by Jeffrey Kemp, guest writer
Similar in specs and quality to the latest Samsung Galaxy S4, but not price, the Nexus 5 is a storehouse of the latest mobile technology and Google Android OS at the lowest price.
Google's online Play store sells the white or black, 16GB/32GB Nexus 5 for $399/$449, plus shipping.
The downsides are that the internal memory cannot be expanded with any SD card, and a non-replaceable battery. The advantages of the Nexus 5 include its superfast 4G broadband and very low price, but also that it runs stock Android, which means it has very little "bloatware" that some providers add, and it will be the first to get OS updates directly from Google.
Power button on the right-hand side, volume toggles on the left, micro-USB at the bottom and audio jack on top, the N5 requires a micro SIM. The small speaker at the bottom is not loud, but fine for hands-free talking. Battery life is at least 12 hours with moderate use.
Accessed from the home screen by swiping from the left, Google Now is a 'virtual assistant' for web searches, directions, weather forecast, route and traffic updates between home and work, as well as accessing and directions to appointments. If you choose "English (US)" as your spoken language, you can even invoke it hands-free by saying "OK Google".
This voice search is now context sensitive. Say "what is the time in Sydney", then say "what's the weather like" and it reports the Sydney forecast.
The 8 mega-pixel camera spits out super clear and high resolution photos. Options are accessed by swiping from the bottom, photo gallery by swiping from the right and if you swipe a photo down, it is deleted. From the lock screen, the camera can be quickly accessed by swiping from the right-hand side of the screen.
Hangouts is Google's version of Apple's iMessage, as it combines SMS and Google+ Hangouts (previously Google Talk).
If you want to use another SMS app, hit the Google Play store for others like 'Handcent SMS'. To change the default SMS app, go to Settings (accessed by the Menu button on the lower left), tap 'More' under 'Wireless & Networks', tap 'Default SMS app' and pick from the options you have installed from the Play store.
Tips & Tricks (applicable to many Android devices)
Swipe from the top of the screen from anywhere to access the notification area, or to get out of full-screen apps.
To add widgets to your homescreen, press and hold the screen for a few seconds, then click the "widgets" button that appears. You can also slide left from the lockscreen to add a lockscreen 'widget': like Twitter or music. (But first, you have to activate this from Settings > Security > Enable widgets). The Google Play music widget can skip within a song by pressing on one of its buttons until a 'track preview' pops up.
In many places where a list of things is shown vertically, to dismiss something you swipe it to the right.
In Chrome (Android 4 and up browser only), swipe down from the address bar to see all your tabs. Swipe across the address bar to switch browser tabs.
If you want to set a monthly mobile data limit, go to Settings > Data Usage and tap Set Mobile Data Limit. Slide the Red bar for the limit and orange bar for warning level. Just be careful because your provider may count your data slightly differently to your phone – you may want to set your phone's limits to be a bit more conservative.
Connect it your PC using a good quality micro-USB cable (one is provided with the phone) and Windows should automatically download the drivers to make the phone's internal storage available as a drive – but (at least in Win7) it won't be assigned a drive letter, which means some applications won't be able to access it, but it's easy to use Windows Explorer to move files around. (If you can't access it, check MTP is active. This setting is hidden under "Settings", "Storage", click the three vertical dot icon in the top-right corner, click "USB computer connection", and ensure that "Media device (MTP)" is turned on.
Security & Backup
Go to "Settings", "Backup & Reset" and turn on "Back up my data" so that if you lose or change your Android phone, all app data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings are saved. To backup photos use Google+ Photos or DropBox.
One quick security step that's well worth taking with any Android device is to head to <google.com/android/devicemanager> and register your device. Now, if you ever lose it or it gets stolen, you'll be able to locate it, send a message, lock it, or even erase the contents remotely.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the quality of this phone.
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