Nexus 5

The only thing to consider when making your purchase is mobile radio bands

Just like in many cases, the Nexus 5 isn't one but rather two different phones — the D820 and D821. The former is made for use in North America, the latter in the rest of the world. While this isn't nearly as confusing as some phones, there are still a couple of differences between the two models. Externally both models are the exact same — the case, buttons, camera and design are indistinguishable. You have the same options of storage and colors as well, which is great.

On the inside, things are almost identical. You'll find the same spec sheet for the screen, processor, RAM, sensors, Wifi and everything else. All indications are that both the D820 and D821 run the exact same software build as well — Google seems to have gone all-out trying bring "one phone" to the entire world. The only tangible difference between the two models is mobile network bands — this makes sense, as it's basically impossible to fit every necessary radio into just a single model:

North America (D820) model:

  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10
  • WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
  • LTE: Bands: 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41

Rest of World (D821) model:

  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8
  • LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20

Now we obviously can't give a perfect list of every network in the world that each phone will work on, but at least in the U.S. the list is a bit shorter. Out of the box the D820 model will work just fine for 2G, 3G and LTE data on T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Any MVNO that operates on the T-Mobile or AT&T network will be good to go as well, but things turn into a bit of a grey area once you go beyond there.

Outside of North America, the Rest of World D821 model should have no issues connecting to 2G, 3G and LTE throughout Europe and beyond. Things again get into a grey area when you head over to Asia where different and unique networks are run. What you see above is just a spec sheet — be sure to double, triple and quadruple check the bands your carrier of choice runs on before you make a purchase.

We aren't exactly to the utopian world of a single phone to work throughout the entire world, but this is pretty darn close.

 

Reader comments

Nexus 5 models 820 and 821: What's the difference?

140 Comments

Oh so close to a 13 LTE band universal device.... Oh well, still a terrific phone.

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"My father wrote about this in his book. Chapter 1... Page 1... Paragraph 1: What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?... Money." - David - Vanilla Sky

Because there is no pushback whatsoever from customers when they do shit like this, so why would they have any incentive to change? People go "gosh, that darned verizon!" as they shovel money into their pockets, so they can feel like they aren't part of the problem, and that sort of ignorant behavior is why the company is still alive.

If all the ethical consumers have already abandoned you long ago, you can get away with anything.

Veizon is One Hundred Million strong, that is One Third of the U.S. population and probably almost half of cellular network users. Even if One Million people left Verizon for the Nexus 5 and tried to vote with their wallets, it would not even phase Verizon, let alone just the thousands that I've read that say they are leaving because of it.

Also in the news, sites have been reporting on Google and Verizon Partnering up on some devices in Twenty Fourteen (this site will not allow me to type numbers because of span filters). Yet there is no word on what the devices will be that they are working on allegedly.

That's why I left Verizon for Tmobile way back in March. After 18yrs with Big Red, the realization that I could do away with their superior network and be happier do to far lower cost and freedom to almost choose any phone I wish, I was gone.

Don't regret it at all. Tmo+1

Can someone explain in basic terms why GSM seems to be fairly universal but LTE is so fragmented? I was under the impression that LTE would be a unifying technology that would allow phones to hop networks much more seamlessly.

LTE is fragmented in US only. Rest of the world use almost same bands that are found in the "Rest of world" version.

This story should have lead with this link. because it is exactly what you need
to determine which model is best.

The 821 model really should have had all the LTE bands, and simply dropped CDMA. Instead it seems carefully engineered to keep it out of the US market by not including key LTE bands for AT&T as well as T-Mobile.

820 has 9 LTE bands, 821 only has 6.

More importantly the 821 is missing all the key bands in use in north america, namely, 2,4,17,19,25,26,41.

Look at the link two posts up, and you will see that the missing ones are
key for just about any service provider in the US and Canada.

Earlier this year Qualconn said it was working on an LTE antenna that would support almost all bands of LTE for future devices to help unify the fragmentation, mostly for the U.S. as each carrier bids on and uses different frequencies to not cross onto other network frequencies. Also the FCC is running out of spectrum, and is hoping with VoLTE services, they will be able to free up more frequencies once carriers retire their 3g networks.

