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

Test Setup And Methodology

Test System Specs

We decided that in order to give a fair and reasonable picture of performance variance, we should test with a variety of different devices. From Qualcomm, we included last year’s Nexus 4 with the Snapdragon S4 Pro along with the currently mid-range Snapdragon 600 in the HTC One. The LG G2 was also included as it carries the same high-end Snapdragon 800 chipsets as the Nexus 5. The recently reviewed EVGA Tegra Note 7 brings Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC to the table, while Apple's iPhone 5s shows off the latest iPhone’s A7 SoC.

Nexus 4 was added to show that Android 4.4 optimizations can't and won't make that older device run at the same level as these newer chipsets. It's a sanity check, if you will. The reason LG's G2 was added was to illustrate the performance deficiencies of our retail-purchased Nexus 5. As we will demonstrate, when the benchmarks aren't being hampered by the slow CPU core of this specific Nexus, its Adreno 330 can compete and in some cases even beat the best of performers.

Both Nexus devices are running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, while the Tegra Note, LG G2, and HTC are all running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

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Apple iPhone 5sApple A7ARM v8 (dual-core) @ 1.3 GHzPowerVR G6430 (four-cluster) @ 300 MHz1 GB DDR34" IPS @ 1136x640
EVGA Tegra Note 7Nvidia Tegra 4T114 ARM Cortex-A15 (quad-core) @ 1.7GHzGeForce ULP1 GB DDR37" IPS @ 1280x800
LG G2Qualcomm Snapdragon 800Krait 400 (quad-core) @ 2.3 GHzAdreno 330 (quad-core) @ 450 MHz2 GB DDR3L5.2" IPS @ 1920x1080
Google Nexus 5Qualcomm Snapdragon 800Krait 400 (quad-core) @ 2.3 GHzAdreno 330 (quad-core) @ 450 MHz2 GB DDR3L4.95" IPS+ @ 1920x1080
HTC OneQualcomm Snapdragon 600Krait 300 (quad-core) @ 1.7 GHzAdreno 320 (quad-core) @ 400 MHz2 GB DDR34.7" SuperLCD3 @ 1920x1080
Google Nexus 4Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 ProKrait 200 (quad-core) @ 1.5 GHzAdreno 320 (quad-core) @ 400 MHz2 GB DDR34.7" IPS+ @ 1280x768

Benchmark Suite

Our gadget test suite consists of five major sections: CPU, GPU, Web, Display, And Battery.

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CPU Benchmarks
AnTuTu v4
CF-Bench Pro
Primate Labs Geekbench 3
Principled Technologies MobileXPRT 2013
GPU Benchmarks
Futuremark 3DMark
Rightware Basemark GUI Free
Rightware Basemark X
Epic Citadel
Kishonti GFXBench v2.7.2
Silicon Studios Mobile GPUMark v2.0
Web Benchmarks
Rightware Browermark v2.0
Futuremark Peacekeeper v2.0
Impact HTML5 Benchmark
Principled Technologies WebXPRT 2013
Display Measurements
Brightness (Minimum and Maximum)
Calibrated Black Level
Calibrated Contrast Ratio
Calibrated Gamma
Calibrated Color Temperature
Color Gamut Volume (sRGB and AdobeRGB)
Battery Tests
Gaming (Mobile GPUMark - Loop)

Let's begin with CPU testing and see how our Nexus 5 (with its slow-rated CPU core) stacks up in computational performance.

  • 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.