Nov 11 AT 9:56 AM Nick Gray 70 Comments

Building the perfect Nexus phone


For the Android faithful, the latest Nexus device is considered to be the gold standard for devices. The Nexus features the latest and greatest specs and an Android build straight from Google with none of the standard software bloat that typically accompanies OEM branded phones and tablets. But the appeal of a Nexus phone many times outshines what Google and its partner OEMs are able to deliver.

The recently released Nexus 5 is an impressive piece of hardware when you look at each individual component, but the device itself is understated, featuring a washed out display and a mediocre camera. The good news is that we’re not here to focus on the Nexus 5′s flaws – we want to know what the perfect Nexus phone would look like if its processor, storage, display, design, manufacturer, camera and price were all selected by the Android and Me community.

Check back over the next few weeks for new polls focusing on one specific feature of the perfect Nexus phone. Once we have all the data, we’ll pull it all together to give you a look at what an Android and Me spec’d Nexus phone would offer.

To kick things off, we simply want to know how you would score this year’s Nexus 5. So, get to clickin’.

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • MrMrMan

    It would need a microsd card slot for starters. A larger, removable battery. A better camera. And probably more ram.

    • Blucose

      More RAM than almost any phone on the market, for an OS that requires less? Makes sense.

      And Micro SD’s are a pain. I agree there could be more storage, but Google has its reasons for not putting them in.

      • MrMrMan

        Microsd’s work just fine for me. There reasons are to drive you towards cloud storage. Local storage is always superior. But not having a choice is ridiculous.

      • MrMrMan

        Also just because your OS requires less ram doesn’t mean the apps don’t. More multitasking.

        • Blucose

          Yeah, i get that, but they also released loads of tools for developers to make their apps smoother. It’s not like 2GB isn’t a lot of RAM. Only the Note 3 has more i think.

          MicroSD’s are so much worse than built in storage. That isn’t even up for debate. Admittedly, its the way android handles external storage, but nonetheless it is not a good experience. Better to keep them out.

          People always get so expectant of Nexus phones. They’re so cheap! I’d much rather buy a new phone at half the price every year than pay double to “get more RAM”.

          If you want a phone that has more RAM, a better camera, removable battery and microSD, go get a samsung phone. But you’re completely missing the point of the Nexus program.

          • MrMrMan

            You know what’s better than built in storage? Built in storage + a microsd. I have no problem with the experience.

            Actually I have a Note 3, and these are the reasons I will probably never own another nexus device, save for the Nexus experience phones. I understand the point. Doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Nexus devices have fallen off since the introduction of the Nexus One and the only thing saving them are the price point.

    • Fulaman

      Do you even have a Nexus 5? The Camera is fine. I do agree about the microSD card slot and bigger battery. But for $399 (which is what I purchased the Nexus 5 32gb white version for), it is hard to find a phone to beat that price. If you want all in one get a Sony Xperia Z1 which has a microSD card slot and most likely the best camera right now at 20.7 mp (though the Nexus 5 Camera is one of the best currently, it is not worse than the iphone 5S camera.)

    • masterpfa

      Many manage without a Micro SD, as do I, but it is all about personal choice.

      Those who want expandable storage should purchase any number of phones that are currently available. The Nexus phone doesn’t “need” expandable storage, it is something some people want.

      I personally would have liked to have had a larger battery. Everything else is fine for me, camera, screen, size, weight, form factor.

      A Nexus is a Nexus and will continue to be value for money. OEM’s will continue to manufacture the phones for people who need more.

  • halo0

    Washed out display? The N5 has one of the most accurate and beautiful displays ever fitted to a phone! You must be comparing it to an oversaturated Samsung AMOLED.

    • Nick Gray

      When viewing the Nexus 5′s display on its own, it look just fine. Put it next to the HTC One and it’s clear that LG did not accurately calibrate the phone’s display properly.

