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Google Nexus 5 - Battery Life, Call Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

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Google Nexus 5

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

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Google Nexus 5 – Battery Life

One of the slightly limiting parts of the Google Nexus 5 is its battery. The phone has a 2,300mAh power supply, which is a chunk smaller than the 2,600mAh battery of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the generous 3000mAh battery of the Sony Xperia Z1.

And this limitation shows. With regular use, and apps given free rein to grab mobile data when they like, the Google Nexus 5 will drain most of the way down – if not entirely – within a day.

This is not helped by the lack of a power saving mode. Google made a bunch of power-saving optimisations in Android 4.4, but there's no longer a dedicated power efficiency mode that limits mobile data use, screen brightness and so on.

We would really have liked to see a slightly larger battery used here, as it's one part where the Nexus 5 falls behind some of its rivals. Nexus 5 pics 1

Google Nexus 5 – Call Quality

The call speaker of the phone doesn't lag behind in the same way – although there's only so much you can do with the call quality of 'normal' phone calls. The speaker is loud, clear and has some bulk to its sound. We also didn't experience any speaker 'crackle', which was a criticism some levelled at the Nexus 4.

The phone also uses active noise cancellation for calls, with a pinhole speaker on the top monitoring ambient noise.

Should I buy the Google Nexus 5?

If you want a top-spec phone but don't want to pay the premium that usually comes with it, there are no better options than the Google Nexus 5. Unlike some other low-cost, high-spec Android phones, its quad-core processor has all the power of the most popular high-end smartphones.

That the Nexus 5 is actually more powerful than the rival HTC One and Galaxy S4 speaks volumes about both its value, and how quickly things move on in the mobile game.

Battery life could be better and the camera isn't quite as reliable as the best out there – despite being great in some respects. However, these issues seem quite minor given the phone is £100-200 cheaper than the competition.

Verdict

The Google Nexus 5 is the high-end Android phone bargain of the year. Aside from a slightly anaemic battery it offers everything phones costing £200 more do.

Next, read our Nexus 5 vs Nexus 4 comparison

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 6
  • Calls & Sound 8
  • Camera 7
  • Design 8
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Software 9
  • Value 10

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toboev

November 4, 2013, 12:00 pm

Whilst I like Android, I am no fan of Gmail, Google+ and the rest. I have a Gmail address so that I can use the Play store, and that's as far as it goes. Is this phone integrated into Google's services in such a way that you are forced to use them? You mention the Hangouts/SMS link, but I think you said you can use other SMS Apps instead? Can you store contacts on the phone only, or are they automatically hoovered up by Google? Likewise the diary. In fact, other than using the Play store, is a Google account required at all on this phone?

Nezumi

November 4, 2013, 1:02 pm

Nice phone. Just got one. Voice to text is faster than my Nexus 7. Camera is good enough. Feels light, but solid. Not sure about Google+ yet... Worth a serious look if your considering an Android device.

jokeyrhyme

November 4, 2013, 1:04 pm

The home screen is entirely Google Now and Google Search, similar to Facebook Home. That's why you can speak to Google Now from the home screen.

That said, you can replace all of Google's apps, including the home screen. And you can disable automatic background synchronisation on your Google account.

User

November 4, 2013, 2:12 pm

Reading the comparisons in this review you wouldn't even know the LG G2 exists. Its only £100 or so more in 32Gb form, larger battery and higher res, OIS camera. Plus mkv support out of the box, which is pretty useful if you want to make use of the full HD screen.

StankyChikin

November 4, 2013, 2:20 pm

You can turn most if not all of it off.

Geoff Richards

November 4, 2013, 2:43 pm

Not sure about some of those: the 16GB is £439 so it's about £150 more than the Nexus 5. I guess you're comparing 32GB Nexus 5 (£339) with the 16GB G2 (£439). Neither phone has an SD slot so choose wisely.

