LG Nexus 5 review: Back to the future

GSMArena team, 13 November 2013.
Pages: 123456789101112

Tags: LG, Google, Android

Controls and handling

Other than the display at the front, there's a 1.3MP front-facing camera above it. As per tradition, there's also a notification LED light at the bottom. It pulsates when there's a missed call or a new message in 10-second intervals. Sadly, Android provides no out-of-the-box way to customize the duration, so you'll have to use third-party apps for that.

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The front-facing camera at the top LED notification light at the bottom

The left side of the LG Nexus 5 holds the volume rocker, while the right houses the Power/Lock key. All buttons are made of ceramic and feel extremely solid. A slight downside is that they can sometimes feel rough since their edges aren't perfectly smooth.

Below the Power/Lock key lies the micro-SIM card slot tray that's accessed via the provided pin tool. Using tools for accessing the SIM slot isn't ideal when you need to switch cards on the go, but luckily that's not something that happens too often.

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The buttons on the Nexus 5 are made of ceramic

The top of the Nexus 5 is where you find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the secondary microphone. The microphone is used for active noise cancellation, but unfortunately it doesn't enable stereo sound recording out of box. You can enable that with a tweak if you are knowledgeable enough, but it's downright disappointing that you need to do that in the first place.

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The 3.5mm headphone jack and secondary mic are on top

The bottom part is pleasantly designed with precision cut holes that sadly hold a single speaker and a microphone, rather than a stereo setup. It's located on the left to the microUSB port.

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The bottom looks cool with the cutout grills

Finally, we come to the back, where the 8MP camera is heavily accented by the protruding and large protective glass cover. Below it sits the LED flash and a large Nexus logo joined by a smaller LG one below it.

The Nexus 5 carries a low price tag, but this shouldn't get you fooled into thinking it's a cheaply made smartphone. It's not and feels solidly built with its underrated minimalist design. The soft touch plastic at the back helps the grip quite a lot.

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Handling the Google Nexus 5

The 5" form-factor has reasonable operability with one hand, while pocketing the smartphone is rarely a problem either.

Battery life

Under the soft touch back cover sits a 2,300mAh Li-Ion battery, which Google rates to last up to 17 hours of 3G talk time. Naturally, we run the Nexus 5 through our circle of battery endurance tests and it managed an endurance rating of 40 hours. You can find a full breakdown of how it did in our dedicated Nexus 5 battery life blog post.

Display

At the front of the Google Nexus 5 stands a 5" True HD IPS of Full HD resolution. In theory it should be a panel similar to the 5.2" one in the LG G2, although we found it to be slightly different and not just due to the different tuning.

The display is impressively sharp, thanks to the amazing pixel density of 445ppi. Here's what the screen looks like through the eye of our digital microscope:

The color balance is quite good and slightly better than even what the G2 offered. Contrast is a lower though and so is saturation, which means some of the extra punchiness is gone. Those who favor more natural reproduction will certainly be happy with the Nexus 5 screen, though.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
LG Nexus 5 0.31 298 948 0.54 526 967
LG G2 0.10 149 1522 0.45 667 1495
LG Optimus G 0.14 197 1445 0.33 417 1438
Sony Xperia Z1 - - - 0.38 580 1513
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
Oppo Find 5 0.17 176 1123 0.51 565 1107

The overall screen reflectiveness is very low and the display is very bright. There is some contrast loss when you are viewing the screen at an angle, but it's minor and won't take away from the otherwise good picture quality.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.950
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.790
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.270
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114
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