The Nexus 5 may be Google’s super affordable ($350 to own!) flagship phone, but it’s not without some problems. Here are the most common Nexus 5 bugs, glitches, malfunctions, annoyances, and issues we’ve seen cropping up, with advice on how to tackle them.
Glitch: Camera not working
It’s fairly common to have the camera crash accompanied by the useless message “Unfortunately, Camera has stopped.” There doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause for this one, but it’s easy enough to temporarily fix.
- Turn the Nexus 5 off and on again by holding down the Power button and tapping Power off. Now press it again and your phone will restart with a working camera.
- Go to Settings > Apps > All > Camera and then tap Clear cache. If you’re using an alternative camera app then do the same there and it can also help to clear the cache in the Gallery
Problem: Compass is wonky
Sometimes you may notice that your Nexus 5 compass is incorrect. People report it showing North as West in various apps, like Google Maps, and other errors are common. It may correct itself if you leave it, but you can also recalibrate it yourself.
- The most popular way to fix this is the figure of eight trick. This is one of those things that’s an awful lot easier to show than explain, so check out this YouTube video or this YouTube video for two methods that should get your compass back on track.
Issue: Bluetooth not working
A lot of people have experienced Bluetooth problems with the Nexus 5. There are reports of issues getting it to see other devices in the vicinity, problems getting it to connect or maintain the connection, and failure to auto-connect with previously paired devices.
- Start by turning both devices off and on again.
- Try turning the Wi-Fi on your Nexus 5 off or change the band you’re using, sometimes it can interfere with Bluetooth.
- Make sure that you are using the pairing button or placing the device into pairing mode correctly.
- You may have exceeded the number of devices your Bluetooth system or accessory can connect to. Try deleting the existing the profiles and reconnect.
- Try doing the same on your Nexus 5 via Settings > Bluetooth then choose the device and tap Unpair.
- Try out the free Bluetooth Auto Connect
A lot of Nexus 5 owners have run into a problem where the person they are speaking to on a call complains that they sound very quiet or distant. Sometimes they can’t be heard at all, sometimes it just sounds muffled.
- Most people have found that speakerphone works correctly, so you can switch to speakerphone for calls and be heard. Some report that switching to speakerphone and then back again seems to resolve it.
- You could use a headset with a microphone for calls.
- Some people have had success by covering the second noise-canceling microphone which is at the top of the Nexus 5.
- It’s worth making sure that there’s nothing blocking the microphone. If you use a case then try removing it and see if it makes a difference. The microphone is the right grill at the bottom of the phone, try blasting some compressed air in there to remove any fluff.
- Google is aware of this issue and mentioned a fix a while back so make sure your Nexus 5 is fully up to date via Settings > About phone > System updates.
Glitch: Can’t answer calls
Some Nexus 5 owners have found that they are unable to answer incoming calls. For some people, the screen simply doesn’t come to life. For others, dragging the green or red icons to answer or ignore has no effect and the phone keeps ringing.
- Rebooting the phone will temporarily solve the issue.
- Some people found that changing off LTE to 3G or 2G resolved the problem. You can check your settings in Settings > More > Mobile networks > Preferred network type.
- Some people report success after going to Settings > Storage and then tapping on Cached data and tapping OK to clear it. This may only work temporarily.
- It’s possible that an alternative SMS app could be causing some kind of issue. Try switching back to Hangouts and see if it is resolved.
- You could also boot into safe mode to check if a third-party app is the culprit. Hold down the Power button and then tap and hold on Power off and tap OK. If the problem is gone then you know an app is causing it. You can get out of safe mode by restarting your Nexus 5 and then uninstall apps and test one by one, or do a factory reset and selectively reinstall.
- Look out for an update in Settings > About phone > System updates.
A few people have found that the “OK Google” voice command has stopped working for them. It either does nothing at all or it just makes a sound, but doesn’t load up Google Now like it should.
- Make sure you have it switched on in Settings > Google > Search > Voice > “OK Google” hotword detection.
- Try holding down the Power button to reboot the device.
- Try going to Settings > Google > Search > Voice > Language and make sure it’s set to English (US).