      • halo0

        My friend has an HTC One and an N5. I’m going to do a comparison.

      • Bryan

        I have to disagree. I compared my Nexus 5 a co-worker’s One and he even admitted he liked the N5′s display better.

    • Nicholas Vettese

      I am with you. It’s like everyone who does not use a Nexus 5 is complaining. get the phone, enjoy it, and you will see all your complaints dwindle. The camera is fine. Want a great camera, go spend $1000 on a real one.

  • SGB101

    It’s the battery for me. The camera could be better, but its more than adequate for a daily shooter.

    I have to disagree with washed out screeb, I’d call it acreate colour, and take over any amoled screen. I hate my notes colour saturation, even with dynamic disabled.

    • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

      The color is amazing, the screen is amazing.

  • sdny8

    I have a g2 and am very glad I have it over the n5. I love having a phone that lasts me all day long. I occasionally have to charge it again on my commute home. But it routinely gets me 16+ hrs of usage with 3-4+ hrs of on screen time. Anything below 3000mah is no longer acceptable to me.

    • SGB101

      100% agree, when I got the note2, with its 3200mah,i was blown away by its battle life.

      I did have to replace the battery after about 12months when it began to degrade, that is more of a concern than the size with seal phones.

      I’m past caring about sd cards, they are a positive, but not a deal breaker.

  • Mark James Talbot

    The screen is just too big to be ergonomic. I can carry around a nexus 7 for when i want to read something or watch a film, I want my phone to be easily useable in one hand on the move and the n4 was more or less at my limit for that. I don’t have small hands either.

    • westy

      the nexus 5 is mm bigger then the nexus for and it being thinner and lighter makes it feel so much better in the hand then the nexus 4. Have you even held the phone? probably not. I own both phones and nexus 5 feels great in the hand.

      • kiki.utena

        He said for one hand use. Learn how to read. A 5” screen in the same size body as a 4.7” still means you need a bigger hand/fingers to touch all the screen with only one hand. Clearly what the poster was talking about.

        To parody your question, have you even used your brain?

    • Chad

      Totally agree, the N5 wound up being 1.2mm taller and .7mm thicker than the Galaxy S4 and nearly 4mm taller than the N4. All the rumors about the N5 being put in a smaller package never materialized. I wish it had! I really wanted a phone around that moto x size. I just can’t swipe my thumb all the way around the far corners like I want when one handing it. 4.7″ display would be all I really need. And if it came in a 130mm tall and 65-66mm wide it would be great! Hopefully the X1s will come out soon!

  • Fulaman

    Washed out display? Mediocre camera? I don’t think you know what you are taking about Nick. In a side by side review with the iPhone 5s the camera shined (I am not talking about biased American Apple reviews). However side by side the GS4, both the iPhone 5s and Nexus 5 fell a little short. The only negative thing about the Nexus 5 is the battery, it should be 3000 mah.

    Here is a non biased review of the iPhone 5s camera vs the Nexus 5 camera:

    • SGB101

      Great video, what is the lag like? Some reports say it’s fixed, while others say it’s ‘better than the n4 but still lags’

      • Fulaman

        It will be fixed, Google mentioned that they will be releasing an update to fix the camera lag/shutter lag on the Nexus 5 in a future update coming soon. How soon? I don’t know, but it really is not all that bad, the Camera is still relatively fast. The important thing is that it will be fixed and Google is aware of it.

        • SGB101

          Great news. I don’t know why they didn’t ‘fix’ the n4 camera, as using focal really speeds thing up, so not great but better.

          • Fulaman

            I know this is not related to your comment, but did you know that the nexus 5 and iphone 5s use the same 8mp Sony Camera? They just took different software implementation routes.

            With that said, I agree with one of your future comments earlier. I wish they would have used the same 3000 mah battery in the LG G2 for the Nexus 5. But I think that LG probably wanted the G2 to have a one up over the Nexus 5 in battery specs. There would be no reason to buy the more expensive G2 if they had the same battery. The Nexus 5 and LG G2 both have similar storage, both have unremovable batteries, etc. The 2 phones are practically the same phone minus some minute differences.

