Google Nexus 5 Review: A Fast, Affordable Phone With LTE For All

Results: Display Measurements


The first screen measurements we take are brightness because it’s important to know what your screen is capable of. The rest of our display measurements, along with our battery testing, is done with the screen set to a standardized light output of 200 nits in order to make device comparisons possible. We record the luminance output of each device using a full white pattern, with the device’s brightness slider set to both minimum and maximum values.

Nexus 5 achieves middle-of-the-road brightness at around 400 nits. While it is marginally brighter than the LG G2 and only 5% brighter than the HTC One, it nonetheless seems to sit at the darker end of the scale. Still, it's perfectly readable in daylight.

As an anecdotal aside, the Nexus 5 is often reported as being too bright, and modders have even released kernel add-ons that knock down the brightness of the backlight by about 20%. We tend to concur with the anecdotal feel rather than our measurement, but that may have more to do with the glossy glass and warmth of the panel’s colors.

Because the Nexus 5 has quite a low minimum reading, it should actually provide quite a lot of contrast, though not as much as devices like Tegra Note whose display reaches 420 nits easily.

Black Level

To be sure of the contrast ratio, we had to calibrate the brightness slider to within one percent of our target 200 nits (which by the by was not much fun with sausage fingers; I’ll by opting for a stylus next time). We also checked the calibrated black level, or the luminance output of a full black pattern when full white has been standardized.

Contrast Ratio

Now onto contrast ratio, or white pattern versus black.

As predicted, Nexus 5 has pretty reasonable contrast. It is on the lower end of the scale, yet it seems fine and nothing is a struggle to read or take in proper detail, even held at arm's length.

Color Temperature

Color temperature is a measurement in Kelvin which is used to describe how warm or cool a given display is. These are colors derived from the CCT or correlated color temperature. All of the displays tested are in the cool range (basically any temperature above 4000 Kelvin), but the following chart should give some indication of how they tend toward one end or another of the CCT scale.

The iPhone 5s, LG G2, and particularly the Nexus 4 all sit at the upper end of the cool spectrum, with their whites tending toward a blue hue. Colors get warmer from the HTC One down to the Google Nexus 5, to the point where the Nexus 5 starts to remind us more lot a traditional PC monitor. This makes flesh tones pop, though blue hues and metals can look a little drab.


A gamma curve of 2.2 (no more, no less) is what we optimally want to see.

Nexus 5 has a calibrated gamma of 2.06, which is actually quite decent. It's somewhat lower than Tegra Note's 2.095, while the iPhone 5s is closer to the ideal with 2.19.

Color Gamut

Our volume measurements are compared against both the sRGB and AdobeRGB color gamuts. A reading of 100% on sRGB and 72% on AdobeRGB is the optimal reading for viewing the vast majority of consumer digital content.

The Nexus 5 really impresses here with over 104% of the sRGB color gamut and an incredible 73.7% of AdobeRGB. These figures place it solidly ahead of most devices tested, including the far more expensive iPhone 5s and HTC One. Indeed, a fantastic showing for this phone, and one that proves a cheaper device can deliver a truly premium experience.

  • guvnaguy
    Nice review. I think the whole $600-700 price for an off-contract phone is pretty much theft anyway, when the phones cost <$300 to make. Kudos, Google.
  • MoulaZX
    The Nexus 5 is extremely susceptible to thermal throttling which this article seems to gloss over or entirely miss.

    Yes PVS scores do indicate something. They indicate the efficiency of a chip at a given frequency. The lower PVS numbers will heat up faster, and thus be at the optimal 2.23Ghz frequency less often, thus giving the perceived impression of being significantly slower.

    I have a Nexus 5 myself, same PVS scoring (1). Running Antutu in my hand, and I'll score 22,000 - 23,000. However, out of curiosity, I rest the phone on an AC vent for 15 minutes, started the Antutu benchmark while leaving it there, and managed to score 29,500. All results easily and consistently repeatable. And my phone has never been unlocked/flashed. 100% Factory ROM, 4.4.2.

    The issue purely heavy thermal throttling under heavy sustained loads.

    In day to day operations though, it is absolutely flawless, and felt ever so slightly snappier then my previous HTC One (M7). Still incredibly happy with this device, and the only one I have never felt the need to unlock and flash silly. My only gripe was Camera issues, but the 4.4.2 update resolved those problems.
  • MoulaZX
    Duplicate post. Disregard.
  • shahrooz
    I just bought mine wainting for it to arrive xD
  • beetlejuicegr
    So a friend bought Nexus 5 and i bought his nexus 4 for me. Really happy with it even if its a last year's mobile. Economy crisis in Greece just won't give me space to buy Nexus 5 :P. Nexus phones are always on the the top list in quality and especially on price/quality mark. It is just that the way google sells them in Europe that is incompatible with the mentality of mobile buyers here. I bet my right thumb :P that if they had few actual shops inside shopping centers in Europe that they would sell like crazy. Now that i think about it, they know it, they just let other mobile companies for this, for android dominance perhaps? Just like what IBM did with PC and DoS? All were awed to see my Nexus One just when it was released few years ago, which i still have and still works fine, i doubt if an iphone or any 600+ $/euro mobile can survive that long right?
  • beetlejuicegr
    Oh and to add, this heating throttling might be annoying if it is used on a warm country like Greece i guess? Can the article elaborate on that? (room temperatures vs performance)
  • davidjan
    Great phone. N4 doesn't support OTG. But N5 supports. So can use Meenova MicroSD reader to add its storage:
  • cypeq
    I'd love to get 'USA price' on this devices... it is 450 Euro here
  • clownbaby
    I finally pulled the trigger on a Nexus 5 and am upgrading my trusty old GNex. The unpolluted android system is by far the most underrated aspect of the Nexus devices. Paired with a crazy enthusiastic development community, Google offers a device experience that can't be had for any price by other manufacturers. To all of this, top end quick hardware is just icing on the cake. I would take a Nexus device with half the performance of an Iphone or Galaxy 4 just for the software environment.
  • yasamoka
    The LG G2 does not have a microSD slot. Only the Note 3 does out of the 3 handsets mentioned in the article.