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Nexus 5 Review

The Nexus 5 and Moto X are without a doubt the most hyped phones of 2013 for us. We certainly covered the HTC One and Galaxy S4 aplenty, but as we inched close to the launch of both Google and Motorola’s new phones, it’s all anyone could talk or think about. We were often greeted on unrelated stories in the comments with, “Not about the Nexus 5, not news.”

So as I received my Nexus 5 (white “panda” with 32GB of storage), it seemed only fitting that I had to put down my Moto X for a bit. As painful as that was, I told you months ago that this would happen. As good as a phone may be, including the Moto X, our job is to bring you Google’s view of Android, and nothing does that better than a Nexus. 

Thanks to the birth of my son, this review took longer to complete than I had initially expected, but I’d say that it has actually helped me get to know this phone better than some of our other shortened review periods allow. I’ve spent almost a month with the Nexus 5 by my side. There were times that I grew so frustrated with the camera and battery life that I almost dropped it in favor of my Moto X. But as the time has gone on and I’ve switched back and forth between this and my Moto X, I really can’t decide which phone I like better.

I’ll talk about the Nexus 5 as I would any other review, but expect another piece shortly to talk about these two brilliant phones side-by-side. For now, let’s get to this review – you’ve been waiting long enough.

The Good


On paper, there are few phones that come close to the entire package that the Nexus 5 is offering, especially for the price. You are looking at a 5-inch mostly edge-to-edge 1080p display, best-of-the-best 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 8MP camera with OIS (optical image stabilization), 2GB RAM, wireless charging, NFC, and a 2300mAh battery all wrapped in a soft touch plastic body that is only 8.6mm thick and priced at $349. Oh, and let’s not forget that it supports AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint LTE out of the box, along with all sorts of global HSPA+ networks.

Find me an unlocked phone at that price and with those specs. Actually, don’t find me one because you’ll be searching forever. Google is doing something with its Nexus line that no other phone maker on the planet can do – deliver rock bottom prices accompanied by some of the best specs in the business. The overall package here really can’t be beat, assuming you can deal with the couple of faults we’ll get to below.

Here are the full Nexus 5 specs.


I know that I just mentioned price, but when you are talking Nexus phones, the price really is the star of the show. If you take all of the specs I mentioned above, remove the “Nexus” logo, and sell it as a phone through a carrier, you are looking at $199 on-contract and $599 without one. But since this is Google’s baby, you can buy the Nexus 5 starting at $349 with 16GB of storage or $399 with 32GB of storage, no contract included. That’s…insane.

The device is largely thought to be based off of the LG G2, yet it’s almost half the price. Sure, Google had to cut some corners (camera, storage, battery) to get to that price, but it’s something most will have a hard time resisting.

nexus 5 review

And keep in mind that if $349 is too expensive, Google did manage to partner with T-Mobile, Sprint and Best Buy to give you on-contract or cheaper options. T-Mobile has monthly plans as low as $17 per payment while Sprint will hand you one for $49.99 and a contract. The phone works on AT&T as well, but they aren’t an official partner.

Again, the price is somewhat shocking when you put it up against the other top smartphones on the planet. Almost all fall under the consumer-robbing, on-contract and subsidy model that runs you $199 or more along with a contract. Google is practically giving this phone away at $349, plus also letting you choose which carrier you’d like.

It’s a Nexus

There is a reason the new Nexus phone was hypebeasted for months upon months leading up to its unveiling – it’s a Nexus. We knew it would be dirt cheap. We knew it would help Google introduce the newest version of Android. We know that it will see updates before any other phone. We knew there would finally be LTE on board. We knew the design would be minimal, yet beautiful. We knew that the phone would be built for tinkerers and stock Android lovers. We knew that (at least on paper) it would be the phone we have been waiting for.

For the most part, it has lived up to the hype. We’ve got best in class specs, along with a new version of Android presented Google’s way, a phone that’s built for tinkerers, and an unbeatable price. Outside of some camera flaws (that can hopefully be addressed) and average battery life, there isn’t much here to complain about.

Android 4.4 “Kit Kat”

When you think of a new Nexus phone, you just assume that it will launch with the newest version of Android. And thus is the case here with the Nexus 5, as it was used as a vehicle to make Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” public. We’ve already walked through a lengthy tips and tricks video for Kit Kat, so I’m actually going to focus this section on the bigger Android 4.4 picture rather than take you through what’s awesome or not. But for your reference, you can find that video embedded below in the “Video” section.


So how does Kit Kat run/work/party with the Nexus 5? Like a champ of course. Whenever a new version of Android is released on top of a new Nexus phone, we always get a little blown away by how perfect it seems to run. But remember, Google works with hardware partners to fine-tune the Android experience on their Nexus phones, so it shouldn’t exactly come as a shock. With that said, this phone absolutely flies through apps, wallpaper changes, task changes, videos, hungry games, and image editing. If there is one sore spot, it’s in camera performance, but we’ll get to that later.


Thanks to its beautiful 5-inch HD display and on-screen buttons, the Nexus 5 highlights all of Kit Kat’s design changes as well. From the new transparent navigation and notification areas to the new neutral color scheme, you realize as you use the N5 that this is exactly how Google envisions an Android experience.

Build, Feel, and Design

The Nexus 5 comes in two different color schemes – one is an all black version with a matte finish; the other has a soft-touch white back, along with polished sides. Both are subtle in design when compared to gold iPhones and bright Moto X custom orders, but that’s part of the beauty here. It’s understated, all about the big 5-inch 1080p display, and without a design-sales-schtick. The “nexus” logo on the back lets you at least know what phone you are always using, plus the massive camera housing gives off the impression that you have an intense camera phone in hand, even if you don’t. More on that later.

nexus 5 review

It feels soft in hand, is unbelievably light at 130g, and since there is little bezel on the front, isn’t actually hard to hold in one hand even with its 5-inch display. Now, it doesn’t feel as good as the Moto X in hand, but you could argue that the trade-off for a full 1080p display and package of top-tier specs is worth the extra size. It’s much smaller feeling than the G2 or Note 3, and is probably more along the same path as the Galaxy S4 only without the gross, glossy plastic. It’s the second best feeling device next to the Moto X, and that’s saying something.

If there is one downside, it’s the matte black version’s tendency to pick up fingerprints in a matter of seconds. While the black is even more understated than the white, I’d recommend white if you find yourself frustrated by a material that attracts fingerprints with the best of them.

Overall, the phone really does feel premium in hand, even though its made entirely of plastic (with ceramic buttons). At $350, you’d think it would feel cheap like a Samsung phone, however, it couldn’t be further from it.


nexus 5 display compare1

The 5-inch 1080p display on the Nexus 5 is pretty damn good. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “class leading” or anything, but it produces sharp enough images and clear enough details that I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say that it was more than acceptable. The problem I had with it, was that I just came from the Galaxy Note 3, which may have the best mobile display ever made. But if you are looking for a 1080p panel that’s not AMOLED and produces down-the-middle colors (not overly cold or warm), you will be pleased with what you see.

It can look a bit washed out at times, but I feel like I see that with all LCD displays when compared to the somewhat over-saturation on AMOLEDs (which I prefer). Other than that, it’s viewing angles are excellent, doesn’t smudge quite as easy as its predecessor, and is incredible to watch videos or game on, thanks to Immersive Mode in Kit Kat that lets that edge-to-edge display take up every ounce of real estate possible.

I’ll probably continue to say this because it’s that big of a deal, but at $349, there really shouldn’t be any complaining about the quality of the display. This doesn’t appear to be an area that Google cut any corners.

nexus 5 display compare2nexus 5 display compare3

Above, you’ll see some comparison shots of the Nexus 5 to other top tier devices at full brightness on Chrome and with a similar wallpaper. Again, the Nexus 5 shows pretty neutral colors, while the Galaxy Note 3 tends to lean on the cool side. The G2 and Moto X on the other hand, are quite warm. Brilliant job, Google.


When you slap a Snapdragon 800 into a phone that doesn’t even have a chance to be bogged down by a 3rd party skin, you are looking at one heck of an experience in terms of performance. I don’t have benchmarks to bore you with because well, benchmarks aren’t exactly having a great year thanks to OEMs gaming the system. Just know that where Samsung’s TouchWiz stutters, the Nexus 5 glides. Know that when you multi-task, open new apps, launch the camera, or simply slide to the left to open Google Now, that you won’t have experienced anything like it on another Android phone. If there is one thing Google seems to improve upon with each new phone and new release of Android, it’s that “butter.”

We talked a lot about the Moto X having zero performance issues during our review of it, but man, when going from Nexus 5 to Moto X for a moment, the difference is obvious. There is true power here, not a separated out multi-core architecture fitted with low-end companion cores. The Nexus 5 may not have always-listening modes like the Moto X, but if you were looking for raw power, that makes things happen with beauty and grace, the Nexus 5 is it. We tend to refer to the opposite of the Nexus 5’s experience as “jank.” Jank lovers, I’m sorry, but there is none to be had here.

Availability and Connectivity

nexus 5 review

Let me just get this out of the way by saying, yes, it sucks that this phone isn’t available to Verizon customers. We know how badly Big Red users want a new Nexus, but for reasons we can only guess, this phone will not work with their network. Outside of Verizon, it works practically everywhere. The phone has support on LTE across bands 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41 – that’s incredible for an Android device. Included in those bands is support on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint’s LTE networks. If you think about last year’s Nexus 4 not even having an LTE chip and only working on HSPA+ networks, this is a major jump forward. Also, since it’s unlocked, you can take it almost anywhere in the world and receive coverage. From major carrier to little prepaid player, the Nexus 5 works.

