Google released an updated flagship last September to the joy of Android enthusiasts everywhere. The Nexus 5 offers a 5-inch, 1080p display outputting stock Android overtop a great processor, all for $350 without a contract. It’s a deal that many fans jumped for, and rightly so. Why wouldn’t you?

As it turns out, there are a couple of reasons why the Nexus 5 isn’t the best choice among 5-inch flagships. I took a good, long look at it and decided that it wasn’t the best choice for me. The Nexus 5 is certainly a great phone, but judicious Android buyers would be better served on another device. Here’s why.

More Screen Size

Don’t get me wrong, on-screen software navigation buttons are cool. They’re more versatile and easier to customize than hardware keys.

However, they also take up a lot of screen space. When you’re not watching a YouTube video or in Kitkat’s new immersive mode, on-screen buttons take up a lot of room.

I compared my Galaxy S4 to the Nexus 5. Both phones have 5-inch displays, but the S4 has more space available because it uses hardware keys and a physical home button.

Sure, you can customize the Nexus 5 by hiding the buttons and using PIE to navigate. But you could also do that on the S4 (or any other 5-inch phone) and still keep your physical buttons too.

Speaking of PIE, that reminds me…

You’ll Install a Custom ROM Anyway

I spent some time with stock Android installed on my Galaxy S4. It was a port of the Google Play Edition software – Android as Google intended it, with no modifications (save the TouchWiz camera).

Honestly, it wasn’t good enough for me. I missed the deep customization and control you get with custom ROMs.


After switching to BeanStalk, there was no going back. Stock is alright, but it lacks the features I want like Halo, PIE, and quick-reply in the Messaging app.

I can install a custom ROM on any device. I don’t need a Nexus 5. In that case, I may as well use a phone with…

The Camera’s Not Great

No matter how you slice it, the Nexus 5 does not have a great camera. The guys over at Android Police called it “adequate” and “almost certainly outpaced by cameras like those on the HTC One or iPhone 5S.”

It’s alright, but it doesn’t compare to the shooters on other flagships. My Galaxy S4 takes excellent photos in decent lighting, so I don’t feel especially motivated to switch to a phone with a weaker camera.

Updates are Way Better These Days

OEMs used to be atrocious about updates. HTC irked me back in 2011 when I bought a new Evo 4G, only to learn that it had already been abandoned and wouldn’t get Ice Cream Sandwich.


The major manufacturers have cleaned up their act since then. The Verizon Moto X (I know, of all carriers) actually got Kitkat before the Nexus 4.

Samsung updated the S4 to 4.3 and promises an update to 4.4. Hell, even HTC keeps its phones current.

The bad old days of phone abandonment are mostly behind us. You don’t have to buy a Nexus to get updates- just a flagship.

No Removable Battery and Expandable Storage

Personally, I don’t use multiple batteries and expandable storage. However, I do like having the option.

If and when my Galaxy S4’s battery loses its ability to hold a charge, I’ll happily order a replacement pack off Amazon and swap it in myself. It’s as easy as removing the back cover, no knives required. Simple.

The Nexus 5 lacks a removable battery and expandable storage. As Anandtech points out, these are valid design choices. However, I personally prefer to have the option.

It’s just one more reason why there’s no logical reason for me to switch from my Galaxy S4. Why bother?


Just to reiterate, I’m not saying the Nexus 5 is a bad phone. Google made a fine product, and you can’t go wrong buying one.

However, outside of the desire to have the latest and greatest, there’s no logical reason for enthusiasts to buy a Nexus 5 instead of another flagship phone like the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One.

Think about it.