
Review: Does Google's Nexus 5 still hold its own against newer rivals?
With the unlocked version available here, does Google’s flagship phone still have what it takes to compete against newer rivals like the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8)?

ORIGINALLY STARTING OFF as a developer phone to help show off Android, Google’s Nexus series has begun to hit its stride when the Nexus 5 and 7 were released.

Since the Nexus 5 has been available on Ireland’s Google Play store for the past month, unlocked with 16GB or 32GB sizes, it can be a tempting prospect, but is it an opportune time to get one, or should you divert your attention to its rivals?

Look and feel

The answer is rather nice. The rubber exterior is nice to hold – its lightness helps as well – and the 4.95-inch screen offers a clear and vibrant display.

The display is much easier on the eye, with colours and brightness being softer than most phones. When you compare it to rivals like the Galaxy S5, which has a screen so impressively sharp it can feel like you’re looking at a TV, it’s not a bad thing to have.

Hardware and software

Essentially, this is Android in its purest form, where KitKat (Android 4.4) is allowed to do exactly what it was designed to do. When you first boot it up, all you have are the traditional apps associated with the OS, and unless you despise Google products, chances are you use some of them already..

The best way to describe the Nexus 5 when running tasks is zippy. Any action you perform flows smoothly and the features Android provides – like Google cards – work perfectly. Even when uploading apps onto the phone, there was practically no slowdown or unexpected crashes during its use.

While the likes of Samsung cram features and software into their phones in the hope that you’ll use them, the Nexus 5 is content letting you decide what to install on it. More importantly, it has the power and speed to keep up with anything you do on it.

photo 2 New apps like Cut The Rope 2 load immediately and shows no sign of slowdown or strain.


This is where things get a little disappointing. The Nexus 5′s camera is decent, but even taking its original release date into consideration, an 8MP camera is far behind what’s currently offered now by other rival phones (To give you an idea, the iPhone 4S uses a similar quality camera).

In a strange way, this is where the Nexus 5′s screen works against it. The soft colours and display means images look somewhat nicer when you’re taking them then they actually are.

Google Camera – the native camera app for the Nexus 5 which is now available on Google Play – is nice to use because of its simplicity (Lens Blur mode is still fun to play around with), but much like the Nexus 5 itself, the app is stripped down to the bare minimum.

Overall, it’s accessible, but if camera quality plays a major role in what phone you buy, there are far better camera phones out there. Again, the images it takes are more than presentable, but the focus and lighting might be an issue.





While the camera is still pretty good, the same can’t be said of its battery. It’s an issue with all smartphones, but the Nexus 5 has a worse case of it.

For normal users, this mightn’t be as noticeable, but if you’re an intensive user, don’t be surprised if you see battery life hovering around the 10-15 per cent mark by the end of the day.

As long as you don’t go overboard with the amount of apps running in the background, it will be fine, but either way, it’s something you will have to be careful with.


It’s best to think of the Nexus 5 as a blank canvas, one that lets you strips away the unnecessary extras and lets you do whatever it is you want to do.

Make no mistake, this is still a high-performance device and one that still matches the newer high-end smartphones.

The disappointing battery life (and to a lesser extent, the camera) but they’re not deal-breakers by any means, and the strengths of the phone greatly outweigh this, especially since you can purchase it unlocked.

You could wait until October for the next Nexus version to arrive, or hope that the OnePlusOne phone (a similar style phone which has received a positive response so far) makes its way over here, but if you’re pressed to get a high-end smartphone now, the Nexus 5 is still up there with the best of them.

Read: Review: Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S5 >

Read: Your iPhone knows where you’ve been and for how long >

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