In terms of availability, the Nexus 5 is available at far more retailers than any other Nexus in the past. For the U.S., you are looking at availability on Google Play starting at $350, and then carrier options sold through Best Buy, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Amazon. Google may have sold out of the 16GB variants in both black and white almost immediately, but you still have ways to pick-up this phone, something that wasn’t the case last year when the Nexus 4 sold out for weeks at a time.

Random Bonuses

  • Wireless Charging:  For those of you looking for a charging alternative that doesn’t involve shoving a cable (upside down) into the bottom of your phone every time it needs juice, you’ll be happy to know that the Nexus 5 includes wireless charging. In order to utilize wireless charging, you’ll need a charging pad, but those aren’t hard to find. In fact, Google is now selling one made specifically for their Nexus devices. We gave it a first look here.
  • Accessories:  Google did something with the release of this Nexus that it has failed to do with almost any other Nexus – make official accessories available for it almost immediately. From Bumpers to Quick Covers to a well-built and previously mentioned wireless charger, you don’t necessarily have to take to Amazon or 3rd party accessory sites to outfit your new phone. Sure, Google’s accessories are completely overpriced, but for the most part, are incredibly well-built. We’ve looked at both the Bumpers and Quick Covers here.
  • Photo Sphere:  The camera on the Nexus 5 may be mostly terrible at this stage in its young life (again, more on that in a bit), but there is one thing all stock Android lovers can take advantage of and that’s Photo Sphere. A Photo Sphere is Google’s take on a 360-degree photograph. It’s like a panorama shot on steroids. You can capture entire rooms, outdoor settings, and any other magical moment that may require more than a single snap. Using their easy-to-follow, blue-dot UI in Photo Sphere, it’s the easiest way to impress your friends photographically.
  • Hack-a-ability:  Like to tinker with your phone? You should buy Nexus phones, especially the newest from Google, which would be the Nexus 5. Google makes Nexus products for developers in particular, so if unlocking bootloaders, flashing ROMs, and generally hacking the hell out of your phone is on your list of things to do with your new phone, buy the Nexus 5. There isn’t another phone this open. Motorola’s new stance on Developer Edition phones makes the Moto X close, but again, this is a Nexus. It was made for tinkerers first, regular consumers second.


Battery Life

Initial tests of the Nexus 5 returned pretty bleak battery life results. On the first couple of charges, I was barely pushing through 8 hours of use, some times even lower. But as the days have passed with it in my pocket, it’s almost as if the phone is warming up quite nicely. I’m now regularly seeing 12-16 hours of use on a single charge with a mix of WiFi and LTE, and about 2 hours of screen-on time. That’s not record breaking, but it’s also about what our tests show for the Moto X and Galaxy S4.

nexus 5 battery1nexus 5 battery2nexus 5 battery3nexus 5 battery4nexus 5 battery5

For almost two weeks now I’ve taken screenshots at the end of the night to try and track battery life on the Nexus 5 because I was truly concerned from the beginning (see the abundance of screenshots). But really, I’m not all that concerned any longer. My last remaining worry is the camera, however, Google is reportedly working on a fix for that.

Again, the Nexus 5 and its 2300mAh battery isn’t going to last you two days like a DROID MAXX, Galaxy Note 3, or LG G2, but it’ll get you average single-day-of-use life at around 12 hours.

nexus 5 review


No, the Nexus 5 doesn’t have dual stereo speakers even though the bottom gives off the impression that it does. Instead, Google and LG put in two speaker grills, but sound is really only generated out of one of them (the left). The other is either there for show or to help funnel out some of the sound produced by the other. The left speaker grill is the one you’ll want to pay attention to, since covering it will pretty much mute your phone completely. And that’s unfortunate, since the left speaker tends to be the one embedded in my hand with the phone landscape. How much fun is a audio-intense game or YouTube video if I can’t hear it?

Fake speakers aside, the sound produced out of the Nexus 5’s speaker isn’t anything to brag to your audiophile friends about. It produces loud noise, it’s just not the clearest you’d like to hear.

The Not-so-Good


nexus 5 review

Does the Nexus 5 (in its current state) have the worst smartphone camera of any top tier phone in 2013? Probably. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that it does. The good news is that we think it can be fixed with a software update that Google is reportedly already working on. But for now, it’s absolute garbage. I hate to be so straight forward and nasty about it, but the camera on this phone has been such a disappointment over these few weeks of reviewing it that I don’t know how else to put it. Everything else about the phone has been great or at least good enough, however, the camera is in a D-league of its own.

The 8MP sensor with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) was supposed to help the Nexus 5 be the first Nexus to offer an incredible photo experience. Hell, even Vic Gundotra told us that Google was “committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras” leading us to believe that the Nexus 5 was what he was referring to. We may get there at some point, if that new camera API can magically turn trash into water, but at this point we just don’t know. All we have to go on is what the Nexus 5 camera produces at this moment.

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First of all, the camera UI for stock Android changed slightly in Android 4.3 and has remained the same here in 4.4. It’s not a good camera UI at all. It’s minimal, which we can appreciate, but accessing anything is a guessing game. I had to give up from changing settings in the camera app because I never knew what anything was. There are icons for options, but not enough of a description or detail in the icon to let you know what you are looking for or about to change. With some practice, I’m sure you could figure out the stock Android camera UI and become a master, but part of the point of a smartphone camera (at least to me) is to have it work seamlessly out of the box without a steep learning curve.

All UI criticism aside, the real story here is about the low quality you see after taking photos. After taking dozens of pictures with the Nexus 5 in all sorts of lighting scenarios, I’m not sure I would hand any of them over to someone as a photo I’d be proud of. The camera completely fails to focus far too often, and never seems to focus long enough or on the correct object when you get it to. Images all sort of have that dreary haze of death that we complained about initially with the Moto X camera. I live in somewhat of a dark city in Portland, but things look a hell of a lot prettier than what these images show.

The camera isn’t good in macro situations, has lousy depth-of-field, takes poor low light shots even with OIS, and is the worst camera you could have on you in a situation where you need a photo in an instant. As I mentioned in my opening, I recently welcomed in my first child to the world. As you can imagine, I want to take pictures of his every move. The Nexus 5 camera is essentially the worst camera a new parent could have on them, all thanks to the reasons I just described.

Here’s to hoping Google comes through and actually delivers us an “insanely” good camera. Otherwise, I’ll be sure to keep my point-and-shoot, DSLR, or other camera phone handy at all times. Anything but this one.

Here are some camera samples. All have been resized and that’s it.

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nexus 5 cameranexus 5 cameranexus 5 cameranexus 5 cameranexus 5 camera

Full resolution:  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Random Negatives

  • Upside down charging port:  This might be nitpicking, but why on Earth did Google and LG put the microUSB port upside down in the Nexus 5? It’s also upside down in the Nexus 7 (2013), so I’m wondering if this is a choice made by Google. Either way, over the last few weeks with the N5, I’ve been annoyed more than a couple of times at having to flip over the cable after failing on first attempts when trying to charge this phone. Can we get a standard here, mobile phone industry?
  • No microSD slot:  MicroSD card slots are no longer the norm in the smartphone industry. In fact, Samsung (and some international LG phones) is about the only one sticking to them, however, we know that many of you won’t even look at a phone if it doesn’t have a slot for additional storage. It’s not a deal breaker for us, but I’m not going to lie, it would be nice to be able to carry all of my pictures and other goodies from one phone to the next without dealing with the cloud.




vs. Moto X vs. Galaxy Note 3 vs. HTC One


Kit Kat Overview and Tips



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The Verdict

As you can tell after reading through all of that, I’m 90% in love with the Nexus 5. Maybe even 95%. It has all of the right buzz words surrounding it, is incredibly speedy and powerful, looks amazing yet understated, shows off all that we love about Android, will receive updates the quickest, and is priced at a jaw-dropping $349. If you aren’t on Verizon, I’m not sure why you aren’t considering buying this phone already. Well, I know why – because there are so many other damn good phones out there like the G2, Galaxy Note 3, and Moto X. That’s not a knock against the Nexus 5, we’re just at a glorious stage in smartphones where everyone is producing really great stuff. Oh, and the camera is terrible. Like, really that terrible.

If Google can figure out this camera mess, you might be looking at a phone that is clearly better than all the rest. Until then, it’s another really good phone just like those others I mentioned, yet isn’t perfect even with its amazing price.

Links:  Nexus 5 deals at eBay | Amazon | Google Play

  • K

    So how is this phone after 4.4.2 update?

  • Delicious strange and beautiful.

  • JeffColorado

    The 4.4.2 update apparently fixes the camera issues on the Nexus…so people can finally stop complaining about focus minutia.

  • Jason Muller

    I agree about the camera. I’ve had the phone for about 3 weeks now and there is no way to give a balanced pro/con review on the camera because it simply sucks. It does not focus right and if anything, at all, in the field of view is moving in the slightest, it motion blurs. (This is with HDR+ off. It’s even worse enabled). The blurry/out of focus samples in this article are exactly representative of my experience.

