Nexus 5 arrives with super-sized screen, boosted battery
The Nexus brand is Google's attempt to bring a pure unlocked "pure" Android experience to the masses. Like last year's Hurricane-y debut of the Nexus 4, which introduced Android 4.2 (an incremental update of Jelly Bean), the Nexus 5 is the first showcase vehicle for Android Kit Kat.
From a spec point of view, Nexus 5 is poised to directly compete with the supersized Android flagships from the Samsungs and HTCs of the world. But unlike those phones, the Nexus 5 can be purchased without being cemented to a specific carrier.
Nexus 5 is certainly a step above 4
On the hardware side, the Nexus 5 received a bump-up across the spec spectrum, boasting a 5-inch 1080p display powered by a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. And yes, it will be 4G/LTE compatible.
Thankfully Google and LG have pumped up the Nexus 5’s juice pack to 2300mAH from the 4’s 2100mAH. Lackluster battery life dulled our otherwise positive vibes about the Nexus 4. It’s hard to say how much the new battery will help until we get our grubby fingers on the device for a hands-on, but the extra power should—in the very least—keep pace with the 5’s larger display.
While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with other plus-sized phones, the battery would match with the one in the similarly sized HTC One, but fall short of the 4-inch Galaxy S4’s 2600mAh battery or the 3000mAh power pack on LG’s G2 phone.
Like other high-end handsets, the Nexus 5 has placed a new emphasis on photography, with optical image stabilization and a new HDR+ mode that will capture a rapid burst of photos and combine them to create one single best shot.
What about that Kit Kat flavor?
Google promises that Kit Kat will, among other things, make the Android experience more cloud-centric in general and Google app-centric in particular. While the Nexus 5 did receive a nice hardware upgrade, Google specifically points to Kit Kat's diminished dependence on local hardware via a smaller "memory footprint." This diminished resiliance on local hardware will make the latest Android incarnation available to a larger swath of phone users, not just those at the high end.
According to Google's blogpost:
With KitKat, we've slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.
Lowering the hardware barrier to the latest OS may—theoretically—help diminish Android fragmentation, however it may also help in Google's in their apparent goal to make Android a versatile OS that will run more than just phones, all #InternetOfThings style.
The Nexus 5 will be available starting Thursday unlocked and without a contract on Google Play for $349 for the 16GB version, $399 for the 32GB version in either white or black. The phone will be available on Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy, and RadioShack shortly thereafter.