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Review: Updated: Google Nexus 5

Introduction

When the Nexus 5 launched in October 2013 it was lauded as "the best that Google has to offer", but more than a year on is that still the case or has the search giant's darling handset fallen behind the times?

The Nexus 5 has always been updated with the very latest software and it now boasts Android 5.0 Lollipop. I've updated this review to reflect this change and everything that the fantastic Lollipop update brings, as well as the increasing pressure from the new fleet of low-cost, yet highly specced competitors.

That said, the Nexus 5 is still a lean, mean Android machine, beyond the reach of OEM embellishment and carrier bloatware.

It delivers a streamlined experience that's stylish, refined and fast, and it does all this at a low price. Although, as already mentioned, that price isn't quite so jaw-dropping now.

You can snag the 16GB version of the Nexus 5 for around £239.99 or you can lay down an extra £40 and get the 32GB version for £279.99.

The price has dropped slightly since launch, but seeing as Google has discontinued the handset (it's now officially listed as "no longer available for purchase") only a handful of retailers have units left.

Google Nexus 5 review

In terms of hardware the Nexus 5 is still just about a premium smartphone, it just doesn't have a premium price tag.

The Nexus 5 was able to hold its own with the top devices of 2013, including the iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and Sony Xperia Z1, but hold it up against the flagships of 2014 and the Nexus 5 is left lagging behind.

Its 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip isn't as power efficient as the 801 or 805 models which adorn recent high-end smartphones and while we're still seeing 2GB of RAM and 1080p displays on some of them, others such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6 are moving to more RAM and QHD screens.

We're now in 2015 and starting to see Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chip take hold - it's already inside the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9 - which dates the Nexus 5 even more.

The Nexus 5 has been updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop; the biggest software jump for Android since Ice Cream Sandwich was unveiled in 2011 and proved Google could do software design well. 5.0 Lollipop completely redesigns the interface, brings in the new Material Design look and adds in many features OEMs have been including in skins for years now, a battery saver mode for example.

If you're wondering where Google cut corners on the Nexus 5 then you might point an accusatory finger at the camera and the battery life.

Google Nexus 5 review

When compared to the very reasonably priced OnePlus One with a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, 13MP camera and £229 price tag the Nexus 5 loses some of the value for money sheen.

There's also challengers from other firms in this space, with the likes of the Moto X (2014) and Xiaomi Mi 3 looking for a foothold.

I never expected to fall in love with the Nexus 5, but it seduced me. It certainly has its flaws, and I'll get into them in due course, but it's also a beautiful phone that sets a benchmark for Android.

While the Nexus 5 is no longer the flagship device in Google's arsenal, that honor falls to the 6-inch QHD display toting beast that is the Nexus 6, it's still for sale in some shops (though not from Google itself) and offers a pure Google experience to those who don't want a 'phablet'. You could say, it's the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6 Plus.

Google Nexus 5 review

As I rest it vertically on the arm of my couch it conjures visions of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. To soften it off and make it more comfortable to hold, the corners are rounded.

This black slab (which also comes in white and red) is all about the screen and the entire front of the Nexus 5 is glass. The only details that break it up are the round earpiece centre top and the front-facing camera to the left of it. There is actually an LED notification light down below the screen, but you'll only see that when it blinks into life.

Despite having a five-inch display, the Nexus 5 measures just 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6mm and the bezels are nice and thin.

Google Nexus 5 review

With a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which translates to 445ppi, the Nexus 5 display looks crisp and accurate. It's an IPS display, and while critics will point to AMOLED's superior brightness and black levels, you'd be hard pressed to notice.

The back and sides are soft-touch, matte plastic and it only weighs 130g. Flip it over and you'll see a couple of design flourishes.

The word "Nexus" is embossed in lowercase gloss, with a tiny LG logo below it. Up top on the left you'll find the glaring round eye of the 8MP camera, which is surprisingly big. A tiny LED flash is just below.

The bottom edge has a standard microUSB port and there are two grilles either side of it - the Nexus 5 only has one speaker in there; the other hides a microphone. Up top you'll see the standard 3.5mm headphone port and a tiny hole for an extra microphone.

