Nexus 5 Impressions

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Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:00 am

I've had my Nexus 5 for about a week. Here are my thoughts:

  • good: Price. Call me old-fashioned, but $350 is, in my opinion, still a lot for a phone. I have to remind myself these types of devices are more than phones.
  • good: Unlocked. Nuff said? Really, this combined with the price is why I chose the phone, now as for the phone's other qualities:
  • fair: Camera. It's far better than the Nexus S camera. In the right conditions (bright scenes) it's very acceptable. In the non-right conditions (non-bright scenes) it usually dissapoints. Camera controls are as poor as you've read if you've bothered reading. Focus and actuation do seem slow. For some this will be a heavy blow. I had hoped for more, but it's not a deal breaker.
  • good: Speed / performance. I've seen benchmarks show 4 or 5 phones are faster, but I also don't care about "fastest", I care about "fast". This phone is fast. No lagging or stalling when switching amongst apps or scrolling web pages or doing anything else. This was a huge upgrade from the Nexus S. The speed of the Nexus 5 is completely satisfying.
  • good: Battery life. Lasts me at least two days. I've seen reports that some people are experiencing battery drain. Both my and my wife's Nexus 5's will go for at least two days at our usages levels.
  • good: The screen. It's lovely. It's crisp, bright enough, auto-dimming works well (much better than the Nexus S)
  • ugly: The back. There's one thing that makes the back ugly, and that is the IMEI sticker. It ruins an otherwise Doric-order-esque backface.
  • good: Kit-Kat. Not going to go into depth here. It feels significantly the same as stock Android ever did, but refined all over the place.
  • ugly: "Photos". There is now a Photos app that shows photos on your phone and also from your Google account. This is in addition to the Gallery app. Why do I have two photo apps? It doesn't make sense.
  • fair: Feel. I really liked the rounded back of the Nexus S. The squared edges of the Nexus 5 took some getting used to. I am used to it now, but I'd still like to have the back edges to have a little bit of a radius or even a chamfer.
  • good: Hardware speech recognition. No network connection required. This was one of the more frustrating things about the Nexus S - speech recognition was processed remotely so if I wasn't on a fast cellular network or on a wireless network it was manual typing or nothing. Nexus 5 takes that pain away.

Overall I'm very pleased with the Nexus 5 and the only thing I wish was better is the camera situation. It's not horrible, but it's not great. It's very middle-of-the-road. And yet, I must say, in all the other important aspects - price, unlocked, speed, screen, battery - the Nexus 5 delivers solidly, in my opinion. Now, I could have paid nearly twice the money for a Google Play version of the HTC One in order to get a better camera experience, but that's not happening. I'll take the Nexus 5 camera in that case, no contest. What the Nexus 5 delivers for the price it delivers it is a very satisfying thing.

I would like to have individual volume control for notifications. Right now ring volume and notification volume are synchronized. Well, rings are longer in duration and get repeated as well. Notification sounds are short duration and once only. I've missed many notifications over the years because I didn't hear them.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:53 am

Thanks flip. Would you also mind contributing your scores to this thread :) ? viewtopic.php?f=13&t=90386
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:12 am

You do realise you can peel the IMEI sticker off right? :wink:
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:23 am

I do realize that stickers can be peeled off. I'm not too concerned about it as I will be putting a case on the thing. Also, I don't know and haven't bothered trying to find out if the IMEI sticker is of any practical, useful value.

Shoot, my phone is upstairs (10 seconds walk). Isn't the IMEI information also displayed somewhere in the system settings?

Anywho, I'm trying to be pretty critical and not pull any punches. There's always the temptation to avoid harsh criticism of an item I just spent my own money on - I'm trying to avoid that. The sticker futzing up the back seemed like a good place to start :D

Here's a criticism of Google Now, which is tightly integrated into Kit Kat: there are about 3 or 4 useful (to me) Google Now cards. I'd love for it to be more useful than that. There's a flight data card. That's great, really, but I fly somewhere about once every 10 years. I'd like Google Now to become more relevant. With all the spying on me that Google does, it should provide me with a bigger benefit : :lol:
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:25 am

codedivine wrote:Thanks flip. Would you also mind contributing your scores to this thread :) ? viewtopic.php?f=13&t=90386


That requires Firefox, yes? Hmm... OK, I don't use Firefox but I'll give it a shot at some point today when I need a distraction.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:56 am

I'm curious about the 4.4 refinements. Has the stock dialer behaved consistently so far? Did it ever revert to the launcher shell or anything else popup unexpectedly during a call?
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:02 am

It has worked consistently but it is a little different than past versions. I haven't put much study into it, but it seems to me that some separation has been created between dialing and other things like texting or bringing up a contact's information. I'm not entirely keen on it, yet, but if I had to guess at the intention, I say the purpose is to make it easier to dial a number with a minimal amount of interaction with the phone. Only problem is that until I get used to it, I've dialed people a couple of times when I really wanted to bring up alternate options like the option to text or to see contact info.

