CNET Editors’ Rating
Average User Rating
5.0 stars 1 user review
The good: The Google Nexus 5 has LTE for multiple carriers, a sleek and solid build, and an excellent price. It makes crystal-clear calls and integration of Google Now is deep and wide.
The bad: The Nexus 5’s screen is dimmer than its competitors’ and its camera struggles under auto settings. While an important OS update, Android 4.4 KitKat is more conceptual than feature-rich.
The bottom line: Strong performance, high-end specs, and an ultra-affordable price make the Google Nexus 5 not just the best unlocked phone on the market, but the best Nexus phone by far.
Finally, we have an Android handset that deserves the Nexus name. The Nexus 5 is fast, gorgeous, and stocked with features (including LTE) and it is the device for showing the true power of the Google universe and the Android operating system. And, at $349 (16GB) or $399 (32GB) at the Play Store — about $250 less than other top-tier flagship smartphones — it’s a great deal whether you’re on a budget or not (and whether you’re an Android fan or not).
Yes, with a Snapdragon 800 processor and a 1080p touch screen, there’s a lot to like about the Nexus 5 even if you never get past the main menu. But it’s really the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system that we’re here to see. Though not long on flashy new features, KitKat brings an ever deeper integration with Google’s expanding array of services and a promise to end the age-old scourge of Android fragmentation.
Still, at that price, sometimes it makes it difficult to judge the Nexus — is it a top-tier phone for cheap, or a midrange device that’s bizarrely souped up with great innards? Do its variable camera and relatively dim screen get a pass because it’s a $400 handset after all, or should I be expecting better from a Google flagship? And it is a flagship, much more so than the Nexus 4 and even the Galaxy Nexus were, but pinning it down further is difficult.
However you want to consider it, one thing’s for certain: the phone’s specs are indeed high-end, and its reliable performance further bolsters its appeal, despite its flaws. For what it’s worth, the Nexus 5 is the best unlocked phone on the market.