Google Nexus 5 review

On the left spine there's a ceramic volume rocker, with no markings. On the right spine there's a ceramic power button and the SIM tray, which you'll need a SIM tool or a pin to pop out. The Nexus 5 does not open, so there's no microSD card support or battery switching.

The Nexus 5 is one of the most comfortable phones I've used. It is comparably slow to heat up, so there are no issues holding it while watching movies or during extended gaming sessions. The soft-touch finish contrasts perfectly with the ceramic buttons, which makes them very easy to find and use without looking.

There are negatives. The camera lens protrudes enough to make you worry about it taking the brunt of any impact when the Nexus 5 is put down on a flat surface. That glass expanse, without any protective lip or border, suggests that a drop could easily result in disaster and scratches might be easy to come by.

Unlike the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which also boast a sizeable camera hump, the one on the Nexus doesn't have the added protection that a sapphire glass covering brings to Apple's devices.

Google Nexus 5 review

There's also the inevitable smudging from fingerprints, which turns up on the back and the front, but that's a common problem.

It's not a flashy design, but the Nexus 5 does feel solid and well made. It may be a little big for easy one-handed operation if you don't have big hands, but the extra screen size will justify that trade-off for most people.

At this price, the design of the Nexus 5 is impressive. It's understated, almost making the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 look gaudy, and it feels more expensive than the Galaxy S5.

Key features

The price

Ultimately it's the price of the Google Nexus 5 which makes it an attractive proposition, and while the OnePlus One and co. may be trying to encroach on its territory, Google's own-brand is still the dominant force in the high-spec, low-cost arena.

£239.99 for a premium Android smartphone that's this good is very good. Even at £279.99 for the 32GB version, the Nexus 5 is still temtping.

Apple devices are expensive. The iPhone 5S, which was released at a similar time to the Nexus 5, now starts at £459 for the 16GB version and you'll have to lay out an extra £40 to get a 32GB model for £499. While a 16GB iPhone 6 starts at £539, that's almost double the price of the Nexus 5.

Google Nexus 5 review

While Apple is comfortable with its premium pricing strategy, the Nexus 5 has really put pressure on the competing Android flagships.

The Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and LG G2 have all witnessed dramatic price cuts over the past 12 months, while the Nexus 5 has managed to retain its sale price much better.

And now there's the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, Sony Xperia Z3 and HTC One M8 - all costing around £500 and a new wave of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 launching imminently.

Whatever way you cut it, the Nexus 5 is st a lot of phone for your money, and it looks like a real attempt to drive prices down, which can only be a good thing for consumers.

However, we've since seen the OnePlus One - better specs than the Nexus 5 and coming in even cheaper - is this the phone Google should be worried about perhaps?

Google Nexus 5 review

The camera

It would be fair to say that the camera in the Nexus 5 was a bit of a disaster on release. It's an 8MP shooter with optical image stabilization that's intended to be a good substitute for a point-and-shoot camera.

There's nothing wrong with the hardware, but the software let it down badly. The camera was far too slow to focus and could be slow to launch, which killed your chances of capturing those spontaneous moments with friends and family.

Google Nexus 5 review

In ideal conditions the Nexus 5 camera could capture stunning shots, but how often do you get ideal conditions?

Google listened to the criticism and quickly released an update to deal with the slow focus issue by balancing speed and image quality a bit better.

Where previously it would take forever to capture a shot, as you waited for the auto-focus, especially in low light conditions, or with fast-moving subjects, after the update it's much faster.

Google Nexus 5 review

It also enables the camera app to load a little faster, and improved the contrast to produce more vibrant colours.

Further updates to the Android camera application have also seen the UI changed a little, as well as the addition of a new feature - Lens Blur - and an easier to use settings menu. I was hoping Lollipop would help the camera too, but it hasn't.

Results are generally respectable, but it's still not the greatest shooter on the market. You can take a look for yourself in the camera section later in this review.

Speed

The Nexus 5 is really about speed and power. The snappy processor dovetails with the Android 5.0 platform beautifully.

Google did not cut any corners with the quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. It was a cutting-edge CPU at the time that had been paired with the Adreno 330 GPU.

