Android 4.4.1 rolling out today to fix Nexus 5 camera issues (Update)

Daniel Bader

December 5, 2013 11:00 am

Over the next few days, Nexus 5 owners will receive an update that will change the way they feel about the phone.

Barely a month after the release of Google’s latest, customers have been clambering for an answer to one of the device’s most vexing questions: why the heck does the Nexus 5 take such bad photos? It was an issue I consistently experienced over the duration of my review, and keeps me from feeling comfortable taking candid shots during the day.

Though the low-light situation fares better than its Nexus 4 counterpart, the Nexus 5 tends to keep its shutter open for too long, too often, leading to blurry photos and inconsistent results.

Based on a report by The Verge, Google will roll out Android 4.4.1 to Nexus 5 users in the next few days, focusing (ahem, excuse the pun) almost exclusively on improving camera performance. Shots will be more contrasty, with improved vibrance and less sharpening, and focus times will be dramatically improved. The former issue was understandable — more true-to-life results are appreciated — but the latter ruined more photos than I can count.

According to Dave Burke, Director of Engineering at Google, the issue came down to tweaking how long the shutter stayed open in different lighting scenarios. The team initially thought the optical image stabilization, which is built into the Nexus 5’s hardware, would prevent blurriness, but it didn’t compensate enough for the software’s tendency to force the shutter to overstay its welcome.

Android 4.4.1 should also fix some lingering performance issues and improve battery life, another point of contention with early adopters. We’ll have to wait and see whether the calling problems — likely a few cobwebs in the radio firmware — are ironed out as well.

Update: Well, well, well. Google seems to be pushing this update out quicker than we anticipated. Nexus 5 owners can begin mashing the “Check for update” button as soon as today, and the company promises improvements to the camera, “with faster focusing, especially in low light, faster white balancing, for truer colors, the ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode and less shutter lag,” according to a Google+ post.

Update #2: The OTA .zip file is now available for sideloading on your Nexus 5. You’ll need to have the Android SDK installed and know your way around ADB command lines, but it’s pretty easy to do.

The OTA file is 56.6MB and brings the build from KRT16M to KOT49E.

Android Central has a great, easy-to-understand guide to sideloading OTA .zip files, so have at it, and good luck!

Download the Android 4.4.1 .zip now

SourceThe Verge

  • NHALER

    Ahh, yes, beautiful—I could have sworn I noticed audio get choppy once the screen automatically turned off upon updating to 4.4.

    • S2556

      On nexus 5 or different phone? I believe this update just goes to the n5

    • Balls O’Steele

      Google should leave the camera app, dialer, launcher, etc up to external developers to produce, then users can pick the best one to meet their needs. Like I use Fongo as my dialer and texter on the N5, but I can’t get rid of the default dialer and Hangouts. I know I could get a custom ROM, but I don’t have a PC anymore and would need a PC.

    • jroc

      You don’t need a PC, a Mac will work if you know what you’re doing. You can also disable Hangouts. As for the launcher, you can choose a different default one.

      Seems like most of your concerns have solutions already.

    • NHALER

      “PC” has become shorthand for just about anything that requires a full-fledged motherboard-HDD combo, whether it’s a “micro-pc” media centre or running on something developed by Apple. I believe the distinction today to be irrelevant, given the market-share (which is not to deny the intrinsic differences of each operating system—but where one is required, the other is generally an alternate requisite).

    • jroc

      You’re making the assumption that he uses “PC” the same way you do.

    • deltatux

      All you need is to root your device and then you can remove the dialler and Hangouts yourself. These two apps are located in the /system folder. Do note that since the dialler is integrated with the OS, removing it manually may cause system instability. Remove with caution.

    • Guest

      My apologies.

    • deltatux

      You’re talking about music playback? This seems to only be an issue if you’re using a custom kernel with a custom hotplug driver. Any kernel using the stock Qualcomm MP-Decision hotplug driver should not see any music stuttering/chops.

      Also, this issue seems to only affect AAC/FLAC playback, MP3 playback is reportedly flawless.

    • NHALER

      Well then you’ll note that I didn’t qualify my statement in any sense and that FLAC playback on a *stock* Gen 1 Nexus 7 is precisely what is impacted. Why this is regarded as ‘special’, or extenuated circumstances, I don’t know, but I don’t consider it to be outside the normal operating bounds and thus worth mention.

    • deltatux

      Yes and like I said, if you’re running a custom kernel, you’re likely getting impacted too. It’s a known issue. If you’re running stock, then I’m not sure. I’ve only been able to test the Nexus 4 where I am having the issue when using a custom kernel. This bug seems to only affect AAC/FLAC playback.

