The Nexus 5 is so bad: why do we still love it?

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The Nexus 5 is a mess. We’ve dedicated entire articles to the Nexus 5’s camera problems and ways to improve its disastrous battery life. We even have a video that shows how to replace its easily shattered screen. When I think about the Nexus 5, it's the myriad of flaws that first spring to mind. So how did this phone become one of the Android community's favorite handsets?

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How did the Nexus 5 become so popular when it has so many issues? / © ANDROIDPIT

Right place, right time

When the Nexus 5 came out it wasn’t the ultimate flagship. It had a Full HD screen, but it just wasn't at the same level as other phones that were released that year, such as the Galaxy S4, LG G2 and HTC One.

But how many phones for the same price (around US$350) were as good as the Nexus 5? Almost none. This was a critical part of its success at the time. These days there's much more comparable competition – OnePlus is here now, Huawei is making excellent mid-priced phones, and Motorola's Moto X Pure Edition offers a sublime set of specs for its US$400 asking price – but the Nexus 5 was head and shoulders above similarly-priced phones back at the end of 2013. 

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The Nexus 5 has stood the test of time. / © ANDROIDPIT

Unquantifiable qualities

So it's easy to see why the Nexus 5 attracted so many buyers, but once people started to use the phone, they would have surely discovered all of its aforementioned flaws. Why do they overlook them when talking about the Nexus 5 now?

Perhaps it's because the Nexus 5 has stood the test of time. It’s now running Android Marshmallow, performing as well as it did when it launched with Android KitKat, except its battery life is now much improved. Devices from other manufacturers often receive Android updates months down the line, sometimes complete with bugs and performance issues, but the Nexus 5 has always been among the first in line, and proven itself more than capable.

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The Nexus 5 has stood the test of time. / © ANDROIDPIT

I've never heard anyone deny that the Nexus 5 has faults – not even the people who own one. They just accept its flaws as part of the package, because the Nexus 5 has something unquantifiable. It's clearly more than just the sum of its parts. Whether its popularity is down the way it nailed feel, aesthetic, size or something else, the Nexus 5 became a much-loved phone in spite of its problems, and I don't know if the Android world will see a phone like that again.

Why do you think the Nexus 5 was so loved? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Marco Bianchi Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    I bought my N5 back in 2013. Like some people's comments, I've experienced my share of problems. Replaced a cracked screen. Had a camera problem that Google replaced my N5 when it was out of warranty. Went through all the available updates. Now on 6.0.1. I would love to upgrade for a more current Nexus but... Can't find a phone that all of what I care for: Current updates, wireless charging, notification LED, acceptable specs. Android M breathed new life into my N5. Battery life is greatly improved, when idling. the UI is just wonderfull. So I'm ok using it for another year (or more).

    • Viktor jovanović v. Jan 29, 2016 Link to comment

      I have also Nexus 5 2013 and so as you have gone through all updates, last Marcmallow. My phone stell works fine and maybe I'll also wait a yer before I'll by new device; Nexus 5 of course.

  • etshArk87 Dec 5, 2015 Link to comment

    Bought mine 8 months ago. Previously I had a Sony experia x8 and I wanted a another phone without spending too much. I mean, mine was a piece of junk and never liked the phone. I wanted something new, something good.
    First I was on Samsung, then moto. After a while I saw a nexus 4. Didn't even knew what a nexus was xD. Googled a bit and found out it was from Google manufacted by LG. I love LG BTW, have a TV, home system and lots other things from them.
    After a while I freaking saw a nexus 5.
    I feel in love, I so wanted the phone. Bought immediately for 230euros. Best thing ever, its the beauty and the beast in one.
    Still on lollipop, rooted, UV and OC 2.5G
    ENhanced screen saturation, gamma contrastand RBG tweaked to match amoled but not too much of :)
    Good camera and best screen available right now
    If this breaks just gonna buy the same one, that's how much I love it.

    • Viktor jovanović v. Dec 5, 2015 Link to comment

      It is so lovely phone, that is no suprice that you love it so and you are no alone...
      Have a nice time with it.