It has nothing at all to do with the antenna. An antenna is just a chunk of wire.

It has to do with the transceiver chip. Most of the frequencies allocated to these various bands are pretty similar to the frequencies uses in GSM or HSPA. They just combine them in different ways and widths to achieve higher transfer rates.

So if I bought one in the US which UK carriers can I not use 4g on?

Via a cool AC App on a great Nexus 4

Well, there goes my plan for saving $100 by purchasing one on my next trip to the U.S.

I've been happily using my purchased for a lot less cash in the U.S. Nexus 4 in the UK and around Europe for the last year without any issues, so I presume all Nexus 4s have identical radios?

I can understand not being able to fit every radio into a single phone, but a lot of people purchase a Nexus phone because it's unlocked and can be used all over the world.

Not being able to use Europe's LTE with your D820 U.S. N5 is a real disappointment. Unless there is some way to purchase the D821 model in the U.S.?

I suppose you might find a way to buy a 821 in the US, but it would likely be through some 3rd party reseller (ebay) and probably was bought overseas at retail price. So, it would not be any cheaper than through the play store or retail where you live. It doesn't make any sense for anybody to retail the 821 here (in US), since it can't use the LTE networks here.

Yeah, the nexus 4 was right at the end of an era (the before-LTE era). When it was released there was very little LTE in Europe (and most everywhere outside of the US). There was only decent coverage in the US, and that was only on one carrier, the one carrier most unfriendly to immediate Nexus updates. And thus google made the decision to just skip LTE. They could make a single model that efffectively could be used on any gsm network in the world.

I think google realized quickly (probably within minutes of the Nexus 4 going on sale) that nexus 4 model would sell well enough to have justified producing two different models.

alex can you plz tell me that the us model should work fine across europe and asia as it has all the same bands...i need to use only 3g not 4g

You'll be able to get HSPA+ on pretty much any carrier in the world that uses GSM. No promises once you get into Asia — lots of weird bands and use of CDMA.

Ting has explicitly said on their Twitter they cannot support this phone. It's actually Sprint's restriction, they don't seem to allow any device not purchased from Ting or Sprint themselves.

Ting also doesn't allow recently released Sprint devices to come to their network. Stuff like the HTC One, GS4 from Sprint(Sprint model, made for Sprint, sold by, etc) can't be activated on Ting. It seems they probably have a time limit of maybe a year before Ting is allowed to activate certain LTE devices. So I'm guessing they'll possibly start selling the Nexus 5 on their own store soon, maybe, but as far as the Play Store and Sprint sold units, those won't be usable on Ting officially until next year. That's just my guess going by their current policy with Sprint LTE devices.

Their rates are a lot lower than the other major carriers (with the possible exception of T-Mobile), and they have unlimited data. Those are the main reasons to stick with Sprint.

Ting was cool for calls and texts, but their data prices are really high. It doesn't make much sense if you are going to use more than a few hundred megs.

That comes down to the policies of the Sprint MVNOs rather than technical limitations. Not all Sprint MVNOs are friendly with bringing in your own phone — best to check with your carrier.

That'd be 3,7and 20 for the UK then? Thanks for the info +Alex Dobie , saved me from a nasty surprise when I returned to the UK.

Via a cool AC App on a great Nexus 4

For Lte UK uses 800mhz. 1800mhz. 2.6ghz. Ofcom have now said that O2 & Vodafone will b able to use Their 900 & 1800mhz for Lte in future & also everyone's 2100mhz 3G band. But those won't b used for a good few years yet.

I'm out of luck since I bought a US model (I should've picked some up via AU), so no LTE for me here in Bahrain. Perhaps next time though :)

It as been Eons since I machine level programmed hardware but it has to be still just an instruction set to make the hardware act and do what you want.

What is, if.. Than too difficult? AM I missing something?

Seriously I am just asking...

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The antenna configurations are actually different, and the physical CPU support for tuning those antennas are different. It's not something that can be programmed. This is why if you flash an american phone with a world phone's ROM, it'll basically be a dead brick as far as signal, because the radio won't hear a thing.

The physical construction of the antenna matters, even if the chipsets can be programmed to work in the other mode (which is by no means certain until we get a proper teardown of the two models).