- Make sure your files are backed up and wipe the cache partition. Press and hold the Volume up, Volume down, and Power buttons together for ten seconds and then after the Android screen comes up press Volume down twice to find Recovery mode and then press Power to select it. When you see the Android with the red triangle hold down the Power key and tap the Volume up key to get the Android System Recovery screen. Let go of everything and use the volume key to highlight wipe data cache partition and then press Power to select it.
Problems with video recording, display, network, and more
Many Nexus 5 owners have been complaining about a hissing noise that shows up on any videos they record with the phone. This static may get louder when people speak or there’s a louder noise in the recording.
- Some owners have found that recording audio using a different app alleviates the problem. Try the FauxSound app and reduce microphone gains.
- A post from a Google rep in the Google support forum in January stated “I want to assure you that Google is still working on this issue. At this point it’s looking like software, and not a hardware issue. If you’re experiencing this I do not recommend exchanging your Nexus 5 for a replacement. We’re investigating improving this behavior in a future update to the Nexus 5’s operating system.”
- Keep an eye out for a software update that might fix this issue. Take a look in Settings > About phone > System updates.
Problem: Dropping network connection
A lot of people have been having trouble with their network connections on the Nexus 5. Sometimes it will struggle to connect properly when switching between Wi-Fi and a mobile network; sometimes it seems to run into issues when switching between 3G and 4G. Sometimes it is dropping onto EDGE or GPRS when 3G or 4G is available. For some people it happens when the Nexus 5 sleeps and there are suggestions it might be related to fast dormancy if it’s not supported by your carrier.
- Hold down the power button and reboot your Nexus 5 and the connection should return.
- Try going to Settings > Wireless & networks > More > Mobile networks >Network mode and choosing it manually.
- There’s an outside chance that your APN settings are wrong. Check with your carrier to find out what they should be and go to Settings > Wireless & networks > More > Mobile networks > Access Point Names to make sure they are set correctly.
- Try using your SIM in another phone to make sure it’s not an issue with the SIM card.
- A few people say the problem is gone after a factory reset or replacement handset, but there are also reports that neither helps, so it’s definitely not a guaranteed fix.
Issues getting the GPS to fix seem to be common with the Nexus 5. Some owners are also reporting that the phone gets a fix quite quickly, but as soon as they move, it drops or gets wildly inaccurate. As you would expect it is much tougher to get a fix inside.
- Go to Settings > Location and make sure Mode is set to High accuracy.
- Press and hold the power button and then tap and hold the Power off option on screen and touch OK when the Reboot to safe mode box pops up. If the GPS works then your problem is likely to be a third-party app. You can try uninstalling them one by one until you find what’s responsible or do a factory reset and reinstall selectively.
- Call Google, your carrier, or retailer and arrange a replacement handset.
Malfunction: Dead pixels on display
There have been a number of reports of Nexus 5 displays with dead pixels. If you see a spot on your screen that never changes then it’s possible you have a dead pixel. Before you panic, try using a free app like Dead Pixel Test to confirm. If you can still see it when the screen is off (and it won’t wipe away) then it’s more likely to be dust trapped under the screen, but the solution is the same.
Solution: You’re going to need to get a replacement handset. Contact Google or your carrier and arrange for a replacement.
Annoyance: Power button rattles
A lot of people have been complaining about the power button rattling when the phone is shaken, the button is pressed, or when it vibrates. A little movement is perfectly normal, but if you find it’s really loose, you might want to consider getting a replacement. Another problem that falls into the same category is the complaint that the ceramic buttons are too sharp. It’s worth noting that you can expect a bit of rattle from the camera module because of the OIS (optical image stabilization), which is perfectly normal.
Workaround: Get a case. Most cases will prevent the buttons from moving much and some Nexus 5 cases will actually cover the buttons entirely. Buttons will also get duller over time.
Solution: You’re going to have to contact Google, your carrier, or the retailer and try to get a replacement handset.
Glitch: Can’t connect to Wi-Fi or keeps dropping
We see issues with Wi-Fi every time a new device comes out and there are a lot of potential causes. However, a significant number of people report that their Nexus 5 will not connect, or that it drops the connection when they move a relatively short distance away from a Wi-Fi router.
