One Month with the Nexus 5, After Five Years of iPhone

I did it. After five years of nonstop iPhone, waking up with the iPhone, sleeping beside the iPhone, keeping the iPhone with me at all times… all the time, I finally switched to an Android phone. I’ve had the Nexus 5 for an entire month. Would I recommend other iPhone users make the switch? The answer is no. Kind of.

First I’ll tell you the good things about the Nexus 5. The iPhone I wanted was a 32GB Space Gray iPhone 5s. The 32GB Black Nexus 5 I ended up buying was very close to being half the price. It was $445 total, with shipping and tax. The iPhone is $748, not including shipping and tax.

The Nexus 5 itself is nice. Many people have reviewed this phone at this point, and everything they’ve said about the build quality is accurate. The screen is great, the buttons feel pretty good, the back is grippy and sleek. And yes, the speaker is lousy, the battery sucks and the camera is an embarrassment, but alas, this has all been covered.

What else do I like about this phone? Hmm. I really, really like how fast Google Maps is. It’s awesome. Map apps need to be fast, and I find this aspect really satisfying on the Nexus 5. I also really like searching stuff by saying “Ok Google” when the phone is activated. The “always listening” feature of the Moto X would be even cooler, but this will do. I use this feature a lot, and I like it.

I could probably come up with some more nice things to say, but for whatever reason, they’re not coming to me now. The highest compliment I can give this phone is the fact that I’ve decided to keep it. Not only did I switch to Android, I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile. I’m very, very pleased with T-Mobile. My bill is a lot cheaper, the 4G LTE is fast, and I don’t have a contract. Bravo, T-Mob! It will be incredibly sad if Sprint buys you.


Okay, now the bad stuff. I know I’ve already mentioned that the camera was bad, but it needs to be said again. I’ve upgraded to the new version of Kit Kat 4.4.2, which is supposed to fix the camera, and I have to say, it’s a pretty big let down. I know others have reported that the update really helped the camera, but I don’t think those people have 16 month-old toddlers in their homes. Trying to take a picture of my kid with the Nexus 5 is far more difficult than using my wife’s iPhone 5.

The OS itself, Kit Kat, is okay. It’s pretty stripped down and minimal in a lot of ways. It doesn’t look ugly, it looks nice. But there really isn’t much to dig your teeth into. As a first time Android user, I have to say that the OS, on the whole, is unremarkable.

Some of the apps that come preinstalled in Kit Kat are complete garbage. I made a terrible mistake by trying to do some writing with Google’s Quickoffice app. I initially tried to write this blog post with it, but the dumb thing didn’t save. It sure seemed like it was saving , but when I returned to the work later in the day, it had vanished. Gone forever. This is a catastrophic fail on Google’s part.

Since Quickoffice was a bust, I turned to Google Keep, which appears to be Google’s version of a note taking app. Writing in Keep is kind of a pain, but the app was at least saving what I was writing. However, this morning I opened Keep during my commute to write something, and I hit a bug. There was no way to make a new note. I played with the app for a few minutes, trying to trick it into letting me make a note, to no avail. I took a screenshot of Keep in its “no new notes for you” state, partially because I was left with nothing else to do.

Can you find the “make a new note” button? No. You cannot.

One of the most shocking things about switching to Android is that there’s no “Visual Voicemail” feature that’s been baked into the iPhone from the very beginning. If I had known this before I switched, I would have seriously had to give it a hard second thought. I hate voicemails. They’re awful, terrible, horrible things. Visual Voicemail made a lot of the awfulness of voicemail go away. I seriously cannot believe that it isn’t in this phone. Apparently, if you’re on AT&T, you can get an app from the Play Store that mimics Visual Voicemail, but if you’re on another carrier, you’re hosed.

Another thing that’s weird about this phone is that it’s not very clear how you’re supposed to get things into and out of it. For example: music. I plugged the Nexus 5 into my MacBook Pro, and nothing happened. I did some Google searches to try to figure out how to load music into the phone, and I didn’t find the info I needed. I did learn about Google’s Play Music feature, where you can upload your entire iTunes library to their “butt,” and stream your music for free. But I take a thing to work called the subway. It’s underground. There’s no butt down there. I need music in my phone. This is lame.

Tonight, after shooting a six minute video of my daughter, it hit me. How am I going to back up the content on this phone? I’m sure there’s a way to do it, just as there is likely a way to load my digital music files onto the phone. But the problem is that I don’t know how to do it. It’s not intuitive. It’s work.

I thought I would miss the physical Home button on the iPhone, but I don’t. I’m perfectly happy with the onscreen Home button in Android. I also use the multitasking button a lot, and I like it very much. The Back button, however, just seems like a bad idea. In multi-touch mobile devices, it just feels a lot more natural to swipe to the left to go back. Swiping to the left in Android often does nothing. This makes every app a lot less intuitive.