    One thing though- what makes you think the micro USB is upside down? Between the 2 phones ( HTC Incredible 2 and Nexus 5) and 2 tablets (Nexus 7 2012 & 2013) I’ve owned, none of them have had the port in what you consider the “correct” orientation. Maybe you are the one who is incorrect.

  • DJ SPY

    A little over two hours of screen on time.. Wow.. Two hours if screen on time on my Maxx HD and I’m at 75%. That’s on 4G LTE. I don’t know how people live with such abysmal performance. I guess the way I did for a year when I had my RAZR. Frustrated at not being able to truly use the phone.

    (Let’s see if the down votes reach the triple digits lol)

  • Franz

    The Nexus 4 DOES have an LTE chip (for T-Mobile bands). Just because Google decided to turn it off doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    I had full blown LTE through T-Mobile when I had my Nexus 4 (custom radio flashed trough recovery).

  • Aime Eerin

    you might be looking at a phone that is clearly better than all the rest. Until then, it’s another really good phone just like those others I mentioned, yet isn’t perfect even with its amazing price.

  • Aime Eerin

    If Google can figure out this camera mess,

  • soothsayer

    getting delivered(hopefully) today, way ahead of the 12/11 date i was given.

  • Vincenzo Vitale

    Bought a Nexus5 in the Italian store and Google now tells me that I cannot get a replacement where I live now in Holland. If you are buying a Google product in Europe watch out for their (illegal!) replacement process which essentially prevent you for getting a replacement within the 2 years, in case you move out of the country.

    • Jose Antonio

      I had the same problem with my Nexus 4. I moved from Spain to France and now I can’t ask for a RMA unless I send it from/to Spain. It’s cheap and I bought a Nexus 5 which should make it through the 2 years I plan to be abroad but it’s in this details that you see that Apple cares about their devices and Google does not. The post-sale service is much worse (and they don’t address long standing bugs and problems that the Nexus 4 has always had and I suppose it will be the same with the Nexus 5) but hey, it’s “cheap”. At least cheap compared to Apple so you can’t have everything.

      • Vincenzo Vitale

        Well, with 400 euro I do expect more from someone like Google, selling so much itself like the one improving our life.This seems more like steeling our money!
        Hope your new phone will not have problems.

        • Jose Antonio

          Well, that’s the idea. In case I have any problem with the Nexus 4 I can ask for an RMA as long as I’m staying in France and I plan to stay here for at least the time which is covered by the warranty but I agree with you: Google’s post sell service sucks.

  • Diana

    What I would like to know is … did you try making phone calls with the phone? I checked your review and you don’t actually mention anything about trying to use the Nexus 5 as a phone. I’ve had my new Nexus 5 for a week now and can’t believe how awkward it is to use for phone calls. The worst part is the voice dialling simply doesn’t work with Bluetooth. I’ve had all sorts of funny experiences with my requests. I miss my old BB which was so good at handsfree.

  • mr_charlie

    my is being delivered tomorrow

  • Angel Cervantes

    In the pictures, is that a real cat?

  • atc_tech

    Dude! Kellen, your pictures with the N5 look WAY better than what I’m getting with my N4 on 4.4.

  • droidify

    Excellent review.

  • Maybe I’m just an idiot, but the prices are really misleading. After taxes they’re $400+ phones…at least if you live in California.

  • Stocklone

    Maybe it’s because I’m comparing the N5 camera to the crap Moto was putting out in 2011, but I actually like the N5 camera a lot overall.

  • chris pinkston

    Currently have moto x and have had it for almost 2 weeks now. Got itto gild me iver till I could get nexus 5. With kit Kat on it now and the Nexus 5 lancher, its like a mini nexus. Went to store to compare it to a nexus to see if I still wanted to get the nexus. Its a close call but I love the clarity of the nexus screen and the speed. It feels faster than moto x if not by a huge amount but I can notice. Plus its a nexus and always wanted one so I think I will sell the moto x and go for nexus. The moto is one of my favorite phones though. In the future I would be interested in a moto x 2. Same size as current phone but 1080p, improved camera and even faster soc.

  • Dt Bell

    I like the phone, I up’ed to a 32gig from a N4/16gig. No,it’s not a world beater but no phone is in a few months.

    $230 on eBay for the N4 with a solid year’s use made the N5 quite reasonable.

    Many believe that we’ll be using 64bit by this time next year,..dream on.

  • rodolfo cruz

    My nexusv5 procesor is very fast than note 3.

  • Nazzi_Muhammad

    I’ll buy another Nexus phone when someone else besides LG builds ’em. LG sucks @ phones. Great fridges though….

  • Joe


  • Eric Blackman

    I’m not crazy about having the price come up in a review as often as it has. I want to know how good it is, not how good it is for the price.

  • LesSavvy

    Regarding the “upside down” usb port, I’ve added a dot of light colored nail polish to my usb cables to make it easy to see. Once you know which way it goes in a particular device it is easy to get the marked connector in easily every time.

  • jc914

    Com’on, the camera isn’t that bad… I’ve taken some great shots, and compared to other Androids and iPhone, i think it meets or beats them. What do expect from a phone camera? Take a compact or DSLR if you want something more.

  • Chris York

    Another assassination of the camera. Plenty of other shootouts that show how great the camera performs on everything but fast moving targets and once you actually use HDR+, it’s usually a landslide victory. It’s perhaps a niche camera that leans more towards still life, landscapes or modest action in daylight but it does what it does do very well compared to the competition.

  • dcdttu

    I must have a different camera on my N5 than the one in this review. Or maybe I can separate the shortcomings from the actual camera’s quality. I’ve taken some absolutely gorgeous images with my N5. But I take composed shots rather than snapshots – I don’t worry too much about quick focus or the like, I just deal with it.

    The camera takes great pictures. The software needs a tweak to help focus and a think or two. But honestly, the camera itself is really really good IMHO.

  • CHRIS42060

    Honestly why complain about the upside down USB port. When it comes to USB cables you technically have a 50/50 shot of getting it right the first time, but in reality you only get it right on the first try probably 15% of the time haha.

  • crazed_z06

    Wait wait wait…

    “We talked a lot about the Moto X having zero performance issues during our review of it, but man, when going from Nexus 5 to Moto X for a moment, the difference is obvious. There is true power here, not a separated out multi-core architecture fitted with low-end companion cores”

    So Specs are an advantage again?

    • hkklife

      The Moto X marketing war chest finally ran dry (ie no more payola) so the X is being exposed for the midrange device it really is.

      You can never have enough CPU horsepower, battery capacity, onboard storage or RAM. Never.

  • Mvasquez

    Great review Kellen.. Had to read to see your opinion of the N5 but I’m loving mine.. I actually came from a gs4 and don’t regret it all there’s nothing like the stock experience and knowing I get updates first makes it all good!

  • Ralph Basile

    I have to say, I 95% agree with this review :). I think in every way my experience is very close to the authors. Regarding the battery, I think he nailed it. One this he did not point out (though others have) is the phone seems to excel at minimizing battery usage when not being actively used – you know sitting around waiting to be used – which is the state my phone is usually in. This does seem to contribute to significantly better battery life than with the Nexus 4.

    Regarding the camera, I actually think the quality of the photos (with HDR+ on) can be quite good. But the issue with the focus lag is a MAJOR problem. Some times, the camera won’t even focus without switching out of the camera app first. Once you hit the shutter button, the lag is incredibly long for a modern smart phone. I think maybe the Nexus S suffered with this problem (if I remember right) until an update to 4.x of Android. Ever since, the speed of the camera was terrific – basically instant. So what happened with this camera? I look forward to the fix.

    In every other way, I love this phone and am happy I upgraded. For me, owning a Nexus is about having the latest in software from Google, and doing so with a phone I can affordably purchase off contract. This phone delivers.

  • John T. Wildman

    honestly love the note3… Beautiful display, great (removable)battery life, s pen is awesome, Expandable storage, and super fast.
    cons would be touch wiz, although you can do a ton of customization. Camera is good but not great and speaker is so so.
    seriously should be in the discussion for best phone this year along with the one x and Moto x

  • Joe

    So I have had my Sprint Nexus 5 for a few weeks and last week was spent using it A LOT in Disney World on vacation.
    Overall the phone is great but I will just stick to the problems I see with it.

    1) Battery life – is pretty good – AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT TAKE PICTURES WITH IT!
    Taking pictures totally destroyed my battery life on several occasions and had a dead phone by afternoon/evening. It wasn’t like I was taking lots of pics as we have our Nikon SLR for that. They were just occasional pics and video to take to upload to Facebook for status updates or autoawesome movies or whatever. If I refrained from taking pictures then battery life was average and could get me through till we got back to the hotel for the night.
    I will say this though, the pictures we took with it came out very well especially if you do HDR. I don’t see all the fuss about picture quality. Maybe I just don’t have a photographic eye. In low light though it can take a bit longer to focus but it wasn’t that bad.

    2) Hanging up calls – I have been having sporadic ongoing issues with voice calls getting stuck “hanging up” and have to put into airplane mode to un-stick it. If you don’t un-stick it then it just keeps saying hanging up and when you try to make another call it tells you that there is already a call in progress. It is a little frustrating.

    3) Button placement – Maybe it’s just me but I hate having the volume buttons on the let side. Holding the phone in my right hand and trying to adjust just feels awkward and bends my fingers oddly. Feels more natural to use your right thumb on the right side of the phone to adjust volume.

    That’s about all I can see wrong. In every other way this phone is perfect (for me). I really hope they can fix the first two issues with software updates.

