Review: Google gets it right with Nexus 5 Android smartphone

Finally, Google's flagship smartphone can actually compete with other Android flagships

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Current-generation hardware with a Galaxy S 4 feel
If you put the Nexus 5 next to a Samsung Galaxy S 4, it's easy to confuse the two given their similar appearances. True, the Nexus 5 is all-black, whereas the S 4 is dark gray with a metal rim. The S 4 is also more rounded, whereas the Nexus 5 has a more angular feel. But the size of the body and the screen are the same. Both are comfortable to hold and view, with nice 5-inch screens bearing comparable resolutions and color gamuts. The Nexus 5 and Galaxy S 4 are similar in other regards: Both weigh the same, support Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n/ac radios, and run about the same speed.

Of course, the Nexus 5 does not support pen input or have the iffy eye-tracking feature or infrared beaming capability of the Galaxy S 4. The Nexus 5 has a merely good rear camera versus the S 4's very good one. And the Nexus 5 has no SD card slot for storage expansion, unlike the S 4.

The Nexus 5 is much cheaper, though. The Nexus 5 lists for $349 (16GB) and $399 (32GB). The Galaxy S 4 lists for $600 (16GB) and $700 (32GB) -- unless you commit to a two-year contract with your carrier. That's a key difference in the Nexus 5: It's available only as an unlocked, contract-free device. Another difference is carrier compatibility: In the United States, the Nexus 5 works on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but not on Verizon Wireless as the Galaxy S 4 does.

All in all, the Nexus 5 is a very nice Android smartphone and a worthy competitor to Android's other two flagships, the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. The differences are mainly about style and user experience, plus the greater flexibility (though higher initial cost) of being an unlocked device.

This article, "Review: Google gets it right with Nexus 5 Android smartphone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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