Nexus 5 Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Review: Two Weeks Later

Last month, Google rolled out two Android 4.4 KitKat updates to the Nexus 5 including a Nexus 5 Android 4.4.3 KitKat update and an Android 4.4.4 KitKat update. We’ve been using the latter on the Nexus 5 for two weeks and with Android 4.4.4 KitKat problems swirling, we want to take another look at how the update is performing on Google’s current Nexus.

June was a hectic month for Google. Early in the month, the company rolled out a brand new Android 4.4.3 KitKat update that replaced Android 4.4.2 KitKat was aimed, primarily, at Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems. The update also brought cosmetic changes to the dialer and the People application but the update is essentially a massive bug fixer.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat rolled out for several days and up until the middle of the month when Google surprisingly rolled out an Android 4.4.4 KitKat update. Android 4.4.4 KitKat is a small security update for Nexus users that updated to Android 4.4.3 KitKat. It patches up an OpenSSL vulnerability. Like Android 4.4.3 KitKat, Android 4.4.4 KitKat is a small, bug fixer.

In the days since these two Android 4.4 KitKat roll outs, we’ve also seen Nexus users complain about a host of Android 4.4.3 KitKat problems and Android 4.4.4 KitKat problems. These problems range from battery life issues to GPS problems to issues with Exchange. Many of them are lingering Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems that Nexus users say were not fixed inside Android 4.4.4 and Android 4.4.3.

Nexus 5-Best-Cheap-Phone-June 2014

Two weeks ago, we issued our initial review of Android 4.4.4 KitKat on the Nexus 5 in an effort to generate discussion and offer some feedback to Nexus 5 owners on the fence about the upgrade. Today, with Android 4.4.4 KitKat complaints emerging by the minute, we want to take another look at how the Android 4.4.4 KitKat update is performing two weeks after we installed it on the Nexus 5.

Keep in mind, this Nexus 5 is stock and has always run stock software. We have made no modifications to the software since it was picked up back in November at launch.

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Nexus 5 Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Performance

Over the past two weeks, I’ve heard and read numerous complaints about the Android 4.4.4 KitKat update. Several Nexus 5 owners chimed in with their problems and Google’s Nexus product forums are rife with Android 4.4.4 KitKat problems. So, I felt it appropriate to revisit the Nexus 5 Android 4.4.4 KitKat update in an effort to provide some feedback to those that are wavering and hopefully generate some discussion amongst Nexus 5 owners along the way.

As I’ve noted many times, when it comes to the performance of incremental updates like Android 4.4.4 KitKat, I like to look at five different areas in particular. Those areas include applications and how they’re performing post update, battery life and whether there is abnormal drain, bugs or hiccups, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular performance, and overall speed. After spending two weeks with the Android 4.4.4 KitKat for Nexus 5, here is what I’ve found.

Apps

Applications will often start behave badly after a small update like Android 4.4.4 KitKat so that’s why it’s important that I note that I haven’t run into any serious problems with my applications, stock or otherwise.

Google Maps, Hangouts, Mail, Calendar, and Drive are all performing admirably and I haven’t run into any issues with any of them since I installed the update two weeks ago. Same goes for apps like Instagram, Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify. All of them are performing as they should after Android 4.4.4.

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If you are dealing with issues with apps inside of Android 4.4.4 KitKat, and I’ve heard various complaints about various apps, you’ll want to ensure that you’re up to date. If the app is running the latest version, it’s then worth reaching out to the developer to report the issue.

Some other fixes include force stopping the app and restarting it, clearing your cache and your data, or simply installing and reinstalling the app. These are known fixes but they aren’t guaranteed to work.

To force stop an application:

  1. Hit your device’s Home button.
  2. Head into Settings.
  3. Tap Apps.
  4. Find and tap the app that’s not working.
  5. Tap Force Stop.
  6. Re-launch the app.

To clear your cache and data:

  1. Hit your device’s Home button.
  2. Head into Settings.
  3. Tap Apps.
  4. Find and tap the application that’s not working.
  5. Tap Force Stop.
  6. Hit Clear Data.
  7. Tap Clear Cache.

Android 4.4.4 KitKat Battery Life

Battery life complaints emerge after every Android update, after every iOS update from Apple, after every Windows Phone update from Microsoft. It’s just how it goes. Once in awhile, there is actually a serious battery drain bug on board an update. Apple’s iOS 6.1 update, for instance, delivered an Exchange bug that wrecked havoc on the battery life of iPhones and iPads all over the world. Most of the time though, battery drain is an isolated issue experienced by a minority of users.

From what I can tell, Android 4.4.4 KitKat battery life is the same as it was before with Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. That is to say average. The Nexus 5′s battery life has never been stellar though fortunately, for me and many others, it has held firm after three Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades.