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are you saying that i can't travel overseas to Europe with my "American" Nexus 5 and simply pop in a local cheap prepaid SIM card and use basic voice/3G data? or are you just talking about LTE limitations?

LTE bands are almost entirely separate in the USA than Europe. But otherwise, as you can see, they're almost identical. So you should be fine if you only need voice/HSPA (which is still fairly fast).

ok sweet. this is my first GSM phone and the "world phone" aspect was/is intriguing. you know, travel to the UK at the last minute and being able to bring your own phone and simply pick up a cheap prepaid SIM card at the airport or convenience store on the way to the pub for some Guinness and fish and chips - pip pip cheerio and all that good stuff.

My question is, if I activate on Sprint, will the US Nexus 5 roam to T-Mobile & AT&T if I go somewhere without Sprint service? If not, would I be able to pop in a T-Mobile sim (what size) to use a T-Mobile prepaid for when I am travelling?

if you activate with Sprint you will only roam with their partners - which i doubt includes AT&T or T-Mob.

i guess you could buy any SIM card and install and use but you are subject to that carriers terms/partners.

i'm going with AT&T - largest GSM/LTE footprint.

If Sprint has roaming agreements I don't see why not, but I don't think they do. You'll be able to use any compatible network to place a 911 call though.

If you activate it with Sprint you can't roam on T-Mobile & AT&T because they have different network technologies. CDMA vs. GSM.

I do wonder what would happen if you activated it on Sprint, then stuck a T-Mobile pre-paid SIM in it.

Sprint uses SIMs on LTE phones, so I'm thinking Sprint would shut off and TMO would be the network the phone runs on.

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Most Sprint LTE phones have an embedded SIM card(non-removable). The only ones I know of that have the removable SIM cards are the iPhone 5s and HTC One, and now the Nexus 5. If you buy unlocked from the Play Store I'm guessing you'll be fine to pop in an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM and get on those networks with a Sprint activated N5.

Sprint has a roaming agreement with Verizon. They do not have roaming agreements with the GSM carriers (AT&T and T-Mobile). The good news is (with the exception of LTE data), Sprint's phone coverage is way better than T-Mobile's and almost on par with AT&T.

It's not a blanket agreement. In certain places you have Verizon, but a Sprint phone will simply not roam on Verizon. This is true in parts of Washington, DC.

Little issue with the competition then if the devices are d820 and the winners need d821 unless ac gets them after the competition is over

Posted via Android central app on my rooted LG Google Nexus 4

One step close to complete separation of phones and providers. When that happens the carriers will have to compete only on coverage, quality, and rates and the phones will have to compete on their specs and software. Since you can take the Nexus 5 anywhere (except Verizon) a no contract plan forces competition because you can take your phone and go anytime you want. Verizon is not offering this phone because they don't want this kind of competition. They want to lock you in either with a contract or with a phone that only works on their network that is full of bloat and crap.

Strange that they crafted the D821 so that people wouldnt use it in the US. There are so many more bands in the D820. It would have been nice if the D821 worked well on ATT, Tmo + rest of the world. Take D820, drop all CDMA antennas and add LTE 3,7,8 and 20.

I so want a Nexus with unified US/Europe LTE bands since I split my time between here and UK, not able to use UK LTE carrier is a big bummer. Maybe I will have to fork out for each of these models :-(

I do the same thing (graduate student in the United States with extended research trips to Europe). Thing is, HSPA+ is plenty fast for those trips, so I would be happy with the North American version (LTE at home, HSPA+ in Europe).

Any idea which model is being used in South Korea and Japan, as their LTE (and 3G) bands are normally different from the rest of Asia and Europe?

Am I assuming correctly that the North American version is still going to work fine with hspa/hspa+ in Europe?

Hmmm... how do I know if I ordered the right one? I placed my order yesterday morning. I was never asked if I wanted a 820 or 821. I live in America and use t-mo. How do I know if they are sending me the 820?

There is a difference, the D821 version don't support CDMA bands if you intend to use it with Sprint or some other CDMA carriers.

So why couldn't LG squeeze all the LTE bands in a single Nexus 5 model if Apple could do it with their iPhone 5S. The 5s has 11 LTE bands that makes it perhaps the only true global phone right now. So it can be done.

