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Google Nexus 5: First Impressions and Photos

Google Nexus 5: First Impressions and Photos

Looking good

While I was generally unimpressed with Google's Nexus 4, which to me is an inexpensive but otherwise unexceptional handset, the new Nexus 5 holds great promise. It runs the latest Android version, "KitKat," and features a bigger and higher resolution screen and beefier hardware. We'll see how it pans out in use, but with the new device starting to ship this week, here are some quick first impressions and photos.

Be sure to check out my Google Nexus 5 Preview for a rundown of many of the device's specifications. This post expands on that one, and provides more of a hands-on view of this new handset.

First, and perhaps most important, this is a pretty special device. At just $350 for the 16 GB version and $400 for the 32 GB version, the Google Nexus 5 is an affordable and attractive device. It's not a "hero" phone like the Galaxy S4, HTC One X, iPhone 5S or Lumia 1020. But it's also not a bargain basement burner. This is a solid and well-made smart phone handset, and I hope it helps recast the smart phone pricing structure.

The Nexus 5 has a slippery and slightly curved plastic back. It's solid, but you'll want a case. Google shows that two will be available, including a nice-looking QuickCover that includes a fold-over cover, similar to what you see for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note devices. They're not shipping yet, however. The glass back of the Nexus 4 is a thing of the past.

I had expected the Nexus 5 to be a lot bigger than the Nexus 4, but that's not the case. The screen is, however, noticeably bigger. Overall, the form factor seems great. It's not a phablet by any stretch of the imagination.

I was very curious about the camera, and its prominent size and placement on the back of the device suggests it will be at least decent. In use so far, I have two observations: It is at best decent from a picture quality perspective—like the device itself, representative of the smart phone world circa 2013—and it is very complicated from a user interface perspective. There are some cool features in there, not just panorama but also a Photosynth-like feature, for example, and HDR+ (which is not enabled by default). But the interface is inscrutable. I will spend time on this.

How this device could ship without microSD is beyond me. That needs to be a minimum going forward. I don't get it.

I haven't yet explored too much of the differences between Android 4.4 "KitKat," which is included with the Nexus 5, and Android 4.3, which I use on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.

But the new "OK, Google" voice feature is frankly pretty amazing and takes this type of technology to new heights. It works, and works well, and you can do things like trigger phone calls, set reminders, check the weather, and perform a myriad of other actions. This is clearly a huge win for Android in general.

I'll have more soon, and have some key areas I'd like to focus on for the review. But let me know if you have any questions.

Here are a few more photos for the curious...

Nexus 4 (top), Nexus 5 (bottom)

Nexus 4 (top), Nexus 5 (bottom)

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