    • NHALER

      But does this diminish the complaint in any way, or the justification for hope in an improvement? I don’t think so—rarity of use of a selective format is only a legitimate excuse from the perspective of one whose bottom line benefits from neglecting the issue, so I don’t understand your effort here to minimize the validity of my complaint.

    • deltatux

      I never said your complaint is not justified, not sure why you think I am. All I’m saying is, if you’re running any custom kernels, best to revert back to stock to see if issue still exists.

  • Eluder

    Hopefully they fix the poor speaker, sometimes I just don’t hear a notification for an SMS because it’s such a terribly weak speaker.

    • Harold Mitchell

      Absolutely true…particularly as only one of the two bottom speaker grills actually has a speaker behind it!

    • wes786

      The other grill is the microphone!

    • S2556

      Yeah speaker is bad. I’m thinking it’s just a weak speaker but I hope it can be addressed via software

    • youreasumbass

      fix is available on xda and has been for a long time now.

    • Elle

      I can confirm that its louder

    • youreasumbass

      the fix is available on xda and has been for a long time now.

  • James

    Will it update the nexus 4 as well?

    • deltatux

      Yes, in fact, it’s being rolled out right now.

    • wes786

      Eventually on nexus 4 and nexus 7

  • E. R

    Interesting but nothing confirmed for current Nexus devices with 4.4 that are having issues such as the Nexus 4.

  • MXH070

    Seems kit-kat has a lot of issues fix after fix after fix etc. Guess Google didn’t test it enough over the last year and a half.

    • S2556

      All are very minor and or hardware specific like camera on n5. Can you point me to a flawless software release on any popular mobile OS? Didn’t think so.

    • MXH070

      Never implied there was a flawless OS release from the other companies and there never will be as nothing is perfect from the get go. It’s funny that android users in general are always quick to bag on other OS’s on flaws and paint the image Android is the only modern OS’s and is perfect in every way. It seems people in general are over protect of the OS’s they use and take it as a personal attack when a person makes a negative comment.

    • sid32

      Don’t feed the troll.

    • S2556

      Just a friendly discussion, no panties in a knot over here. People are too sensitive about their mobile OS but that goes all directions. Android is just becoming more popular and thus all the ppl shouting iPhone from the roof tops in 2008 – 10 are switching and yelling Android Galaxy kit kat etc… It’s all the same ppl. But when you stereotype Android users by which OS they choose you sound like a stereotypical apple, bb or Microsoft guy. We gotta realize it’s just an OS that accomplishes very similar tasks slightly differently.

    • MXH070

      True.. totally agree

    • youreasumbass

      mx needs a hug from his iphone.

    • Henry

      Couldn’t be more right. Loads of issues for a phone that we saw Google using in the summer already. None of the three N5’s I bought work without “emergency call only” popping up a bunch a times a day even with full bars (happens to people on different networks all over the world also). Support won’t even tell me if a fix is coming. It’s unlikely they didn’t see this problem before release, probably just figured early adopters will have to deal with it.

    • choyM

      I’ve never had this problem with my Nexus 5

    • Henry

      This problem depends on where you are and which network you are on. If you were in Manitoba right now (outside Winnipeg) your phone would be doing the same thing.

    • youreasumbass

      you sound like you need a hug from your iphone. so do it.

  • Threecube

    Yeah I have found the camera to be way better than my GS3. It’s just the 3 second wait of taking the photo that can get annoying. I haven’t really had the blurry pictures issue.

  • Jesus McDongswoggle

    I’m just happy they acknowledge issues and are rolling out fixes about a month after the phone was released. I wonder if the lack of voicemail notification will be fixed as well

    • brararsh

      voicemail notifications are there but dont pop up until we restart the phone.. :p

    • S2556

      I haven’t followed this issue much is it phone specific? I haven’t ran into this one yet

    • Jesus McDongswoggle

      I think some people on here with Telus said there was no issue, other than that I don’t know anything else other than I cant see if a missed call left me a voicemail…

    • S2556

      I am on Telus so I guess I got lucky in that regard. Strange, is it releated to mms in hangouts because that was carrier dependent too correct?

    • brararsh

      Am with Rogers and i have this issue.. The issue is like when someone leaves you a voicemail, the voicemail notification doestnt apper. So when you restart the phone, it appears immideately. Never had such issue with HTC ONE and S4..
      Still I love my N5 the most.. (Till the time HTC M8 comes out) :p

    • deltatux

      Could it be a carrier thing? Voicemail notifications are popping up correctly here on Android 4.4. I’m using a Nexus 4 though, but there shouldn’t be any difference since this is an Android software thing. Shouldn’t be hardware specific.

    • Brian Eng

      Voicemail issues with Rogers is fixed in 4.4.1

  • Thrasher

    I hope they fix the Email app. POP3 access to one of my emails killed the battery life on my Nexus 5 and 7. I had to remove those email accounts as the email app was not able to sync except for the first time
    .

