21
Nov
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Official Nexus accessories are always exciting. Not just because we get to have cool new official toys for our phones, but because Google has such a bad reputation for releasing official accessories (remember that Nexus 10 dock from the holiday video last year?) that when one does become available, it's like a treat.

It is with this in mind that I approached the bright red version of the official Nexus 5 bumper case, and decided to give it a review. Coming into the experience, I didn't expect there to be much to discuss about the case, but it's - somewhat surprisingly - not a "this is exactly you expect" kind of situation.

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Look and Feel

The first thing I noticed about the case was that it is not squishy. It's surprisingly rigid plastic, and takes not-insignificant effort to both put on and take off. That said, it feels sturdy, and the general presumption with phone cases is that they have the ability to protect your phone in some capacity.

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All of that said, the texture of the case is great. I have a hard time describing how the case feels when your fingers touch it, but I'd probably liken it to the Nexus 7 2013, with a slightly finer grain. It's super smooth, but just a teeny bit grippy. It's actually softer than the Nexus 5, if you can believe it.

The only downside to its texture is the fact that it doesn't "stick" to the Nexus charging orb. Given that Google is peddling a new wireless charger for Nexus devices, though, I guess that isn't a huge problem. And the case does still allow the N5 to work with the orb, but only because the bottom of the case can rest against whatever surface the orb is sitting on.

There's also a very subtle "nexus" logo printed on the back, mimicking the logo hiding on the phone underneath. It's very subtle, and the texture of the printing can barely be differentiated from the material under it.

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One thing to note is that the case has some nearly invisible, yet still noticeable ridges on the top and bottom edges. Whether this is because the case is thicker in some places than others (to accommodate port openings and the shape of the phone) I can't say, but they're there.

Another minor quibble with the case's material is that it picks up moisture and oil quite easily. Eating a single potato chip and touching the case left a shiny smear.

Speaking of the case's contours, there's a band around the inside that cradle's the Nexus 5's curved back. The approach Google took with the case is an interesting one, because it's clear that blocking off the curves that make the Nexus 5 such a pleasure to hold was a very deliberate move.

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The lack of curves definitely makes a notable difference when using and holding the Nexus 5. The device feels more rigid and industrial, and all the finesse of the two-part curved chassis design is lost in angles. The bright side of this is that those whose hearts ache for the air hockey capabilities of the Nexus 4 will be at least partially satisfied with this case.

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Buttons and Ports

Angles aside, the real - and almost only - problem I have with this case is the buttons. They aren't clicky. On some level I knew before approaching the case that non-clicky buttons are a necessary evil of most plastic or TPU cases, but still - it's just no fun to press a button too hard without any kind of feedback except that the screen flicks on or the volume changes. If I press the buttons directly with my thumbnail I can feel the buttons clicking inside, but pressing them as I normally would feels wrong. It feels like I have to use more pressure than usual, with no feedback, and that the device just happens to react.

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The cover has thirty-seven holes. Thirty-two of those are earmarked by the bottom-firing speaker (singular) and its big fat phony counterpart, with one each going to the micro USB port, headphone jack, camera, flash, and top microphone.

In theory, the speaker holes should line up perfectly with those on the actual device. In practice, there's pretty much no sound interference with the case, which is good. Past that, the two openings that really matter are the micro USB and headphone jack holes. The micro USB hole is amply sized. You shouldn't have any problem plugging in your charger.

The headphone jack can accommodate my earbuds with a fairly small connector, but the larger plug I typically use in the car just doesn't quite fit, which is disappointing. Then again, maybe I just need a cable with a smaller connector. Part of the reason my car-cable doesn't fit is likely that the opening is - like the rest of the case - angled, and doesn't stick closely to the curve of the case. With a headphone port that's already slightly less than a full circle on the N5, putting any more distance between it and the plug is bound to create problems.

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Final Thoughts

Is the case worth $35 plus shipping? As someone who very rarely uses a phone case, I wouldn't normally buy this case either. That said, it's nice for what it is. It has a great texture, looks fantastic, fits snugly, and at least gives the impression that it's offering your Nexus 5 some serious protection. Its major downfalls are the non-clicky buttons and a headphone port that's not compatible with every cable I own, but those used to cases like this will probably feel right at home.

If, after reading this quick review, the case looks like something you want, you know what to do.

Nexus 5 Bumper Case on Google Play

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Daniel McKenzie J.

    Some of the English and grammar in this article is just awful.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Like what?

      • Gav456

        Yeah, like what?

