Somehow I managed to skip the Nexus 4 entirely (contracts, fuck them) so I’ve been waiting around for my current contract with Sprint to expire so I could latch my proverbial wagon to a phone that wasn’t languishing at its end of life. When the pre-launch rumors were circulating about which carriers would actually support this model, the big panic among the pre-availability speculators was whether there would be native support for LTE networks. Well, despite the teeth gnashing on every Android rumors/“news” site, it does and doesn’t seem to suffer a significant impact on battery life as the forum trolls insisted that it would. After logging into the Sprint website for the first time in forever (the last time was to chuckle about my absurd mobile data usage due to Netflix and MLB At Bat), I discovered that my upgrade eligibility date magically migrated an entire month sooner — you know, like, that day. I ordered the phone (16 GB only from Sprint at least for now) and bailed from work to go pick it up at a Sprint store a couple miles from the office.
I’m not a box opening video kind of guy, so I didn’t bother with that or even taking any pictures. The box is pretty fruity looking with the same color scheme as the promo crap The dude who helped me at the Sprint store (who was as condescending and incompetent as you would expect) was trying to give me a hard time about it and I told him I would likely recycle all of the packaging 20 minutes after I left. I asked him if he saved boxes for his phones and got no answer. I assume that he lives a in an underground bunker filled with phone boxes. Transferring my contacts took like 25 minutes which amazed me because I have less than 20 contacts. Not sure what the time sink was there because the fella took off with both my old phone and the new one to copy them over. I like to think that he ended up hand copying them which may well have been the case as the images associated with contacts didn’t appear until I synched the phone with a Gmail account. Whatever, dudes. The only thing found in the actual box was the space where the phone used to live, a bunch of crappy paper I wished was never included, and a charger.
The Nexus 5 doesn’t necessarily feel much heavier than my old Galaxy Nexus, but it feels much more dense and is way thinner and more slippery. I’m wondering when a phone people actually want will add less glassy smooth materials to the outside edges of smart phones. I didn’t have a case for the first 2 days and it felt like that phone was ready to slide out of my hand like a wet bar of soap any time I used it as a phone. I dislike the fact that phones are intended for immediate encasement because the Nexus 5 looks pretty fucking cool outside of a case. The new toggle buttons on the sides for power and volume feel a lot more substantial than the ones on my Galaxy Nexus and so far that additional beefiness also keeps my phone from toggling my volume all the way up or down so I’m either missing calls or blasting the unfortunate and innocent souls trapped in meetings with me with Bobby Hill at far too many decibels. Despite the reported issues with the cameras included in this guy I’ve found the rear camera pretty damn impressive when compared to the elder hardware/software of the Galaxy Nexus. I haven’t played much with the front camera because I’m not 17 and the panorama software seems to work about as well as other external panorama-making software I’ve seen. The rotating view of the panoramic end product is pretty cool, though, if a bit vertigo inducing. The first time I ever used that particular function I was bit hung over so include that in the grains of salt you would normally use for anything that I’ve written under the patently false aegis of ‘factual.'
Kit Kat is a substantial upgrade in terms of polishing and refining earlier versions of the OS. I suppose I felt about the same way when Jelly Bean was released, but with an uncluttered phone with week old specs Kit Kat hauls ass comparatively. Again, it’s hard for me to discreetly separate hardware from software in this upgrade, but most of the applications (excepting the Facebook app which is still a balky, battery hogging, and crashy piece of shit) were magnitudes more responsive and seemed less intent on using as much battery power as possible. Battery life, so far, has been stellar after the first overnight charge cycle. The first charge worried me half to death as software was reporting my percentage charged dropping by the second. This might have been initialization happening in the background or the early stages of calibration or something, but it cleared up after that first empty-to-full charge. This version of the Nexus doesn’t have a removal battery (which I kind of like since I won’t meet the challenge of every OS glitch by popping my phone out of the case and immediately lobotomizing it instead of being a patient grown up [note: the being a grown up part doesn’t actually happen] about it) which means you can’t swap it out for a get-really-hot-and-catch-on-fire variety of after market extended life batteries. I tried this with my Galaxy Nexus because its battery life was slim after using an iPhone 4 for a few months, but the perpetual ‘phone is so hot right now that it is uncomfortable to hold in a bare hand’ feeling freaked me out and got that battery recycled pretty quickly. The apparent difference between me and people who review technology shit for a check is that I’m pretty okay with the idea of device’s battery using more of its stored charge when it is in active use. I likely should read more science fiction or something because I have semi-reasonable expectations of a battery powered device that uses various types of wireless to connect to the ‘Webs. When you’re using your phone all day you should not expect crazy battery life unless it’s one of those Motorola phones that was developed to have extended battery life with a kind of crappy screen and is awkwardly heavy — I have a friend who is complete freak about not wanting to ever charge his phone and bought one and the first time I tried his phone I nearly dropped it because its weight was so weirdly awkward. I bought a wireless charger that I can dump my phone on top of while I’m sitting in front of my computer at work and just kind of ignore until I need it again. Given that newish ability to wireless charge and my own willingness to drop $35 on a charger that works that way I have no concerns about battery life.
To summarize or TL;DR: This phone + new OS is ridiculously fast and inexpensive. Other folks have taken issue with battery life and the quality of photos taken with the camera, but neither of these alleged shortcomings effected my use too much. My battery life got better with each recharge and the camera is a phone camera and I never assume that my phone camera is going to perform like a SLR or something. It’s a perfect device for me and really highlights the refinements of Kit Kat over previous versions of Android. I’m hoping this will keep me happy for most of the next two years of contract.