So Google has finally revealed the Nexus 5. In a manner of speaking. We have seen and read almost everything about the phone in the past few months, so there aren’t too many surprises. But now that it’s official, we can replace the ‘coulds’ and the ‘mights’ with more definite terms. We also know the price of the phone, with the 16GB model starting at Rs 28,999 and the 32GB for Rs 32,999. That’s arguably not as low as we expected, but hopefully the price comes down after launch. As for availability, we have no definite date for India, but Google says it’s coming soon. For what it’s worth, Google has been saying that about the new Nexus 7 for a while now. Here's a look at the first Nexus 5 commercial.
It’s the first thing anyone notices on a smartphone and the Nexus 5’s display is predictably 2013. That means a 1080p resolution on a nearly-5-inch display. It’s a 4.95-inch IPS display to be precise. That’s a pixel density of 445 PPI, barely better than the Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z1’s 441 PPI. The panel has Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection against scratches and such, so it should be fairly durable in theory. On paper it sure sounds sweet, but we have to see how it fares when it comes to viewing angles, sunlight legibility and other real world scenarios.
Let’s not mince any words, the Nexus 5 looks plain. But it’s not plain in a bad way; Google took some inspiration from the new Nexus 7 for the matte black back with the soft touch plastic and the stark horizontal Nexus branding. It's certainly a clean-looking phone, and we reckon that’s what Google wanted more than flash or design flourishes. We won’t compare it to the HTC One or the iPhone 5s, because it’s plastic after all, but one can’t really complain if plastic is used this way. The Nexus 5 will be available in simple black and white, and Google has introduced some colourful cases for the phone along with a new wireless charging accessory.
Renewed UI in Android 4.4 KitKat
The Nexus 5 is the first (and at the moment, the only) device to come with Android 4.4 KitKat. The UI here is a slight reimagination of the interface first seen with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Google Now is now more deeply baked in and there are minimalist design flourishes such as the transluscent navigation bar and notification area. We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the new OS later today, so keep an eye out for that one.
If you see some of the major launches in these past few months, you would think, the only chipset for a high-end Android phone is the Snapdragon 800 SoC. The Nexus 5 doesn’t buck this trend, and the 800 boasts a quad-core CPU clocked 2.26 GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU clocked at 450 MHz. The ubiquity of the 800 is down to the fact that it remains the fastest SoC on market for most smartphones, the iPhone 5s not withstanding.
A 4.95-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera
The Nexus 5 will have LTE, which is the biggest change in terms of connectivity when compared to last year’s Nexus 4. The bad news is that this still doesn’t support band 40 of international LTE networks, so Indian models will only get up to HSPA+ speeds. In terms of wireless, the Nexus 5 is well-fitted. It has dual-band support as well as support up to the ac band. NFC is a given with Nexus devices at this moment and the presence of Bluetooth 4.0 should enable compatibility with a number of wearables including the much-rumoured Google smartwatch.
Let’s face it. The Nexus line of smartphones has never had excellent cameras. The Galaxy Nexus was a laggard in its age and the Nexus 4 has very inconsistent performance. But Google says it has changed all that with the Nexus 5. This one has an 8-megapixel camera just like the Nexus 4, but comes with OIS for better motion shots and reduced shakiness. Then there’s something called HDR+ which promises better photos in that mode, compared to a previous generation. We know that megapixel count is not the be all and end all of cameras, so we’ll give Google the benefit of the doubt till we can test the camera ourselves or see some untouched samples. As for the front-facing camera, Google disappoints with a 1.3-megapixel unit that is restricted to 720p recording when even some midrangers are capable of 1080p recording from the front-facing camera. Presumably, this is one of those compromises the ‘low price’ needs.
Google has realised that 8GB is no longer an option when it comes to modern-day consumption-heavy smartphones. To be frank, it wasn’t an option even last year, but let’s drop that for now. 16 GB and 32GB sound decent, but what’s with the insistence on not having more options? It can’t be the price, because let’s face it people would be willing to pay a premium for the extra storage. Of course, don't expect a microSD card slot. This is a Nexus, man! In any case, if you work or reside in an area with excellent high-speed connectivity, Google’s cloud-based storage for multimedia content is an option.
The exact dimensions of the phone
Along with GPS, the Nexus 5 has the usual troop of sensors – an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity and ambient light sensor and a magnetometer for the compass. This seems rather sparse in the day and age of barometers, and temperature and humidity sensors.
Oh how we wish we had seen a bigger battery unit in the Nexus 5, but once again the number is not the whole picture. Qualcomm’s proprietary power management in the Snapdragon 800 will come in handy, and Google has obviously launched Android 4.4 KitKat with all manner of devices in mind, so some inherent power optimisation is also to be expected. If you want to know the rated battery life, Google says it should offer talk time of up to 17 hours, and standby time of up to 300 hours. Internet use time is rated up to 8.5 hours on Wi-Fi and up to 7 hours on LTE. Like the Nexus 4, this one will have built-in wireless charging.
All in all, the Nexus 5 sounds like a great phone especially when considering the price, but there are slight compromises in terms of design, and certain specs, that may not be attractive to some in the age of what can be called kitchen-sink phones. However, there’s the promise of a new software experience, timely updates and of course, the backing of a brilliant development community for the Nexus devices. So when the time comes, will you be queuing up for the Nexus 5 or has Google’s new flagship smartphone not wowed you like you expected? Let us know below the line!
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