Compromise and Nexus 5: a review

I know a thing or two about com­pro­mise — I bought a Nexus 5 a few months ago. It’s not the phone I want, but it’ll do. For now.

It’s been years since I bought some­thing that wasn’t the lat­est and great­est Nexus mod­el, but this time I think it was the right call. Like oth­er Android fans, I await­ed the an­nounce­ment of the Nexus 6 with every bit as much ex­cite­ment as the en­tire world does when it’s new-iPhone-time. (Yes, this is a thing peo­ple ac­tu­al­ly do for Nexus devices.)

I found my­self ut­ter­ly un­der­whelmed by Nexus 6. Price, size, bor­ing, etc. But I knew I need­ed a new phone, so I im­me­di­ate­ly or­dered the fan-favorite Nexus 5.

It’s fast. My Galaxy Nexus — a phone from 2011 — didn’t seem that slow, even to­wards the end, but I’m blown away at how flu­id­ly this thing runs just about every­thing. (That’s prob­a­bly the ex­tra RAM talk­ing.) Another RAM-based plus is that it’s awe­some to switch be­tween apps — and even brows­er tabs — with­out my see­ing per­sis­tent back­ground process­es dy­ing and restart­ing. I could have avoid­ed this frus­tra­tion by sim­ply do­ing less with my de­vice, but why would I?

Having 32 GB of stor­age shouldn’t be such a big deal in 2015, but af­ter deal­ing with two phones that maxed out at 16-ridiculous-gigabytes, it feels amaz­ing to not have to think about space, at least for now. Of course it’s still on­ly 32 GB, so I’m not sig­nif­i­cant­ly chang­ing the way I use the de­vice to make use of the ex­tra space.

Ick: I find it a lit­tle hard to be­lieve that I own a phone with a not-user-swappable bat­tery.1 After all, I thought that I ob­ject to these on prin­ci­ple. In the end, sigh, the Nexus plus­es won out over the oth­er de­vices I con­sid­ered. But I feel as if the de­vice comes with a built-in ex­pi­ra­tion date.

Speaking of pow­er, I didn’t ex­pect to pick up a wire­less Qi charg­er for this phone, but I did. (Um, two, ac­tu­al­ly — cheap ones.) I love it. Wireless charg­ing is not on­ly the fu­ture of mo­bile de­vices, but for those on the Android side of the prover­bial aisle, it’s the present.

Well, no shit there’s no phys­i­cal key­board. I im­me­di­ate­ly missed hav­ing one when I got my first candybar-style de­vice in 2010. You’re get­ting on well with tap­ping, swip­ing, voice, au­to­cor­rect, what­ev­er? That’s won­der­ful and I’m so hap­py for you. I miss hav­ing a re­al key­board no less to­day than I did four years ago.

Months af­ter its gen­er­al avail­abil­i­ty, I’m still con­tin­u­ing to hold off on ap­ply­ing the Nexus 5 Lollipop up­grade. The same UI flash that got Apple-enamored de­sign blog­gers sali­vat­ing ac­tu­al­ly sad­dens me. Exactly why is prob­a­bly worth a ded­i­cat­ed post, but af­ter months of us­ing Lollipop on sec­ondary de­vices, I still can’t see my­self putting it on my pri­ma­ry phone (read: the on­ly de­vice that mat­ters to me).

Nexus 5 feels like more of a stop­gap than any­thing else… at least it was pret­ty in­ex­pen­sive. It’s clear that the world isn’t turn­ing back to the good stuff from the past (top want: badass Sidekick-style slid­er) but there is hope for the fu­ture — Nexus 5 just needs to last me un­til Project Ara is a thing I can ac­tu­al­ly use.

Someone will make an Ara key­board mod­ule. I can feel it in my hands now.

  1. I know. There are dis­as­sem­bly guides that show you how to crack open the phone and re­place the bat­tery. But that is not the same as hav­ing a tru­ly re­mov­able bat­tery. For one thing, I can’t just ca­su­al­ly car­ry a sec­ond bat­tery to pop in for an in­stant top-up. And al­so, I imag­ine this com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor lim­its the mar­ket de­mand for re­place­ment bat­ter­ies, which I fear will lim­it the bat­tery sup­ply when, down the road, the day comes that I fi­nal­ly need a re­place­ment. Sealed phones are a shit­ty, dis­re­spect­ful de­sign de­ci­sion by which this dude can­not abide.

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