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Greate New Smartphone

In: English and Literature

Submitted By rsjstorage
Words 1478
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When you're shopping for a smartphone, what do you expect to get for less than $400 without a contract? Certainly not a top-of-the-line device, right? Until recently, that kind of price has been reserved for devices that were mid-range at best, or entry-level at worst. Ever since the gorgeous and powerful Nexus 4 came out last year for $300 on the Play Store, however, it's been clear Google is trying to give the high-end, $600-plus Android flagships a run for their money. Now the company's back with the Nexus 5, a power user's dream that sells for $350 and features some of the same specs you'd expect to see in a top-shelf device.

That is, if you can even get your hands on one. The device sold out in less than two hours, and new orders won't get fulfilled for at least a few weeks. But what's so intriguing about the Nexus 5 that it's causing such a ruckus on the Play Store? It's a $350 flagship phone with the serenity of a pure Android experience and all the trimmings, that's what. The question is, can you survive the estimated three to five week waiting time?
The Nexus 4 swept us off of our feet when it arrived last year. And for good reason: It was an aggressively priced smartphone with an elegant design and specs that were, at the time, quite high-end specs. It delivered great performance, a beautiful display and the best of what Android 4.2 had to offer, but it also had a few shortcomings, including subpar battery life and no LTE. Also, it only launched in black, with a white version not arriving until mid-2013. Moreover, its baseline model was quite limited in storage capacity. For all of its perks, there was still plenty of room for improvement.

Fortunately, the Nexus 5 improves upon last year's model in nearly every possible way: It features the best display, the best processor, a respectable amount of storage space and it also launched in both black and white, so customers are getting a choice from the very beginning. Oh, and it includes LTE, although there's a catch, as we'll explain momentarily.
After taking a design risk on the N4, LG opted to play it safe this time around. The end result is a solid phone constructed with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and polycarbonate plastic on the back. The texture of the phone's back is slightly different with each color; the black has a matte, soft-touch finish that looks and feels great (as long as you don't touch it with greasy hands, that is). The white version, meanwhile, is more in line with Google's description of "silky," offering a smooth texture that isn't at all glossy or shiny. Of course, that makes it a little tougher to grip, so you'll want to go with black if accidental drops are a concern.

Regardless of which you choose, the Nexus 5 is much more minimalistic than last year's model, but with its more simplistic design, it just doesn't come with eye-catching elements like other flagship smartphones we've played with recently, thanks in part to the absence of a glittery pattern on the back (like the Nexus 4). Still, it's not without some visual flourishes. Look closely and you'll notice a porthole-shaped earpiece on the front that matches the device's overall color. Meanwhile, the camera lens on the back is raised ever so slightly above the rest of the phone's body, and the Nexus logo -- which is etched into the back -- stretches from bottom to top. The device isn't ugly, but there isn't much about it that's striking, either.
We can't say how well it's going to hold up in extreme durability tests -- we expect to see plenty of drop tests show up on YouTube as early adopters receive their shipments from the Play Store -- but suffice to say the Nexus 5 is sturdily built. Moreover, it offers plenty of points of friction, reducing the chances it'll slip out of your hand. The screen has even been redesigned so that the glass is slightly recessed, allowing a small amount of protection from drops at certain angles. In contrast, the glass on the Nexus 4 was raised above the sides and was therefore more vulnerable -- regardless of how you dropped it.
The new Nexus measures 137.9mm (5.43 inch) tall, 69.2mm (2.72 inch) wide and 8.6mm (0.34 inch) thin. It's imperceptibly wider than the Nexus 4 due to the larger screen, but LG's also trimmed down the bezels a bit, so the extra width shouldn't make it any less comfortable to hold. What you might notice, however, is that the flat edges extend outward at an angle to meet the gently curved back plate. That new shape makes this phone easier to grip than the Nexus 4, but the potentially awkward angle at which the sides and back meet make the phone a little less comfortable.
While we're taking a tour of the sides, there's an interesting detail about the Nexus 5 lock button and volume rocker: They're ceramic, a material we don't often see used in phones. Granted, this choice of build material may not affect the device's overall durability, but it's a nice touch -- buttons are usually one area where manufacturers cut corners, so we're happy to see LG and Google throw in a little extra TLC where we normally wouldn't expect it.
Continuing around the edges, the speaker grille is now on the bottom next to the micro-USB port, not that this is much of a surprise. If you recall, the Nexus 4's grille was poorly placed on the lower-right section of the back, which led to muffled sound until LG quietly updated the handset with a tiny piece of plastic that protruded from the back of the device, enabling the sound to get out. This design choice is also featured on LG's flagship G2, as well as a few other phones (such as the iPhone 5 and 5s). The only drawback now is that you have to make sure your finger doesn't block the grille when you're holding the phone in landscape mode. Finally, there's a micro-SIM slot next to the lock button on the right, a headphone jack and microphone on top and a volume rocker on the left.
Over on the front, there's a notification indicator at the bottom. It normally glows white, although you can install third-party apps like Light Flow to change the color. Up top you'll see the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, sensors and that porthole-shaped earpiece we mentioned earlier. It's barely noticeable on the black model, but it definitely stands out on the white one. We would've liked to see all-white bezels match the rest of the device; the company's done it a few times before, but we've been told by people close to the situation that the Nexus was created with Google's design philosophy in mind while being based on LG's hardware platform.
The Nexus 5 supports the Qi wireless charging standard, just like last year's model. There doesn't appear to be any weird compatibility issues this time around; we were easily able to charge the phone using both Energizer and Samsung pads, as well as the Nokia Fatboy. Google's also coming out with a separate charging pad that we're told will be available in the Play Store soon (pricing hasn't been announced). As for connectivity, the Nexus 5 includes dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, NFC (for Google Wallet and Android Beam), SlimPort, DLNA and USB OTG for accessing flash drives and using keyboards.

Now, about that catch we mentioned earlier. We're pleased that Google and LG included LTE this time around, but we're not satisfied with the implementation here. The N5 comes in two different configurations. There's the D820 for North America with nine-band LTE (bands 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41, which offers support for Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T, as well as Canada and a few random networks in Asia, Africa and South America). It also offers quad-band GSM/EDGE, CDMA 800/1900 and seven-band DC-HSPA+ (bands 1/2/4/5/6/8/19, which essentially cover a majority of networks outside North America).

Then there's the second model, the D821, which comes with six-band LTE (bands 1/3/5/7/8/20), quad-band GSM/EDGE and six-band DC-HSPA+ (bands 1/2/4/5/6/8). While most of your data needs can be addressed by one or the other, anyone hoping to take advantage of LTE while traveling abroad will find that neither version works everywhere.…...

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