Google Nexus 5 review

That's the same combination you'll find in the LG G2, Xperia Z1, and some variants of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.

While the power setup in the Nexus 5 has now been usurped by more power efficient and feature packed offerings, it's still capable of handling pretty much anything you throw at it.

Interface and performance

The display on the Nexus 5 is excellent, which makes this a great device for consuming entertainment.

LG's mature IPS LCD technology really delivers. The colours look accurate and the 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution on the 4.95-inch screen translates to a solid 445ppi (pixels per inch).

To put that in context, the iPhone 6 has 326ppi, the Galaxy S5 is on 432ppi and the HTC One M8 can only boast 441ppi. Though the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 both outmatch it with 534ppi and 515ppi screens respectively. Not to mention the 493ppi screen on the new Nexus 6.

Put it side-by-side with an iPhone 5S or Galaxy S5 and you might detect a yellow tint. The display on the Nexus 5 is also not as bright as its competitors, which has a slight impact on legibility, particularly in direct sunlight.

On the whole, Google's compelling proposition is a premium smartphone that doesn't have to feel uncomfortable in flagship company. It has achieved a winning price without compromising on quality.

Google Nexus 5 review

The Nexus 5 shows off the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop beautifully. It's also set to get Android 5.1 soon and should be near the front of the queue when Android M (Malteser? M&M? Marshmallow?) comes, though as Google only promises to support Nexus devices for 18 months, that's not guaranteed.

If you're coming from an earlier version of Android, which you most likely are as few devices are running Lollipop, then there are lots of little improvements to enjoy.

The interface has been completely redesigned, with new icons, animations and colours giving it a much needed freshen up. Speaking of animations, they're beautiful. I found myself swiping around, opening up the app drawer and diving into the calculator just to see how the operating system moves.

'Material Design', Google's new design language, has impacted every corner of Lollipop. It's lighter, gone is the dark 'Holo' style settings app and everything feels fresh and vibrant. Many of Google's own apps have been redesigned to match these guidelines and they too, especially GMail and Google Maps, look stunning.

You'll find the touch sensitive trio of back, home, and multitasking at the bottom, though these now resemble a Playstation-esque threesome of the circle, triangle and square, but the functionality is the same.

Google Nexus 5 review

The app dock sits above them with an app drawer icon in the centre which will take to you full app list. The rest of the dock is customisable so you can add your favourites and have them accessible on every home screen.

Swipe right to left and you'll access additional home screens. White dots at the bottom of the screen indicate how many home screens you have and which one you're on, although sadly you can't tap on them to shortcut to another screen.

Drag an icon to the right and you can create a new home screen. There doesn't seem to be a limit, and if you empty a home screen it simply disappears.

Long press on any home screen and you'll see your full scrollable list and get access to wallpapers, widgets, and settings. By dumping widgets from the app drawer and making the app icons bigger, there are now four across a screen instead of five, the interface is easier to navigate and clearer.

Swipe left to right on the home screen and you'll find Google Now, which can also be brought to life by the magic words "okay Google" uttered on any screen home screen (though you will need to set your language to US English in Settings > Google > Search > Voice for that to work).

Google Nexus 5 review

Android had the best notification system around when it was on 4.4, but the jump 5.0 has pushed it further into the lead. iOS and Windows Phone 8.1 could really learn a lot about handling notifications from Lollipop.

Notifications are easily accessed by pulling down the shade from the top of the screen, keep on pulling and you'll find the new quick settings menu. Notifications now appear on the lockscreen, can be prioritised based on importance and pop-up at the top of screen when they come in.

It's a lot less obtrusive than iOS and I struggle to keep a track of notifications when I'm using any other platform apart from Android.

Part of the reason that the interface is so accessible is the speed. The Nexus 5 is a top performer. It has a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 with an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

When I ran Geekbench 3 on the Android 5.0 the multi-core average was 2307, which is actually down from the 2832 score I averaged on 4.4.4. It's still higher than last year's Galaxy S4 and HTC One and only just behind the Galaxy S5 and One M8, though.

