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Nexus 5 tips and tricks to make your phone awesome

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 3 months ago

Thanks to a tasty injection of Android Lollipop, the Nexus 5 has a new lease of life. That's not to say it was becoming redundant, just that we've discussed it so much that we've just about covered everything there is to cover. While we wait for the Nexus 5 2015, we're here to provide you with the best Nexus 5 tips we can find. Check our favorites out below.

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Get all of your Nexus 5 tips right here. / © ANDROIDPIT

Take better photos

The Nexus 5 has had its fair share of camera problems, so ensuring for quality here should be your first port of call. Thankfully, improving your snaps is pretty hassle-free, simply set your default mode to HDR+ and watch your contrasts, motion-blur and low-light performance increase.

There's really very little reason not to be taking all of your photos in HDR+ mode, save for a marginal hit to the battery performance. To make things even better, the Lollipop update has some serious camera enhancements built in too.

androidpit hdr comparison nexus 5
In the Google Camera app, bring up the menu (tap the 3 dots), select the HDR+ option in the middle, and watch your images get an immediate boost. HDR+ is enabled in the image on the bottom. / © ANDROIDPIT

While you're at it, you might want to activate "manual exposure" so you can make subtle EV corrections on your pictures. Go to you camera app, slide in the camera options from the left, then tap the cog (settings) icon. Next go to advanced and then enable manual exposure.

A new “+/-” icon will appear at the bottom of the list when you tap the three dots (options) icon in future; this allows you manually set the exposure value. Give it a try for yourself and you might see a dramatic difference in the your pictures.

Change your brightness automatically at different times of the day 

Though it’s not specific to the Nexus 5, this feature will certainly aid it. The Nexus 5 battery life is notoriously short, and this simple addition could help reduce battery consumption, as well as saving you some time.

BrightTime is an app currently in its early stages of development, and as such, it’s not in the Play Store. That being said, it does work perfectly on the Nexus 5 and installing it is easy.

First, go into your settings menu and tap the security option to enter the security menu. Scroll down to “unknown sources” and make sure you have it enabled (move the slider to the right). Next, head here from your device browser to download the app.

androidpit nexus 5 unknown sources
Enable unknown sources and follow the simple install wizard for BrightTime.  / © ANDROIDPIT

Once it’s downloaded, you can tap on the notification to open the install wizard. Some security warnings may pop up, and these should be taken seriously when downloading apps from outside of the Play Store. However, we’ve verified this app ourselves, and you can usually trust what appears on the XDA Developers forum. Follow the install instructions which open.

Once BrightTime has been installed, it will launch, and you will be presented with a schedule. Now you can set a custom brightness level which will automatically activate when it reaches that time of the day, and you can adjust the time at which this happens as you see fit. It’s a simple idea, but this app can be really useful. I always turn my brightness to a minimum once I go to bed. Why not set it to do this automatically? 

androidpit brighttime app
This great app is easy to use, and means you don't need to keep changing your brightness levels throughout the day. / © ANDROIDPIT

Ditch Hangouts

Sure, Google likes to force things down our throats, like making it so that you almost need a Google+ account just to get out of bed in the morning, but you don't have to jump aboard the Hangouts train just because Google wants you to. Just install another messaging app that you actually like or already use (like Viber, Kik, or Tango) and substitute that as the default messaging app. 

androidpit nexus 5 settings default sms app
All you need to do is download the app you want, then go to Settings and More and you'll see the Default SMS App heading. Make your choice from whatever SMS apps you have on your phone. / © ANDROIDPIT

Capture photos while recording

You can capture stills while recording a video on the Nexus 5, and it’s incredibly easy. Just start recording a video, and tap the screen whenever you want to take a snapshot. The picture will automatically be saved to your internal storage and can be accessed from your gallery anytime.

androidpit nexus 5 video snap
Tap the screen while recording a video to take a picture and you will see an animation to let you know you have successfully snapped a pic. / © ANDROIDPIT

Quickly access your alarm, and quickly access your quick-settings

To quickly access your quick settings, just drag down with two-fingers from the top of the screen. Oh, you were already aware of that? Well what about this: while you’re there, notice you have a flashlight app installed too. Cool, right? What, you knew that as well? Okay, try this: if you have an alarm set up, tap the alarm display next to the date and time for a quick shortcut to your alarm settings. You didn’t know about that one, did you?   

androidpit quick settings clock
Just drag the top portion of the screen down with 2 fingers to access the Quick Settings, rather than the notification shade. Tap on your alarm if you want to quickly access your alarm page. / © ANDROIDPIT

Turn off Google Now

I think Google Now is kinda cool, but it has absolutely no use value for me as I traverse the few streets between my penthouse apartment and the AndroidPIT mansion. Fortunately I know both addresses and I've even managed to figure out how to get between them quickly.

