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Opinion 179 Shares 38 comments

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

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?

nexus 5 screen
How did the Nexus 5 become so popular when it has so many issues? / © ANDROIDPIT
LG Nexus 5 16GB (unlocked) - Black
LG Nexus 5 16GB - White

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. 

androidpit customize nexus 5
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.

nexus 5 screen
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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  • 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).

    • 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 10 months ago 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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 11 months ago 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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...

    • 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

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