My ageing Motorola Milestone finally received a kick to the bucket last week when my shiny new Nexus 5 phone arrived.
Though fantastic by 2009 standards, the Milestone could only officially run Android 2.2, and 2.3 with the help of an unofficial CyanogenMod port. Having been end-of-lifed for some time now, and barely being able to render a complex web page without running out of memory, it was time for me to move on.
I was adamant that I would only buy a Nexus phone. Vendors that ship OEM customisations to the Android image are the spawn of the devil, and I wasn’t interested in buying a device that would be abandoned after the next model came out. After all, I’m not a gadget person. This is a big deal for me, and I hope this phone lasts me four years, just like my Milestone did.
Can I just say how fantastic the hardware is. The case is much more aesthetically pleasing than most of the Android phones I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of trying out, the screen is beautiful, and the software keyboard is smooth, accurate, and responsive.
On the screen. I think five inches is the maximum size I can cope with. I must say, being a person with small hands, I am not a large screen person. I can only just reach the opposite X axis with my thumb, and I need to reposition my hand (or use a second hand) to reach the opposite X and Y points. So yes, that’s why I didn’t get a Nexus 6.
On the software, I am thoroughly impressed by Android 4.4. Thoroughly. Google have done just about everything right. Nearly anything bad I have ever said about Android in the past either doesn’t apply to Android 4.4, or only applies to customised OEM builds.
Everything I would have wanted to root my phone to do previously is totally unnecessary.
Out of the box, FLAC audio and IPsec Xauth VPNs (main mode only, not aggressive mode) are supported. Just by installing an app, I can get my strongSwan IKEv2 VPN working.
Interestingly enough, this phone constantly bombards me with security warnings as a result of the fact that I have installed my own certificate authorities. I think this is an interesting development, and is probably a proactive stance against the possibilities that ISPs and/or governments may encourage you to allow them to perform SSL man-in-the-middle attacks on your connection in future for tracking and advertising purposes.
Hopefully warnings appearing on users’ phones worded such as “your network may be monitored” is enough to scare off those who may have such evil intentions.
The phone is amazingly responsive. Not only that, it multitasks with ease, and the user interface is smooth.
One minor criticism is that Google Maps appears to be capped at around 15 frames per second. This is odd, as similar apps such as Google Earth run at a much more pleasing framerate.
It is probably an unfair comparison, as the Nexus 5 is so much higher specced, but overall I am finding the device much faster and more responsive (and therefore I’m more likely to grab it and use it for quick tasks) than my iPhone 4S.
Ever since the release of iOS 7, my iPhone has been frustratingly slow and unstable. Sadly, apps crashing due to low memory conditions are an almost daily occurrence.
It is unclear to me whether this is a deliberate decision by Apple in order to make their later model iPhones look better, but I find it fascinating that I find my Nexus 5 being more pleasurable to use than my iPhone 4S. Something I would not have thought possible a fortnight ago.
I’m so impressed by Android 4.4 that I’m almost dreading the impending 5.0 upgrade in the fear that Google will “do an iOS 7″ — i.e. make the device significantly less useful by making it slower and less stable.