Hands-on with the red Nexus 5

Nexus 5

There is no couching the fact that the Nexus 5 is not only one of the best values for money in the smartphone world, but one of the best smartphones available today. When it launched in October for $349, it instantly became a MobileSyrup reader favourite, so when Google announced a red version of the device in early February, we were understandably titillated.

Though it is, for all intents and purposes, the same phone as the one released last year, the matte red finish, which encompasses the back, sides and earpiece, is striking.


The colour is less red in person than what I can only describe as neon orange, but that is by no means a detriment: this is one of the most beautiful  smartphones I’ve ever used.


If you’re unfamiliar with the Nexus 5, a primer: it’s Google’s baby, a device always running the latest version of Android — in this case, KitKat — updated straight from the source. No carrier approval nonsense, no delays.

It comes unlocked out of the box with support for nearly every 3G and LTE band in the world (though, unfortunately, not 2600Mhz). It has a 5-inch 1080p display that, while still excellent, does not quite match the quality of its more expensive LG-made counterpart, the G2. It has a 2.3Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 2300mAh battery, wireless charging support, ultra-fast WiFi, and an 8MP camera.


Ah, the camera. What was the biggest trouble spot for the phone has since been improved significantly after the Android 4.4.2 update, though it by no means competes with the best smartphone cameras out there, like the iPhone 5s and Nokia Lumia 1020.

Instead, with the optional HDR+ mode turned on, the Nexus 5 can and does take some fantastic shots, but many of them, especially those with moving subjects, end up blurry and unusable.


Since the 4.4.2 update, call quality through the headpiece and sound volume through the single mono speaker has improved, but neither stand up to the industry bests, the Moto X and HTC One respectively.


Still, the Nexus 5 is easily the best phone you can buy for $350-$400, and the red version is absolutely wonderful. If you’ve already purchased a black or white model, I’d suggest trading it in and getting this one. No, seriously, it’s that nice.


The red Nexus 5 is available from Google at $349 for the 16GB model and $399 for the 32GB version. There’s a backorder on the 32GB model and limited stock of the 16GB, but we’re told supplies should replenish shortly.