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Google Nexus 5, first take: Latest specs and Android OS at a low price

I spent this weekend with the Google Nexus 5 and am impressed by the hardware and Android 4.4 KitKat operating system.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 retail package

Google officially announced the last week and a white 32GB model arrived on Friday. While the hardware is solid, it's the Android 4.4 OS that I find more compelling.

Initial hardware thoughts

The HTC One sets the bar for smartphone hardware, but I am happy to say the Nexus 5 is also pretty competitive and worth considering. The Nexus 5 is light at 130 grams, yet it is also solidly built and feels great in the hand.

When the Nexus 5 was announced, I first ordered a black 32Gb model before then ordering a white 32GB model I planned to give to my wife. The evaluation unit that arrived came in white and I now plan to keep the white one for myself. I really do not like phones with a white front, but thankfully Google and LG kept the front of the white Nexus 5 black. The only white part on the front is the small speaker grille circle above the display.

The display looks fantastic and with 445 ppi text doesn't get any crisper on a smartphone display. I like that three software keys appear at the bottom with back, home, and task switcher buttons that rotate when you rotate into landscape orientation. There is also a notification light at the bottom of the display that only appears when a notification comes in.

The power button on the right and volume button on the left are ceramic material. Like the HTC One, the microUSB port is upside down when compared to most all other devices with microUSB.

The back has a matte finish with Nexus in large letters centered on the back. A small LG logo is centered near the bottom. The camera is positioned over to the left side of the back with the flash positioned just below the camera lens.

The internal specs are top notch and the Snapdragon 800 with 2GB RAM seems to fly.

I am a huge fan of wireless charging since it is convenient to just drop a device down on a Qi wireless charging plate.

The Nexus 5 seems to have it all in terms of hardware. It is not quite at the level of the HTC One, but I do like it and when you consider it is priced nearly half of what the HTC One or Galaxy S4 costs then it is a super deal.

Initial software thoughts

The Nexus 5 is a pure Android device, which is great for Google purists. However, there is also plenty missing when you look at devices like the LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Samsung Galaxy S4. All of those devices offer advanced utilities and consumer user experiences beyond what is offered in Android KitKat.

I am pleased with the overall look and feel of Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5. I like the lower transition/dark area, the swipe from left to right to access Google Now, new "OK Google" voice activation, and QuickOffice integration.

The new immersive mode is what I have wanted to see for a long time and has already made reading better than ever. For example, in Play Books all the buttons and status bars disappear so the only thing you see on the entire display is text. I look forward to more apps supporting this functionality.

As a person who uses daily activity trackers, I am also very interested in the integrated pedometer capability. Samsung has this in the Galaxy S4, but it is used just for their S Health app. Developers can use the hardware capability in the Nexus 5 for this capability. I am testing out the Moves app at the moment and since my phone is nearly always with me it may just serve as a replacement for my Fitbit One.

The phone app is improved with contact prioritization and Google Maps integration. However, I would still like to see some advanced features like social networking service integration. I'm used to having Facebook photos appear as my contact photos and am disappointed to now see several contacts without contact photos.

Hangouts has been updated to be your central messaging app with SMS integration. I was doing the same thing with Facebook Messenger, but prefer having my text messaging integrated with Hangouts.

I am not pleased with the Exchange email application, limited Gallery functionality, limited camera application, and some apps that now appear broken. The Exchange email client is better than that in the Note 3 since I can now access my local folders, but there is no way I can find to view by conversation even though the email app looks a lot like Gmail. There are very basic options in the Exchange email client and I hope for updates to make it better or I may go back to using on the Nexus 5 too.

On my HTC One I can easily add Dropbox and Facebook to the Gallery to view images on those services. I can also add Evernote to sync to my notes and other service integration is placed throughout the device. I understand that the Nexus 5 is Google-centric so that Drive, Gmail, Google+, and Google Photos is front and center, but I wish there were more account options as well.

It takes a bit for an image to be captured and my wife handed the Nexus 5 back to me immediately after trying to take a couple of photos in our kitchen. Her One Mini is much faster and capturing an image and even supports burst mode so you don't miss anything. The camera app on the Nexus 5 is very basic and a bit clumsy to use as well with the swipes up and down to jump between options.