By combining that processing power with the carefully optimized Android 5.0 platform Google has delivered a completely lag-free and highly responsive experience. The Nexus 5 is a dream to use. The only downside I have found is that with the extended animations in 5.0, opening folders and the app drawer does take marginally longer, but that's only because the movements are designed that way.

You can skip in and out of apps and games without any stuttering. Even with more than 20 entries in the new Overview menu and there's no hint of a pause.

You can snag the Nexus 5 in 16GB or 32GB versions. The actual capacity is always less; in this case you get 26.7GB on the 32GB version and around 12GB on the 16GB version. If you consider that it's not unusual for graphically impressive games to be over 1GB in size, you'll see the sense in opting for the 32GB version.

Remember that you can get an extra 15GB of free cloud storage by using Google Drive, and it's worth automatically backing up photos and videos, so you never lose them.

Battery life and the essentials

Battery life

I have had to charge the Google Nexus 5 every day since I started using it. Starting out with a full battery it's generally 30% or below by the end of the day, and for really heavy usage days it needed a top-up before bedtime.

Google Nexus 5 review

Project Volta, a new addition in Lollipop, is supposed to eke more juice from a charge and help you go longer without reaching for the charger or plonking your phone onto a Qi wireless pad.

But I haven't really found a massive improvement, if anything there's a couple of worrying incidents where my phone has simply drained itself empty overnight when it was fully charged before. There have also been a few cases where it's been at 70% and then suddenly dropped to below 20%, without any obvious reason why.

Another part of Project Volta is a battery saver mode, which automatically kicks in when your phone dips below 15%. Apart from turning the status bars a rather bright shade of orange, this mode manages to save battery by turning off background data, killing those sweeping animations and toning down performance.

In my tests I did find that when 'Battery saver' was enabled the phone would last a bit longer, but no more than an extra 20 minutes. It is nice to have, but nowhere near the feature-rich battery saver mode that Samsung added to the Galaxy S5.

Now, there isn't really any such thing as "normal" usage, but it would be fair to say that I'm a heavy user. I take my phone everywhere and use it frequently. I left Wi-Fi and mobile data on at all times, enabled location tracking with high accuracy, and opted into Google Now.

A typical day will include a cumulative hour of gaming, maybe 90 minutes worth of web browsing, a couple of photos, and a smattering of app action in Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and Flipboard, not to mention obsessive email checks (even with it set to a 15 minute refresh rate).

What this reveals, beyond my worrying smartphone addiction, is that the Nexus 5 is fairly typical.

Google Nexus 5 review

Initially the battery life is very erratic, but this is no cause for concern, because you should find that it settles down after the first few days. Remember that downloading and installing a burst of apps tends to eat the battery life fast.

Downloading and installing an exceptionally large game, such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which is 1.6GB, using Wi-Fi actually ate a staggering 10% of my battery.

If you use the Nexus 5 to navigate with turn-by-turn directions or play a graphically intensive game, like the aforementioned Asphalt 8 then you will really notice a major drain.

The Nexus 5 battery dropped 4% in ten minutes of playing the excellent Monument Valley. Streaming a 55 minute episode of Breaking Bad through Netflix ate 18% of the remaining battery life. A 15 minute call drained just 2% away.

The Nexus 5 battery is rated at 2,300mAh, a bit lower than the Galaxy S4's 2,600mAh battery.

Our 90 minute video NyanGareth battery test, with the screen at full brightness, knocked the Nexus 5 from fully-charged down to 74%.

The essentials

Inside or outside, in a busy shop, or a deserted street, the Nexus 5 made and received calls with no problems. Callers reported my dulcet tones came through loud and clear, even with my four year-old son screaming in the background, which points to some good noise cancellation skills.

I also found callers came through with plenty of volume and clarity on my end. The speakerphone isn't as clear, but it does the job.

Google Nexus 5 review

The phone app has been overhauled again in Android 5.0 and it's very convenient to use. The last call is listed at the top and then you get big contact spaces for your most frequently contacted friends and family.

When you do need to call a more distant contact you can just type in the search bar at the top and you'll rarely have to enter more than a couple of letters before they pop up.

You can also search for local businesses in here and call them directly, which can be very handy when you need a pizza at short notice.

