Overcoming Nexus 5 Weaknesses Through Peripherals

The first time I plugged the Nexus 5 into my car stereo, I was underwhelmed. The sound was low ... unacceptably, un-rockout-ably low. I turned up the volume to compensate but couldn't withstand the blast of white noise coming from the speakers along with the music. A deep dive into settings and the internet, didn't turn up a fix. My new device was underperforming my old device in a way that actually mattered in my day to day life. And this was the second time...

The first disappointment was the camera. HTC has some serious camera chops, reviewers need to give them more credit. You can see the quality of HTC images by taking a photo and zooming in as far as possible. Instead of resolving into a muddle of noise, an HTC photo resolves into a sort of impressionistic painting. Photos from the Nexus 5 appeared noisy in comparison. As someone who takes a small amount of pride in the quality of the images I share on Google+ and Facebook, I couldn't help but feel disappointed.

I loved everything else about the Nexus 5, the screen, the speed, the ergonomics, the UX, but a regression in those two key functions led to a budding case of buyer's remorse. As a consumer who prefers simplicity and reliability over complicated bells and whistles, I originally decided to purchase the Nexus 5 because of the elegant LG hardware and slick functional software, but I started to believe I had compromised too much. Then I started looking at peripherals.

A coworker mentioned the camera extension lenses available from photojojo.com. I was surprised to discover the lenses would attach to the Nexus 5 magnetically out of the box. I immediately ordered a telephoto lens and plan to carry it with me at all times. I'm sure the average photo won't be as good as an HTC photo, but I'm hopeful that when I really want to capture a scenic moment, I can attach the lens and get some nice shots.

This got me thinking about ways to overcome the bad headphone jack. I performed some research into bluetooth receivers and settled on the HomeSpot bluetooth receiver (with NFC configuration) for my living room, and a Kinivo BTC450 for the car. This not only solved the audio problem, but also brought my girlfriend and I into the future of wireless music streaming with a simple tap on the NFC bluetooth receiver (two taps if someone else is connected already).

I'm not the type of person who hacks their phone to get a desired functionality. I generally trust the software developers to make the complicated tradeoffs needed to arrive at the best user experience. What strikes me is the low "hack factor" of these two fixes. They feel more like augmentations. I've jumped from manually plugging my phone into an auxiliary jack, to tapping a bluetooth receiver once, and I have high hopes the lens will result in photos better than the HTC alone could provide.

I wonder if there are other augmentations I can make to the Nexus 5 to improve the experience. The Hangouts app is a bit confusing for texting, maybe some indy developer has been slaving over some elegant texting app that would blow my mind. The battery life isn't exceptional, perhaps I would worry less if I purchased a wireless charger for my desk at work.

It almost seems like Google designed the Nexus 5 this way on purpose. That would explain the gulf of quality between the screen and the headphone jack, the middling camera coupled with the magnetic extension ring, the poorly implemented SMS solution coupled with the release of new SMS APIs in Android 4.4 (like Apple did with public transit in their Maps).

Any other augmentations I should try?