There was lots of NFL action on Sunday, but the ESPN Fantasy Football app kept crashing on me on the Nexus 5. I understand that developers need to tweak some apps for Android 4.4 and am sure this will get better over time.

To be tested

The 2,300 mAh internal battery seems to be a bit low for a device with such a large high resolution display so battery life is one thing I look forward to testing out over the next couple weeks.

I included some sample images I captured with the Nexus 5 in this gallery, but need to test the camera more since it looks like the HDR+ option is better for almost all photos outside even in conditions you might not normally think of using HDR.

Please let me know what else you want me to check out and I will try to cover it when my full review goes live after at least a week of use.

Related reading

first5nexus02.jpg
2 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Opening up the retail package

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3 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

A charging, SIM removal tool, and some documents are included

The SIM is a microSIM and requires you to use the tool since the hole is tiny and a paperclip is just too large.

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4 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the Nexus 5

I personally like the bold Nexus branding on the device and love the matte finish.

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5 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front of the Nexus 5 in all black

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6 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Right side power button

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7 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Left side volume button and microSIM slot

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8 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Top of the Nexus 5

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9 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bottom of the Nexus 5

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10 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 in hand

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11 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front of Nexus 5 and HTC One

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12 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of Nexus 5 and HTC One

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13 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 bumper case

The case is a bit bulky for my usage. The color is quite bold though.

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14 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front with case on the back

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15 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the case with the Nexus 5 inside

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16 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Top showing the openings in the case

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17 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 and Nexus 7

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18 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 7 over the Nexus 5

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19 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Typical home screen

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20 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Hangouts application

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21 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Google Now setup

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22 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Customizing Google Now

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23 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Immersive mode in Google Play Books

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24 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Page turning animations in immersive mode

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25 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Browsing via Chrome

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26 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Caller ID by Google

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27 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nearby places in phone app

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28 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Smart dialing integration

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29 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Google Now on home screen panel

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30 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Google apps folder

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31 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

App launcher

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32 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More apps

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33 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Customizing home screen panels

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34 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Choosing a wallpaper

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35 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Adding a widget

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36 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Quickoffice integration

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37 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Homescreen with widgets

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38 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Setting an alarm

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39 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More alarm utilities

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40 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Cell broadcast settings

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41 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Lock screen widget options

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42 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Changing lock screen panels

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43 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Cool Moves app uses hardware pedometer

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44 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Tracking progress with Moves

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45 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Moves plots your walks too

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46 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

My little Wendy sleeping on the bed, flash in pitch black

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47 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 back yard

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48 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 back yard with HDR+ enabled

Note how much better this image is with HDR+ enabled than the previous shot.

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49 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One back yard

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50 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 back yard

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51 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 front yard

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52 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One front yard

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53 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 front yard

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54 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 side yard

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55 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One side yard

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56 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 side yard

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57 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 lamp shot

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58 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One lamp shot

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59 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 lamp shot

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60 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 living room

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61 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One living room

first5nexus63.jpg
62 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 living room

first5nexus65.jpg
63 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 without flash

Google officially announced the last week and a white 32GB model arrived on Friday. While the hardware is solid, it's the Android 4.4 OS that I find more compelling.

Initial hardware thoughts

The HTC One sets the bar for smartphone hardware, but I am happy to say the Nexus 5 is also pretty competitive and worth considering. The Nexus 5 is light at 130 grams, yet it is also solidly built and feels great in the hand.

When the Nexus 5 was announced, I first ordered a black 32Gb model before then ordering a white 32GB model I planned to give to my wife. The evaluation unit that arrived came in white and I now plan to keep the white one for myself. I really do not like phones with a white front, but thankfully Google and LG kept the front of the white Nexus 5 black. The only white part on the front is the small speaker grille circle above the display.

The display looks fantastic and with 445 ppi text doesn't get any crisper on a smartphone display. I like that three software keys appear at the bottom with back, home, and task switcher buttons that rotate when you rotate into landscape orientation. There is also a notification light at the bottom of the display that only appears when a notification comes in.

The power button on the right and volume button on the left are ceramic material. Like the HTC One, the microUSB port is upside down when compared to most all other devices with microUSB.

The back has a matte finish with Nexus in large letters centered on the back. A small LG logo is centered near the bottom. The camera is positioned over to the left side of the back with the flash positioned just below the camera lens.

The internal specs are top notch and the Snapdragon 800 with 2GB RAM seems to fly.