I love the keyboard on the Nexus 5. Google has definitely made improvements, because for the first few days I would pause after a staccato burst of typing to go back and make corrections, only to find that the text was error-free. The swiping option has also been improved, making one-handed typing much easier.

Google Nexus 5 review

Hangouts is no longer the default messaging app in Android 5.0 Lollipop, replaced by a new Material Design infused SMS only app.

Why Google did this, I'm not really sure. Sure, you can change your default app back to Hangouts (which still does SMS and comes pre-installed), but I had hoped Google would do away with the basic SMS app this time around.

The purity of the Google experience on offer here is unmatched anywhere else. Cast an eye over the pre-installed apps, from Maps to Hangouts, from Gmail to Google Docs, from the Chrome browser to YouTube, the strength of the Google ecosystem is impressive.

Swipe to the right on the home screen and there's Google Now, ready to serve. The Nexus 5 offers everything that's good about Google in a streamlined format.

Camera

The Nexus 5 has an 8MP main camera with a 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor and an F2.4 30mm equivalent lens. The OIS (optical image stabilisation) helps you eliminate camera shake, and it's pretty easy to point-and-shoot and get good results.

You tap the shutter button to take a shot and you can tap on screen to choose a subject to focus on, but there's no tap to focus and shoot in one. You get vastly superior results if you're able to take your time, hold tap and hold on the shutter button and just lift your finger off when you're ready to capture.

Extra options are accessible via the small circle icon sporting three dots just next to the large shutter key. Here you'll find controls for flash, countdown timer, HDR+, gridlines and the ability to flip to the front snapper.

Google Nexus 5 review

This is an easier setup to the awkward arc which adorned the camera app pre Android 4.4.4, and it makes getting to various functions much quicker.

If you fancy a few camera modes slide your finger in from the left side of the screen, where you'll be greeted with Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, Camera and Video modes.

Lens Blur is a recently added mode, as Google jumps on the background defocus bandwagon that many manufacturers are already riding.

Google Nexus 5 review

It takes a few seconds for the Nexus 5 to process the Lens Blur image before you can tinker with the effect.

Swipe from right to left to jump into your camera roll, and any image taken with Lens Blur will have a circle lens icon in the toolbar allowing you to adjust the level of defocus.

It works reasonably well, but it doesn't match the accuracy of the HTC One M8 or Xperia Z3.

Google Nexus 5 review

The more in depth settings menu also been made easier to navigate thanks to recent updates - slide to open the camera modes panel and then tap the settings cog in the corner of the screen.

From here you'll be able to tweak a number of settings including photo and video resolutions, aspect ratio and toggle manual exposure.

There's also a 1.3MP front-facing camera which is really for video calls and quick selfies.

Google Nexus 5 review

It takes just under two seconds to launch the camera on the Nexus 5. You can swipe right to left on the lock screen or unlock and tap the camera icon.

Once open you can also use the volume rocker to take a shot, rather than the on screen shutter button. The way you'll typically hold the Nexus 5 to take a photo makes the volume rocker much easier to use than the on screen button.

Occasionally I found my fingers dropping into shot because the camera is offset to the left. When holding it in landscape the lens is at the top left, quite near the edge, but you soon get used to it.

Google Nexus 5 review

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Media

Streaming movies or TV shows is a simple prospect on the Nexus 5. The screen quality is perfect for high definition video, and your chance of encountering stuttering is entirely based upon the strength of your internet connection.

Google Nexus 5 review

As you'd expect audio sounds better through headphones. The speaker is fairly loud, but it can get a little crackly when there are sudden jumps in volume.

Google would prefer you to use its services, so you'll find the Play umbrella of apps in the shape of Movies & TV, Games, Books, Music, Newsstand, all offering filtered windows on the Play Store content and your own collection.

Music

Whether you're listening to music you own and load into the device, or via Google Play Music's streaming service, it all takes place within the app. The only thing is when you want to purchase stuff, it will redirect you to the Google Play Store app. It makes the experience feel disjointed, but it's not a deal breaker.

Music quality through the speaker is not very good. As I mentioned earlier, the speaker isn't very loud, and there is only one small speaker at the base of the phone. With decent headsets on, however, it sounds great.