Yes, the G2 has 3000mAh battery 2300mAh on the Nexus. Given they run the same internals you'd expect the G2 to have a longer battery life for sure.

The screens are the same resolution; the Nexus has slightly higher PPI because the display is slightly smaller. The LG camera is higher resolution: 13MP vs 8MP, though both feature OIS.

I can't comment on the MKV support, but clearly it will be a little while before KitKat is available for the G2, if that's important to you.

I like the G2. It also happens to have ac wifi (if you care) and a 2.1MP front-facing camera vs 1.3MP on the Nexus. Again, if you care.

I have suggested to the boys that we should consider a full head-to-head to see how they compare in the real world :)

Manfrom

November 4, 2013, 2:55 pm

Well it looks great, but possibly not great enough to upgrade straight away from my much loved Nexus 4. I'm wondering whether the slightly larger size might leave consumers deciding between Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

What I'd really like to know is

1) Have they fixed it so you can send a contact card by text message? You can't seem to do this in jelly bean on the Nexus 4.

2) Is there now a fix for "all day events" on google calendar not appearing on my nexus 4?

3) Does it still occasionally randomly delete contacts?

William Judd

November 4, 2013, 3:14 pm

lol, why didn't you remove the back sticker? :D

Chiggles

November 4, 2013, 3:57 pm

RE: 3) I had this on my S2 at one point. Seems to be a non-issue on my Note II, which I am selling once my N5 arrives :$

Chiggles

November 4, 2013, 4:01 pm

Excellent reply and comparison - the G2 seems fantastic overall, but I think nothing will top the Nexus experience for me.

As a guy who only got the Note II because the N4 wouldn't support LTE, I am delighted to be going N5 this time around.

My father's Galaxy Nexus still zips around at great speeds for the age of the device and he uses a fair few widgets and apps; my Note II is fine in most scenarios but I don't like that the browser options, all of them, lag on start up very heavily, and other such annoyances that I never notice on native Android.

I will miss the large battery of the Note II, but the S-Pen went underused as did Multi-Window.

EDIT: One last win for the N5 for me is the form factor. Narrower is good, slim bezels are tasty, the phone should slip less than the glorious glass back of the N4 - overall I'm excited for it.

Zander

November 4, 2013, 4:52 pm

I've never had your issue in #3 with my Nexus 4, and so far with my Nexus 5.

mikehunt

November 4, 2013, 5:04 pm

It's disappointing that this phone was given a battery rating based on it's features but no actual data. I'm interested to see how sensor batching will improve things in 4.4, as my SGS4 is kept away for about 90 minutes a day by Google Services, which is basically the location wakelock on behalf of other apps. Hopefully GSM Arena will sort out their battery test in the near future!

Andy Whitmore

November 4, 2013, 5:19 pm

Why when anyone not just Trusted Reviews reviews a phone without an SD card slot they say it is an issue except for the iphone which has never had expandable memory but reviewers never seem to mention this? Just a thought. I can't wait to get my Nexus 5 will blow iphone 5s out of the water!! Wait for the isheep to comment

andyvan

November 4, 2013, 5:27 pm

If I recall correctly we have/did mention it in the most recent iPhone reviews. There's a slightly cultural difference, too, which you ably demonstrate. Android buyers, as a general rule, a more 'pro SD' than iPhone buyers. That said, I think our review points our this isn't a major issue (for us at least), it's more of a 'something to consider' issue. For some people it's reason enough to buy a more expensive phone, but not for others.

andyvan

November 4, 2013, 5:31 pm

We're working on our battery life testing, but as you probably appreciate it's an incredibly difficult thing to test in a genuinely scientific/psuedo-scientific manner given the number of variables you have to control.

Until we can come up with a test that satisfies us we prefer to rely on 'natural use' in a day, rather than run a bunch a tests that sound comparable but don't really stand up to scrutiny. I appreciate your point, however, as it's something we're keenly aware of. Our basic judgement, at present, is to provide a judgement similar to that of an ordinary user, which is typically "I use my phone in x way and at the end of the day I'm either running out of juice/have just enough left/have a comfortable amount left".