    I have to also mention something that is not really talked about much but I think deserves kudos. The Auto Awesome app that takes your video clips and pictures and combines them together with music is a really neat feature and is pretty darn cool! 🙂

  • jimt

    Kellen, did you take the plastic off the front of the lense? The Nexus 5 I have takes pretty good pictures. There is a piece of clear tape on the lense of the nexus 5 when it comes out of the box. I covers the circle (black of the lense) it was hard to see that it was there. Maybe you didn’t take it off.

  • RoadsterHD1

    My thoughts,

    If you put a cheaper (frt & rear) camera, and smaller
    battery, and bad speakers in a phone the price should go down. The look is a bit cheap to don’t you think?
    The speaker grills look like cheap plastic.

    The screen test at angle shows the GN3 and Moto-X have
    better screen angles. If only you had a Droid Ultra/MAXX to compare 5.0 inch
    screen to 5.0 inch screen….?….. Really
    should compare a 5 inch to 5 inch not 4.7″ Plus the on-screen navs make
    screen look smaller by comparison to ones with hard keys

    Putting a skin on top of an OS does not mean it will slow
    down. If fact if you compare the N4 to the droid DNA it proves skins do not
    necessarily slow the phone performance.

  • M3D1T8R

    The USB port is right side up. Everyone who has it the other way is wrong. : )
    Seriously though, after using the Nexus 7 (both 2012 and now 2013), as well as my DNA, I’ve come to prefer it that way. Who does it the other way, only Samsung? So they have it backwards. But in all honesty, this is one small detail Apple got right with their new charger port, you can plug it in either way, easily. Not only which direction it goes, but how easy it is to plug in, is something I always look at in a new phone. Does it tend to catch on the sides when you try to plug it in? You’d think by now manufacturers coulg get it right. After multiple old phones failing due to charger plugins breaking, I pay more attention to these little details.

    • NBM

      After multiple phones failing due to charger plugins breaking, you should pay more attention to what you’re doing. J/k… kinda…
      but for about $5 more than an official lightning cable, I can get a wireless charger (various available). Pretty cool.

  • Sean Walton

    I put down my Moto X for the N5 and loved it until the screen died (15 days of use) and I have returned it to Google for a full refund and now picked up my Moto X again. As much as I liked the N5, I love my Moto X!

  • Capt. Crunch

    The camera hardware is good imho, however the software fails when when taking photos in non optimal settings. Overall definitely the best bang for your buck.

  • Dave S.

    How does the White back hold up as far as dirt and such?

    • NBM

      It does a very good job. It’s helps that it’s not the whitest white to begin with. After about 3 weeks it looks good as new, and apart from fearing drops, I don’t baby it at all.

  • Abrahan Reyes

    Love the phone, moved to T-mobile last weekend just to get the phone and also running away from Big Red restrictive controls over the phones like Kellex said is pretty fast.
    Since owning smartphone first time i don’t have a Moto, so i was a bit worry, but the phone is great and no issues with T-mobile network so far.

  • Sam

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have a Note 3 and I think those camera picture samples look really good. Nothing I’d expect from an 8MP sensor.

  • shooter50

    Thank you for an unbiased review. Your honesty about the screen, battery and camera are refreshing after reading so many other reviews that glossed over these items. The bottom line is its a great phone, but certainly not perfect. I till use the G2 as my main phone, but the Nexus 5 is a great inexpensive backup

  • Steve B

    For those wondering about Google Wallet, I can confirm that it works 100% without any workarounds on Verizon as long as you have 4.4. My GS3 with CM11 works perfectly with Google Wallet installed directly from the Play Store.

    Host Card Emulation FTW! Thank you Google for helping me give the middle finger to Verizon, ya bastards!

  • Nick Floria

    A little off topic but love the new droid-life design. On topic very good review.

  • nomma

    No mention of non-functioning corded headset mics? One cannot use the phone to make phone calls. OK Google nexus 5 inline mic issue low gain. Apparently the N4 has the same issue without a resolution in site.

  • Eric Bright

    Thanks for the great review and for overhauling the website. I’m expecting the white Nexus 5 (32 GB) very soon. Hopefully, camera will be fixed via software update.

  • fritzo

    Love the new look to the site btw.

  • SplashMTN

    Guess who’s Verizon contract is up today?

  • bonix

    It’s just like all the other flagships, great in some categories and horrible in the rest. That’s why the moto X is so good, it isn’t great in every category but it isn’t horrible in any. Nothing could get me to get rid of my X (except a 32gb version)

  • Fresh360

    Don’t want to hijack this post (Well I actually do) but whats up with the new site layout? Or did somehow my formatting get scrambled? This wide format is rather disconcerting : (

  • Jeff

    I still have no issues with the camera.

    • JeffColorado

      They need to fix the auto-focus. But the quality is great once you get it to focus. Macro and Lowlight are both awesome. Very low noise.

      • jimv1983

        I agree. Shutter speed could use work too.

  • My only complaints are I wish they had rounded the side/edges a bit, it doesn’t feel as comfortable to hold as my Galaxy Nexus did. The camera obviously, but it clearly looks like a software problem this time, unlike with the Gnex. Also, my nexus wireless charger doesn’t seem to be working with the Nexus 5, i put it on and the magnets grab it and nothing happens. Not sure what’s up there.

  • AndroidUser00110001

    For those that want a N5 but don’t like the battery life or camera than just get the G2. Nicer screen, better camera, battery life is excellent. I got about 18 hours with 6 hours of screen on time on my last charge.

    There are KitKat ROMs for it that are pur Android builds with no major bugs or any bugs that make it not a daily driver.

    And the phone feels better in hand. First time I choose a non nexus device over a nexus phone.

    • greyhulk

      Please don’t rub it in. I had the G2 and sold it after I got my Nexus 5. Started missing it almost immediately.

      • AndroidUser00110001

        At least you stayed with Android. I got pissed off that the X got an update so quick and still no word from LG. I went out and got a Nokia 1520 and returned it after 2 days and went back to the G2 🙂

        PS…wanna trade…LOL

        • Maxim∑

          I was tempted by the 1520 also but no apps…. I think the G2 is a better option than the Nexus 5 if price isnt a problem

        • greyhulk

          That thing is WAY too big for me. The Note 3 is the biggest I’ll go. Windows Phone is okay, but needs some love.

    • slider112

      Completely agree with everything you said. I ordered the Nexus 5 on launch day and wanted to love it so badly… and it is certainly a great device… but the G2, rooted, running stock 4.4 is beyond amazing… blew me away. Beautiful screen, 13mp camera and ridiculously good battery have swayed me. It’s a Nexus device on steroids. It’s a keeper.

      • jimv1983

        I have yet to see any custom ROM that actually provides a true stock experience. They all have their own custom junk.

        • slider112

          The first couple builds of PA 4.0 are about as bone stock 4.4 kit kat as you can get. It runs smooth as silk on the G2, and side by side with my N5 there is absolutely no difference software wise. I agree some custom ROM’s can go a bit overboard with features, but the stock experience is alive and well and running beautifully on the G2.

    • jimv1983

      The biggest benefit of the Nexus 5 is stock Android without having to deal with warranty voiding custom ROMs that can brick the phone and don’t even provide a true stock experience.

      Also, the larger size and glossy slippery back make the G2 less comfortable in the hand. The Nexus 5 is tough enough already to deal work due to the size.

  • Daniel

    Thank you for calling out the lack of MicroSD, as MicroSD cards have only gotten faster and larger over the years it’s absurd that phones are only shipping with 16-32GB of storage with no expansion slots! My 64GB MicroSD is loaded up with every photo I’ve ever taken on any mobile phone I’ve had, along with backups of apps and music and videos and things that I can very easily pass to another phone instantly without re-downloading or transferring…that is, once someone makes a decent phone with MicroSD for me to upgrade to 😉

    • if you want MicroSD, get a Samsung.

  • where Samsung’s TouchWiz stutters, the Nexus 5 glides

    Interesting, considering that ArsTechnica’s exhaustive benchmarking tests show the Nexus 5 has a serious CPU throttling issue compared to the GNote 3: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/11/when-benchmarks-arent-enough-cpu-performance-in-the-nexus-5/ It seems that where the GNote 3 lags in UI performance, it more than makes up in application performance. For example, a video editing app may load faster on the N5, but it’ll process video much faster on GNote 3. Here’s one graph from their results:

    • symbolset

      Is transcoding video something you do a lot on your phone?

      • You’re missing the point. UI performance != application performance. It’s possible for the former to fast while the latter is relatively slow. When pushed to its limit, the N5 falters in the latter.

        • symbolset

          I wouldn’t know anything about that. My N5 just slaughters every app I throw at it. As a nerd4life though, the expectation that a mobile phone would be use to transcode FullHD video at all is intriguing. That is all. It is a talking dog sort of thing.

        • malcmilli

          yes it doesnt, but unfortunately UI performance is what you see the most. Which is why apple has always held the lead when ti came to butter. Most people use that heavy taxing task maybe once a day? couple times a week maybe? But you are swiping through windows and lesser apps multiple times an hour. Pick your poison kind of thing.

      • jbdan


  • Chris Bailey

    Kellen – The upside down usb charger port is annoying (same on my ’12 Nexus 7)… the best advice I can give you is to use the charge cable supplied by Google – if you look at the cable, the side that has the USB symbol is always right side up (i.e. flipped compared to other cables). This applies to standard USB cables as well, which can save you the pain of the try to plug in, flip, try to plug in, flip again, finally goes in phenomenon.