  • renyo

    I don’t think there is a phone out there that can satisfy the requirements of everyone… Honestly I don’t care much about a phone’s camera… I use it to capture memories for me, not to hang in my living room… Battery life is something I have a gripe about but currently I’m not a heavy user so that’s cool… I’m just waiting for Project Ara to become a reality… Then I want to hear people who complain…

    • MrMrMan

      The Note 3 is satisfying all my requirements right now.

      • SGB101

        Bet your girlfriend is well gelous of that phone ;o)

    • Kakofonix

      THIS……………….Project ARA running pure Android………imagine…a Nexus on-line store like Moto-Maker…….you choose the screen size, resolution, processor, memory, RAM, GPU, radios, battery size, camera…color of the phone…….everything………but within a few practical boundaries…….once you choose screen size as 4.3″ cannot choose resolution as 1080P (just as a eg for current constraints) similarly the larger battery you choose you cannot go a certain thickness of the frame……

  • Nate B.

    What keeps the Nexus from being “perfect” is cutting corners. They do this to keep the price low. Also, it’s meant to be a blueprint for software. Hardware wise it doesn’t come with anything truly innovative or we haven’t seen before because it’s based off a previous device. Just it’s own look.

    I do think Google could truly stop cutting corners and put quality into every area of the phone if they wanted. Truly market it. Truly be in control and have a more successful launch and on the same day for once. This time around wasn’t to bad, but it could have been better.

  • Vineeth

    They should have provided a microsd card slot. That is my only Gripe as of now.

    • Fulaman

      Then a lot of people including myself would have bought the 16gb version instead of the 32gb version.

  • xtrimsky

    Really ? Washed out display ? Mediocre camera ?

    Have you even played with the N5 ?

    Android and me didn’t write an article that I loved since at least 9 months. But that’s it! Deleted from my RSS reader.

  • Gordon Wheeler

    I love my new Nexus 5. It is much improved over my retiring Galaxy Nexus, which I have little to complain about. As for the screen on the new Nexus, looks great to me, but I don’t have a handfull of highend un-locked phones to compare it to. The Camera looks good to me and when you consider that for the most part any sharing will be via social media (Instagram, facebook etc) I don’t need a 20MegaPixal camera. Not matter how many Pixals you have, you can’t match the quality of a larger sensor. I do agree that if they denie the end user access to the battery that it should have the longest life possible. But most importantly list me 5 phones with simalar specs that are un-locked and will work on just about any carrier around the Globe for $400.

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    I’d like a louder speaker, better camera, front speakers, and a bigger battery.

    • Fulaman

      Oh yah that’s true how could I forget about the speakers, the speakers are pretty low volume lol. I think this is a software related issue. It needs to be addressed asap. But I usually use my Nakamichi headphones anyways that I don’t care much for speakers

  • vic

    I have zero complaints. I don’t understand why everyone compares it to phones that are in the $600-$700 price range. This phone is in a league of its own..

    • Fulaman

      It can be compared to phones in that price range because it is every bit as good as those phones. I would place it in the same league as it’s LG G2 cousin. The only issue as aformentioned is the battery. Only a few phones have a better camera than the Nexus 5, but it has been proven that the Nexus 5 has a better overall camera than the iphone 5S.

      • Nicholas Vettese

        Have you used the phone??? honestly, anyone who complains about the battery is just showing their ignorance. Stop reading blogs and get the phone. You have no idea, but you bitch about something you heard on the web.

        • Fulaman

          I have 2 Nexus 5s one black 16gb and one white 32gb.