I was also hoping to see a unified LTE phone in the n5. As someone who lives roughly 75% in Europe and 25% in the US, I do want both and would actually make use of both... But I just have no interest in an iPhone...

I agree, I think it's crazy that LG/Google hasn't made this a true global LTE phone. Shocking..
What is the best phone of 2013, has just had it's biggest flaw exposed...

Oh, and not having a removable SD card slot is also a big flaw in my opinion. I am also not comfortable with the non-replaceable battery. I wonder why they did it. The immediate thought that comes to mind is that perhaps this way they can always save some info in memory even when the phone is off. The second, more paranoid thought is that this way the phone may be on even when we think it's off. Just imagine all the tracking capabilities. Maybe the NSA bribed them to make it this way? ;-)

It's because this is a Nexus phone and Nexus phones never have removable storage and batteries. This isn't some kind of huge surprise.

Nexus one had removable storage. Nexus S and galaxy nexus had removable battery. As a matter of fact, only 2 of the 5 nexus phones don't have removable batteries.

Maybe it has to do with N5 using Qualcomm's SoC and Apple iPhone 5S uses a in-house custom designed SoC.

PLEASE KIND SIRS PLEASE HELP ME

My aunt in the US is going to buy one, how can she be sure if its a D821. I live in India, and I need to be sure about this.
Should she not purchase from the Playstore USA?

You can be sure it is the 820 if you buy it at the US play store. If you buy it at any other national play store, it will be 821.

i live in india and my aunt is returning from usa ...can some plz tell me that d820 will work fine with the 3g data(india has 3g only lte will take alteast a year more)

Both models operate on the same 3g bands. So if you are only interested in 3g then either model sould work fine.

Double check Telcel's network frequencies and compare them to the chart above. Being that this is a "North American" version and Mexico is in North America, you can guess it'll work ;) .

Yup, and we don't have intimate knowledge of the bands used by every carrier in Canada and Mexico... which is why we give you the bands and let you compare them to your carrier of choice. But the "North America" version should work just fine in Canada/Mexico.

As a huge Android Fan and a loyal Nexus user, I am very disappointed that this phone is not a true WORLD-LTE device. For those who travel between North America and Europe, will be torn on deciding which device is sufficient for their LTE needs.

Unlike the iPhone 5S which does qualify as a true WORLD-LTE device, this is truly saddening.

Now they need to make 2 models of the Nexus 5, to compensate for the full world LTE bands.. that is just stupid!! unplanned manufacturing!
This issue MUST be resolved with the Nexus of next year. I will still buy the device but this is a real shame and a big disappointment.
Word of advice for Google: If you're making a FLAGSHIP device, at least make it a complete world phone..

LTE Bands

Nexus 5:

D820 (North American)
1, 2, 4, 5, 17, 19, 25, 26, 41
D821 (Europe)
1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20

Iphone 5s:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13,17,19, 20, 25

Yes, I too am very disappointed. As you can see the Iphone 5s is a true "world phone", whereas the Nexus 5 splits the United States from the rest of the world.
The Iphone 5s has both Nexus versions combined into one phone (minus band 7).

Actually, even though the iPhone 5s comes out in different versions, pretty much all the GSM versions (A1533, A1453, A1457 and A1530) work both in the US and in Europe.
Personally I would pick A1533 for US and European use. I'm just not sure which one would I get off-contract from T-Mobile and I doubt most store personnel even know about those sub-models unless the model # is printed on the box itself. But is it?

The T-Mobile model is the A1533. (As are the Verizon and AT&T models.)

If you're buying it off-contract and paying full fare, suggest getting the Verizon model for maximum flexibility.

All of that said, the Nexus 5 has a pretty good selection of bands. It's just the lack of band 3 that puts it below the iPhone 5s for European use... Neither has Band 7 in their North American models, which would be the Holy Grail. (Not sure why it isn't doable. The iPad Air has all those bands...)

Hi guys, just to be sure the Canadian and US version are 100% identical?
Meaning if I buy one in Canada, I'll be able to use the 4G-LTE of any US carrier (Verizon excluded)?