Since we're on the topic, we're open to suggestions (for everyone) about what you would find useful in a battery life test. Our main aim/preference is something repeatable but not totally exhaustive. The time/benefit trade-off for us tricky - we don't have infinite resources (man hours or money) to throw at this kind of thing at present, but our aim is always to improve our reviews as much as we can.

We don't aim to be Anandtech or GSM Arena. We want to provide enough technical insight while remaining accessible to less tech-savvy readers. It's a broad church who read tech reviews and we aim to bridge the gap between the casual and hardcore.

RB

November 4, 2013, 5:50 pm

I ordered an hour after release and received my n5 yesterday. amazingly quick shipping. Purchase Friday received Monday.

I agree with all on this review the phone is very nice to hold. What always surprises me when I pickup the phone is just how light the phone feels. I have a mate with the samsung s4 and in comparison the n5 feels almost too light almost as if its a display model or its missing a battery. Super light and comfortable to hold

My only concern is that the soft touch rubber surrounding the phone might wear off after a year or so. I have a first gen nexus 7 which also has rubber on the back and its had no problem but the n7 uses what seems to be more durable rubber. Only time will tell I guess.

Screen is very clear, it's very fast compared to my n7 or old galaxy nexus. Camera seems decent low light handling is amazing for a phone. HDR photo feature works well. Battery life seems great so far. No removable battery a bit of a shame though I had two for my galaxy nexus.

Not sure that else I can say

RB

November 4, 2013, 5:55 pm

Yeah no need for upgrade from n4. You'll get 4.4 soon enough anyway which Is a nice upgrade. A nice change to 4.4 is the removal of the black bar from top of the screen on desktop. This gives the illusion of a longer screen because the top bar no longer blends with the black top bevel.

phamnuwen

November 4, 2013, 6:52 pm

The LG G2 is slippery as a soap and the edges are so narrow as to be positively unergonomic. I got one last week but I'm returning it.

LG has also screwed up the Android UI with a bunch of crap apps and constant annoying popups of LG user agreements that I'm not interested in agreeing to.

Guest

November 4, 2013, 8:31 pm

That is a fair point. Except from the very crucial fact that the Nexus line from the Nexus One to the Nexus 10 has never had an SD card slot either.

Erin Henneberry

November 4, 2013, 8:32 pm

Just wondering if you guys had any thoughts on durability of the phone. I bought a Nexus 4 and then dropped it three feet from my lap onto carpet, and the front glass shattered and the touch screen completely stopped functioning. Is the Nexus 5 any hardier?

toboev

November 4, 2013, 8:48 pm

Thanks for the reply (and StankyChikin).

Edgar Robert

November 4, 2013, 8:51 pm

I have heard there's a charger pad for the Nexus 5 but can't find it when carrying out a web search. Does anyone know when this will be available and expected price?

ASAIK

November 4, 2013, 9:43 pm

Please stop saying that 4.4 is like iOS7. It's false. iOS7 is like Jelly Bean.

Hope I'm missing something...

November 4, 2013, 10:58 pm

I finally got a chance to start setting up my Nexus 5 this evening and so far I have to say I am feeling very disappointed indeed compared to my Nexus 4. The previous SMS app which was fine as far as I am concerned appears to be gone entirely and all we have is the nastiness of "Hangouts". Looks like I may be forced to install a third party SMS app that I do not want. The phone dialer (which again was excellent on the Nexus 4) appears to have been comprehensively ruined. Even the contacts list displays LESS contacts on screen at one than before despite the larger screen. I am hoping I can find ways to rectify these but it isn't looking good so far.

Jacob Nørgaard

November 5, 2013, 6:21 am

But it's an Android phone if there ever was one, and they have a history of being user expandable via SD cards. iDevices don't.

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