Google Nexus 5 Review, Premium Android Experience

Nexus 5 Design and Android Kit Kat

High Quality Industrial Design

The Nexus 5's build, materials and worksmanship are top-notch. The front of the phone is strapped in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which is pretty common these day.  The backside of the new Nexus is sheathed in a matte finish, soft touch, high density plastic that feels decidedly more premium in the hand versus rival devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4, for example.
Google Nexus 5 back view
The Nexus 5's casing does attract fingerprints, as do most designs these days, though the device is a little tougher to wipe down, as it seemingly absorbs the smudges, making them appear to collect a bit more between wipe-downs. Button placement on the device is pretty standard with a volume rocker and microSIM slot on one edge and power button on the other.  Speaker placement is on the bottom of the Nexus 5, leaving the ports open mostly when the device is cradled in your hand.  Sound quality, on the other hand, is, as is typical with most smartphones, not great. 

On the bottom edge is the standard placement of the USB synch/charge port as well.  And of course there's the Nexus 5's 8MP rear-facing camera here on the back, with an LED flash.  The etched Nexus logo also offers a nice premium style to the backing of the Nexus 5, but other than that it's a fairly minimalistic approach and we don't mind that at all, actually.

Though the back casing of the Nexus 5 isn't necessarily a work of engineering magnificence, its 5-inch 1080p display may just be one of the best we've laid eyes on in a long while. We've always been fans of LG displays and the Google-LG team did a great job of balancing the Nexus 5's color and contrast.  It's technically a 4.95-inch display at 445ppi pixel density, which does look super crisp with nice wide viewing angles as well. The Nexus 5's display is really easy on the eyes.  If only those on-screen menu buttons were translucent on every screen and not just the home screen and Google Now.

Android Kit Kat - How Sweet It Is

Android 4.4 Kit Kat is a nice upgrade to Google's handset OS and though some are criticizing it for being a little more plain or drab, to us it just feels cleaner and better organized.

Google is taking better advantage of larger screen devices with Kit Kat and app icons are just a touch larger and easier to pick out of a crowded cluster of apps.  There's also a tighter version of Google's Roboto font in Kit Kat and again, the new UI just cleans things up for easier reading and navigation.

Instead of black or dark gray menu backgrounds, Kit Kat has a lighter gray palette that helps with contrast.  Again, these aren't glaring changes.  Android 4.4 isn't a jarring transition for the user, but rather subtle tweaks and optimizations that add up to a refreshing, iterative kicker.

Kit Kat is also now equipped with a native printing feature that allows you to discover available printers nearby, change paper sizes etc., and print from any print-enabled app.  Google has rolled out an API to allow developers to add print services to apps as well.

And let's not forget QuickOffice.  Google recently started bundling the light-duty office tools suite in with Android 4.4 and it's a great way to get some quick work done on the fly.  Let's face it, you're not going to pen the follow-up to War and Peace, banging away on your 5-inch display, but QuickOffice allows you to open Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and the like, make some quick edits and send something on its way.  Nice.

Underneath the UI, Google has trimmed Kit Kat down in terms of resource utilization as well.  Overall, it has a lighter memory footprint and better memory management than previous versions.  The new OS is designed to run on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM, so the Nexus 5 clips along nicely with headroom to spare.  We only wish Google gave us an easier more elegant way to quit an app, rather than leaving it running in the background as most users likely will. Regardless, in combination with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 SoC, the entire experience with the Nexus 5 is snappy and satisfying.

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