  • Jon Koops

    I would have liked if the glass was curved along the edges of the display, like the Nexus 4. Right now I feel like being punished when using side-to-side gestures, instead of my fingers sliding off the side of the display. It’s a small thing but it feels like a world of difference to me. Otherwise the Nexus 5 has been the beat phone I have owned so far.

  • Paul Taylor

    Meh… this poll is just going to be yet another boring round of “needs a microSD card and a removable battery”… if you want to get any original and imaginative ideas, you’re going to have to word it very carefully!

  • Piotr

    SD Card nad removeable battery.
    It is ease to carry two batteries, power banks are pain in the… :(

  • FlexPlexico

    Understated is fine. What is needed is:

    - Quality feel – materials don’t matter
    - Top SOC
    - Good display (doesn’t need to be top notch)
    - Micro SD card slot
    - >=64Gb Flash
    - RAM like other top phones
    - Sufficient battery to allow one day intensive usage without recharge
    - Wireless charger

  • OpenIntro

    I seriously do not get the constant grumbles about no SD cards. Google isn’t going to include them. Much more, why do you REALLY need them, in your phone particularly. You really max out 32gb storage? Yes, if you try to put 20 movies and every photo you’ve taken in the last 5 years on there, it will be maxed out. That’s why you have storage options like Drive, Box, Dropbox, etc.

    If we were stuck with only 8Gb, I might agree, even at 16, there is plenty of storage. Maybe a 64Gb would be nice for those people that do like to store a TON of things on their phone, but 32 really is more than adequate for 99% of people.

  • rashad360

    The main features I would want to see would be a great camera, like the Lumia 1020, and a great battery, like the Droid Razr MAXX (who cares if the phone gets a little fatter, phones are thin enough these days that another few millimeters of depth wouldn’t be a deal breaker)

    We could reduce the resolution to 720p and I bet most people wouldn’t notice a difference. 1080p seems like overkill to me. With less pixels to push around we could see even greater improvements to the battery and the price point.

    As for screen size, 5 inches is nice. No bigger, though, in order to keep 720p ppi at a decent amount.

    RAM should be >=2GB for great multitasking. No compromises there.

    Micro SD card slot, please. With one of these I could care less about the stock internal storage. Just make it 16GB or whatever.

    Removable battery would be nice but isn’t necessary.

  • Paul Catlin

    I’d like a higher capacity\replaceable battery option 3000+ mah. Camera the phone comes with is good enough for day to day bits, I use it as an emergency camera only for when i havent got my Canon digital SLR with me.

  • RoyalJoker

    So far my only complaint is the battery. I can’t make it through a full day which is silly considering we are in 2013. I don’t care much about camera because for it to cost 350$ some things have to be left out and for a 350$ phone the camera is amazing. If Google were to up the price for the excellent camera and awesome battery the price would skyrocket making money nexus fans pissed off. So with that said its the most complete package you can get for 350$ hands down no other phone priced as such can mess with it even a little. I don’t see why its compared to high end phones when everyone knows they need to skimp on some stuff for the price so of course it won’t win the best smart phone specs debate. But in its price range it is in class of its own and it fights other high end phones amazingly well for a mid level price

  • Akshay Jumani

    a bigger battery and dual speakers, its cause of these two issues I’m not sure if I’ll buy it

  • 573W1E

    For the price, it’s a fantastic combination with I feel generally the right compromises. Ideally, I would have liked to see a larger battery and a more consistent camera in terms of output. (I’ve seen all kinds of reviews from it having a great camera to a terrible one)

  • Ardrid

    I’m generally satisfied with this year’s Nexus. It needs a better package though. My ideal is top of the line hardware + stock Android + HTC One design language + $350 or less price point. That is the penultimate Nexus device.