I already have the temperature on my home screen and I rarely take flights or have packages arriving that I need to coordinate myself with. And sadly, my stock portfolio is about as concrete as that penthouse apartment and the mansion I work in. So if you don't actually use Google Now, just turn it off and save yourself some battery life and gain an extra home screen.

androidpit nexus 5 settings google now
Go to the gray Google Settings app in the app drawer, hit Search & Now and turn the Google Now switch off. / © ANDROIDPIT

Make use of Google's app integration

Even if you don't much like or use Google Now, that doesn't mean Google's presence is not still everywhere to be found in the Nexus 5 experience. From the persistent voice command search bar on the home screens to the smart dialer that integrates a search function and auto-complete, Google is intertwined on the Nexus 5 like nobody's business.

Seeing as this is actually a very powerful tool (and only a little scary), you may as well get on board and put it to good use. The more you learn about Google's integrated services the quicker and easier your Nexus 5 experience will become. Check out a few examples below.

androidpit nexus 5 maps screenshot
You can call businesses, pin, save, share and visit websites right from Google Maps. / © ANDROIDPIT
  • In Google Maps, just swipe up from the bottom on an address search result to get contact details and more for that location.
androidpit nexus 5 google now voice settings
As long as you have your device language set to US English you can search hands-free. / © ANDROIDPIT
  • You can also use Google's voice search on any home screen or within Google Now. Just say ''OK Google'' and search away. You don't even need to put on an American accent anymore, because Google is rapidly expanding the supported languages.
androidpit nexus 5 dial screen
The integration of Google Search into the dialer is a great time-saving feature. / © ANDROIDPIT
  • From the default dialer screen (the one with your last calls and frequent contacts), just type your search terms in the panel at the very top. Google will search local content and return results right in the dialer.

Print via the Cloud

As of Android 4.4, there is an easy way of printing your documents, images, and photos from any printer, provided that is connected to the same Wi-Fi network you’re on and you’ve got Cloud Print Service enabled. All you need to do is activate it by going to Settings > Printing and click on the Cloud Print option. Once enabled, you can use this service to print via the cloud.

androidpit nexus 5 cloud printing
Google Cloud Print offers any easy solution for printing. / © ANDROIDPIT

Organize your screen with folders

It’s a pretty simple trick, but I’ve seen my fair share of completely unorganized home screens. By adding similar themed apps together, you can have a ton of apps at the touch of your fingertips without having to deal with pages and pages of app icons.

Simply do a long press on an app and then drag it onto another app icon and it’ll automatically create a folder. From there, you can rename the folder to whatever you like. In our example, we’ve placed Calculator and Calendar into the same folder in the picture below.

androidpit nexus 5 lollipop folders
We tapped and held the Calendar app, then dragged it onto the Calculator and it grouped them together. / © ANDROIDPIT

Root, root, root.

If you want to take total control of your Nexus 5, install a custom ROM, remove native applications, or just want to try out some apps which require root access, then maybe it is time to check out rooting your Nexus 5. Follow our step by step tutorial on how to root the Google Nexus 5 on Android Lollipop 5.0.

root nexus 5 teaser
As with anything having to do with rooting and unlocking a bootloader on a device, make sure to backup any relevant data before you attempt it! © ANDROIDPIT

Save your battery

Having a little bit of an issue with your Nexus 5 not being able to last the entire day? It may be because of some of the settings that are enabled by default. Of course, Lollipop comes with the fantastic battery saver mode, but if you’re looking to gain a little bit more life, you can first stop the device from constantly searching for Wi-Fi and limiting the amount of GPS requests that your device makes.

In order to stop constant searching of Wi-Fi, simply go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced Options. From there, you can decide whether you can to keep Wi-Fi on when the device is asleep, so that it's not always scanning, and also enable Wi-Fi optimization.

androidpit nexus 5 lollipop wi fi settings
If you go into advanced in your Wi-Fi settings you can alter them to improve battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

From there, you can head alter a number of things, like turning "scanning always available" off to improve your battery life. Another battery saving tip would be to use only your Wi-Fi and mobile networks, as opposed to GPS, in order to determine your location. You can access these settings in Settings > Location. While this might reduce the accuracy of localization services, it will help save some of your battery over the course of the day.

Quick Access to the Camera and Dialer

One of the best parts of having a mobile device with a camera is to be able to take photos quickly and on the fly. Rather than having to unlock your device, fire open the camera app, and then take a picture, you can easily access your camera straight from your lock screen.

All you have to do is click the icon in the lower right corner of your lock screen and drag it to the left. Voila! Your camera will fire up. The same thing goes for the dialer. Why unlock and launch the dialer when you can launch it straight from the lock screen?

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The camera icon on your lock screen works as a shortcut to your camera, and you've also got a dialer shortcut. / © ANDROIDPIT

Don't forget we previously shared a trick how to make your Nexus 5 screen bigger, as well as some common Nexus 5 problems and their solutions.

What other tips do you know for the Nexus 5? Have any of these been helpful for you?

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


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