The nice thing about Lollipop, and KitKat before it, is that it will show your music art and music player controls from your lock screen. Other apps will do this sometimes, too, like Spotify, but it's a nice touch that just adds to the overall experience of using the device.

Whether you're bringing over your own music or using Google Play's service, or other apps like Spotify or Rdio, you won't have much to worry about when it comes to how the Nexus 5 will handle it.

Movies

Videos and multimedia are handled by a few apps depending on what you're doing. First, there is YouTube, which is an obvious one. If you're opening YouTube videos from apps like Facebook or Twitter, or from the web, they will open in the YouTube app.

Otherwise, you guessed it, it's more Google Play stuff.

If you're on the home screen, you'll see the film icon that says "Play Movies & T.." and in the app list it's shown as "Play Movies &.." It's a little ridiculous, but what you're looking at is Play Movies & TV.

If you have a Google Play account, you can download and stream movies and TV shows. The nice thing about that is if you're offline, you can still view your downloaded movies.

Google Nexus 5 review

If this is your first Android device, or your first time using Google Play for multimedia, you should know that when you purchase something, it's yours. At least as far as playing it when you want, on any Android device you want.

This means you can play your content on your Nexus 5, and other Android tablets and phones running Android 4.0 or higher, which is pretty great.

HD movies and TV video quality and sound have been great, but we do have to reiterate that it sounds best through a headset given the Nexus 5's speaker issues.

In all, the video quality is generally good whether you're viewing streaming or downloaded content, or videos recorded with the device, and even better when viewed in HD thanks to the 1080p display.

Games

For gamers the Nexus 5 can handle pretty much anything you throw it at it. Extensive sessions with simple games like Monument Valley presented no problems, and neither did graphically intensive titles such as Asphalt 8 or Dead Trigger 2.

Google Nexus 5

If you do plan on playing a lot of games, or you'd like to store an extensive music or video library on your Nexus 5 then you should definitely opt for the 32GB version.

It's worth remembering that you can upload 15GB of files to Google Drive, or use Google+ as an unlimited photo backup, as long as you store them at standard size (the longest edge must be 2048 pixels or less). You can also store up to 50,000 of your own songs in the cloud with Play Music and stream them to your Nexus 5.

Comparisons

It's becoming debatable whether other Android device manufacturers, building unique user interfaces, and including their own apps and content hubs, can actually improve on what Google is offering, especially as Lollipop is such a beautiful and well equipped operating system.

In the early days of Android, HTC's Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz added important features. With Android 5.0 it's tough to find areas where the platform is lacking. Let's take a look at how the Nexus 5 compares.

OnePlus One

The biggest competitor to the Nexus 5 arrived a good six months after it launched, and it came all the way from China.

The OnePlus One beats the Nexus 5 when it comes to pricing, but also in the spec war with a meaty 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, the choice of 16GB or 64GB of storage and a 13MP rear camera.

Some may find the 5.5-inch full HD just too big to handle on the One, and there's no doubt the Nexus 5 is far more manageable in the palm - but it also lacks in power.

OnePlus One

Battery life is another advantage the Chinese handset has over Google's offering, yet the operating system is intriguing.

The OnePlus One runs Cyanogenmod - a community developed version of Android which looks pretty similar to the stock version, but with lots of added extras.

These aren't the extras you get with over the top UIs from the likes of Samsung or HTC though, instead they are implemented in a more subtle fashion and the wealth of extra control allows you to get your phone working just how you want. You can also now optionally replace the UI with OxygenOS.

Of course there are question marks over the support for the handset if things go wrong, and it's a little tricky to get hold of, but if you're looking for ultimate power vs value for money the OnePlus One offers just that.

Motorola Moto G (2014)

If you're really watching your pennies and are looking for the best value for money smartphone you can't do much better than the Motorola Moto G (2014)

It may not have quite the same levels of specs and features as the Nexus 5, but it still rocks the same vanilla Android KitKat OS, with the Lollipop update already rolling out in some areas. It is also half the price of Google's smartphone.

You get a 5-inch 720p display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, 2MP front snapper and the choice of 8GB or 16GB of internal storage with the Moto G. There's also a microSD card slot too, for adding more storage.