  • Raul Suarez Nov 9, 2015 Link to comment

    I actually suffered all the 5 flaws, cracked screen, camera issues, battery life. However it feels like ahone I own and control and not one where things are dictated for me. After two years, still feels like a new phone. No clutter, up to date, light, right size for my hands and pocket, etc. My other phone (work) is an iPhone 5c which feels clumsy. I use it because I have to. I still have my previous nexus S which lasted years for the same reasons as the Nexus 5. Probably my next phone will be a nexus.

    • Viktor jovanović v. Nov 9, 2015 Link to comment

      I agree with all. I have also Nexus 5 year and half and it is like new.It was workin good in kitekat, later on lolipop with al updates and naw on marchmallow... It is really perfect phone srell naw, ewen is almost 2 yers old.

  • Vernon Castlebury Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    The Nexus 5 is not "so bad." There isn't a flawless phone on the market, and at <$400 there's absolutely not one without compromises. Quite frankly, if the nexus 5 was released today it would still be relevant. Would probably need to be $100 cheaper, but it would win that price bracket fairly handily. With marshmallow it runs smooth as butter.

    Stock Android, capable hardware, and around $400 will get me every time. I'll upgrade to the 6P likely just for the nicer screen and because they kept the good things about the 5 intact.

  • Dave Hartnell Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    Some people had some problems but I was never one of them. I have had mine for almost 2 years, it was easily affordable and had a great feature list.

    I ditched my Samsung flagship phone because after two of them I got sick of being ditched as a customer when they decided arbitraily that they wouldnt update to latest OS because their bloatware took up too much memory. Im using android 6, N5 always amongst first to get new OS and I really enjoy showing my mate who is upgrading his samsung phones just to get the latest update...

    Battery and camera has always been good for me. THe high end expensive competition is plagued with faults and issues including apple, so I never understood the fuss made over the nexus like it was the only phone that had release day issues. Id like a 6P but cant really bring myself to do it given Im still getting OS updates.

    Feature for feature this still is a great phone. In fact new phones, havent really innovated in the hardware department that makes a real difference to usuability or user experience (with one exception). the only three hardware improvements that phone companies are competing over these days seems to be screen resolution, camera resolution and battery capacity. For us ordinary mortals N5 takes good photos, battery lasts the day, and has a good display. The one feature that newer phones have that I will look for in a replacement eventually is front facing speakers. My ears are getting old. im going to stick with this N5 another year.

  • parayil h. Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    Nexus5 still receiving marshmallow update, what an advanced software technology has implemented before two years in this phone. I see there are more than six thousand reviews about n5 ,i see some of them, nobody complaint that the phone is heating at any time while main complaint about other phones are heating issues.a best phone with single sim ,4.95" ,display, 2gb/16gb,GPS with glonass, compass.

  • Marcos Morales Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    The best smartphone I've ever had. Everything has been working great since day one, even the battery life. Smoother than ever with Marshmellow. I just love my Nexus 5. I forgot what Lag is in a samartphone.

    • Viktor jovanović v. Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

      I agree with you Marcos, Nexus 5 is the best phone for lot of us, because it is so good and nice.

  • Steve Zimmerman Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    Optical image stabilization and clean UI. I take pictures inside a lot and the Nexus 5 is great. I presume it's because of OIS. My battery was a disaster, but I replaced it myself grabbing another damaged N5 for almost nothing. Honestly, the benchmark testing of the app speed seems absurd at this point. Almost every phone has a processor fast enough to run 99% of apps without a hiccup.

  • Bruno Araujo Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

    Stop saying battery life had improved with marshmallow, it is now draining like crazy due to a wireless bug. Third time charging this mother f#cker today!

    • Raul Suarez Nov 9, 2015 Link to comment

      Have you tried clearing the cache after the marshmallow update? That improved my battery life 4x on the Nexus 5 and nexus 7. My phone now gets to the end of the day still with charge! I only turn on blue tooth in the car, though.

  • Jos K Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Nexus 5 is great except the noise cancellation firmware ( fluence from qualcomm) is horrible! Fluence is broken for years... It means the mic only picks up your voice when holding the N5 horizontal, max about 5 inches from your mouth , not nice, speakerphone mode only helps a bit. It is really amazing that google, lg or Qualcomm are not stepping up and fix Fluence.

