The new Nexus 5 manages to offer a huge step up in power while maintaining a brilliantly low price tag.
The Google Nexus 5 is a phone that's the product of constant evolution, companies one-upping each other as they try to prove they can make the best Nexus.
The Nexus One was HTC's only shot at the title, with Samsung making two more then LG getting the nod for the most recent edition, the Nexus 4.
While that was a decent phone for a stellar price, the Nexus 5 is a huge step forward for a number of reasons - not least the sub-$350 (AUS$399 price tag (for the 16GB model - the 32GB option comes in at $399 /AUS $449).
There's the Snapdragon 800 chip at the heart of things, running the show incredibly smoothly. The Google Nexus 5 is based loosely on the LG G2, with the same processor and similar IPS LCD screen, albeit with the new Google phone coming in at a smaller 4.95-inch.
This means that video and internet browsing looks stellar, with colours bright and vivid without looking over saturated, as we've seen on the Super AMOLED screens of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3.
The overall design of the Google Nexus 4 is an interesting one, as it's lost the glass back to replace it with rubberised plastic - presumably to make it easier to hold.
It is, and the smaller bezel means that you don't feel like you're holding a giant handset despite the near-5 inch screen. It's easy to move the finger or thumb around most of the display, and if you're used to a larger display you'll not even notice a problem with the bigger visage.
The camera module on the rear of the Nexus 5, which is an 8MP option, protrudes slightly from the back of the device, making it sit a little awkwardly when placed on the table.
However, there's a good reason for this: LG has thrown in its optical image stabilisation technology (OIS) to help improve the quality of pictures as well as making video look better when you're jumping around at a gig or 'sports event'.
The overall design of the Google Nexus 5 is impressive, while not coming anywhere close to the construction of the metal-clad HTC One or similar. It sits in the hand well, has a high quality screen and everything works well when you want it to.
Android KitKat 4.4 is the big other change for the device, as the first phone to offer the new OS. Android fans won't notice much of a change, and to be honest, there's not a lot that's going to be that different, in the same way that Android 4.3 didn't really further the message much more.
However, there are some tweaks that make it worth talking about - for instance, the menu bar, the one that takes away the physical home buttons, is now transparent, which brings more of a holistic feel to any app that you're trying to view.
There's also a mode that's supposed to engage full screen with greater ease, but we were only able to turn this on when in the Google Reader app, although we're hopeful that this will come to more apps as Google optimises the new OS.
Apart from that it's mostly just the icons that have changed, making things like the phone app a little larger and making them feel more integrated with the home screen.
There's definitely a step up here, but it's not going to change your world in a way that some people might have hoped. For instance, the general speed of operation that came with Android Jelly Bean was a real game-changer, but there's nothing like that on offer here.
There's another feature that sadly wouldn't work for us: the integration of Google Now to the whole phone in the same way as the Moto X.
This means you're supposed to be able to say 'OK Google' and the phone will instantly turn on, ready for your voice command. Our unit seems to be a little bit too pre-production, as the option to turn this one wasn't available no matter how hard we tried to force it.
In summary, KitKat is a good upgrade, making the Android OS more integrated than ever before, but if you're waiting to get it on your HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4, you don't need to worry too much given these handsets already have a decent skin to hide such elements.
The camera, an 8MP option on the Nexus 5, is a move forward again compared to the Nexus 4, with sharper images, faster processing and a wider gamut of options to help improve your snaps.
We only had a few minutes to test, but the lower light images seemed impressive enough, and the video was shake free compared to that on the Nexus 4.
We're not going to celebrate the feature too much, as there are many better handsets out there that will give you good images on the go that far surpass this handset. However, they'll cost nearly double what you'll be able to get the Nexus 5 for, so if a top-quality snapper isn't the most important thing to you, this will be more than good enough.
The rest of the Nexus 5 is pretty basic; Google wants the stock Android buyers to just get on with downloading their own apps and making the phone their own. With that in mind, the Nexus 5 is a really good option, as the larger screen is perfect as a blank canvas to paint upon as you see fit.
The internet browser is fast, the music output impressive (although the UI is still too basic) and the video player, and the screen technology in particular, is really, really impressive.
The Nexus range has taken a real step forward here. The Nexus 4 was a great option for those that don't want to spend a lot, but the handset really began to creak after too long.
The Nexus 5, while a little later in the year compared to the other top-end handsets, seems to be a lot more bullet-proof in terms of being able to carry on chugging for a couple of years.
And what's better is that this will cost very little to buy directly from Google, meaning many will be able to snap this up and go on a rolling SIM-only deal to give freedom to upgrade when they want.
Many thanks to Carphone Warehouse for providing us with our review sample!