Google Nexus 5 Review, Premium Android Experience

Nexus 5 Camera and Battery Life

Kit Kat's new camera app is very well appointed with a number of settings to play with, from standard features like exposure and white balance, to scene modes like action, night, sunset and party, which were also available in the previous rev of the OS.

In addition to standard still and video shot modes, you also get Panorama and a new 360-degree Photosphere mode that allows you to stitch together a wide field of view for a virtual still that you can then pan around within.  The feature works pretty well but you have to be careful to line up snaps precisely.  It could be a nice feature to have if you're on vacation and you want to capture some extra special scene or place, like the Grand Canyon or some other awe-inspiring venue.

But by far, the most valuable feature in the Nexus 5's camera app, we feel is its HDR+ setting.  HDR+ takes a series of shots when you press the shutter button and then samples them together for better dynamic range, lighting and color vibrancy. The down side is HDR+ has a bit of shutter lag that comes with it as well, since it's taking multiple shots at once.

No HDR On left, HDR On right

No HDR On left, HDR On right

With just a quick glimpse at shots taken in standard mode and HDR+, you can see the difference the setting makes and how much better overall fidelity is offered shooting in this mode.  To be honest, taking stills in the Nexus 5's standard setting we experienced much less shutter lag but colors were muted and the image just wasn't nearly as sharp.  The Nexus 5's camera can't compete with the likes of what you can pull from a Nokia Lumia 1020, 925 or the iPhone 5S but its still image performance is acceptable.  It's not great but decent for a phone camera, and even better if you don't mind the shutter lag in HDR+ mode.

Nexus 5 Battery Testing
Experiential and with AnTuTu

Determining battery life for the Nexus 5 can be a bit tricky if you don't stop to think about what you're working with in terms of horsepower for the Snapdragon 800 quad-core that's on board the device. Again, the Snapdragon 800 is a 2.26GHz quad-core chip, so if you push the phone to its limits, like the following AnTuTu battery drain test does, you're going to eat through the Nexus 5's battery quicker than most phones.

At the top of the stack, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 2600mAh battery and a lower-end 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, the Moto X has a dual core Snapdragon chip and the Nexus 5's next of kin, the LG G2, sports the same Snapdragon 800 but since the device is markedly larger, it's able to tote around a 3000mAh battery though it's a heavier device.

So this is the worst case scenario we're looking at for the Nexus 5 and Google's new flagship brings up the rear.  However, that's not necessarily because it's less efficient, but more so because of its more powerful on board processing engine and platform that is pushed to 100% utilization in this test.

Battery Life Expectancy In The Real World, Neo -

In real-world usage, we got by fairly easily on a single charge for a full day's use.  When the phone is set to sleep with the screen off, it hibernates and holds a charge well. We saw on the order of up to 12 hours of battery life in standard usage of calling, light email and web browsing. 

Ramping things up a bit and looping an HD video we realized up to a little under 7 hours of up-time. One tip to optimize Nexus 5 battery life would be to turn of WiFi scanning.  Google has it on by default in Android 4.3 and also in 4.4 Kit Kat, in order to determine location via WiFi, even if WiFi is off.  Disable this feature in the WiFi Advanced Settings area of Kit Kat and you'll save some battery life. Beyond that, we can't really say we're that impressed with Nexus 5 battery life. It's not bad, but it's not the best either. If you're a heavy user, you'll likely find yourself regularly plugging the device in at the end of the day.

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