Motorola Moto G 2014

There's no 4G on the Moto G (2014), so it's not the device for you if you're looking for super-fast data speeds.

The Moto G is great then for someone looking for a cheap, but still highly functional smartphone which isn't going to be used a great deal for high-def video gaming or movie playback.

iPhone 6

You could argue that the Nexus 5 is the device Google hopes will try and entice iPhone 5S users from upgrading to the iPhone 6. While the Nexus 6 is meant to go up against the iPhone 6 Plus.

There are no conflicts. It is as close as you can get to Google's version of Apple's walled garden.

It also manages to feel more minimalist than the iPhone, and there's very little between them when it comes to accessibility or ease of use. The mud traditionally slung at Android from the parapets of competing platforms like iOS 8 simply can't stick to the Nexus 5.

Considering that the 16GB model of the iPhone 5S is still more than £150 more expensive than the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 6 is more than double the £299 price-tag Google slapped on its 2013 flagship, there are plenty of reasons to take it seriously.

iPhone 5S

The iPhone 6 has a 720p, 4.7-inch display, still smaller than the 1080p 5-inch panel on the Nexus 5. Battery life and camera ability are easily better on the iPhone 6, but the Nexus does pack double the RAM, with 2GB.

If money is no object then the iPhone 6 might be for you, but the Nexus 5 is far better value.

Hands on gallery

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Verdict

Back when the Google Nexus 5 launched you couldn't find a better smartphone for the money. More than a year on and the Nexus 5 is still good value for money, but it now has some tough competition.

It's still satisfyingly fast and refreshingly minimalist, but the truth is that there's no real star feature on the hardware side.

Don't get me wrong, the hardware is extremely good, but it doesn't really trump other Android flagships on the market. It's also a lot harder to come by now with none of the main networks or key retailers still stocking the Nexus 5, so you'll have to search if it still takes your fancy.

We liked

A focus on the really important features means that the display and processor are still up there with the better smartphones around - the Nokia Lumia 930 sports the same Snadragon 800 chip under the hood. The display is excellent for reading, watching videos, or playing games.

The Android 5.0 Lollipop update has really given the Nexus 5 a new lease of life, it's like I'm using a completely new phone.

From the Material Design look, to the new Guest User mode, to the swathes of beautifully rendered animations and the fantastic way it handles notifications, Google's latest Android update is one of biggest changes to an operating system I can remember and Android 5.1 is set to add a few more features.

That price makes the Nexus 5 a really compelling proposition. It puts pressure on other premium smartphone manufacturers and potentially frees people from the tyranny of the contract.

We disliked

Better battery life is top of most people's wish lists when it comes to mobile technology and it's easily the worst thing about the Nexus 5. It's distinctly average, even with Project Volta in Lollipop.

I'm used to a daily charging schedule already, so it's not much of a hardship, but if you're out and about for long periods then this is the only potential deal-breaker I can see. The fact that you can't remove the Nexus 5 battery will exacerbate the issue for some.

It's always nice to have the option of extra storage with a microSD card. Google doesn't gouge you like Apple does, but £40 is still a lot of money for an extra 16GB and there's no 64GB version. Not everyone wants to be forced into the cloud.

The camera is much improved after the update, but low light performance is poor and it doesn't match the 2014 flagship brigade in terms of quality.

Verdict

Google has learned from the OEMs. It has learned from previous smartphones in the Nexus line; there are no obvious omissions here, like the lack of LTE in the Nexus 4.

The really important things have been nailed. What you are compromising on when comparing the Nexus 5 with the rest of the premium market is the camera, storage options and the battery life, but you get a decent processor with a wonderful display.

You also get Android 5.0 as Google intended, refined, elegant, and efficient, with a full eco-system of services.

It doesn't have it all its own way though. If you're looking for the best bang-for-your-buck high-end smartphone then there are a few, such as the OnePlus One, which trump the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 still represents decent value for money, and for the Android purists out there who aren't desperate about having the latest and greatest specs it still offers an excellent smartphone experience.

First reviewed: October 2013








;
UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








;
UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








;
UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








;