I’m still getting sporadic battery life. One day I’ll be able to go almost a full day with the Nexus 5, another I’ll lose a few hours for unexplained reasons. This has been consistent since I bought the phone back in November.

I’ve seen complaints about Android 4.4.4 KitKat battery life but the complaints aren’t loud enough to warrant an immediate response from Google. That is to say, I doubt an Android 4.4.5 KitKat update is around the corner. Instead, Nexus 5 users that are dealing with issues, and there are a few, will have to make do with the information that we have.

Battery life problems can often be caused by applications. In order to isolate third-party apps, boot the device into safe mode. This will turn off third-party applications and allow you to better diagnose the problem.

To boot into safe mode, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the Nexus 5 screen is on and then press and hold the Power button.
  2. Touch and hold the Power off option in the box that pops up.
  3. Tap OK in the following dialog to run safe mode.

If that doesn’t work, check out our Nexus 5 battery life tips. If none of that works, it might be worth performing a factory reset on the Nexus 5 to see if it will dislodge the issue.

The Android L update brings enhanced battery life to the Nexus 5 so if you’re alright with installing a piece of software that’s in the beta processor, you can check out the Android L developer preview and see if that helps.

Bugs

I’ve scoured through this update, going into the deep dark reaches of Google’s software. And believe it or not, I’ve only discovered one annoying “bug” that seems to have emerged after Android 4.4.4 KitKat’s arrival.

Nexus 5 side

For reasons that remain unexplained, my Nexus 5 seems to be charging slower than usual. Could be a USB issue, could be the power source, could be the phone itself, I’m not sure. What I am sure of though is that it didn’t used to take three to four hours to get to 40% charge. That’s ridiculous and reminds me of my problems with the Nexus 7.

Connectivity

Connectivity remains solid. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are both performing well. I have heard about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi issues though. While I don’t have a permanent fix for these, I can help point you in the right direction. If you’re suffering from Wi-Fi problems, check out this thread. There appears to be a solid fix in here that should only require a couple of minutes of your time.

Remember, mileage is going to vary given that most of us use different routers with different firmware and connect our devices to different Bluetooth devices with different firmware.

Speed

In a word, Android 4.4.4 KitKat is fast. I haven’t noticed any significant lag since I installed it two weeks ago. Simply put, it’s as fluid and functional as it has ever been.

I’ve heard about keyboard lag with the Nexus 5 but I haven’t experienced it myself. If you are experiencing keyboard lag, it might be worth installing the Android L keyboard to see if that helps.

Should You Install Android 4.4.4 KitKat for Nexus 5?

At this point, the only qualm I have with Android 4.4.4 KitKat is the slow charging. And even then, I’m still not convinced that it’s an Android 4.4.4 KitKat or a Nexus 5 problem.

nexus5-3

I will say that I hasn’t experiencing too many issues before the arrival of Android 4.4.3 and Android 4.4.4 KitKat so they weren’t huge updates for me but they should serve as big time updates for other people. There is no disputing that Android 4.4.4 KitKat is chock full of bug fixes.

If you’re experiencing Nexus 5 problems with Android 4.4.2 KitKat, this is update is worth your time and it should serve as a good bridge to the next Android update, Android L.

Comments

  1. KG says

    I am certain that 4.4.3 or 4.4.4 has had a very noticeable effect on the battery life of my N5. A colleague at work seems to have the same. I used to be able to go the whole day without charging my battery, and that is with about 2-3 hours of use a day, mainly on my commute, and at lunchtime. Now, if I don’t charge my battery during the day, I don’t make it home. It was a very noticeable change, the days after I applied 4.4.3. I was very pleased to see 4.4.4 come quickly assuming it was fixing it, It hasn’t. I don’t think my usage has changed in any way, so i’m convinced there is something in the update. I have noticed in the battery monitor, Android System is often 10-15%, and previously I could have sworn it wouldn’t go above small single digits.