The "other version" of the Nexus 5 (D821) literally covers Rest of World AND CANADA.

D821 Covers: Canada's FASTEST LTE (Band 7) [so better to own this version in Canada], European continent, African continent, Middle-East, Australia/New Zealand and some other parts of Asia.

** So in other words it's far better to have the D821 version of the Nexus 5 if you live in Canada and travel a lot **

The Nexus 5 D820 would only be good for those people who live in the US and don't travel a lot. PERIOD.

I've called Google Play to have my D820 version exchanged for the D821. This option SHOULD have been provided to us on Google Play!

"I've called Google Play to have my D820 version exchanged for the D821."

And Google Play did this for you? Are you in Canada or the U.S.?

I called Google Play in the U.S. and unfortunately there does not appear to be a way to get the D821 in North America. Here's what they said:

"Unfortunately, you can only purchase devices that are used and available to that country. If you purchase a Nexus 5 in North America (United States and Canada are included in North America), you will get a device that is only available to North America. A device that is used, for example, in the United Kingdom, can't be purchased in North America.

Google reserves the right to reject an order if you do not live in a country from which devices may be purchased via the Google Play store. Please note any device order attempts that do not comply with Terms of Sale may result in account suspension (See https://play.google.com/intl/en_us/a...ice-terms.html for more details.)."

I have the same problem here. Just purchased and received a N5 in the US Play Store but I want to take it back to Spain, where I live, and take full advantage of what I paid for, LTE network access. It's just too bad that they don't warn about this before completing the purchase!!!!
I guess it is not possible to buy the D821 model in the US, right?

Are you serious? Grey areas? Maybe for LTE, but for HSPA+ it will work everywhere. Sure, having LTE is great, but with most HSPA+ networks in the world running as fast as LTE, I think having HSPA+ backup is more important than ensuring LTE support overseas is in the device. Not to mention most carriers refuse LTE roaming anyway.

Only an idiot would ROAM on LTE. I'm taking about swapping SIM cards and running on the local LTE networks. DUH

The fact that neither model covers every network band in active use in the world creates grey areas. Try taking that D820 to Korea or Japan and using it on their networks... that's a grey area.

There's no way we can guarantee that the phone will work on every network that someone reading this site has access to — that's just the reality of the mobile world.

we're talking about the massive difference between the D820 not working anywhere but N.America and coincidentally a couple of places in S.America.. that's nothing in terms of world LTE coverage. On the other hand the D821 working almost everywhere except the U.S. that's a big difference.

So if you wanna use your term of "grey areas" the D820 model has significantly more "grey areas" Significantly.

It's just a shame they didn't do what Apple did and make the phone cover both area's to prevent having to produce 2 models.. I can't stand Apple but at least they did that right.

Its a bit of a stretch to say that the D820 just won't work in many areas. You'll still get HSPA+ pretty much anywhere that has a GSM network in the world, and you'll get LTE in some places to boot. I see what you're saying, but again there are grey areas in on both models. You still need to choose the "right" model for where you live and spend the most of your time.

And Apple doesn't just make one phone — they're still making bespoke devices for US carriers and different regions:

http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/  Just FYI.

Hmm interesting Andrew, so iPhone 5s does in fact have variant models too, each covering a set of LTE bands. They are listing that only one of their models works in Canada and this also lacks band 7.

I was doing some deeper research and apparently.. unless I've been wrongly informed, band 7 "piggy backs" on band 4, so they are saying that unless you have band 4 you would be unable to utilize band 7 LTE. I'm wondering if anybody can confirm this...?

If this is true then the iPhone 5s is no more superior than the Nexus 5 in terms of LTE coverage *within Canada*, and *may* also not be able to use certain LTE networks in other parts of the world, due to the iPhone 5s in some cases only having 1/2 of the LTE bands required to properly connect to LTE. I'm saying this because although my research in inconclusive so far, it appears that many networks adopt this 2 band method of running LTE which is an upstream/downstream method, without 1 of the 2 bands LTE connectivity is not possible, but again I'm trying to confirm this.

Furthermore, the Iphone 5s has 4 different LTE variants of it's device which is even more hectic than the 2 variants of the Nexus 5.

