My review of the Nexus Live Case

I recently received a Nexus Live Case I ordered from Google for my Nexus 5X smartphone. My thoughts on my purchase are below.


The picture I chose to have printed on mine (I chose the Photos version, not the Places one) was my old Schefflera Arboricola (umbrella plant) photo taken back at the University of Michigan in my dorm room. Sometimes I still miss that plant...

Anyhow, the case came in great packaging, as I've come to expect from Google. The case itself has a matte finish (a glossy variant should also be eventually available, but wasn't yet at the time I ordered mine). It's a fairly stiff plastic shell, and took a little bit of effort to get onto my phone.

Once installed, the case fit snugly. Installation of the accompanying My Live Case app from the Google Play app store went smoothly, despite asking me twice to press the button to set it up (once from the packaging's instructions, and once more after installation of the app).

I like that my phone now slides more easily back into my pocket with this case, as opposed to the ADOPTED case I was using previously. It also does not come up as high over the bezel edges. It feels a bit sleeker.

There are some downsides though. The ADOPTED case covered the phone buttons as well with raised spots, keeping them easily accessible. The Nexus Live Case simply goes around them with raised edges, making it hard to press the buttons unless you press precisely in the center with your fingertip. However, I use the fingerprint scanner to unlock my phone quickly, so in most cases this is not really an issue for me.

The other problem that's a bit more of a disappointment is the NFC button on the back of the case you can assign to opening a specific app, switching the wallpaper, etc. The biggest issue is that it is extremely stiff and hard to press. It's a big button, but it takes a surprisingly large amount of force to get it to trigger. To make it work in my case, I have to firmly grip both sides of the phone and push really hard on the back of the case until it registers, almost to the point where I feel I'm going to break my phone. I have it set to toggle my flashlight on and off, but if I need to use extreme pressure every time to activate the button, then I'll probably just stick to the toggle in the settings pulldown menu. I'd almost rather even use the "OK Google" voice command for the toggle instead of the NFC button.

Also, the button will apparently only trigger if your phone screen is already on and unlocked. For a flashlight toggle, this is again inconvenient, but not as much as the test of physical strength is.

However, I like having the opportunity to personalize my phone with a case design that's truly one-of-a-kind. It really helps make my phone feel uniquely mine, and I'll keep using it. You'll have to ask yourself whether it's really worth $35 to you, though.

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