I am a huge fan of wireless charging since it is convenient to just drop a device down on a Qi wireless charging plate.

The Nexus 5 seems to have it all in terms of hardware. It is not quite at the level of the HTC One, but I do like it and when you consider it is priced nearly half of what the HTC One or Galaxy S4 costs then it is a super deal.

Initial software thoughts

The Nexus 5 is a pure Android device, which is great for Google purists. However, there is also plenty missing when you look at devices like the LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Samsung Galaxy S4. All of those devices offer advanced utilities and consumer user experiences beyond what is offered in Android KitKat.

I am pleased with the overall look and feel of Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5. I like the lower transition/dark area, the swipe from left to right to access Google Now, new "OK Google" voice activation, and QuickOffice integration.

The new immersive mode is what I have wanted to see for a long time and has already made reading better than ever. For example, in Play Books all the buttons and status bars disappear so the only thing you see on the entire display is text. I look forward to more apps supporting this functionality.

As a person who uses daily activity trackers, I am also very interested in the integrated pedometer capability. Samsung has this in the Galaxy S4, but it is used just for their S Health app. Developers can use the hardware capability in the Nexus 5 for this capability. I am testing out the Moves app at the moment and since my phone is nearly always with me it may just serve as a replacement for my Fitbit One.

The phone app is improved with contact prioritization and Google Maps integration. However, I would still like to see some advanced features like social networking service integration. I'm used to having Facebook photos appear as my contact photos and am disappointed to now see several contacts without contact photos.

Hangouts has been updated to be your central messaging app with SMS integration. I was doing the same thing with Facebook Messenger, but prefer having my text messaging integrated with Hangouts.

I am not pleased with the Exchange email application, limited Gallery functionality, limited camera application, and some apps that now appear broken. The Exchange email client is better than that in the Note 3 since I can now access my local folders, but there is no way I can find to view by conversation even though the email app looks a lot like Gmail. There are very basic options in the Exchange email client and I hope for updates to make it better or I may go back to using on the Nexus 5 too.

On my HTC One I can easily add Dropbox and Facebook to the Gallery to view images on those services. I can also add Evernote to sync to my notes and other service integration is placed throughout the device. I understand that the Nexus 5 is Google-centric so that Drive, Gmail, Google+, and Google Photos is front and center, but I wish there were more account options as well.

It takes a bit for an image to be captured and my wife handed the Nexus 5 back to me immediately after trying to take a couple of photos in our kitchen. Her One Mini is much faster and capturing an image and even supports burst mode so you don't miss anything. The camera app on the Nexus 5 is very basic and a bit clumsy to use as well with the swipes up and down to jump between options.

There was lots of NFL action on Sunday, but the ESPN Fantasy Football app kept crashing on me on the Nexus 5. I understand that developers need to tweak some apps for Android 4.4 and am sure this will get better over time.

To be tested

The 2,300 mAh internal battery seems to be a bit low for a device with such a large high resolution display so battery life is one thing I look forward to testing out over the next couple weeks.

I included some sample images I captured with the Nexus 5 in this gallery, but need to test the camera more since it looks like the HDR+ option is better for almost all photos outside even in conditions you might not normally think of using HDR.

Please let me know what else you want me to check out and I will try to cover it when my full review goes live after at least a week of use.

Related reading

first5nexus66.jpg
64 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One with flash

first5nexus67.jpg
65 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 with flash

Google officially announced the last week and a white 32GB model arrived on Friday. While the hardware is solid, it's the Android 4.4 OS that I find more compelling.

Initial hardware thoughts

The HTC One sets the bar for smartphone hardware, but I am happy to say the Nexus 5 is also pretty competitive and worth considering. The Nexus 5 is light at 130 grams, yet it is also solidly built and feels great in the hand.

When the Nexus 5 was announced, I first ordered a black 32Gb model before then ordering a white 32GB model I planned to give to my wife. The evaluation unit that arrived came in white and I now plan to keep the white one for myself. I really do not like phones with a white front, but thankfully Google and LG kept the front of the white Nexus 5 black. The only white part on the front is the small speaker grille circle above the display.

The display looks fantastic and with 445 ppi text doesn't get any crisper on a smartphone display. I like that three software keys appear at the bottom with back, home, and task switcher buttons that rotate when you rotate into landscape orientation. There is also a notification light at the bottom of the display that only appears when a notification comes in.

