Out of all the nexus phones I had this (along with the Nexus 6) is the only nexus I still own. Google was 2 years removed from the Galaxy Nexus failure, and needed a phone to get people excited about the nexus brand again. Enter the Nexus 5.
Though this phone kicked off a little rocky, with quality issues dealing with the speaker, it was a fan favorite. Lightweight, smooth, and unlike the Nexus 4, had LTE. The build was very similar to that of the Nexus 7, with a polycarbonate shell. Made by LG, the hardware was competitive at the time. 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 & 32 GB of internal storage, 4.95 inch 1080p display, 8 MP rear camera, and included sensors able to track steps.
Software-wise Google partnered with Nestle to name and market their 4.4 Android software under the name Kit-Kat. Under the hood kit kat brought HDR+, ability to print from the phone, screen recording, and Google Now Launcher. And shipped in black, white, and red (closer to like a reddish-orange color). Also the Nexus 5 was one of the phones to start receiving developers previews of upcoming software from Google. The first such preview was 5.0 Lollipop.
Overall the Nexus 5 can arguably go down as one of the favorites of the nexus phone. Once Google pushed through the first batch of phones with poor quality control issues, the phone was solid. For the period it was built, it wasn’t too big or small. It provided a decent sized screen for consuming media, while still being able to be used with one hand. People loved this phone so much it promoted Google to release a true successor in the Nexus 5x. It also helps that the Nexus 5 was released at a very competitive price of just under $400, almost $300 cheaper than the leading flagships at the time.
Another thing special about the nexus phone release was that it sparked the conversation of what a premium nexus phone could be. And we had that in the form of the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4, Google Play Edition Sony Z Ultra, and the Google Play Edition HTC One. Unfortunately this was ahead of it’s time as customers were not willing to pay $700 for a phone outright, versus allowing customers to buy it though a carrier under a plan. This led to not enough people buying the phones, and Google killing off their “Android Silver” program.
The Nexus 5 reigned supreme that year because it gave customers flagship competitive specs, at around mid tier pricing. Causing customers to associate this with being the major appeal to nexus phones. So when Google decided to dip their toes in asking premium prices for their nexus phones, customers would push back. Leading Google to re-brand their nexus phones to pixel phones.