  2. Chris says

    I got the new 4.4.4 update on my Android today. I HATE the new dialer, and it’s not just for the colors. Here are my reasons why I think the new dialer is a complete fail:
    1. First and foremost, the number pad has gotten smaller, a LOT smaller. It’s useless. Has anyone seriously tried to dial a complete 10-digit number quickly? Try it… FAIL. If you get your numbers perfectly correct, you’re not dialing fast enough. Dial faster. Before the update, I could dial with one hand. Now? Ya, forget it, I need two hands. Not only do I find it awkward to dial, and I have great motor skills, but can you imagine how a disabled person feels? Ever think of people with cerebral palsy? What about Parkinson’s? What about older people with bad eyes? Come on.
    2. I totally get WHY the dialpad is smaller, and this is a complete FAIL as well. They made it smaller to allow for the auto-complete area at the top. As you dial, it starts to show you contact records that match. What? Why? What for? If I wanted to dial like that, I would have gone into contacts and picked a record! What good is this? What’s that you say? It’s because it’s handy? Well, let’s just try that theory out. I have over 1300 contacts in my list. Even IF I liked this feature, which I clearly do NOT, it doesn’t work. I could see it working if I only had 25 contact records. I tried about 10 favorites and NOT ONE came up with the suggestion I wanted until I was on the LAST TWO DIGITS. Seriously? You took away big dialer numbers for this “feature?” It’s not a feature. It’s not even interesting.
    3. There are no button divison lines. Where does one button start and another end? Do I push on the big number? Where is the center? Where is the correct place to quickly press so I can rip through the numbers with the least chance of error? I have no idea? Do you? Does the developer of this dialer skin know where to strike it?
    4. The dialer does NOT come up first when you press dial. When I press dial, I expect to get… bingo… a DIALER. Not the frequently called number list. If I wanted a frequent list, I would ask for my favorites, or ask for a frequently called list.. not the dialer.
    5. SECURITY FLAW: How do I turn off the frequent list feature? I do NOT want my phone to track this information. It’s ONE MORE LOG I have to clear out if I’m going to hand my phone to someone to make a call. You don’t do this? I do.. it’s a courtesy. I have enough logs to clear out and worry about. Why is this even here? If I wanted a frequent list, I’d make one.
    6. Colored tiles. SERIOUSLY? I do NOT have a Windows-based phone for a reason: I don’t like tiles. I don’t want tiles. If I wanted tiles, I would have bought a Windows phone. What’s with all these child-like colors? And why are they different for the SAME letters? If I liked tiles, and I do NOT like them, then it might have at least made sense that all the “A” records were the same color tile. They’re not even similar shades.
    7. Left out customizations AGAIN. This is open-source, right? It’s supposed to be community driven right? I’m alone in all this? What about adding a few SIMPLE checkmarks to the settings to make everyone happy? How about a checkmark to disable the auto-complete and yield big numbers instead? How about a check mark to USE MY OWN SKIN. That’s not a security risk, it’s not a dialer replacement. How about a checkmark to disable the frequent list for security purposes? How about a check mark to ALWAYS show the dialer first, or a drop list to PICK which part of the dialer I want first – that would be even better. What about a custom color set? These are all SIMPLE interface changes. If “setting” show this page, if not, show that page. It’s not like it’s going to change the whole codeblock. How about a checkmark for “display dialer button division lines.”
    8. Saaaay, here’s a thought. How about a way to dial a contact record and EXCLUDE parts after an undialable character. Stay with me here, because this one is HUGE for us people that actually call a lot of people in an office. Let’s say I want to call Joe, and his number is 416-555-1212 ext 257. So, in my contact record, in the “work phone” entry, I put this: “416-555-1212 ext 257″ and when I dial it, guess what.. it dials 4165551212257. WHAT? How about dialing the number and leaving off anything after undialable characters. AND… it would sure be nice if it showed the full “work phone” entry in smaller characters above the dialed number so that when I get the “Hello, thank-you for calling XYZ company, please dial the extension of the person you would like to reach” prompt, that I can actually REMEMBER?…no I would like to SEE the extension that was in the contact record I dialed in the first place.

    Honestly, do the developers think any of this through? Now, if all you read was RANT RANT RANT, well that’s a shame. The dialer keeps getting less and less useful and more and more “eye candy.” The one thing a phone has to do is DIAL A NUMBER with some level of reliability. I believe that all this feedback is actually useful information for good reasons. What I got when I updated to Android 4.4.4 was … a much LESS useful dialer than ever before, and I was pretty annoyed. So sure, some of it is a rant. But at least I’ve taken time to think things out and give you some real reasons and feedback. Maybe more people will read this and say hey, Google, this makes sense to me too. Maybe. I hope so. What ever happened to creating an intuitive interface with user testing and feedback foremost in the design, and then consider things like “pretty” and “fancy” and “coooool” and not sacrifice USABILITY.

    And, on a side note… I searched .. and searched.. and searched for SOMEPLACE to try to provide this feedback to the team responsible for the dialer, and guess what? I came up zilch. Can’t find it. All I could find was “this forum is not for..” and “don’t post this stuff here” and .. basically we don’t care to hear from you. So, I posted here in desperation. Hey, if someone knows where to post this stuff, feel free to write me back, I would love to know.

    Le sigh,
    Chris

  3. Ben says

    I noticed a horrible drain on battery as well on my N5 after 4.4.4 update. But believe i have resolved the issue by:
    Settings > Display > Turn off Daydream.

    Daydream is used to setup screensavers that display photos and backgrounds when charging or docked. For some reason it seems like it was running in the back when it’s only on battery as well, therefore draining the battery constantly. After turning it off, i’m back to being able to go a full day without having to charge it.

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