Comparing the design and build quality of the white and black Google Nexus 5 by LG

Google Nexus 5 white and black

Smartphone fans generally fall into three camps: those who like grey or black smartphones, those who like white smartphones, and those who just don’t care because they’re going to cover their devices with a case. I generally fall into the white camp, although all of my three previous phones were black just because that’s what was available at the time of release (the OG HTC EVO 4G, the EVO 3D, and the EVO 4G LTE).

Last year, I was finally able to get a white phone again – the Google Nexus 5 by LG – after a three year hiatus. (My previous white phone was the MyTouch 3G from T-Mobile.) I really liked it, and thought it was one of the sharpest phones I’ve ever owned … until it took a nose dive straight onto my concrete driveway.

While I decided to replace it with another Nexus 5, rather than replacing it with something else, I did make one small change. This time, I chose the black version, instead of the white version. I did so after some careful research, reading through what other people had said who, at one time or another, have handled both versions simultaneously. I can say only a few minutes after opening the package containing my new phone that I made the right decision, for these reasons:


Shortly after getting my white Nexus 5, an annoying scratch appeared on the white body right next to the “S” in “Nexus.” Once I saw that, it was impossible for me to un-see it, and it’s annoyed me for months since. Unlike the matte white Nexus 5, the black version has a soft touch back that’s similar to the Nexus 7 (although not quite exactly the same). This means that small, unsightly scratches or scuffs are much harder to produce on the Nexus 5 – and if they do appear, they are much more difficult to notice.

Additionally, that same soft touch material surrounds the Nexus 5 on all sides, while the white version is surrounded by a shiny black plastic which doubles as a magnet for tiny, microscopic scratches. Again, that’s not a problem at all on the black Nexus 5.

Build quality.

Apparently, depending on who you talk to, LG has revised its manufacturing process for the Nexus 5, so this may have something to do with it. However, one Google representative flat out denied to me that any change in manufacturing had ever occurred, so I’m not sure what to believe.

I do know that my white Nexus 5 had a rattle in the camera since day 1, along with loose volume volume and power buttons. My black Nexus 5 has no rattle, and the buttons are not loose at all. I can confirm that the speaker and microphone holes on the bottom of my black Nexus 5 look ever so slightly bigger than those on my white Nexus 5, which tells me that sound will more easily pass through. In other words, it seems like all of my little niggles I have had with my white Nexus 5 have been addressed with the black version.


Since I really like keeping my phones naked if at all possible, I appreciate that the soft touch black on the back and sides of my black Nexus 5 are easier to grip. This makes it less likely to fall out of my hands (or a friend’s hands) during use. The white Nexus 5 is much more slippery, increasing the likelihood that yours will suffer the same fate mine did.

Of course, all of these points are moot if you put a case on your phone. In that instance, if you are considering purchasing a Nexus 5 soon, I’d just go on eBay and see how much used ones are selling for. If you notice that one color sells more than another, go ahead and get that color – that way, you’ll hopefully retain a bit more resale value when it is time to give your Nexus 5 up and move on.

What do you think? Which Nexus 5 did you opt for?

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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