    • JMonkeYJ

      Since I’m often plugging my (microUSB) cable in at night/in the dark, I found that if I just grasp the metal portion of the plug in my fingers, the side with the two bumps is the “long” side, and that makes it quick and easy to plug in correctly without even being able to see it.

  • Bionic

    Love the new look on Droid-life

  • Col_Angus

    Still not convinced on pulling the trigger on this quite yet. Really thinking the Moto X is the better phone.

    • moelsen8

      once you get hooked on the moto x feature set, it’s hard to use anything else. i’ve had both and ended up returning the n5 and going back to the moto x. they’re both terrific phones though.

      • Col_Angus

        I think I’ll end up staying on VZW with this (everyone else had poor coverage here). Just waiting to get wood (hehe).

        Edit: Speaking of Moto X

      • GentlemanScholar

        I couldn’t decide which one to send back, so I kept both. I use the N5 as my daily, though.

        • moelsen8

          it was very difficult for me to box up the n5 and drop it in the mail. it’s a very nice phone in its own right.

          • TheDrizzle

            I’m in the process of trying to decide myself. I’ve got the N5 and the Dev Edition Moto X on Verizon. If I choose the Moto X, I get to keep my unlimited. But the Nexus is a Nexus. This is the toughest phone choice I’ve ever had to make.

          • moelsen8

            yeah super tough choice. good luck! probably can’t go wrong.

      • Scott

        I really need to get a moto x. I just need to figure out my plan situation because I have a grandfathered unlimited plan. I would gladly switch to the share everything plan because I don’t use a lot of data, but that plan would be a lot more than my current decently-discounted plan. And I can’t afford a retail priced moto x. Damn it.

        • moelsen8

          eh, it’s worth a call to customer service. they’d probably be willing to work with you and get you some kind of discount (or even similar pricing) just to get you off of unlimited data. tell them you’re thinking of leaving verizon for another provider blah blah. this was my issue as well, but i was done with verizon at that point. i really didn’t care about unlimited data but my bill would’ve jumped like $40.

          you could always try to get a used one on swappa. prices are pretty reasonable there – and the phones haven’t been used very long now.

          • Scott

            I did just that late last week. They didn’t have a permanent solution for me but the gave me 900 minutes and $20 credit…each for 2 months. They said they may have some deals on their plans coming up for this holiday so this should hold me over until then. Contract is up Dec 15th so we’ll see what happens.

          • moelsen8

            call back the day it’s up and put them on the spot. that should help a lot.

  • Rich Robinson

    Anyone else find this website (refresh) to need a little Android modification? Font size especially!

  • cgalyon

    As a fellow new parent, the camera is what I’m always looking at first now. Second is the size of the screen. I’m actually looking for slightly smaller screens now (I’m using a Note 2 currently) because I’m one-handed far more often now than I used to be. A 5″ screen is hard to get across with one hand when you need to. Thanks for the review. I’ll be watching for a camera software update (like with Moto X) as I’ve heard the bezel size of the Nexus 5 helps with reducing the cumbersome large screen.

  • BobbyG

    HTC One has a 2300mAh battery and gets pretty damn good battery life. Not sure whats going on here. It also has the upside down USB port, annoying as hell

  • KnowYourEnemy462

    One more “Random Negative”: Headphone jack on the top. This is probably the only thing I miss about the Gnex.

    • Droidzilla

      I prefer it on top. And yes, that’s what she said.

  • skitchbeatz

    I disagree with your camera assessment.

  • So a lot of people are saying that the N5 battery is “all over the place”…

    Here’s a very interesting screenshot that might help to uncover part of the problem.

    So the first part is the phone idling on wi-fi…nothing running. Then I started playing Asphalt 8 and, of course, the battery tanked during that time (the first sharp drop off). But then, after I stopped playing, hit the “home” icon and turned the screen off, an interesting thing happened. The battery level kept dropping WAY faster than it was at first. So turned it on, tapped the “multi-tasking” button, and “swiped” Asphalt 8 away. Then left the phone for a while and it went right back to draining soooooo slowly. Then, I repeated the whole process again with exactly the same results: played the game, went back to the homescreen and turned the screen off, then later turned it back on and swiped the game away…and it went back to draining at a rate that seems like the battery would last like 5 days.

    So, all that to say, not fully exiting an app (at least big ones like Asphalt 8) can have a DRAMATIC impact on your battery life. I thought we were past using apps like “Advanced Task Killer” but I guess we’re not 🙁 I don’t know if this is the fault of Asphalt 8, or if it’s an issue in Android. I haven’t tested it with any other apps yet at the moment (I have a feeling Chrome might do the same thing), but I thought this was interesting and that I would share it to possibly help everyone get better battery life.

    • billy

      Great review, Kellen, but I wish there were a little more discussion of the battery. My battery life has greatly improved since my first week of ownership – maybe that’s because the novelty wore off and I’m not fiddling with my phone constantly, but I’m not convinced that this 100% explains it. I mean, my battery life was BAD. I screen capped my battery status one day where I apparently managed just 6.5 hours of battery life (just over 2 hours screen time) with 4% remaining.

      As Paladaxar suggests, I do suspect that there are issues with battery drain and apps not closing properly. On the bad day referenced above, Candy Crush accounted for 32% of my battery drain, which seems insane considering that I can generally only play for a few minutes before running out of lives or new levels to play. Is it possible that battery drain caused by apps running in the background was quietly addressed at some point with a software patch (possibly pushed through the Play Store)?

      I also switched from Dalvik to ART and immediately noticed improved battery life. Is ART that much more efficient, or was it purely psychosomatic?

      • Droidzilla

        ART is that much of an improvement.

        • jbdan

          Will have to try ART soon. Very pleased so far with the now “archaic” dalvik! 😛

          • Droidzilla

            The optimisations they’ve done to Dalvik are really quite good; so much so that you’d probably never miss having ART if you never enabled it. But now that I have . . . I can’t go back. I won’t! Don’t tell me how to live!

  • Morbid138

    I was so close to returning it when I bought. It’s grown on me though. I get about 3-4 hours screen on time and about 9-11 hours of moderate to heavy usage. I’m really really hoping Google releases a new software upgrade to improve the camera ui and battery life. I’m happy with it.

  • InclusiontoInnovation

    Well, I am coming from the Verizon Galaxy Nexus and simply love the Nexus 5. Nexus 5 camera beats the VGN camera and I have produced several pictures that have been impressive enough.

    I am testing out the Straight Talk pre-paid service to utilize the Nexus 5. While ST speeds and phone quality are not Verizon standards – no contract, $60 less spent a month and the Nexus 5 are so far worth it. I will make a final decision to return or switch by mid December.

    • Renjamin

      Out of curiosity, are you using ST via their T-Mobile or AT&T network? Going to be giving them a try (AT&T network has better coverage where I live) as well for my first month once my VZW contract is up next month.

      What kind of speeds and call quality are you getting?

      • InclusiontoInnovation

        I hae been using the AT&T Network … I almost purchaesd a Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Developers Edition, but I am going to keep testing the ST N5 Combo

    • moelsen8

      been on AT&T ST for just about a year now. left the verizon gnex for an n4 last year and haven’t missed verizon in the least. hopefully you get to enjoy this feeling too!

    • James Friedman

      Kellex is a photo nerd so he cares about the quality too much, which is a good thing. His line about how he wouldn’t dare share the photos taken with the Nexus sounds a bitty snobby though. Kellex IS a photo snob….LOL

  • Wes M

    I am sad that you see the G2 used in comparisons but it really doesn’t get the hype it deserves. It is easy to over-power the LG skin and this phone is one of the best on the market. Battery, speed, camera, screen, etc. Honestly the best phone I’ve used.

    • Keith Kozma

      IMO, the G2 is without a doubt the best phone available for Verizon and unless you’re buying out of contract, the best phone available period. As someone who is an absolute stickler for AOSP Andriod, I can even deal with the G2 skin and really haven’t found the need to flash a custom rom yet outside of the bluetooth audio sounding like absolute garbage.

  • Tony G.

    still enjoying the galaxy s4. will pick up the nexus 6 when that comes out

  • Eddie Rodriguez

    The camera isn’t that bad… I agree it has its problems. The focusing is slow and will unfocus when you shoot sometimes. It feels more like a software issue than the camera itself. The shots that have come out right have pretty good quality.

    Completely agree on the upside down port. It’s my biggest pet peeve with the phone

  • Milind Shah

    the camera is much better than the Nexus 4’s camera is what i can confirm! (switched from the 4 to the 5)… here’s a photo i like a lot taken from the nexus 5

  • Eddie R

    wireless charger from nokia works great, and is half the price directly from AT&T. http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/accessories/chargers/sku6290260.html i have the stand… no need to worry about upside down USB port 😛 http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/accessory.chargers-nokia-wireless-charging-stand-sku6290329.html

    • jbdan

      That’s what I’ve been using really a nice deal for the $. I’ve fallen for wireless charging it’s convenient

      • Eddie R

        oh yeah. i get 50% discount on accessories through my employer, so it’s an extra bonus deal 🙂

        • jbdan

          That’s a deal!

    • Morbid138

      Thanks for the tip! I was looking for a wireless charger all weekend. Just got it for $25!

