Bad legacy: Nexus 5 continues Google's habit of skimping on battery and camera

If you have seen the first few reviews of the Nexus 5, you might have heard a lot about the inconsistent and slow camera and also the erratic battery life. It seems to be a constant theme in all reviews and indeed, one would think, in Google’s Nexus line-up.

Let’s look back to the Galaxy Nexus, Google’s first breakaway hit in the Nexus series. Two of the biggest complaints were related to the 5-megapixel camera and the battery life, which generally ran out of juice before the work day. Even then the phone sold like hot cakes, thanks to the first ever 720p display on a Nexus device, and the new Ice Cream Sandwich flavour of Android.

The glass back of the Nexus 4

Shiny back, but average camera of the Nexus 4


The same is the case with the Nexus 4, which was launched in India earlier this year. The Nexus 4 did have a unique design, very good display and processor specs and the promise of stock Android. The 8-megapixel camera was certainly an improvement over the GNex, but it still wasn’t at the level of high-end smartphones of the time, such as the Galaxy S3, iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 920. Its battery life isn’t the best in class either, and you will generally see it in the red territory after around 14 hours of regular usage.

With the Nexus 5, Google has managed to improve on both the camera and battery life fronts, but not to an extent which makes us believe that the company cares about those two aspects. The camera is better thanks to the presence of OIS, but initial impressions showed it can be slow to focus and to click pictures quickly. The battery has also been bumped up in terms of mAh count, but the relative improvement in battery life is not all that great. The general feeling is that these aspects have been ignored by Google and have only been given minor refreshes. Even in terms of the camera UI, Google has gone with the minimalist look, hiding settings behind a touch-activated arc menu and not giving users enough control over finer settings.

Google Nexus 5

Camera and battery are contentious issues


To be fair to Google, they have admitted that some faults of the Nexus 5 camera are down to the software issues, which will be fixed in a future firmware update. So we have hope for the camera at least. As for battery life, Android 4.4 KitKat’s various power management features and the energy-efficiency of the Snapdragon 800 SoC notwithstanding, prolonged use of the large display with the full HD resolution will negate any good work done. Web browsing and video consumption are the worst offenders on the Nexus 5, due to the display being always on.

Google Nexus 5

Camera UI on the Nexus 5 can be confusing


This is the one part that could be a major dealbreaker for many Nexus fans. The fact that Apple’s iPhone 5s greatly improves an already stellar camera would be a big thorn. The iOS 7 camera app also wipes the floor with Google’s version. It’s chockfull of options, placed in an intuitive manner and not buried under settings. Nor would fans be pleased with the fact that the LG G2 has a 13-megapixel OIS camera that takes better pictures and could have so easily been used in the Nexus 5, which is based on that particular LG phone. But instead, we get a phone with run-of-the-mill battery and camera software that’s too slow and bare for 2013, even if the price tag makes up for it.

Published Date: Nov 21, 2013 02:13 pm | Updated Date: Nov 21, 2013 02:13 pm