The power button on the right and volume button on the left are ceramic material. Like the HTC One, the microUSB port is upside down when compared to most all other devices with microUSB.

The back has a matte finish with Nexus in large letters centered on the back. A small LG logo is centered near the bottom. The camera is positioned over to the left side of the back with the flash positioned just below the camera lens.

The internal specs are top notch and the Snapdragon 800 with 2GB RAM seems to fly.

I am a huge fan of wireless charging since it is convenient to just drop a device down on a Qi wireless charging plate.

The Nexus 5 seems to have it all in terms of hardware. It is not quite at the level of the HTC One, but I do like it and when you consider it is priced nearly half of what the HTC One or Galaxy S4 costs then it is a super deal.

Initial software thoughts

The Nexus 5 is a pure Android device, which is great for Google purists. However, there is also plenty missing when you look at devices like the LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Samsung Galaxy S4. All of those devices offer advanced utilities and consumer user experiences beyond what is offered in Android KitKat.

I am pleased with the overall look and feel of Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5. I like the lower transition/dark area, the swipe from left to right to access Google Now, new "OK Google" voice activation, and QuickOffice integration.

The new immersive mode is what I have wanted to see for a long time and has already made reading better than ever. For example, in Play Books all the buttons and status bars disappear so the only thing you see on the entire display is text. I look forward to more apps supporting this functionality.

As a person who uses daily activity trackers, I am also very interested in the integrated pedometer capability. Samsung has this in the Galaxy S4, but it is used just for their S Health app. Developers can use the hardware capability in the Nexus 5 for this capability. I am testing out the Moves app at the moment and since my phone is nearly always with me it may just serve as a replacement for my Fitbit One.

The phone app is improved with contact prioritization and Google Maps integration. However, I would still like to see some advanced features like social networking service integration. I'm used to having Facebook photos appear as my contact photos and am disappointed to now see several contacts without contact photos.

Hangouts has been updated to be your central messaging app with SMS integration. I was doing the same thing with Facebook Messenger, but prefer having my text messaging integrated with Hangouts.

I am not pleased with the Exchange email application, limited Gallery functionality, limited camera application, and some apps that now appear broken. The Exchange email client is better than that in the Note 3 since I can now access my local folders, but there is no way I can find to view by conversation even though the email app looks a lot like Gmail. There are very basic options in the Exchange email client and I hope for updates to make it better or I may go back to using on the Nexus 5 too.

On my HTC One I can easily add Dropbox and Facebook to the Gallery to view images on those services. I can also add Evernote to sync to my notes and other service integration is placed throughout the device. I understand that the Nexus 5 is Google-centric so that Drive, Gmail, Google+, and Google Photos is front and center, but I wish there were more account options as well.

It takes a bit for an image to be captured and my wife handed the Nexus 5 back to me immediately after trying to take a couple of photos in our kitchen. Her One Mini is much faster and capturing an image and even supports burst mode so you don't miss anything. The camera app on the Nexus 5 is very basic and a bit clumsy to use as well with the swipes up and down to jump between options.

There was lots of NFL action on Sunday, but the ESPN Fantasy Football app kept crashing on me on the Nexus 5. I understand that developers need to tweak some apps for Android 4.4 and am sure this will get better over time.

To be tested

The 2,300 mAh internal battery seems to be a bit low for a device with such a large high resolution display so battery life is one thing I look forward to testing out over the next couple weeks.

I included some sample images I captured with the Nexus 5 in this gallery, but need to test the camera more since it looks like the HDR+ option is better for almost all photos outside even in conditions you might not normally think of using HDR.

Please let me know what else you want me to check out and I will try to cover it when my full review goes live after at least a week of use.

Related reading

first5nexus68.jpg
66 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nexus 5 with flash

Google officially announced the last week and a white 32GB model arrived on Friday. While the hardware is solid, it's the Android 4.4 OS that I find more compelling.

Initial hardware thoughts

The HTC One sets the bar for smartphone hardware, but I am happy to say the Nexus 5 is also pretty competitive and worth considering. The Nexus 5 is light at 130 grams, yet it is also solidly built and feels great in the hand.