  • Thank you so much for having a clean phone when taking pictures of it. Not like some reviewers, looking like they had some fried chicken during the review.

  • soothsayer

    Nice review. Was hoping to cancel my ‘white’ N5 and get an all black one off ebay(i have no patience) but apparently you can’t cancel an order that wont even ship for another 2.5 weeks. Google play store, you got me again.

  • Renjamin

    Congrats on the new addition to the Droid-Life staff, Kellex. 😉 Great review. I’ve been pretty pleased with the photos my N5 has taken thus far (can be absolutely stunning for sunrises in Colorado with HDR+ on), but then again anything is a massive improvement from my GNex.

    Love the new redesign of the site. Hopefully you guys chat about it a bit on this weeks podcast. Would love to hear about the thoughts behind the new skin.

    • Renjamin

      Also wanted to add, that the clear back “Ultra Hybrid” case from Spigen is a bad-ass for keeping the panda love visible. 😉 Nice and snug, keeps the sides streamlined. Best $7 I’ve spent (think it’s currently $10 via Amazon).

  • Creepinm3

    You can’t say the Nexus 4 doesn’t have a LTE chip, it does have one it just required some go around to activate it.I currently use LTE on stock 4.4

    • Jeremy Gross

      in canada?

      • Creepinm3

        No USA. Florida.

      • Droidzilla

        Works on T-Mobile US LTE. Go get to Googling.

        • Jeremy Gross

          i thought only in select areas

  • ToddAwesome

    Who exactly dictates what the top and bottom of the charger is? I’ve always been under the assumption that the Nexus line was upside down from the rest of the world? To this day I still curse every time I plug in my Nexus devices versus others.

    • LionStone

      Haha, exactly…to me, I think its right side up, like my previous devices are…plus you know, its ‘wireless capable’, so…

  • evan brown

    Kellen, what clock widget do you use on the homescreen, it looks great

  • mike

    You guys need to get more light in on your vids and pics, they’re always dark and gloomy! The back of the Nexus 5 looks gray, it shouldn’t. Get a bunch of light on there and set your white balance. Softbox, light, boom stand, and you’re good.

    I do like the site redesign though, and keep up the good work!

  • Jeromeh

    Wait. . . How was the camera? I don’t think you mentioned it once in the review.

  • Daniel Russell

    My only question is what the hell were you doing on flixster that took 7% of your battery?

  • jbegs

    Congrats on the kid. Nice review. I wish I wasn’t stuck on Verizon (Unlimited still).

    What is the Time/Day widget you’re using?

  • jbdan

    Thanks for the review. For me, the camera is very equal (and when ois comes into play on video recording even better) to my GS4 (sold yesterday) and much better than my moto x (returned last week). The problem with the camera imo seems to lie in variance sample/quality control. Some get good ones, some don’t. I had 2 (1st one had a DOA vibrator) and the 2nd one focuses true unlike the inconsistent 1st device. As for battery life it easily bests my GS4 which I think had great battery life. Keep in mind I don’t use GNow on my phone, just my N7. I average 4-5 hours screen time in about a 24-30hr period consistently since I’ve owned it on launch day.

    • Booyah

      I’d like to see some screen shots of that battery life. It wouldn’t be that impressive if your phone is just sitting around all day. I haven’t heard of any Nexus 5 owner report anything close to what your claiming.

      • If your on WIFI with no GPS enabled and certainly with Google Now disabled, I can see a 24 hour battery life. The standby time on N5 is really good.

      • jbdan

        If you take a gander at the N5 forums you’ll see 6+ hours screen on time screenshots. You’ll also see 2 hours screen time screenshots. It’s all over the board….guess what….just like every other phone. I don’t post my battery life screen shots (err maybe I did at one point…) on the forums as it is so relative to one’s usage patterns as you well know. I’ll be glad to share one with you if you’d like, feel free to email me at jb-dan AT hotmaildotcom. And yes the standby time is superb as riggs points out

        • Booyah

          That’s all I’m getting at, I guess. If your phone is sitting around or you do crazy battery optimization (no syncing, etc), then the battery stats aren’t as impressive as the numbers suggest. What’s impressive is being able to use your phone normally and still get those stats.

          • jbdan

            I use it normally. Normally for me. Could be different from your normal. That’s what I’m getting at. Just so ya know 😉 I sync 2 email accounts push, weather and news every hour, I use hangouts like a madman with my wife and text about 50ish sms/mms per day. I also have well over an hour of talk time (yeah I still talk on the phone I’m an ole fart) per day. I surf the web, read newsstand, and read xda forums every day. I also like to tweak my layouts with new wallpapers and icons. I use my camera everyday with my 16 month old son and share pics to G+ for my family to see who don’t live near me. That’s my normal

      • jbdan

        You’re in luck I have 3 ss’s. WiFi mostly on the weekend as I hang around the house with the fam, but you get the idea. My signal hovers around -100dBm at home as well.




      • LionStone

        I also had 59 minutes of calls, stock w/ Nova…

  • joejoe5709

    I’m honestly pretty happy with my G2 and I’m not really very butthurt any more that we didn’t get the N5.

    • duke69111

      I agree completely. Battery life and camera quality are tough to beat.

    • shooter50

      I agree, the G 2 cannot be beat for battery life and screen

      • beng8686

        Droid Maxx defeats all in the battery department. The screen not so much…

        • jimv1983

          The screen on the Maxx is a big part of way the battery life is so good. AMOLED is much better than LCD(especially IPS) and 720 is better than 1080 when considering battery life. 1080 doesn’t even provideprovide a noticeable improvement over 720. Also AMOLED blacks are better and colors are more life like and realistic. I have a Nexus 5 and I’m pretty happy with it but I sure do miss the AMOLED of my Galaxy S2 which is the only thing I miss.

  • For a Nexus the camera is actually pretty decent.

  • meijin3

    Love the new layout!

    • jbdan

      Yes the new layout is awesome! Looks fantastic on mobile

      • meijin3

        You and Geoff are right. Just checked it on my now obsolete Nexus 4 and it looks amazing.

        • jbdan

          The N4 is still a looker man!

          • meijin3

            It is! I was joking. I was really thinking hard about upgrading but my Nexus 4 is still so smooth I don’t really see a reason to.

          • Droidzilla

            I just went from a Nexus 5 (which I loved) back to a Nexus 4 (traded for my wife’s 4; she can use the upgrade more than I can). After loading up PSX 4.4 ROM, flashing GEL, and enabling ART, I’m really not missing the Nexus 5.

    • Looks great on mobile devices, or when you shrink your desktop browser, but on large monitors having to move your head that much to read line after line gets really annoying.

  • Mayoo

    I fully agree, except I would like to bring the following into the conversation :

    1) No Micro-SD slot : I can’t argue that having one is a plus. But don’t expect one from a Nexus device. It’s pointless to bring it up, we all know it. If a future Nexus ever has a micro-SD slot, then we will all be amazed and thankful. But right now, pointless.
    2) Camera : It is probably like you said, the worse of the 2013 top tier. But for me, it’s the best darn camera I ever had on a cell phone. Maybe I could be 1000% happier with another top tier phone’s camera, but for the majority of people of bought this device (read: Not majority of DroidLife readers, I speak about global Nexus buyers) this camera will be a great improvement over their Nexus S or Galaxy Nexus or a random bloat-full phone they could switch from.

    Great article. Very well done.

  • Will P

    I don’t think the camera is that bad. Aside from focusing/capturing incredibly slowly (esp coming from an HTC One), it can produce some pretty decent pics. I’m not a big camera guy, though, so I don’t use it very often.

    • DoctorJB

      The pics on my N5 came out better than my friend with HTC One (we were both taking pictures at a football game). His were blurry in comparison whereas I could read the players names off the jerseys. It is very slow to take action shots though.

  • moelsen8

    yes, the camera is terrible, terrible, terrible. literally is the worst phone you could possibly have on hand if you have young kids. i RMA’d mine and went back to the X.

    also note the usb port is “upside down” on the Nexus 7 2012 too. weird stuff.

    • JeffColorado

      Awesome camera is awesome. It is the UI that is the problem.

      Samples of awesome – http://forums.androidcentral.com/google-nexus-5/328731-share-your-nexus-5-camera-photos-videos-thoughts-5.html

      • moelsen8

        i understand it can get good ones. in fact, some of the ones i was able to take with it were some of the best i’ve seen a smartphone take. but that’s under perfectly staged conditions, or at least where i had some time that i could be patient. 90% of the time when i use my camera it’s me rushing to get it out of my pocket to capture something that’s happening quickly. nexus 5 fails there.

      • Adrynalyne

        If you want to be technical about it, no.

        It might be the software processing that is the problem, but no UI causes problems with photo quality unless it is too hard to use.

    • DroidzFX

      Your a little over dramatic about the camera Arnold. Its really not that bad and probably only an issue for the photo enthusiasts out there. I am casual photographer and I think the camera works just fine.

      • Adrynalyne

        There are people all over the net complaining about it.

      • moelsen8

        it’s not bad when you’re not moving and things are well lit and you have some time to get the shot. actually, HDR+ is awesome. but i judge a camera based on how it handles taking pictures of my little one running around. it was bad for that.

  • JeffColorado

    I do think you are clueless about the Nexus camera, but I have to say I love the site redesign. This is definitely the best layout I have seen in a long time. I wish Gizmodo would do this.