    • Jesus McDongswoggle

      Had the email sync problem on my Nexus 7 but so far so good on Nexus 5

    • jon

      They next to fix the damn hangouts app that replaced messages

    • Harold Mitchell

      I know. I got so fed up with Hangouts I downloaded chompSMS from the Play Store.

    • Thrasher

      I haven’t had any issues with Hangouts. What issues are you having?

    • Jesus McDongswoggle

      I just find it annoying to use

    • Henry

      Textra is perfect for most hangouts haters.

    • NicoleS

      I’ll second that. I couldn’t stand not being able to quick message from the notification bar. Textra made me love my N5 :)

    • deltatux

      Aside from MMS issues, there aren’t really any issues. You can easily download and sideload MMS.apk (old stock SMS client) or use a third-party client if you’re so inclined to either go back or stop using the stock SMS client.

  • Saim Iftikhar

    Lol haha

  • Nexus

    I hope they would fix the exchange email issue
    It is insanely annoying

    • gommer strike

      It’s a dealbreaker for those of us who need to our phones for work, and are on-call 24/7 365. We cannot afford to have Activesync either not working, working some of the time, or incurring an enormous battery drain.

  • Bri

    Reading comments on this post makes me realize how troublesome this device is.. now I should wait until all issues been resolved before I buy this phone.

    • Rhett H

      That’s a stretch, I like my nexus 5, it’s done more than a serviceable job for 400 bones.

    • Thrasher

      I would hardly call it troublesome although there are some issues. But what phone is 100% issue free? I love my Nexus 5.

    • Bri

      But the issues being mentioned here are mostly very critical to everyday use.
      Especially the call volume being so low that’d be very annoying and the speaker being quiet..
      I hope these issues are software issues.

    • blzd

      Some people don’t have these issues. Every phone has it’s potential problems.

      My speaker for instance is plenty loud but the phone itself was vibrating quite violently from it which was fixed with a tight fitting case (rearth fusion hybrid). Now it’s loud and doesn’t vibrate from sound.

      Main point being it’s a Nexus. Any problems you can probably fix yourself and will be updated in a timely fashion either way.

    • sid32

      Oh please! Every electronic device has issues when its release. Iphones, Xboxes, PS 4, windows phones. They all release patches quickly.

  • Handheld Addict

    My Nexus 5 sometimes restarts when I try to turn it off. I hope they address this bug.

    • clockwork

      People still turn off their phones?

    • Claude Poirier

      yeap.:).. adaway

  • Claudiu Corbea

    There is also an issue with Voicemail notifications not showing up unless you reboot the phone. It affects Virgin, Bell and Rogers from what I could see. I hope they fix that too not just the camera.

  • jon

    Nice hopefully Canada wont have to wait 3 months for this update

    • jon

      When I had the galaxy nexus and Google would release a update it always took Samsung 3 months to push it out to canada

    • deltatux

      You could have always flashed the factory images yourself and skirt around the issue. Once the factory images were flashed on top of carrier images, the problem was fixed. My gf’s phone never left 4.1 due to carrier incompetence, I did a straight flash to 4.2 using the factory images and she got 4.3 when that rolled out without waiting on carriers and Samsung.

  • rd0t

    Has Google acknowledged the Exchange issues yet?

    • Victor_Creed

      Yes, they posted a fix was coming

    • Elle

      I sideloaded the update, its fixed :)

  • S2556

    Came from a GS3 as well and agree with all points.

  • nexus5user@mail.com

    i am excited with the update. i been trying out other camera apps like line camera, hdr, camera 360, silent camera and a bunch others but was not sold on either of them.

    with the pop3 server email issue. i been debating to use the hotmail app vs the exchange default app in the phone. wonder if that will prevent battery draining

    • nexus5user@mail.com

      finally received my camera 4.41 update.. took long enough!

  • MXH070

    Nice….. A typical attack comment. How about sticking with the topic about the software and hardware as we are not in elementary school.

  • J T

    I think it’s time for me to get a Nexus 5 lol.

  • MapleSyrup

    Q: How many of you have problems with the Nexus 5 microphone? and/or a static cut-off noise when recording video in a quiet room? Try it, and comment if you have this problem. I sent my first Nexus 5 back to Google and the second one I got still has the same problem. I’m hoping this 4.4.1 update will fix this.

  • Tyrone Thomas

    I agree. I’ve found the photo quality to be pretty much on par with other high end devices. I honestly think reviewers exaggerate the differences between smartphone cameras quite a bit.

  • Adriann

    I guess the improvements are the step in the right direction, however I would like Google to make it so that the camera app has more granular controls. (ISO, Shutter Speed, etc)

    I think Sony’s camera app does this? (Someone confirm?)