      • Adam Booth

        It's surprisingly rigid plastic, and takes _not-insignificant_ effort to both put on and take off.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          I'd still argue that's actually acceptable (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insignificant).

          • Phill_S

            As I understand it:

            The double negative is generally considered bad unless you are trying to instil doubt in what you are saying. So the sentence is basically saying that it requires significant force, but that the writer (Liam) is doubting his own judgement on that.

            So I think strictly speaking it is wrong and the simpler phrasing "takes some effort" or "takes more than normal effort" is better but overall life is far too short to care and 99% of the time being a language nit is worse than the original 'error'.

          • Jake S.

            A double negative of this type is called a litote, and it's a rhetorical device that asserts something by denying its negative. Jennifer Lawrence is not unattractive.

    • Renato Paredes Araújo

      Give him a troll Oscar.

  • herbivoor

    I don't get why this is called a bumper case. I thought this: http://cdn.gottabemobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Nexus-4-Bumper-Review-09.jpg was a bumper case.

    • David Marion

      For the Nexus 4, it was advertised as "Nexus 4 Bumper (Black)." The Nexus 5 case is a "Nexus 5 Bumper Case (Black)." Essentially, a bumper + a case. That picture is of a bumper, not a bumper case.

  • herbivoor

    Care to share that wallpaper?

  • hp420

    How can Google call that a bumper?? It has a full back....that's clearly a full TPU case.

    • http://fb.com/fedec96 Federico Cappelletti

      In fact it's called "bumper CASE", not "bumper"...

  • Tykin

    The Nexus 4 has the best bumper case I've ever used. I've dropped my phone half a dozen times and, each time, I am positive the bumper's protection made my phone stronger.

  • remister

    I don't see using any case with Nexus 5. If the design was like the 4, then yes, the bumper case saved me from the glass being cracked a few times.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Agreed. I'm not usually a case user, and this case didn't change my mind. It seems particularly odd to me that they'd offer a case with a flat back and angled sides, since the back of the N5 is nicely curved.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I put a case on the N5 just to put a little more distance between the camera lens and whatever surface it's sitting on. Of course, I went with something in a different style and more reasonably priced.

      I also did it because the back of the N5 grabs too much oil from your fingers and kinda embellishes wear and tear marks from any surface it's been sitting on. All of that stuff can be cleaned away, but it looks bad to me.

  • John Smith

    Diztronic TPU. $9.99. AWESOME. check it out!

  • duse

    Still don't know if I'm going to keep my N5. I wish the screen was bigger, the bottom bezel is too large, and I want the battery life of the G2. KitKat is fine but not really mind blowing. Anyone else feel the same?

    • Orrin05

      How much do you pay for G2? What do you expect for $349? It is hard to make everyone happy!!
      Try using power master app, to manage your battery use, clean your apps
      etc. you will get more battery for sure! At least it is what I get!

    • Jeff Martinez

      Bigger? Nexus phablet? No thanks!

      • duse

        No, not phablet. Phones in the 5-5.5" range are barely larger in the hand but the increase in screen size is noticeable. Try a G2 next to an N5 - you'll appreciate the difference.

  • Brad

    My Ringke is showing up today... I loved it on my SIII and I'm sure I'll love it on my Nexus 5 :)

  • Ghost

    I will say that after a week or so, the buttons will be easier to press. They still have no clicky, and you have to press it squarely, but at least you don't have to feel like you are crushing the phone to turn it on.

    $20-25 price and this would have been a great case.

  • Jeff Martinez

    Looks like a nice case, for 35 dollars? I'd rather get a Spigen case.

    • BlancaP

      And the Spigens top out at $20 on Amazon and eBAY. The posts online indicate a preference for the Diztronic over any of the Spigens, and it's $10.

  • BlancaP

    What makes this case worth $25 more than the $10 Diztronic case, which has everything the Google case has but a Nexus logo?

    • mjoa

      Exactly what I was thinking. And Diztronic has even made a "voyeur" version of the same case that has a little clear window over the logo if you're really into that kind of thing. It's an extra five bucks but 15 is still a heck of a lot better than 35.

  • Barb

    Any idea if this case will completely cover up the color of the phone? I purchased the "red" Nexus 5 but it is really orange. I purchased a case from Amazon and it doesn't cover enough of the actual phone to hid the orange color.

  • etr4ngere

    Just got my nexus 5 case today it fixes the concern I had with the camera protruding slightly and feels nice in the hand.

  • jicib121212

    Does it fit the nexus 4