  • Janson

    I’m very happy with my N5 because it hides the hardware. It’s like they know hardware is over as a differentiator (same as what happened with PCs) it’s just gimmicks from here on out. 32 GB is ample for me. And I have no interest in ever swapping out batteries again.
    What I do want:
    1) a full day of use on a single charge.
    2) More intelligent camera behavior, especially focusing (the number of pixels and OIS are fine for a phone).
    3) $399

  • rhy thornton

    The only real problem is shitty future proofing. What they just pulled with the gnex is totally unacceptable. That, an SD card slot, and a lower price are all i could think of. The n5 is kind of overkill actually. I don’t know a single person who needs those specs (yet).

    • SGB101

      Rule of thumb, if your reading these blogs, you NEED these specs ;o)

  • jamal adam

    Clearly the areas that have been a miss are the battery life and the camera and I wish that they had put in a larger battery. I wouldn’t mind the extra mm’s that it would add on the thickness. Camera needs to be in a league with the heavy hitters like the iPhone, galaxy s4, note 3,One,and Lucia 1020.
    Oh yea, and an option for a 64gb version too.

    • masterpfa

      Battery would be the only thing I would have appreciated a larger capacity. Camera for me is fine, maybe an improvement on the camera software

  • h0ruza

    AT least five times a year we the users are asked what we would like in the next nexus or the ultimate android device.

    The answers are always the same as in… we all ask for the best of all the current phones out there with the biggest battery possible.

    Features that come are forgotten within a year or two rather than improved upon. Remember the instant photo taking of the GNex? I saw a review that reminded me of that and all of a sudden you start to lose hope that you will ever get a phone that solves one issue and moves on to the next.

    Maybe its about time we asked for characteristics instead of collecting the top specs for the year?

  • Anadrol

    The battery should be of at least 4000 mAh, to show the right path to manufacturers,
    I have no use of a shut down phone !

  • Paul Atreides

    Never say anything “bad” about Google or a Nexus phone…ever.

  • donger

    Should of have a killer camera.

  • ihatefanboys

    How to build a better Nexus : Get HTC to make one again. The Nexus One was superior to any phone released at that time. On the camera note, a phone should never be judged on the quality of the camera. If you want to take awesome pics, get a dedicated camera. Solved.

  • San

    Who are we building the phone for? Enthusiasts? Nerds? Or the masses?

  • FeGe

    My biggest problem – with all of the new phones – is with the size. For me is the optimal size is between 4,3 – 4,5. But all of the phones with this screen spec are mid or low range phones. The best phones are always bigger and bigger… but the size of my hand and my pocket is the same.

  • Qyon Griffith

    Have the N5 for a week now and it’s great…for it’s price. The phone that will result out of this article will be totally spec’d out to everyone’s desire and WILL NOT COST $350 – $400. What would the price of this phone be, and would people buy it? That’s the real question.

  • nportelli

    I’d like to see it go back down to 4.3″ size.

  • deborahalvarad

    my neighbor’s sister makes $85 hourly on the internet. She has been without work for 8 months but last month her paycheck was $16903 just working on the internet for a few hours. more information

  • Drake

    I think a great feature for the perfect Nexus phone would be to have a smartwatch to go with it, as I found described on this site

  • kelltrash14

    Personally I’d be happy for a higher end nexus phone to go alongside this budget phone model. Something along the lines of the google experience phones of htc and samsung, but more google.

  • musiccitychad

    Yep, got the Nexus 5 yesterday. I have been addicted to researching for my new phone for 2+ months now. I can’t say I’m 100% satisfied. Here are some things nobody has mentioned. First off, the black levels on the display are pretty weak. Secondly, the sharp corners of the frame are not comfortable. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have rounded or at least softened the edges. I also had a real hard time getting connected to my pc for file transfers. MTP didn’t work at all and PTP wouldn’t let me move files to the root folder. Very few have discussed how terrible the speaker is. You can hear a bit of tinny vibration and the speaker lacks the volume one would want for speaker phone calls. And the last thing I have to complain about is the crappy volume and power buttons. The buttons jiggle around so much I can hear them jangling around when I tap the display. How come nobody has mentioned that yet?