  • Vishrut Chokshi Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    It has been more than 1 yr and my Nexus still works as out of the box. It runs on 6.0 and doze has significantly prolonged the battery life. I believe the rear cam quality is in par with the current monstrous smartphones but yes the front cam is bit disappointing and ofcourse the storage (16GB) is an issue. Nonetheless I love my Nexus. I feel it is the best smartphone that has happened to me.

  • Abdulla Eisa Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Didn't use the n5 for a while. Got the g4 and other phones. Yesterday, my daughter brought the N5 asking me to charge it, and when I held it in my hand.. The way it felt, the size, remembered how quick it was/is. I immediately declared that nothing is like nexus 5.

  • Mithun Upendra Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Latest updates and desgin for one hand use >> power button restart loop (fixed by new power button soldering or entire mother board replacement) >> battery >> low speaker sound.

  • Ttrini Trini Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    The NEXUS 5 is a real flagship smartphone. I graduated from the Nexus S to N5 White 32gb. Great specs and good price. I'm disappointed in the N5X. Where are the improvements? 2gb ram, 16&32 gb space and same battery. N5X should have had improved specs removable battery and SD card slot. Also, get rid of the 16 gb phone. It should ship with 32,64,128 options and remain simple as the Nexus 5. Google read the comments pages...

    • Matthew Ardon Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

      Well the point of the 5 was to have flagship like specs without the price. Essentially for people on a budget and ya maybe the few extra 50 bucks might not seem like a lot but some people really can't spare that extra money

  • Ranjith Kumar Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Hi, I am using nexus 5 for 1 and half years its work like a day I buy a struck good speed and camara..proper android updates many good thongs are there....still I feel a new one...thanks to Google.

  • Irwin Allicock Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    In my view it's minimalistic and simple which I love. The thing I love the most about it is how easily the parts are replaced. I really love that!!! From battery to camera to speakers... The list goes on. Lovely phone in spite of perceived shortcomings. No problems with mine.

  • tom harman Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    The only faults i've ever found in my beloved N5 was LG's decision to use a plastic frame, cracked everywhere just like anyone else who had one, including the large chip on one side which i have no idea where that missing chunk came from or went to after it fell out.

    • Andrew Tomlinson Nov 4, 2015 Link to comment

      Ha-ha, same happened to me however my screen broke so got a new bezel with screen, got a new battery and back cover when replacing screen. Like a brand new phone now instead it's black and not white as it was previously!

  • tejas gm Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Yeah it has been a year old for my nexus5 32GB white! I love nexus5 for so many reasons! Firstly its pure Android operation system ,which has nothing on it like touch wiz , or the sense UI. Next coming to camera,yeah its standard but HDR+ takes up the camera processing, I tel you the pictures come out way better than I phone 6 on HDR+ mode! Yeah nexus5 is a 2012 released phone and still it can compete with the current monster flagships, I bet that. ( I have seen videos where the muliticore apps speed test vs I phone 6, nexus 5 wins the game there!) .Can anyone believe nexus5 is faster than its successor nexus6! It's such a mini monster where it can still compete with the current big monsters , I am sure about this! If anyone wants to know how nexus5 HDR+ mode works , visit this page for the sample photos where you will be blown out!
    Finally all I can say about nexus is its a phone where hardcore Android users love it, and yeah a mini monster !

  • Julius Samuel Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    I used the red 16GB version, camera quality and battery are standard, storage is a little bit pain but OTG saved me. Convenient wireless charging, NFC, quite high dpi, just fit in my palm, and the best thing is.. Nexus 5 is blazingly fast! Almost no lag. And I love the design.

  • Jaison Joris Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    I've been using my Nexus 5 for over 2 years now. My first smartphone was an iPhone 3G. After switching to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus I swore I'd never by an iPhone again. I skiped the Nexus 4 and bought the Nexus 5 when it came out in Europe. I love my phone, there have been times when I tought about buying a different phone, but It just always felt wrong. Somehow I would always find something that My Nexus had that a other company doesn't. The stock Android is great. And It still runs awsome with Lollipop. I've been thinking about buying the 5X but still I can't say goodbey to my Nexus 5. And another thing, my 2,5 year old daughter keeps dropping my phone, hell it even fell on the pavement. Still my glass remaines unchattered, heck it doesn't even have a schratch. I've only had to replace the camera cover, wich broke in my back pocket. It's cost $10 and is very easy to replace. I hope to use my phone for at least one more year and maybe they'll gave worked out all the Kinks in the 5X.
    Nexus Rules!!!!!