    • Well at least we agree on the site redesign. 😀

      • gtg465x

        I like it on the desktop, but I don’t like that there is no longer a “desktop” version for my phone. I like seeing a lot of content at once and not having to scroll too much. On the new site I have to scroll like a mad man on phone phone and it’s tiring and inefficient. Probably not what you want to hear. Sorry.

    • zurginator

      I don’t like the header, but I do like everything else about the site…. well maybe not them using Roboto – it doesn’t render properly in Chrome.

  • KennyVeltre

    The Nexus 7 2012 has an upside down charging port as well.

    • Daeshaun Griffiths

      If they keep doing it, isn’t it right side up? I think it due to a space thing on the inside. Helped them fit a bigger battery.

      • zurginator

        It takes up the same space regardless of orientation. In fact you could theoretically flip the port yourself with some soldering.

  • MistaButters

    I always thought the big side of the micro USB was top?

    • Nicholas Benson

      Ditto. I always cursed my Galaxy Nexus and Kindle for being upside down.

      • MistaButters

        Moto chargers have the shiny sticker on the wide part (what I thought was top) so it reassured my beliefs.

        My One X had the wide part on top as well. Atrix as well.

        • Nicholas Benson

          Same for the HTC One in my hand right now. And—excuse me while I shudder a little at the memory—the Thunderbolt I had before the Galaxy Nexus.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    “….the difference is obvious.” Do you mean you get from 1 home page to the next faster? LOL. No, i’m guessing its a loading thing. I like you how mentioned “true power” but did not take away from moto x butteryness.
    I really think having all my files in the cloud is better than sd cards. I just don’t want to switch sd cards from phone to phone or from phone to tablet just to find out it’s really stored on the internal memory. Or to stick in the pc to put files on it. I just find it funny you list an opinion as a negative.

  • ralphwiggum1

    So torn on the white. I bought it because it looked great in the pics and had an all black front. The white back looks so nice. But then it’s slippery and has glossy sides, and I’m using the bumper so I’m covering up the nice back anyway. And then all I’m left with a front that ISN’T all black. Stupid white earpiece! Anyway, I am now returning my white one and getting the plain black one.

    • I hate the white so much, the white speaker grill throws me off like crazy. I mistake it for a notification light many times.

      • a3uge

        I took a sharpie to my grill and that helped a lot.

    • BCoils

      white is slippery for sure. if you are even thinking about getting a case get the black. in hind site i would get the black but i’m not bothering with the hassle of returning etc.

      • ralphwiggum1

        Yes, seeing the black and white headphone jack and USB port through a case is also bothersome.

  • MichaelFranz

    Nice review, and congrats on your son.

    Anyway with new reviews you can give maybe a small rating or something. I know it is cliche as other sites do it, but a detailed reviewed plus a breakdown of ratings in different areas + and overall rating would be nice.

  • Gf1fanatic

    I still prefer my Droid Maxx! I think it’s the best Android phone out there. Buttery smooth, responsive and fast, 32 GB storage, wireless charging, unstoppable battery, wonderful solid polished look and feel. Please, someone tell me what their phone can do that my Droid Maxx can’t.

    • Futbolrunner

      I love the Maxx too but the camera is terrible compared to my Note 3.

      • Gf1fanatic

        Camera is not much of an issue for me. A camera that doesn’t shoot RAW is useless for me. My trusty Panasonic GX1/ 20mm is always with me. It blows away any smartphone camera.

        • shooter50

          I’d be surprised if the GX1 didn’t blow away any smartphone camera, but is that really a good comparison? My Nikon D4 blows away the GX1, but it’s in another class so such comparisons are foolish

          • Gf1fanatic

            Silly comparison. The Nikon D4 is a big, expensive camera. The GX1 (or even my older GF1), at a few hundred dollars, can more than hold its own, even compared to the D4 under certain situations. On the other hand, my friend travelled through Europe with his Droid Maxx and brought back the most incredible portfolio of photos. Yes, I’m still waiting for one device that does all, but it ain’t here yet.

    • Malcolm Love

      I honestly feel like the Maxx is one of the most under rated phones this year.

    • beng8686

      It IS the most underrated phone of the year by far. Still love this phone. The battery actually outlasts me.

    • BroChaos

      what rom are you running? when i was on stock, this phone crawleddddd.
      also, yes, camera is horrible. i’m running CM builds, but it can be difficult to find one that doesn’t have some random issue or another.

  • Cody Revels

    Great review.
    I’ve read in some other reviews and also some people I know say the camera is pretty great, though slow and only good in the right conditions. Similar to the Moto x camera before the update.
    Also I’m really loving the new site, so much easier on the eyes and alot easier to read the big text.

    • turdbogls

      yeah, maybe it’s because he is coming from a Note 3, but i have been really impressed with the camera quality. yes, the camera is slow to focus, and doesn’t focus from time to time, but when it does, it takes some really great Photos IMO. I am actually impressed with the low light quality, and the macro quality (if you can get it to focus on what you want) and the depth of field on this. those were the 3 main things that i disagree with Kellen on. other than that, the review was spot on.

  • Derek Duncan

    A few things: The USB port isn’t upside down. It’s the same way on the Nexus 7, so obviously this is something Google wants. If you only have the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5, it’s rightside up 🙂

    Turn HDR+ on the camera ON. Much better photo quality. Slow autofocus but the Nexus 5 is the best camera phone I have used.

    • Naw, that just means it’s upside down on the N7 too 😛 It’s a personal preference, for sure.

      • MistaButters

        I always thought the wider part was top. I have been wrong all of these years.

      • Mayoo

        It’s a conspiracy. We will one day argue so much on the correct side that they will sell wireless chargers by millions.

    • ralphwiggum1

      Yes, HDR+ does make a difference. I think it also makes the pictures less blurry (when it composites the multiple shots) even though it seems to take longer to actually snap a pic. HDR+ has given me less blurry and out-of-focus pics in addition to the HDR lighting (which I don’t love)

    • moelsen8

      HDR+ produces some amazing-looking shots. but it takes forever.

    • symbolset

      The rule about USB ports is that they are always upside down when you try to plug in.

  • JeffColorado

    LOL…maybe you are just a bad photographer. The images I have seen are equal to most top tier phones right now. Macro is especially good. The UI is crap of course, but there is nothing wrong with the hardware.

    See for yourself – http://forums.androidcentral.com/google-nexus-5/328731-share-your-nexus-5-camera-photos-videos-thoughts-8.html

    iPhone 5s macro comparison – http://forums.androidcentral.com/attachments/google-nexus-5/92798d1384918509-share-your-nexus-5-camera-photos-videos-thoughts-full-crop.jpg

  • Philip J. Fry

    Thanks kellen. 🙂

  • I feel as though I’m downgrading when I have to press a button to wake up my phone 🙁 #MotoXProbs

    • zurginator

      Gravity Screen. Best app ever.

      • Guest

        I like the fact that my active notifications was designed for the phone specifically. And it has a dedicated core for it, and therefore makes it battery friendly. No matter how optimized a third party app is, It will always be a battery killer.

        • zurginator

          It’s entirely negligible on my N4, usually not even in the top 10 apps when it comes to power draw. As for notifications, I prefer a LED myself… and I also prefer the accuracy of an IPS screen.

        • Cory_S

          I think the fact the screen is AMOLED has a lot more to do with it then any “dedicated core” crap. The amount of information it displays can be done in a low power state on just about any modern SoC. But, LCD screens would need to power the entire display to do it, while AMOLED black pixels are not powered.

          • Adrynalyne

            Having used that app that was developed to do something similar back in the GS1 days, I disagree with your assertion. Having used the active notifications app on the play store on my Note II, I again disagree with your assertion.

          • Cory_S

            Not sure I’d call the GS1 SoC modern…so

          • Adrynalyne

            And the Note II? I edited my post about the time you posted. The SoC isn’t even relevant if you say its more to do with AMOLED….right?

          • Cory_S

            It is relevant being it needs to be able to go into a low power state. If it doesn’t have a lower power state like osme older SoCs then it would be in full wakelock the entire time. So, yea the SoC does matter. I just don’t think the X8 gimmick has anything to do with that, as I have used similar apps on phones for the last year without any battery issues. I do think their low power audio recognition processing does help a lot for off screen voice recognition though.

          • Adrynalyne

            Again, you haven’t addressed the Note II test. If you like, I’d be happy to test the Note III as well, and report back?

          • Cory_S

            I don’t have a Note II, and I also don’t know how touchwiz behaves with apps like that. I also am not clear what you want me to test it with? Active Notifications is a moto X only app, unless you hacked it onto the Note II…and then I’d assume it would obviously behave badly.

          • Adrynalyne

            So which is it then? Is it based mostly on AMOLED, the low power SoC, or superiority of Moto developers (there is a A.N> knockoff on the play store)? You have made no less than three different assertions now.

          • Cory_S

            I am not sure what is so difficult to understand. I said with a MODERN SoC then the screen would be the biggest power draw. You seem to simply want to argue for the sake of it.

          • Adrynalyne

            No, I am trying to understand why you think that a separate, non-ARM low power core for A.N. is a gimmick (you said as much in different words) when the evidence points differently? Active Notifications is not a new thing, although it is more complex than similar apps. No other phone out there has a dedicated low power core, so the only way we can test your theory is a modern SoC (s800 seems practical) and an AMOLED screen with the A.N. app on the market. I offered to do so, but you seem hesitant to tell me yes. Perhaps because you will be proven incorrect?

