I bought my Nexus 5 in January 2014 when I switched mobile carriers from Sprint to T-Mobile. The previous two Android phones I’d been using had left me extremely frustrated for one reason or another. The Samsung Galaxy 4G Epic, a QWERTY slider, ran Samsung’s TouchWiz’d interpretation of Android 2.2. It had buggy bloatware, crashed constantly, and for some reason, the phone’s GPS sensor liked to stop working just as I would start to drive to my destination.
After a year, I ditched it for an HTC Evo 4G LTE. This one ran Android 4.0.3, once again interpreted via the OEM’s custom user interface: Sense 4.0. That phone liked to decide that I shouldn’t be connected to Wi-Fi networks for longer than a few hours at a time. It would routinely drop Wi-Fi whether I’d asked it to or not. And, of course, frequent overheating and crashes.
The Nexus 5, by comparison, was a revelation, but only because it did what it was supposed to: It functioned. In fact, it still works great, having managed the transition from KitKat to Lollipop with aplomb.
The secret? Despite being built by LG, the Nexus 5—like all Nexus smartphones—runs pure Android. No filler, no LG-installed bloatware, no wonky software cluttering up the operating system Google wanted me to have. The result has been a phone that still works just as well today as it did over a year ago.
But while simply working was enough to justify my decision to buy it, the Nexus 5 has even more going for it than stable, functional software. It’s got the kind of perfect smartphone proportions and design that’s kept me from buying a Nexus 6.
The Goldilocks Of Smartphones
The Nexus 5’s 4.9-inch display is just about the perfect size. It’s big enough to watch TV shows and movies comfortably, but it’s not so big that I can’t use it one-handed. It also sports the 16:9 aspect ratio of most television sets, meaning that casting the screen to my TV looks exactly as it should, filling the whole screen.
Its 8MP rear camera never won any awards, but it’s proven itself as a reliable shooter for whatever adventures I find myself on. The camera has also worked more than well enough to scan documents for my various research projects—working far better than my older Android phones ever did. Sure, I’d be happy with a more powerful camera, but I’ve also never been unhappy with the Nexus 5’s powers. Sometimes good enough is more than good enough.
The Nexus 5 was also the first Android phone I’ve owned that didn’t have expandable storage. While at first I thought that would be a big problem, I’ve managed to deal with its 16 GB of internal storage without any problems. Simply put, it’s just right. And the fact that I could buy it for only $399—a relative bargain in the world of mobile.
Hoping For A Nexus 5.2
The Nexus 6 definitely has its appeal, especially since it runs pure Android and improves on just about every other technical aspect of its predecessor. But its huge, $600 price tag and its similarly huge, 5.9-inch screen are both enough to keep me from ever buying one. I don’t need a smartphone that’s as big as my head.
But now that Google has finally discontinued the Nexus 5, I’m hoping it'll loop back around to the 5-inch size. As Apple has proved with its latest iPhone models, there’s room in the market for handsets of all sizes. For now, though, I’ll stick with my 2013-made Nexus 5 until it drops dead. Hopefully that won’t be for a long while.