My 1 day review of the Nexus 5
I am posting this with the new buyer in mind. This is not intended as a comprehensive review...just the first impressions of an Android phone nerd. This review answers all the questions I would have asked a week ago. I have to preface this review by saying this phone is not revolutionary, it is evolutionary. It is far more like the Nexus 4 than the Nexus 4 was like the Galaxy Nexus. It feels more like a Nexus 4+. So you will see a lot of comparisons to the Nexus 4. But this does not take anything away from it; I really do believe this is the best smartphone released so far from any vendor.
Build Quality and feel
The build quality does feel first rate and is actually better than the Nexus 4, which itself was awesome. That being said, there are some trade offs that were made. Gone is the silky-smooth feel of the Nexus 4's curved display edge. You will now feel a definite sharp border. I understand why they made this decision, but I still like the physical feel of the Nexus 4's display better. On the nexus 4 you never really felt an edge.
The buttons are likewise now flat and sharp ceramic instead of rounded metal. While the rounded metal of the nexus 4 did feel better to me, the Nexus 5 buttons are much easier to use without looking at them. I know some people have complained about the power button being loose..."loose" is not how I would describe it. Unless I was actually looking for it, I would never have even noticed. The power button is satisfyingly clicky, just as the volume rocker is, although the sharp edges are mildly unpleasant compared to the smooth buttons on the Nexus 4. The back glass of the Nexus 4 has thankfully been replaced by soft-touch plastic as on the Nexus 7...not only does it feel better, but you can actually grip the phone now and there is no longer a worry about breaking both the front AND the back if you drop it. I had this on my HTC Rezound years ago and loved it. I broke my Nexus 4's screen months ago because while vibrating during a call it slid right off a flat(!) surface. You will not need to worry about that now. It does attract fingerprint oil more than glass.
The whole look of the device is very similar to the Nexus 4, but more minimalistic, which IMO makes it better. There is no chrome to dent and scratch. It looks more subtle and classy and high tech. The display surface feels slightly recessed, which means I feel more confident setting it face-down on a flat surface. On the Nexus 4, the display was always in direct contact with whatever you set it on. The camera lens is recessed, so you cannot easily scratch it like on the 4 (though it is not as easy to wipe off as the 4's was either). Some reviewers have commented that it feels more balanced and more solid even though it is lighter than the Nexus 4, and I agree.
The Nexus 4's display was one of the best in the industry, and so is this one. It is everything the Nexus 4 was, but better. The overall brightness is slightly brighter, and blacks are slightly deper. It does feel bigger and roomier even though the phone does not feel bigger in your hand. The glass seems to be more "matte" than the nexus 4, so it is easier to see in bright light because of muted reflections. One thing I noticed immediately is that it lacks that weird pattern you see on the Nexus 4 when it is hit by sunlight (the touch sensors maybe?). It does seem to be more fingerprint prone, but this is invisible unless you have the phone off. The graphics look impossibly sharp. The 1080p upgrade is not as dramatic as the 720p upgrade was for me, but it is there nontheless and you can definitely see the difference.
This is simply as good as it gets for Android. It is the best Android experience I have seen so far on any phone. Everything is quick and smooth. where you occasionally had issues with minor stutters on the nexus 4, those are gone here. 3D gaming has been a joy. It maxes out all the graphic benchmarks I have thrown at it. I have no complaints at all about the performance.
Be aware that the fancy schmancy voice commands you've heard about only work in the native launcher. The Native launcher is definitely the best vanilla launcher google has produced so far. But...I ended up going back to Nova Prime though...the native launcher just feels too restrictive to me. Wrangling it so you can set uo screens can be annoying and I don't like the lack of control I have over the dock. Google seems to be going more and more in the direction of the Apple "we-know-whats-best-for-you so-we-won't-confuse-you-with-those-silly-options" school of thought. That being said, I love how open it looks now, and it is a definite improvement on all their previous launchers. I won't go into all the other software because it is stuff that will not be unique to this phone...this launcher is an exception because, for now, Google has decided not to make it available to anyone else (not even other Nexus phones). It is very good, but not better than 3rd party alternatives. The same holds true with the new keyboard. I like how easy it is to unlock and root.
As of this writing I have not tested bluetooth on it. Although I have heard complaints about the Wifi, this phone has noticably better wifi performance over my Nexus 4, both in range and speed. I don't know what "normal" would be, so I can only give a relative comparison. LTE is a dramatic improvement over HSPA+...here in Denver I am getting around 11mb download, and 5mb upload speeds on T-Mobile. Not that HSPA+ sucked or anything. More is always better, but unless you are downloading files larger than an MP3, you are probably not going to miss LTE much. But it is nice having apps download immediately or in a few seconds instead of half a minute.
Call Quality and Sound
Calls do seem clearer. It is not dramatic but is noticable. I really like how the ear speaker is now round...even if it is just a palcebo, it makes me feel like I can hear calls better. It also looks like it will be easier to clean if dust gets in it. One reviewer said the external speakers were "too loud"...I don't know about that. But they are a little louder and a lot better quality than the Nexus 4's. I have not tested calls on the other end yet. Music with headphones sounds about the same as the nexus 4 to me, although my headphone-wire controls which I thought were "broken" seem to be working now.
I would describe this as an incremental improvement over the Nexus 4. It is not a night and day difference, but it is definitely better in every area. The exception is the HDR+ mode, made possible by the OIS lens. Low-light shots are dramatically better than the Nexus 4. There are issues with focusing and speed, but the consensus seems to be that these are software, and thus fixable. But the focus issues are not any worse than the Nexus 4 anyway. This is not the best camera on the market (the Nokia and HTC cameras are definitely better, and the Galaxy S4's probably is a little better too), but it is in the top 5. "Better" is relative of course...the Nexus 5 is probably better than the S4 in low light.
Battery life has been slightly better than my Nexus 4. Which is to say, mediocre. I went from 100% to 15% in about 4 hours of heavy use. Possible that this is because the battery is not yet calibrated or whatever. That is not great, but it could be worse, and at least they upped the capacity a bit. That being said, like the Nexus 4, this phone is AWESOME at holding a charge. If you have the phone off or it is idle, the charge drains very very slowly. If it is off you can expect to lose less than 1% charge overnight. And this phone does a lot better than the Nexus 4 on light use, or stuff like call time, because the CPU uses less power.
Things I do not like
Of course, a removable (and thus, upgradable) battery would have made any battery issues moot. But, Google still does not get it about SD or removable batteries, and at this point I am just resigned to accept it. I still hate it, but I am finally just accepting it. If these are dealbreakers for you, you will simply have to get another phone, because Google is probably not going to budge on this. This is still the best Android phone I have used despite this, but the lack of these options is definitely not an asset, and in no way enhances the experience. Thankfully, Google threw us a bone by offering an acceptable 32-gig option finally. Better late than never. If you are going to buy a Nexus 5, I would recommend getting the 32 gig one, even if you are not sure you will need the space. It is worth the extra $50 IMO.
HELL no. If you are in the market for a new phone and not too demanding about battery or storage, you need to buy this. Despite it's flaws, this is the best overall smartphone on the market right now IMO, at any price.