Nexus 5 is nice, but the HTC One is still my favorite smartphone ever

I usually get excited to review a new smartphone and want to run out to buy it after a few minutes. The Nexus 5 is a solid device, but it looks like I am actually going to return the one I bought when it was announced.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Nexus 5 is nice, but the HTC One is still my favorite smartphone ever
(Nexus 5 on left, HTC One on right)

I am enjoying my time with the Google Nexus 5, full review is coming Friday, but it is highly likely I will be returning mine and sticking with the HTC One.

Using the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKat makes it apparent that Android manufacturers are doing things right and actually offer a better experience for most consumers. The Nexus 5 is good for Android purists, but I think consumers may be a bit disappointed.

As a person who is blessed to try out the latest and greatest mobile gear, I usually get a device and then can't hold back my excitement as I discover everything about it. While there are a few things I like about the Nexus 5, I am experiencing more frustration and disappointment with it than I have with a new device in a long time.

Specifically looking at the HTC One, still the best smartphone I have ever used, here are the reasons why I like the HTC One over the Nexus 5:

  • Service integration: Pure Android is focused on the Google experience while Samsung, LG (not Nexus), Motorola, and HTC offer up a richer experience. I like that I have a gallery with access to photos on Dropbox, Facebook, Google, and more on my HTC One. I like that the HTC Notes and S Note apps sync to Evernote. There are many areas where service integration beyond Google is provided on the HTC One and that appeals to me.
  • Exchange email application: HTC's Exchange client has always been top notch and after using the one on the Nexus 5 I must go back to my One. The Nexus 5 Exchange app looks a lot like the Gmail app, but doesn't even support conversation view. On my One, I get conversation and favorite views along with complete control over my sync schedule.
  • Camera UI and application: The Android camera UI is very basic and actually a bit frustrating as you swipe up and through options. The Nexus 5 camera also takes forever to focus and subjects like kids and pets appear blurry since they don't stay still that long. HTC has a ton of options and settings in their camera UI that blows away what you get on the Nexus 5.
  • Phone/contacts application: On my HTC One, my contact photos are tied to other services so everyone has a nice contact image. On the Nexus 5, if that person doesn't have a Google account I don't get any photo for them. The favorites view and ability to view a person's latest status updates also makes the HTC One phone and contacts application much more useful and powerful.
  • Stereo speakers: You will see two "speaker" grille opening at the bottom of the Nexus 5, but there is just a speaker in one and it is not very good. HTC has two stereo speakers on the front of the One and sound is tough to beat.
  • Infrared port: IR support is actually now a part of Android 4.4, but to keep the price low Google must have decided to cut the IR port on the Nexus 5. As a traveler and person with several TVs in the house, I find it very convenient to have my remote on my phone.
  • BlinkFeed on Home panel: I never thought I would use BlinkFeed much, but HTC keeps improving it and I actually do "snack" on it just like HTC said people would. My Google Now panel on the Nexus 5 is marginally useful even though I use Chrome and Google and have it setup for customized information. It offers some information, but is definitely not an essential feature and I would never personally choose it as a dedicated Home screen panel for myself.

There are a few reasons I do like the Nexus 5 over the HTC One, including:

  • Wireless charging: It is very convenient to throw a device down on a Qi charging pad and that is one trade-off HTC had to make to have a metal phone.
  • Carrier-free Google Wallet: We finally see Google Wallet getting cut free from idiotic carrier control on the Nexus 5 so you can tap to pay with any carrier on the device.
  • Timely OS updates: This was actually a bigger issue in the past, but HTC has already stated Android 4.4 is coming to the HTC One soon. I imagine 4.4 may be the last update for the One while the Nexus 5 should get 18 months of updates.
  • Low unsubsidized price: I paid $454 for the 32GB Nexus 5 and $670 for my HTC One. The Nexus 5 is priced low if you pay full price for your phones like I do, but if you are on Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon, then you might as well get a subsidized phone since you are paying for it with your plan fees anyway.

The Nexus 5 is the best Nexus yet, but the Android operating system has advanced a lot since the Nexus One and Android vendors have also stepped up to offer more compelling devices. The Nexus line is great for developers, but given that you can hack away at the others too I am not sure there is a real reason to have a Nexus line anymore.

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