When the Nexus 5 was announced, I first ordered a black 32Gb model before then ordering a white 32GB model I planned to give to my wife. The evaluation unit that arrived came in white and I now plan to keep the white one for myself. I really do not like phones with a white front, but thankfully Google and LG kept the front of the white Nexus 5 black. The only white part on the front is the small speaker grille circle above the display.

The display looks fantastic and with 445 ppi text doesn't get any crisper on a smartphone display. I like that three software keys appear at the bottom with back, home, and task switcher buttons that rotate when you rotate into landscape orientation. There is also a notification light at the bottom of the display that only appears when a notification comes in.

The power button on the right and volume button on the left are ceramic material. Like the HTC One, the microUSB port is upside down when compared to most all other devices with microUSB.

The back has a matte finish with Nexus in large letters centered on the back. A small LG logo is centered near the bottom. The camera is positioned over to the left side of the back with the flash positioned just below the camera lens.

The internal specs are top notch and the Snapdragon 800 with 2GB RAM seems to fly.

I am a huge fan of wireless charging since it is convenient to just drop a device down on a Qi wireless charging plate.

The Nexus 5 seems to have it all in terms of hardware. It is not quite at the level of the HTC One, but I do like it and when you consider it is priced nearly half of what the HTC One or Galaxy S4 costs then it is a super deal.

Initial software thoughts

The Nexus 5 is a pure Android device, which is great for Google purists. However, there is also plenty missing when you look at devices like the LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Samsung Galaxy S4. All of those devices offer advanced utilities and consumer user experiences beyond what is offered in Android KitKat.

I am pleased with the overall look and feel of Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5. I like the lower transition/dark area, the swipe from left to right to access Google Now, new "OK Google" voice activation, and QuickOffice integration.

The new immersive mode is what I have wanted to see for a long time and has already made reading better than ever. For example, in Play Books all the buttons and status bars disappear so the only thing you see on the entire display is text. I look forward to more apps supporting this functionality.

As a person who uses daily activity trackers, I am also very interested in the integrated pedometer capability. Samsung has this in the Galaxy S4, but it is used just for their S Health app. Developers can use the hardware capability in the Nexus 5 for this capability. I am testing out the Moves app at the moment and since my phone is nearly always with me it may just serve as a replacement for my Fitbit One.

The phone app is improved with contact prioritization and Google Maps integration. However, I would still like to see some advanced features like social networking service integration. I'm used to having Facebook photos appear as my contact photos and am disappointed to now see several contacts without contact photos.

Hangouts has been updated to be your central messaging app with SMS integration. I was doing the same thing with Facebook Messenger, but prefer having my text messaging integrated with Hangouts.

I am not pleased with the Exchange email application, limited Gallery functionality, limited camera application, and some apps that now appear broken. The Exchange email client is better than that in the Note 3 since I can now access my local folders, but there is no way I can find to view by conversation even though the email app looks a lot like Gmail. There are very basic options in the Exchange email client and I hope for updates to make it better or I may go back to using on the Nexus 5 too.

On my HTC One I can easily add Dropbox and Facebook to the Gallery to view images on those services. I can also add Evernote to sync to my notes and other service integration is placed throughout the device. I understand that the Nexus 5 is Google-centric so that Drive, Gmail, Google+, and Google Photos is front and center, but I wish there were more account options as well.

It takes a bit for an image to be captured and my wife handed the Nexus 5 back to me immediately after trying to take a couple of photos in our kitchen. Her One Mini is much faster and capturing an image and even supports burst mode so you don't miss anything. The camera app on the Nexus 5 is very basic and a bit clumsy to use as well with the swipes up and down to jump between options.

There was lots of NFL action on Sunday, but the ESPN Fantasy Football app kept crashing on me on the Nexus 5. I understand that developers need to tweak some apps for Android 4.4 and am sure this will get better over time.

To be tested

The 2,300 mAh internal battery seems to be a bit low for a device with such a large high resolution display so battery life is one thing I look forward to testing out over the next couple weeks.

I included some sample images I captured with the Nexus 5 in this gallery, but need to test the camera more since it looks like the HDR+ option is better for almost all photos outside even in conditions you might not normally think of using HDR.

Please let me know what else you want me to check out and I will try to cover it when my full review goes live after at least a week of use.

Related reading

first5nexus69.jpg
67 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One with no flash

first5nexus70.jpg
68 of 68 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1020 with no flash

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