Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Google's Nexus 5 is the company's latest and best smartphone. Manufactured by LG, the Nexus 5 enjoys an incredibly fast processor and is the first phone that features the newest version of Android: 4.4, also known as KitKat. Although KitKat brings some great improvements to the operating system, it's been installed on a phone that, processor aside, is underwhelming. With a weak camera and poor battery life, it's not as dependable as some of the other devices you can buy.
The Nexus 5 features an IPS display slightly less than 5 inches from corner to corner. With 1080p resolution, it is stunningly crisp, vibrant and easy to see from any angle. The display dominates the front of a phone with an otherwise simple design; available in black or white, the Nexus 5 is comfortable to hold, but it's not much more than a rounded rectangle.
That screen provides a window into Android 4.4, the newest version of Google's mobile OS. KitKat brings with it a cleaner, more streamlined interface, under-the-hood improvements to stability and performance, and Google Now accessibility from the home screen. This last feature can be particularly useful; if you're on a home screen, you can simple say "OK, Google" and the phone will react to your voice, without your needing to press a button.
As nice as KitKat can be, especially for fans of Android, the phone's hardware features don't quite measure up to its software. The 8-megapixel camera takes pictures through a surprisingly small ƒ/2.5 aperture. When it comes to aperture size, lower numbers mean bigger apertures, which in turn mean more light hitting the camera's sensor and better-quality pictures. Most modern phones have apertures around ƒ/2.2. Lesser-quality cameras have ƒ/2.4 apertures. The Nexus 5's aperture is the smallest of all the top smartphones we've reviewed, and you can see it in its photos: dull, lifeless and prone to blur.
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The Nexus 5's battery is equally disappointing. While you can get about 15 hours of talk time off of the phone, activities that use the screen drain its battery quickly – you'll only be able to watch video or surf the web for a combined total of about five hours before taking the battery to empty from a full charge. Given how often we tend to turn on a smartphone's screen throughout the day, you could have trouble making it through a heavy workday without plugging the phone in somewhere along the way.
For $350 off-contract, the Nexus 5 is a good deal if you want to buy and own a smartphone. When compared against the phones you can get for under $200 on-contract, however, it shows its weaknesses. Consumers tend to think about two things above all else when picking a new smartphone: battery life and the camera. The Nexus 5, unfortunately, underperforms on both counts.