It has been cool to be able to search for something - say a post office or a resturant - through the dialer and have the phone bring up a list of numbers. When I did search for the number for a post office near by it took a couple of attempts with different search terms before I got the right number and I remember thinking that it should have been obvious what I wanted if Google was doing a good job cross referencing my current location with a search request for "Colerain Township post office", but I got results for post offices in other parts of the country or something. I had to be very specific.

Heh, your asking the question made me go in and investigate a little further and it's making more sense to me now. Hit the dialer and favorites are presented as a list with "all contacts" at the bottom of the list, then below the list are other buttons: history, dialer, menu. Press a list item's image to see more info, or press anywhere else on the list item to dial.

The weird thing is that the most favorite of the favorites appear as three squares at the very top of the list that shows the contact's image. I can only use those to dial - I can't access other contact methods through those squares. Under those squares the contacts each get a line with the contact image at the left of the line - if I press on the image on those I get other contact options. So there is some inconsistency there. To be fair, it doesn't bother me now that I know how it works, but at the same time I'd prefer that every contact item shown there gives me a way to access more contact options rather than just some of them, and on top of that, why is it that my "favorite-favorite" contacts are the ones that I don't get the option for? Seems like the favorite-favorites would have more options than the rest instead of the other way around.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:05 am

For Google Now, if you let it, then it'll start learning your stuff. Just make your appointments in Google Calendar (obviously) and it'll start deciding which things are important enough to remind you of the bad traffic for instance.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:08 am

Flip, are you rooted with a custom recovery installed? If so, you should check out this camera mod. (I don't own a Nexus 5 so I can't really test this out)

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthr ... ?t=2516061
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:13 pm

Yeap, that IMEI sticker can be peeled off, and I'd suggest doing it soon so that it wears evenly.

Gallery can be disabled without causing problems, which I did since I rather like the new Photos app. I don't know if you can successfully disable Photos if you prefer Gallery. The camera is much, much better when you shoot in HDR. It's not that ugly, cartoonish HDR that's so popular in the wrong circles. It just gives you a lot more depth, and more realistic contrast. It does slow down the camera even more, but well worth it in my opinion.

I tend to agree on the feel, I just wish it were a little rounder at the back of the sides. I also wish the plastic back were a little thicker, because there's quite a bit of flex.

Have you tried replacing Dalvik with ART yet? I'm considering it, but need to take the time to research all my apps first. There are a lot of mixed impressions if it's any faster or not, or if it actually increases battery life.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:31 pm

DancinJack wrote:Flip, are you rooted with a custom recovery installed? If so, you should check out this camera mod. (I don't own a Nexus 5 so I can't really test this out)

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthr ... ?t=2516061


I'm not rooted and I'm not ready to do that yet. I think the rooting community is great and like to see it happen. But given all the things I've got going on in life, I have to use the phone as it comes. Hopefully Google will bring some improvements to the camera software. Pictures need to be sharp and clear.

I just looked at my two primary test shots with the Nexus 5. One was taken outdoors in bright daylight; the other was taken in a dark room. If I'm going to be honest, which I am, then I have to say that both pictures suck.

Here's the outdoor shot. I did have HDR turned on for the outdoor shot, which may be why the picture is so blurry and fuzzy. I still have to do more experimenting.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95096101@N ... otostream/

Here's the indoor shot. This was the best picture of 6 or maybe more attempts.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95096101@N ... otostream/


It's just not impressive in any way. It's more disappointing than I first thought. I'm going to have to mess around with the camera some more and see if changing settings helps at all. What may end up being irritating is finding a setting that works decently only to find out that the camera software resets to the default every time it's reopened, or worse, after each picture.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 1:38 pm

Good to know, I've been thinking about getting one to replace a broken Nexus 4. My final decision will likely hinge on how much a replacement screen kit costs.

One of the beefs I have with Android 4.x is they 'accidentally' got rid of the ability to make contacts that don't sync with an online account. I did homebrew a workaround but it's nonetheless annoying; does KitKat restore the ability to create unsynced contacts?
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:58 pm

NovusBogus wrote:Good to know, I've been thinking about getting one to replace a broken Nexus 4. My final decision will likely hinge on how much a replacement screen kit costs.

One of the beefs I have with Android 4.x is they 'accidentally' got rid of the ability to make contacts that don't sync with an online account. I did homebrew a workaround but it's nonetheless annoying; does KitKat restore the ability to create unsynced contacts?