Workaround: Toggle into Airplane mode and back again, or toggle the Wi-Fi off and on again, or reboot the phone and you should find the Wi-Fi works again temporarily.
- Start by turning off your router for 10 seconds or so and then turning it back on again.
- Go to Settings > Wireless and networks > Wi-Fi and select the problem network then choose Forget, now try to reconnect and enter your details anew.
- Check that your router firmware is up to date and review the security settings. You might have to refer to your ISP’s manual or website for help on this.
- Try changing the band in Settings > Wireless and networks > Wi-Fi tap Menu again and select Advanced then select Wi-Fi frequency band and try 2.4GHz only or 5GHz only instead of Auto and see if it helps. You could also make sure Avoid poor connections is unchecked.
- Use the free Wi-Fi Analyzer app to check if a crowded channel is the problem.
Problems with vibration, battery, and more
Annoyance: Vibration is weak and loud
Some new Nexus 5 owners have reported that the vibration motor seems to be very weak and quickly grows louder and weaker. If you find that the vibrate function is both unusually weak and very loud then you may have a faulty unit. In a few cases the vibrate motor seems to be completely non-functional.
Solution: Contact Google or your carrier and arrange to return your handset and get a new Nexus 5.
Problem: Speaker is quiet and audio quality is poor
A lot of people are finding that the speaker on the Nexus 5 is too quiet for their liking. Some people complain about the sound quality as well, with reports of reverb or muffling at lower volumes. The left grill on the bottom edge of the Nexus 5 is the speaker (the right grill is actually a microphone). The most obvious thing to check first is that you aren’t blocking the speaker with your hand. You can also try playing the same track in different apps; many people report differences in quality when they do this which points toward a software issue.
- It’s likely that a software update will tackle this issue and fix it, but in the meantime you can try a couple of things.
- If you’re using Google Play Music then go into Settings and turn the Equalizer on. Some people claim they heard an instant improvement and you can fiddle with the equalizer settings for better results.
- Some people suggest turning off virtual surround sound, but this has failed to solve the problem for most.
Bug: Battery draining quickly or won’t charge
Here’s another complaint that always crops up and it’s also been mentioned in a lot of reviews. The Nexus 5 battery is mediocre and it’s going to need recharged every day for most people. Some users have also reported erratic behavior or charging issues, and there are a couple of potential causes.
Workaround: Get an extended battery case or a portable battery charger.
- If your charger makes a loud buzzing sound or heats up, or just fails to charge the Nexus 5, it could be faulty. Try an alternative charger and see if it that makes a difference. Try plugging it into your computer as well and shutting the phone down.
- Plug your Nexus 5 in and fully charge it. As soon as you remove it from the charger try turning it off immediately and then switch it on again.
- You could try wiping the cache partition. Back up anything precious and then turn the Nexus 5 off. Press and hold the Volume up, Volume down, and Power buttons together for ten seconds. You’ll see the Android screen and you can press Volume down twice to find Recovery mode and then press Power to select it. When you see the Android with the red triangle hold down the Power key and tap the Volume up key. You should get the Android System Recovery screen now and you can let go of everything. Use the volume key to highlight wipe data cache partition and press Power to select it.
- There’s a chance that a specific app is the culprit. Some people reported issues with camera related apps. You can try uninstalling apps one by one or you can do a factory reset and selectively reinstall to try and find it.
Problem: Camera is poor
This has cropped up as a complaint in most of the Nexus 5 reviews online and so it’s no surprise to find it being reported in forums as well. Issues include blurry photos, very slow auto-focus, shutter lag, and generally disappointing results in terms of photo quality. The general consensus seems to be that this is a software problem rather than a hardware problem, which is good in the sense that it can be fixed by an update and there’s no need to replace your handset, the downside is that you have to wait for the update.
Potential solution: Make sure you have the latest software update available. You can check via Settings > About phone > System updates.
Article originally published on 11-12-2013. Updated on 11-10-2014 by Simon Hill: Reformatted and added problems with camera not working, compass being inaccurate, and Bluetooth not working.
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