This post was published 3 years, 9 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
In 2012 I purchased my first Android phone: a Galaxy S2, and I haven’t looked back since. In the following years I purchased a Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy S4, Nexus 7 (2012) and more recently a Nexus 9, Moto 360 and Nexus 6. As that list shows, I have gradually moved away from skinned Android devices in favour of those running stock.
So, here’s why I feel that the Nexus devices provide the best Android experience and are therefore most suited to form the centre of my digital connected world (or if you like: the nexus of my nexus).
Even though manufacturers have somewhat stepped up their game with Lollipop, stock devices, especially the Nexus range, receive their updates first – unless you have a Nexus 9 but let’s gloss over that shall we?
Not only are they updated quicker, they’re also updated for longer. The Nexus 4 and 10, plus the original Nexus 7 all have the latest version of Lollipop and could feasibly get Android M. How many devices 2012 can offer that? Not many at all. My poor Note 10.1 is stuck on 4.4.2 KitKat, and I find it unlikely that it’ll ever progress from there. Even my 2013 S4 took an age to reach Lollipop officially. Then frankly I wished it hadn’t.
Add on the fact that my Nexus 6 and 9 will likely be compatible with the Android M preview, if it happens, and you have a stellar combination.
Stock devices perform better in more ways than one. In my experience stock is faster, smoother and more stable, even on the same hardware. My S4 was at its best on a 5.0 GPE ROM. It was much more fluid and smooth without TouchWiz weighing it down. Battery life was also far superior for both screen time and standby. There were also fewer reboots and system UI crashes, something that was a regular occurrence on TouchWiz.
Nexus devices are easier to play with. There’s no doubt about that. Unlocking the bootloader and manually flashing updates can be done with only a few keystrokes, all without the aid of some trashy PC program like Odin. Once you’re unlocked there are a lot more options available to you as far as ROMs, kernels and recoveries are concerned thanks to everything being open to developers.
This also means that if you do decide to hang on to your device past even Google’s extended support period, you can still expect good custom ROM support for newer Android versions. The original Nexus One from 2010: dropped after Gingerbread, still has ROMs available up to 4.4.4 KitKat. The Nexus S (dropped on 4.1) also has 4.4.4 ROMs. The Galaxy Nexus, which was dropped after 4.3 Jelly Bean, had near fully operational ports of 4.4, 5.0 and 5.1 before most new non-Nexus devices got them. It even got an unofficial port of the L preview! You get the picture.
Let’s face it, while everyone has their own view on design, for the most part TouchWiz is too overbearing and bright, while Sense is too dank and dark. Stock on the other hand strikes an even balance of appealing colour and subtle design elements. The animations Lollipop brought to the table are utterly beautiful no matter what way you look at them. Everything from the transition between tabs in the clock app, to the settings cog rolling out in the quick settings shade are buttery smooth. You’ll be hard pressed to find a mobile operating system, or any other kind of OS really, that looks better than Android does now and stock is its finest form. Google really got it right this time around.
So those are some the reasons I feel Nexus devices represent the best Android experience available. I imagine that some will disagree with certain points, but this is what my experience has shown. Every Nexus device I have owned has offered me a far better experience than any of the others.
Granted, my Android experience (in terms of devices owned) outside of the Nexus range is limited only to Samsung, but I have spent a fair bit of time playing with devices from most other Android product lines and I have close friends who I know also enjoyed a switch to Nexus devices coming from the flagship offerings of HTC, LG etc. I think my point still stands.
Obviously, you should ultimately get the device which best suits your needs, but for me there’s no doubt about it: that best device is most certainly a Nexus.