DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

Editor's note: This review was conducted using a Nexus 5 with the latest software at that time, Android 4.4. When Google rolled out Android 4.4.1 with the promise of significant updates to the Nexus 5's camera capabilities, we updated and retested our device, amending our review when and where it was appropriate with notes from our reviewer. You can also learn more about what the Android 4.4.1 update means for Google's Nexus 5 shooters.

The Nexus 5 is Google’s latest showcase phone, bringing with it Android 4.4 (aka KitKat) and some new imaging features. Nexus phones provide an Android experience that’s as unadulterated by manufacturer customization and carrier bloatware as you can get without delving into the world of ROM flashing. They’re also the first to get updated when Google releases a new version of Android. All of that gets the Android community into a froth when a new device arrives, but contract-shy people also take notice because Nexus phones tend to be unbeatable deals compared to other unsubsidized phones: the 16GB Nexus 5 goes for $350, $200 to $300 less than competing devices off contract.

Nexus phones are typically based on an existing handset from an established hardware partner. HTC and Samsung have had that honor in the past, and now Google has cozied up to LG the second time in a row, deriving the Nexus 5 from LG’s G2 (the Nexus 4 was based on the LG Optimus G). However the Nexus 5 departs farther from its base than previous Nexus models, with not only a different camera (8MP vs. the G2’s 13MP unit), but a smaller screen size that allows for a more compact design.

The Nexus line may be known for top-flight hardware at bargain prices, but there’s one thing it’s not known for: good cameras. This time around, Google is talking up the Nexus 5’s camera, highlighting its optical image stabilization and revamped HDR mode. We put the phone through its photographic paces to see how it holds up in the real world.

The Nexus 5 works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the US. Verizon customers are out of luck, as the carrier reportedly blocks the phone from connecting to its network. A global version sold outside the US works with most operators around the world.  

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 8-megapixel 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor
  • Optical image stabilization
  • F2.4 30mm equivalent lens
  • 1080p 30fps video recording
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • HDR mode with extra optimization
  • Panorama mode
  • Time lapse video mode
  • Photo Sphere

Other Specifications

  • Snapdragon 800 2.23GHz quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • 4.95-inch 1920x1080 445 ppi display
  • LTE 4G
  • 16, 32GB storage
  • 2,300 mAh battery, non-removable
  • Available in black and white

Our 8-page review

We've considered every aspect of the Google Nexus 5 camera, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the device's many special feature modes. We will also add our studio comparison and DxOMark Mobile test results to this review when all testing is completed.

Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.