Knowledge

Trying out Android Lollipop and the Nexus 5

Published on January 22, 2015 under Technology, Google / Android

Google Nexus 5 with Android Lollipop

It’s no secret I’ve never been a deep fan of iOS. My friends can especially attest to my occasional social media gripes about Apple’s signature mobile operating system. I just simply didn’t like the restraints of the system.

This year, I finally put my issues to rest by jumping ship to Google Android. My wonderful experiences with the Nexus 10 tablet sold me on trying out the Nexus 5 as a replacement for my iPhone. Granted Google did release their new Nexus 6, but it’s much too big for my tastes. The 5, a year old, was the more ideal choice.

The Operating System

With this new phone also comes a new 5.0 release of Google’s Android operating system, codenamed “Lollipop”. Thankfully both my new Nexus 5 and my older Nexus 10 tablet both received the update.

The first big noticeable change is in the overall design. Everything has been redone in Google’s new Material Design Standard, with bright colors and flatter layouts abound. Animations are also smoother and faster.

Notifications have also become another major change with the freedom to designate which apps can put notifications on your home screen. I’ll admit it’s always nice, but I’ve honestly not used this feature mainly because you see very brief bars of whatever you’re being notified of, and you still have to unlock your phone to find out more.

Another big update was in the pull-down quick settings area. Now I can turn on/off Airplane Mode, Wifi, Bluetooth, data, and even a flashlight if I so choose. Brightness can also be controlled via a slider, but the only disappointment was in how the volume controls were taken out.

On a more interesting note, Google also did some consolidation with email. On KitKat (4.4) I would have the Gmail app for Gmail, but a separate email app for any other email accounts I wished to add outside of the Gmail system. With Lollipop, it’s all within a modified version of the Gmail app.

At first I was reluctant to put my work email, imagining my normal Gmail inbox flooded with a mesh of work and personal email in it, but this is not the case. The new Gmail app will allow you to put accounts in separately and go to each inbox on its own. If I were to go to gmail.com I would not see my work email in any form. I will say this consolidation works for me.

Beyond the new email setup, layout, and performance, my main love for Android is on the lack of restraints on how I want to use the OS. Granted I’ve been skeptical of modified versions of Android from manufacturers like Samsung, but still, it’s the little things that really made me love Android, like social sharing.

Comparing how iOS and Android handles social sharing
Comparing how iOS and Android handles social sharing

One of my long complaints on iOS was how difficult it was to effectively share links and such with social media. Even the Facebook integration was merely to send the item to my main timeline. With Android, I simply press the share button and am given a nice list of literally any app on my phone that could receive the item I want to share. Facebook or Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, anything. It’s just easier when I want to share a link on the fly.

The Bluetooth system is wonderful on Android. I normally connect my phone to my car’s stereo to play music, but it will also take phone calls, which doesn’t work quite well with any phone. On iOS I was stuck, so I had to disconnect my stereo to quickly grab and use my phone. With Android, I can tell the device not to send calls to the stereo, yet still let music play.

Another small item I appreciate is the quick ability to get out of group texts. I know how much many of us hate them. With Android I’m able to easily opt out of a conversation, while on iOS I was stuck until the last person stopped sending messages.

Finally, there is my freedom from iTunes. No more having to play with “designated computers” or forcibly using iTunes to put music and movies into my phone. I can load up from any computer, or even using a thumb drive and On-The-Go (OTG) cable, much like my Nexus 10. I do wish though that making and maintaining playlists was easier.

The Phone

While my opinion of Android Lollipop is high, I have to admit my opinion on the Nexus 5 (as a handset) is moderate. I’m not disappointed in my choice, as I wanted a stock install Android device, but I won’t say this phone is as good an iPhone from a hardware viewpoint.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the screen, processor, RAM, and storage space are great, but there’s a few things about this phone’s design and setup that make me skeptical. This comes out of my experiences in the past with a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet.

I’ll start with the battery, as many have also criticized the Nexus 5’s battery. I don’t think it’s horrible, but it’s not necessarily great. On one charge I can go a full day and a half if I barely use the phone, but only ten hours if I’m using it a lot. I’ve found myself keeping the means to “top off” the charge when I’m at work, home, or in my car.

Second sticking point is the micro-USB port, hence why I’m thankful this phone has wireless charging. On my old tablet the port wore down and I found myself struggling to recharge the device. I love how my Nexus 10 has the Pogo port, but for the 5 I mainly stick to wireless charging. Still, I do like the fact I can easily load files into the phone through this port.

The power button also has me skeptical, as its design reminds me of that old tablet. I worry about the button wearing out, but thankfully there is freedom in Android. An app called Wakeup Touch Nexus allows me to use the phone’s sensor to turn the device on, while a notification bar allows me to put the phone to sleep.

Regardless of the hardware shortcomings, I do like the phone and the OS. Even my colleagues have noticed I stopped complaining about how my phone works. Hopefully in a year or so we’ll see an updated Nexus 5 with more solid buttons, ports, and a better battery.

Have you tried the Nexus 5? What did you think of it?

Tags: Google, Android, Nexus 5

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