The overall quality of the apps in Android lags pretty far behind iOS. For example, when I transfer funds with my banking app, the totals of the accounts don’t update. Many of the same apps I used on the iPhone are available on Android, and many of them are not as well made as their iOS counterparts. That said, I’m pleased to report that using the Play Store is pretty nice. It’s easy to find apps, download them, and start using them.

The Nexus 5 is the complete opposite of an iPhone. With an iPhone, there is one company making the hardware and the software, and the number one concern is user experience. With a Nexus 5, there are two very different companies designing and making the hardware, Google and LG. The software is made by Google, and the it’s supposed to be the star of the show here, but honestly, I don’t see it.

With an iPhone, it feels like every detail was argued about, over and over again, until it was decided that it was the best it could be. With a Nexus 5, it feels like something that was shoved out the door in an unfinished state. Its apps feel like a mishmash of half-baked projects, and the productivity apps only succeed at burning me.

Despite all of this, I am going to keep the Nexus 5 for the time being. It feels good to have made a dramatic change, and I really love how fast Google Maps zips along. Besides, I think I’m getting a Chromecast for Christmas.

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

14 thoughts on “One Month with the Nexus 5, After Five Years of iPhone”

  1. Hi! Not sure if this would be helpful to you, but have you tried Google Voice? (not sure if it’s pre-installed on the Nexus). When you sign up (free), you should be able to pick a new phone number (can be from any area code you want), which, via the app, will either be your ‘new’ phone number or a second number that is directed to your phone. I use my second number for people/sites/registrations etc where I do not wish to give out my actual cell phone number. Two other interesting features are that 1) it allows you to make free text messages (I have never used this feature) and 2) voicemail (which you would probably be interested in). The voicemail also features a transcript (which produces some laughs if the caller isn’t clear).

    I signed up for the beta years ago and was able to pick my own number from a huge selection of numbers, so of course I picked one that was easy to remember. I have no idea if they still allow you to pick your number/area code.

    Good luck!

  2. I tried to sign up for Google Voice on the Nexus 5, but you’re not allowed to with a mobile phone. It will have to wait until I’m on a laptop. Is Google Voice going to solve any of the problems I’m having on Android?

  3. I believe it might solve your visual voicemail issue (with the added bonus of getting another phone # to use).

  4. Try Nexus media importer to get your music on and off the Nexis 5 and with an OTG cable $2.50 the importer will save to/from a SD card which is dirt cheap (I got a PNY class 10 16 GB SDHC from Walmart for 7.00 on sale).

  5. I love how the android guys always tout Google voice as the answer to free visual voicemail. Nevermind that you have to notify all your friends to call your google voice number instead of the cell phone number they’ve had for years. Nevermind that google voice doesn’t work when there’s no data connection. Nevermind that I have to let google have access to all my phone calls and voicemails. Its a joke really. Such a simple feature can’t even be baked into the OS. Google voice is a joke, and certainly not an answer to your visual voicemail conundrum. I too have tried to use Android but it feels like a bunch of fresh-out-of-college engineers put it together. iOS is a ferrari and Android is the car you built in your garage.

  6. i feel iPhones map is much better than nexus 5`s. it is faster, high resolution and has flyover feature

  7. Just recently switched from an iPhone to Android. Was finally tired of the small screen as it was hard to view my emails and over being locked in with iTunes to transfer music and the fact that in order for me to get text from my friends with iPhone s I had to contact apple and have then deactivate imessage. I’ve had the iPhone since they had the 3 and have had then all up to the iPhone 5 however I felt it was time to make a change who knows maybe I’ll go back when the iPhone 6 comes out

  8. the nexus is far superior to the iphone except for the camera. the new camera app for the the nexus is excellent. you have no experience with android so of course it will be harder for you to learn things. but you will. the 3 dots in the picture is a common feature for android apps and serves as the options menu. as for getting things into your nexus all you need is the proper drivers for your mac to recognize it. then is just serves [looks] like another drive to drag and drop stuff to. its much better than needing itunes for everything.

  9. also the visual voicemail problem is easily solved by using ‘youmail’. I didnt like not having native vvm either but this program is free and works great.

  10. Hey, OneOfOne, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve been using YouMail for a few days now, and it’s a big improvement over having no visual voicemail at all.

  11. After doing some research on visual voicemail I found a T-Mobile visual voicemail app in the play store. I’m on at&t and had to sideload the app onto the nexus 5 but it works well.

  12. Google Voice may require a Google number, however you do not have to have you friends/business contacts call the GV number, they can use the carrier assigned, or your ported over number. That is easy. You set the missed calls and such to go to your GV number. My carrier (AT&T) does not have a “native” carrier app for VVM for Nexus 5, so I use GV and it is fine.

    YouMail is also a nice option.

    Any VVM tool will need access to your calls and phone numbers, how else would it work?

    My battery life on Nexus 5 has always approached BlackBerry battery life, which is to say, consistently blows away all Apples devices I have in my family or at work.

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