Canada is getting screwed. No LTE band 7 (all major carriers) and no CDMA band class 14 (public mobile). The international version has band 7 but is missing 4 then.

You can't actually expect Google to put the correct CDMA bands in a phone for a single carrier in Canada that has under 300,000 subscribers...

Let's be honest, putting 3 bands of CDMA in the D820 for Sprint was a gift, even with them having ~40 million customers in the U.S. Let's not get carried away thinking that it should have put more in for a carrier that small.

Considering Sprint also has the same PCS block G spectrum as Public Mobile, I would have expected it if they are supporting Sprint officially. It is a valid/licensed spectrum for both US and Canada.
LTE Band 7 is the real insult, as it has the highest speeds in Canada. It is also one of the most common LTE bands worldwide, which limits roaming choices in some countries.

Public Mobile? They're about to be absorbed into Telus anyway. CDMA is a dead/dying technology and WCDMA LTE is the future. Besides if you want a similar phone with bands 4 & 7 get a LG G2 D803 model that is sold in Canada.

I think Motorola should have made Nexus 5, not LG. I hope they'll make the future Nexus phones and those will be true world phones, with single model covering what it takes now two Nexus 5 models to cover. Motorola knows radios and antennae because that used to be their main product, especially for military and law enforcement.
Dog gone' it, if Apple can do it with the iPhone 5, Motorola could do it even better. Especially now that they are a Google company.

I'm sure moto will make the next one. It looks like Google is really starting to push the new Motorola devices even more so than the nexus. I wouldn't be surprised if the were designing the new one as we speak

Just got my D821 nexus...was worried tho', thinking I got the D820 but its all good.have not open the box yet cause Im still using my s4.this nexus will be my first stock android phone! Woohoo...

Androidified since 2008

Having read all the posts, it still not clear to me.
A Nexus bought in Canada will be a D820 or D821(Rest of the world) ?
Thanks for the help!

If you have bought from Google Play in Canada, you will get the D820 model, which only supports LTE in North America and Mexico i think, nowhere else in the world.

So im planning to get the N5 through google play USA but im mainly going to use it on Mexico, LTE and normal usage will work on both countryes? USA and Mexico

Maybe I'm silly, but I dont understand what would stop me from taking the SIM out of my HTC One on Verizon and putting it in the Nexus 5. Wouldnt I still get my calls and texts and at least 3g service? I have WiFi 90% of the time so I could care less about LTE. Maybe I'm missing something that would prevent this from working? Please let me know if you guys know a reason why it wouldn't. Also if anyone has tried this your input would be awesome. Thanks

You can't activate any phone on Verizon if the MEID isn't in their system. Since Verizon doesn't support the N5,the MEID is not in their system; therefore, you can't activate the phone. With CDMA carriers, it's not as simple as just popping the sim out of one phone and sticking it in another.

Just to make sure. If I buy one say at BestBuy, I can activate that phone on Sprint or T-Mobile network?

If I buy the D821, it'll work fine for most places I spend my time at. And India has no LTE (except the half-arsed Airtel mobile internet 4G LTE). Problem solved. :p

Hi,

please any one make me to understand,i gone through LTE and other related stuffs

Will Nexus D820 which is available in USA supports india s Vodafone network or not,i saw few post it supports 3G.
Am resident of village near Bangalore where we don have 2g or 3g.

Thanks in advance.

Hi,
I live in India. I would probably buy N5 shortly.
My question : If I buy in the Indian model (821), what all features/ functionalities will I be losing when I move to the US ? Is the LTE Functionality of Indian model N5 a total waste when I go to the US ?
Thanks

When ordering a Nexus 5 unit (from Play store) is there an option where you pick between D820 or a D821 variant or will you automatically be shipped a D820 variant if you order from the US?

My dilemma is I might only be able to order from the US but I'm after the D821 variant which is the one that works elsewhere.

a simple question:

if i bought a nexus 5 from USA (cheaper than locally), can I still use it in Europe with a European cell?
does it work on European 4G network?

thanks
Anas

I have seen lot of differences between nexus 5 D820 and D821 models. D820 is having better quality display and Camera as compared to my D821 got from India. Can anyone please specify what is the reason,?. .