  • Dharmesh Mistry Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with the nexus 5, it (and the nexus 4) have done what alot of people wanted them to do, and that is be the first phone to come out with the newest parts, and at the cheapest price. This is something that clearly has gone the last two years with the nexus phones now sporting processors from phones released earlier in the year, rather than the reverse. Being first to come out and being the best is key.

    The nexus 5 is a sexy phone. It has one of the greatest screen to body ratios, is all black for less distraction, has good grip, and is everything someone like me would want. Too many people want different designs, however I think there is a good chunk of us who just want a phone with great specs and a clean look and at the end of 2013, this was exactly what we were looking for

  • Yazan Sanouri Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    y do u think it is bad... It is the greatest phone i ever had especially after lollipop
    plus it was cheap!

  • Ankur Bedi Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Has been two years using this phone. The longest I have gone without changing. I'll go with it at least a year more.
    Camera has not been an issue, battery though is.
    However it's such a delight to get things done through this phone, no lag whatsoever. With the quickest software updates from Google ,seems like I just bought it last month.
    The nexus this year isn't a good enough upgrade and once u use a Nexus, you wouldn't want anything else.

  • Allan Crowley Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Superb quality and value. And why do people whine on about the camera? It's for posting stuff to other phones not fit exhibiting at the Tate. Get a grip. Battery life is good with new Android.

  • Ramon Cisneros Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    I used the 32 gig white Nexus 5 for 19 months. I only replaced it because the microphone went out. It still runs super smooth on 6.0. The camera evolved to a solid and more than serviceable tool with software updates. The battery was always a bit suspect and doze doesn't help when you use the phone.
    The phone is the perfect size and great to use with one hand. The screen is very nice to watch videos and play games. I loved the wireless charging for the convenience at my office desk. And for the price there was nothing close to the specs at the time.
    The build quality was an issue for me the screen started to lift off the frame and the microphone stopped working so I could not talk on that. The frame next to the volume rocker and the sim csrd try cracked. I always had a case in it and treat my phones very gently. For that reason I'll stay away from the N5x.

  • Bert Hall Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    "It's clearly more than just the some of its parts." Oh dear God! Am I the last person on earth who gives a rat's ass about proper English? "Sum of its parts..."

  • Jaraad Khan Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Dat ass doe.. Lol and for those of you who need a clue... It's because the nexus 5 is a good looking and feeling phone ;)

  • Viktor jovanović v. Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    I really dont know why, buth it is enough big, very fast and with all his litlle flaws, Nexus 5 is most lovely device I ever had. It is just Nexus 5...that's all...

  • Aswin Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    Proud owner for two years and going (32GB). Kitkat colour snaps necks everywhere. People ask 'What phone are you using?'.
    - I've had great results with the back camera, I don't know why there's so much hate, especially since most people only use it to post on social media. Remember it came out in 2013. If you can make use of filters and proper editing, you're good. I use HDR all the time, Photo sphere also (almost never pano). Only complaint is the front camera. Even in broad daylight it has very little detail (here again 2013). Check my IG Aswinning_11 for some samples (not everything from Nexus 5).
    Lately the app crashes every now and then and I must restart the phone. That's all.
    - Battery life is descent if you don't overuse it in one day. I charge it full from about 15% in about 1h35 and sometimes bring a power bank so no problem here.
    -No lag issue. Super smooth running 6.0.
    - I don't use a screen protector nor a case and I I've never dropped it so I can't speak on screen robustness.
    - It's compact and I prefer 5 inch phones. I could use a better camera and battery like on the 5X but price is higher in Europe. Waiting for comprehensive Oneplus X tests before maybe getting it.

  • Bob Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm not sure why or how, but I've been using my Nexus 5 for nearly 2yrs and have not had a single issue you speak of. Not saying you're lying but neither am I! No battery issue, no camera issue (a bit noisy in low light but its not a friggen SLR). The battery lasts me all day and always has. No complaints about this phone at all. Very fast too. Best money I've spent for a phone and will buy another in a heartbeat if this thing ever dies! I've only dropped it twice and the screen is fine.

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