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Google Nexus 5 review

Still a solid smartphone, but it's no longer king of the price point

Battery life

I have had to charge the Google Nexus 5 every day since I started using it. Starting out with a full battery it's generally 30% or below by the end of the day, and for really heavy usage days it needed a top-up before bedtime.

Google Nexus 5 review

Project Volta, a new addition in Lollipop, is supposed to eke more juice from a charge and help you go longer without reaching for the charger or plonking your phone onto a Qi wireless pad.

But I haven't really found a massive improvement, if anything there's a couple of worrying incidents where my phone has simply drained itself empty overnight when it was fully charged before. There have also been a few cases where it's been at 70% and then suddenly dropped to below 20%, without any obvious reason why.

Another part of Project Volta is a battery saver mode, which automatically kicks in when your phone dips below 15%. Apart from turning the status bars a rather bright shade of orange, this mode manages to save battery by turning off background data, killing those sweeping animations and toning down performance.

In my tests I did find that when 'Battery saver' was enabled the phone would last a bit longer, but no more than an extra 20 minutes. It is nice to have, but nowhere near the feature-rich battery saver mode that Samsung added to the Galaxy S5.

Now, there isn't really any such thing as "normal" usage, but it would be fair to say that I'm a heavy user. I take my phone everywhere and use it frequently. I left Wi-Fi and mobile data on at all times, enabled location tracking with high accuracy, and opted into Google Now.

A typical day will include a cumulative hour of gaming, maybe 90 minutes worth of web browsing, a couple of photos, and a smattering of app action in Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and Flipboard, not to mention obsessive email checks (even with it set to a 15 minute refresh rate).

What this reveals, beyond my worrying smartphone addiction, is that the Nexus 5 is fairly typical.

Google Nexus 5 review

Initially the battery life is very erratic, but this is no cause for concern, because you should find that it settles down after the first few days. Remember that downloading and installing a burst of apps tends to eat the battery life fast.

Downloading and installing an exceptionally large game, such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which is 1.6GB, using Wi-Fi actually ate a staggering 10% of my battery.

If you use the Nexus 5 to navigate with turn-by-turn directions or play a graphically intensive game, like the aforementioned, Asphalt 8 then you will really notice a major drain.

The Nexus 5 battery dropped 4% in ten minutes of playing the excellent Monument Valley. Streaming a 55 minute episode of Breaking Bad through Netflix ate 18% of the remaining battery life. A 15 minute call drained just 2% away.

The Nexus 5 battery is rated at 2,300mAh, a bit lower than the Galaxy S4's 2,600mAh battery.

Our 90 minute video NyanGareth battery test, with the screen at full brightness, knocked the Nexus 5 from fully-charged down to 74%.

The essentials

Inside or outside, in a busy shop, or a deserted street, the Nexus 5 made and received calls with no problems. Callers reported my dulcet tones came through loud and clear, even with my four year-old son screaming in the background, which points to some good noise cancellation skills.

I also found callers came through with plenty of volume and clarity on my end. The speakerphone isn't as clear, but it does the job.

Google Nexus 5 review

The phone app has been overhauled again in Android 5.0 and it's very convenient to use. The last call is listed at the top and then you get big contact spaces for your most frequently contacted friends and family.

When you do need to call a more distant contact you can just type in the search bar at the top and you'll rarely have to enter more than a couple of letters before they pop up.

You can also search for local businesses in here and call them directly, which can be very handy when you need a pizza at short notice.

I love the keyboard on the Nexus 5. Google has definitely made improvements, because for the first few days I would pause after a staccato burst of typing to go back and make corrections, only to find that the text was error-free. The swiping option has also been improved, making one-handed typing much easier.

Google Nexus 5 review

Hangouts is no longer the default messaging app in Android 5.0 Lollipop, replaced by a new Material Design infused SMS only app.

Why Google did this, I'm not really sure. Sure, you can change your default app back to Hangouts (which still does SMS and comes pre-installed), but I had hoped Google would do away with the basic SMS app this time around.

The purity of the Google experience on offer here is unmatched anywhere else. Cast an eye over the pre-installed apps, from Maps to Hangouts, from Gmail to Google Docs, from the Chrome browser to YouTube, the strength of the Google ecosystem is impressive.

Swipe to the right on the home screen and there's Google Now, ready to serve. The Nexus 5 offers everything that's good about Google in a streamlined format.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyNexus 5
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameLG
Battery Talk Time17 Hour
Product ModelD821
Screen Size12.6 cm (5")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)130 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.4 KitKat
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density445 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.3 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedMicro
Height137.8 mm
Width69.2 mm
Depth8.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time300 Hour
ManufacturerLG Electronics
Product NameNexus 5 D821 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.26 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineNexus 5
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Barometer
Manufacturer Part NumberLGD821.AGBRBK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.lge.co.uk
Marketing Information

More Light, Less Shake

Nexus 5's 8 MP OIS camera incorporates advanced technology to shoot vivid imagery with a wide range of colour and light intake. And while you're holding the camera, Optical Image Stabilization will steady the shot even with shaky hands, so your photos and videos will come out sharp and clear.

Capture Extraordinary Moments

Life is remarkable. Take home the best of it with help from imaging features like HDR+, combining multiple exposures for one perfect shot with vivid daytime and sharp nighttime images-or Photo Sphere, which creates unmatched, immersive 360° views so you can capture and share the full story.

Standard Memory2 GB