  • CF Medina

    Does anyone know if this fixes the “emergency calls only” bug that people (such as myself) get on certain networks? I am on Rogers and usually after a few phone calls and/or SMS messages it goes to “emergency calls” and I have to toggle in and out of airplane mode to fix. Very annoying especially if I don’t notice it and end up wondering how many texts I missed

    • Eluder

      I’ve never had this issue with my Nexus 5 and I’m with Rogers.

    • deltatux

      Try to reflash the radio, could be a faulty software flash. Sometimes when I do that, it fixes the problem on my Nexus 4 (very rare but happened once or twice).

    • Henry

      I’m waiting to know this as well. If it’s not fixed after this update I have to send in three phones for warranty because they all do the same thing. Warranty seems pointless though because it doesn’t act like a hardware fault, it’s the same with anybody else’s N5 in this area.

    • Henry

      Follow up; I have installed the update now and it seems perfectly fine, no issues at all. Camera is also very quick to focus.

  • ineptone

    I don’t know why everyone keeps bashing the battery life on the N5. I’m seeing a day to a little more than a day using it the same way I used my S3, which I was lucky to see last much past dinner.

  • ineptone

    This is what I’ve been saying as well. Battery life easily beats my S3 and photo quality is at least on par, if not slightly slower to shoot (but that was somewhat rectified with a third party camera app). The issues I’ve read about concerning the quiet speaker and compromised call quality haven’t been something I’ve experienced either. The N5 has been great and easily shames my S3.

    • Tip O’niel

      camera and battery are near-deal breakers for me. absolutely terrible camera experience for me – i switch to my note 3 for any photos. i will not take the nexus 5 anywhere with me that might have a photo use case. if the software wasnt so great, this phone would be a paper weight.

  • Candido

    Did the update. Camera is noticeably faster starting up and taking shots. Very happy indeed.

  • Alex Saringer

    Anybody get the update pushed to their phone yet?

    • choyM

      Not me. Tried it around 7pm PST

  • GQDRU

    Can anyone actually confirm that they received the notification for the 4.4.1 update yet?

  • Elle

    Sideloaded the update. The phone’s max volume is a lot louder, the camera is faster and exchange services is fixed. Very pleased : )

  • Jim

    Hilarious, still no exchange support!!!

    • Elle

      Its fixed on mine. Did you sideload it, or are you just assuming?

    • deltatux

      I’ve been using Exchange the whole time without troubles. I know some people with slight issues with Exchange. This isn’t “no support” as you wrote.

  • KarloC.

    has anyone gotten the update yet? if so confirm if they fixed the speaker

    • Petey Pab

      I installed the zip that was posted everywhere online and ringtones and notifications definitely seem louder.

  • Eluder

    Sideloaded the update and the camera does seem to focus much faster than before. Notifications are also noticeably louder, but the true test will be when I get to the office tomorrow and my locale profiles kick in and I receive an sms.

  • TheMetalSgt

    Can anyone confirm better battery life?

    • jroc

      Maybe give people a day or more with the update before you start asking about battery life.

  • Khalil J

    can’t wait to get this phone! if the update to the camera and few other bugs hold up then this will be the phone to beat for price, factory unlocked and features

  • deltatux

    Did people forget that the Nexus 4 exists too? The OTA was also pushed to the Nexus 4.

  • Veroon Ruiz Churaman

    Side loaded the update. I have noticed the shutter speed in the camera is quicker. You can also take multiple shots at a time by taping the button simultaneously. I have noticed the speaker is a bit louder and voicemail notifications now works as it should. Exelent update.

  • jroc

    Dude, he was just offering advice. Here’s a little tip…make your responses were a little more clear and drop the condescending tone. You’re coming across as a know it all d-bag.

  • Elle

    Sideload it! Its super easy. I was so impatient, I sideloaded it as soon as I found a link!

    • Elle

      Trust me, you cannot brick your nexus. Well, you can but there are always ways to revive it. Are you on a mac or a PC? I wouldn’t mind typing out some instructions if you are willing to sideload, but if not, I hope you get the update soon! :)

    • Wild

      I’m willing to give it a try but found the link instructions a bit confusing. If you could post easy to follow steps that would be great.

    • Elle

      It seems I can’t post the instructions. Do you have a google hangouts I could contact you with? I could walk you through it

    • Wild

      ha just beginning to set up a hangout-and now have to figure out what bbm is.

  • nexus5user@mail.com

    havent received any ota updates for my nexus 5 still…. dec 8 . 3pm pst

  • Tiago

    umm why do i still have 4.4?

  • Anirudh Muralidhar

    In Calgary. Still no Update for N5 and N4.