By November 5, 2013

Initial Nexus 5 Android Phone Impressions and Unboxing

Almost two years ago Sedagive? and I took a major plunge and upgraded our two HTC Droid Incredible Android phones to the shiny, cutting edge Galaxy Nexus. The phone was pretty good, but suffered from terrible clashes between Google and Verizon that kept our kernels and ROM operating system updates behind the times. About six months ago I’d had enough. I rooted my phone and put on a custom ROM that brought me up to date with Android but meant I would never get support from Verizon again. Sedagive? struggled on with the older operating system a little bit longer before we gave in and rooted her phone as well.

I had been following the Nexus 5 for a few months, and there was some debate if the phone was going to come to Verizon or not. I’ve been a Verizon customer for over 10 years, and while I love their coverage their support for Android has been terrible. When it was announced the Nexus 5 would not be coming to Verizon, I knew it was time to break all sorts of traditions.

I bought the Nexus 5 about an hour before it was announced, and now I’ll be taking my unlocked, provider-agnostic phone to a different carrier. I’ll also be doing month-by-month, pay as you go for the first time as well.

Here is an extremely preliminary hands-on / unboxing review of the Nexus 5.


Bigger, but smaller

Every Android phone I own gets bigger but lighter at the same time. The Droid Incredible was about the same size and weight as an iPhone of its era. I thought the phone was magical, putting such a large screen in such a tiny package. Then the Galaxy Nexus came out, and its screen is about the size of an iPhone 4. Even though the phone is much larger it doesn’t feel as heavy as it should.

The Nexus 5 is even larger than the Galaxy Nexus, and it weighs in at 0.2 ounces less than my GNex. To boot, the weight is FAR better balanced, so the phone feels a lot lighter than the slight weight difference implies.

The Nexus 5 weighs 4.8 ounces, the GNex 5.

The Nexus 5 and GNex are the same width (2 5/8″) but the Nexus 5 is a quarter inch longer. I think the added height plus the uniform thickness helps the Nexus 5 seem more balanced than the GNex.

Thick and thin

The Galaxy Nexus from Verizon has this weird hump at the bottom. At first I liked it, as it contoured to the bottom of my hand. However, in watching Sedagive? use the phone with her (much) smaller hands the hump became a liability, causing the balance of the phone to shift. The hump almost served as a fulcrum once Sedagive? held the phone high enough in her palm.

The Nexus 5 is completely flat on the back. It’s more like a Nexus 7 2013, iPad Mini or iPad Air in this regard. It feels great in the hand.

The Nexus 5 is 0.34″ thick, and the Galaxy Nexus is 0.40″ thick at its widest, camel-humpiest point.

The back

I am a little worried about the back of the Nexus 5. It has a matte finished rubberized back. It’s good for grip, but under extremely casual use over 8 hours the phone is already picking up finger prints and little marks on it. I hate putting cases on my phones, but I might consider a back-only shield for the Nexus 5.

Usage, battery life, etc

I am going to wait to write more about the Nexus 5’s battery life, speed, and so on until I’ve used it for a few days. I don’t think it’s fair to talk about an out of box experience without loading typical apps like Facebook, configuring Gmail, Hangouts, and so on and watching the battery life ping down with every notification and app refresh. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, the screen is beautiful and has a sexy velvety touch to it.

See for yourself

Here’s a short video of me unboxing the Nexus 5. I completed the initial setup before shooting this video, so you’ll be able to see some footage of the screen and comparisons to the Galaxy Nexus if you’re considering switching.

Posted in: review, technology

1 Comment on "Initial Nexus 5 Android Phone Impressions and Unboxing"

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  1. Ajar says:

    I’m also sick of Verizon cockblocking Android updates, as well as the constant radio issues on my Galaxy Nexus. I’ll be very curious to hear how the Nexus 5’s battery life compares.