I don't see any ability to prevent contact sync. But, I didn't know that existed. Well, actually, I did notice the ability not to sync contacts on the Nexus 7, but I don't see the same setting on the Nexus 5.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:00 am

flip-mode wrote:It has worked consistently but it is a little different than past versions. I haven't put much study into it, but it seems to me that some separation has been created between dialing and other things like texting or bringing up a contact's information. I'm not entirely keen on it, yet, but if I had to guess at the intention, I say the purpose is to make it easier to dial a number with a minimal amount of interaction with the phone. Only problem is that until I get used to it, I've dialed people a couple of times when I really wanted to bring up alternate options like the option to text or to see contact info...


Looks like good news continues for Nexus users, not so much for users of non-stock Android. Almost everyone I know using other brands experience niggling issues with the dialer and shell in 4.x. I'm kind of satisfied with Jellybean's UI improvements but unlike you I prefer dedicated call buttons for a "top 12" favorites list as I initiate many calls while driving.



...Heh, your asking the question made me go in and investigate a little further and it's making more sense to me now. Hit the dialer and favorites are presented as a list with "all contacts" at the bottom of the list, then below the list are other buttons: history, dialer, menu. Press a list item's image to see more info, or press anywhere else on the list item to dial.

The weird thing is that the most favorite of the favorites appear as three squares at the very top of the list that shows the contact's image. I can only use those to dial - I can't access other contact methods through those squares. Under those squares the contacts each get a line with the contact image at the left of the line - if I press on the image on those I get other contact options. So there is some inconsistency there. To be fair, it doesn't bother me now that I know how it works, but at the same time I'd prefer that every contact item shown there gives me a way to access more contact options rather than just some of them, and on top of that, why is it that my "favorite-favorite" contacts are the ones that I don't get the option for? Seems like the favorite-favorites would have more options than the rest instead of the other way around.


With my Lenovo's custom dialer, the favorites ("starred") screen is a scrolling 3-across grid of contact images. Standard contacts is a list with four tabbed views - dialpad, history, contacts list, and grouped contacts. Each contact line offers a dedicated call button and fast search is via a vertical alphabetical index on the right edge. There's no further set of "favorite-favorites" like you describe in your Nexus, but then again this is early Jelly Bean. The setup is simpler but seems more consistent compared to ver 4.4. I wish it had an option for dedicating favorites to voice calls. As it is when I press a contact's image, a sub-dialog pops up showing message and voice call options. It's neither confusing nor hard to use, but the extra step every time gets aggravating after a while.

I prefer that messaging be done from the standard contacts list, which appears similar to that of 4.4 from what you've described. I'm not going to message people while driving so it makes sense for this to be callable from a main screen.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:27 am

A couple of annoyances:

A text notification remains in the notification area even after I look at and respond to a text. Only way to dismiss the notification is to press the notification itself which then takes me to view the text (which is unnecessary if the text window is already open).

This seems to apply to all Android phones: Notification sound volume is too low and it cannot be adjusted independently of ring volume. Apparently there is some remedy to this if the phone is rooted, but it is ridiculous that such a basic necessity requires rooting the phone.

Neither of these is the end of the world, but both are a source of annoyance every single day.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:34 am

For the text notification irritation, it might be fixable with a third party SMS app since apps can control the notifications it puts in the shade. I heard Textra is a decent SMS app.

I've been on Cyanogenmod for so long that I never even realised these problems were in AOSP.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:25 pm

I have the original 4.3 SMS messaging app from the google edition galaxy s4 backed up on my PC in case I don't like google's new hangout integration with SMS. I anyone wants it message me. Its essentially the stock android 4.3 messaging app.
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:12 pm

flip-mode wrote:A couple of annoyances:

A text notification remains in the notification area even after I look at and respond to a text. Only way to dismiss the notification is to press the notification itself which then takes me to view the text (which is unnecessary if the text window is already open).

This seems to apply to all Android phones: Notification sound volume is too low and it cannot be adjusted independently of ring volume. Apparently there is some remedy to this if the phone is rooted, but it is ridiculous that such a basic necessity requires rooting the phone.

Neither of these is the end of the world, but both are a source of annoyance every single day.


My Note 3 (and my old Droid X) allows separate volume control of notifications.
Settings-->Sound-->Volume
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Re: Nexus 5 Impressions

Postposted on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:01 pm

flip-mode wrote:A couple of annoyances:

A text notification remains in the notification area even after I look at and respond to a text. Only way to dismiss the notification is to press the notification itself which then takes me to view the text (which is unnecessary if the text window is already open).


This seems to apply to all Android phones: Notification sound volume is too low and it cannot be adjusted independently of ring volume. Apparently there is some remedy to this if the phone is rooted, but it is ridiculous that such a basic necessity requires rooting the phone.

Neither of these is the end of the world, but both are a source of annoyance every single day.


Oh yea these things bug me too especially the non-granular volume control. The designers must prioritize user satisfaction ahead of Google's datamining strategies if they care to match Apple's designs and customer facing.
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