          • jimv1983

            It’s mostly the AMOLED.

          • Adrynalyne

            You can prove it to yourself that it is not by installing the Active Notifications app on the market on your AMOLED phone.

            It is a combination of:

            Screen tech
            low power SoC
            sensors powered by that low power SoC

            Everyone thinks that AMOLED literally turns the screen off except for the active pixels. That is not true. Want to prove it? Go into a pitch black room and run active notifications. There will be an over so slight power up of the black too. It isn’t noticeable unless you are in literally pitch black area with no other light sources.

          • jimv1983

            I did say it was MOSTLY due to the AMOLED. If you are seeing the rest of the screen power up for “black” on an AMOLED it is most likely because the app is sending a signal that isn’t truly black but a dark gray.

      • EvanTheGamer

        Thank you kind sir. I’ve been getting a bit annoyed with my Galaxy Note 3 in this department. Sometimes when I’m on a walk and then take my phone out of my pocket to take a picture or send a person a message, and then when I’m done I put it back in my pocket forgetting to turn it off. And when I’m walking, the screen stays on because of the touchscreen sensitivity so it never turns off. I have to take my phone back out of my pocket just to turn it off. Doesn’t take much time, but it does get annoying after awhile.

        So…thanks for mentioning this app. WUNDERBAR!

    • moelsen8

      this is my favorite moto x feature by far. not even “active display” itself. just the fact that i move it and it wakes up, shows the time, and has a little lock for me to move onscreen to unlock it. no more power button.

      • I never realized how much I used my phone as a clock until I had to go back to a phone that required a button press to wake up. Its absolutely one of the main features that brought me back to a Moto X.

    • greyhulk

      Yeah, the entire week I spent with my Nexus 5 before sending it back was pretty much all lamenting the fact that it wasn’t my Moto X. It’s a fine phone, but it just didn’t do it for me. And, though I know the screen is probably color accurate, the Moto X screen just looks more pleasing to my eye.

      What really killed the experience for me, though, was the camera. So much so, that I started missing my HTC One.

      • moelsen8

        dude, same boat. i really wanted to like the nexus 5 but camera was the thing that pushed me over. i spent most of the time wishing it had the moto x features.. and although the n5 has a beautiful screen, i do prefer me some amoled.

        • same love the Amoled and the blacks… THE BLACKS!!!! so black, plus no back-light bleeds … ugh that was annoying.

          • zurginator

            The problem with AMOLED blacks is they tend to crunch, so you lose a lot of information in darker scenes.

          • jimv1983

            I totally agree with you about the blacks on AMOLED being much better but I’ve been pretty pleased with the blacks on my Nexus 5. Obviously not as good as an AMOLED but pretty impressive for an LCD.

            Also, the light bleed on my Nexus 5 is extremely minor. Even with a fully black screen in a totally dark room I had a hard time noticing it. My Nexus 10 is much worse and even it isn’t all that bad.

            I would prefer an AMOLED on the Nexus 5 but it is what it is and the LCD screen is not even close to being a deal breaker.

            I do have to say that I sure to miss the realistic colors of the AMOLED on my Galaxy SII which is the only thing I miss about that phone.

        • JeffColorado
          • greyhulk

            Point? We were talking about the screen, not the camera. Yes, when the Nexus 5 FINALLY takes a picture in HDR mode it’s decent. Unfortunately, you have to wait an eternity for that to happen and pray it stays in focus the whole time. I’d rather have the faster capture and much less convoluted interface on the Moto X.

          • Adrynalyne

            And as we all know, HDR is perfect for all situations.

      • Larizard

        how do u send it back? what’s Google’s return policy on it?

        • greyhulk

          It’s pretty easy, actually. You just have to give them a call. You have 15 days.

    • ninjawarren

      Flash a custom kernel with doubletap2wake and you have LG’s solution for terrible buttons.

    • James Friedman

      Knock Knock says the LG G2…

  • Nicholas Tino

    Those pictures are far better than anything my Galaxy Nexus has ever taken… so I guess it depends on what you are upgrading from if its really a negative.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Kellex is coming from the Note 3, which has a great camera (except in low-light), so I guess he’s downgrading here, haha.

    • BCoils

      I went from the galaxy nexus to the nexus 5 and everything is better, except carrier/reception.

    • Definite upgrade over the Galaxy Nexus, just somewhat of a downgrade from the G2, GS4, Note 3.

      • adbFreedom

        You were waiting for the site makeover to drop this review weren’t you… lol Great write up on this one Kellen (and it is fun to scroll through with all the awesome pictures)

      • Flat_Stanley

        But how does it compare with the MotoX? Would you have been equally as frustrated using it (especially trying to take pictures of a new kid)?

      • Mike

        The Galaxy Nexus was at least good at capturing photos of moving people. I literally carried my GNex around as my “camera” for the week that I had the Nexus5 (before returning it). It was *that* bad. The slightest amount of movement on the part of the subject, and total blur. Otherwise the Galaxy Nexus camera was garbage….but I couldn’t say that I felt “upgraded” with the Nexus 5 camera. Have an LG G2 now, and it is not as bad, but similar…..hopefully this can get sorted out.

        • angermeans

          I def agree. Using the nexus 5 camera all day has felt like I went back in time to the galaxy nexus. Google just doesn’t have the know how to make a good camera. Sure, the phone can take a good shot given the right light and situation (like any phone can), but the problem is how slow it us and how bad the camera focuses. Then the image compression makes it even worse. I think some can be fixed in a update, but i wouldn’t home my breath. I thought the Moto X was bad, but it is leaps and bounds better than the Nexus 5. I found myself frustrated almost everytime I’ve used the camera and who wants that? The point to a smartphone camera is to have a good camera to take quick shots where you might not have a full sized camera handy and this phone simply doesn’t do its job. I’ll admit I’m a little hard on smartphone cameras as I use a DSLR, but this year has seen great improvements in the android world. The nexus 5 feels like a giant step back from all the progress LG (G2 is easily the best android camera I’ve used), Samsung (note 3), and especially Apple (the 5s is still sadly a bit ahead of the competition, but the gap is slowing) have made this year. I would suggest everything else about this phone, but if you want or even need a good camera then it’s best to look elsewhere.

      • jbegs

        I’m sure you guys have mentioned/reviewed it before, but what clock widget is that?

        • cns2007

          If you’re referring to the one with the day of the week in script, it’s a UCCW called “Elegante”.

          • jbegs

            I was. Thank you.

      • NYAvsFan

        Personally it’s better than my last two, GNex and N4, so I’ll take it. That being said if they want to improve the camera software I won’t mind one bit!

      • Ant

        In fact, Samsung (and some international LG phones) is about the only one sticking to them.

        *are about the only one’s sticking to them* ?

        • Greyhame

          Take away the parenthesis and it’s not incorrect. Well written? No. But correct.

      • ObviousNinja2

        Camera downgrade is greatly over exaggerated. Using HDR mode and only HDR mode, and the pictures come out great. I’m using both an iphone 5S and Nexus 5 and night shots, – N5 wins easily. OIS does work well on this camera and works well. Use HDR mode only.

        • Qbancelli

          I agree. I use HDR+ and most pics come out fine.
          It does take longer to snap a pic, but so what..

        • JeffColorado

          Yeah…if you view the images side by side, the N5’s camera is clearly comparable, and better on some things. The only area where the 5s is clearly better IMO is flash…flash photos do look better on the 5S.

          Most of the complaints about the N5 can be solved with a better camera app. The N5 can take great pictures.

        • TheDrizzle

          I’ve been impressed with my N5 pictures. Especially in HDR mode. Not sure why everyone thinks its so bad.

        • chris pinkston

          Feel the same aout moto x camera. HDR mode and pics are good. Regular mode and pics not so good.

        • angermeans

          I’ve been testing the Nexus 5 and it is no where even close (camera wise) to the iPhone 5s. HDR+ does nothing to improve, in fact, I think it makes it worse (then again I think HDR photos are awful and extremely tacky so I might not be the best opinion to those that love HDR images). Like Kellen said it is ungodly slow to focus, seems extremely hazy, and just doesn’t take quality photos. I really want it to as this phone is as close to perfect in the android world as you can get, but it simply misses the mark by a very wide margin. The G2 also wipes the floor with thus camera and in my brief tests (very brief as I refuse to own Samsung products) the note 3 also is a much better camera and neither of these are even close to the iPhone 5s. I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.

          • michael arazan

            I read at a lot of sites that the N 5 does take better pics than the Moto X. But I’ve seen some incredible pictures taken with the Nexus 5 and I think a lot has to be attributed to the photographer who knows how to take a picture with a mobile device, I don’t think most people understand how to use a mobile device’s camera or even understand how to take quality pictures, and expect the device and software to generate the pictures for them and do all the work for them.

        • jimv1983

          My biggest problem is the fact that the shutter is slow and there are issues focusing. When it focuses it is quite good.

    • Guy Pierce

      Agreed! Although I have not bought my Nexus 5 yet… (still rockin’ the GNex) based on the battery screenies and photos you shared with us, this looks like a huge upgrade from what I have. Thanks for the review.

      • jimv1983

        I was actually wondering why the battery life shown in the screen shots was so bad. I easily get 14-15 hours with like 4 hours screen on timetime on my Nexus 5. As of the time of writing this comment I am currently at just over 2 hours screen on time and a total of 22.5 hours off charger and still have 38% left.

  • Pierito