Nexus 5 was undoubtedly a great smartphone, offering excellent performance, decent design, and good build quality. It was not the most powerful handset when it was launched, but it got the job done, more importantly, at a price that did not burn a hole in the buyers’ pocket.
Its successor Nexus 6, however, was hardly fit to take over the position as the best Google had to offer: It is certainly a powerful device, but the huge screen and the equally big price tag prohibited buyers to flock to the new Nexus model as they did to its predecessor.
Now is the turn of Nexus 5X to give it a shot at becoming the best smartphone offered by Google yet, at a relatively modest price tag. On the face of it, the smartphone has a lot to offer, but it also has a few limitations that may prevent it from becoming a hit.
Find out exactly what the device is all about in our Google Nexus 5X review…
From the outset, it is clear Nexus 5X is not going to win any design awards. The all-plastic body is made of the same soft plastic material that was previously used in Nexus 5 (and a few other smartphones).
The front panel has the standard Nexus design, featuring a selfie camera above the display and no hardware buttons. Above and below the Nexus 5X screen are speaker grilles; however, only the one at the bottom acts as the loudspeaker.
The back panel feels ever so slightly rubbery if you hold the handset with a slightly strong grip. The camera hump on the back does not look good, but some people in the office did not mind it as much as we did, so this is more of a personal taste. On the left of the camera are the laser transmitter for faster autofocus and the dual-LED flash. Below the camera setup is the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor. Just below the sensor are the Nexus and LG branding.
The Power and Volume buttons are on the right of the smartphone, while the 3.5mm earphone jack and USB Type C port are at the bottom. On the left is the sim card slot, while a mic is located on top.
One of the most remarkable things about Google Nexus 5X is how light it is: just 136 grams. This makes it lighter than the new iPhone 6S, which is a feat worth noticing because Nexus 5X’s battery capacity is much bigger than that of the new iPhone.
Complementing the lightweight body is the compact form factor, which enables users to wrap their hands around the Nexus 5X with ease. This form factor and ease of wielding the handset more than make up for the plain design.
Google Nexus 5X has a 5.2-inch screen with Full HD (1080x1920p) resolution, resulting in pixel density of 424ppi. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3; notably, some other smartphones have been using Gorilla Glass 4 for quite some time.
In terms of quality, the display panel is crisp and does not suffer from pixelation. The IPS panel reproduces colours quite accurately, but if you are not happy with the colours there is no native support way to change the colour temperature.
However, there is one issue with the Nexus 5X display panel: Brightness. We found the brightness levels offered by Nexus 5X to be insufficient compared to those of other smartphones in the same price band. Fortunately, this does not affect the readability of the screen much under direct sunlight.
Google Nexus 5X is powered by the six core Snapdragon 808 processor (four high-power 1.44GHz cores + two low-power 1.82GHz cores) that also powers the Moto X Style and LG G4 smartphones. Backing up the processor is 2 gigs of RAM, which we feel may prove insufficient, but more on that later.
The 4G-enabled smartphone has a 2,700mAh battery with fast-charging technology; but remember, this is not Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 2.0 technology, even though a Qualcomm processor powers the smartphone. Also present is the USB Type C port and the compatible reversible adapter in the box, a first for a Nexus device.
On the imaging front, Nexus 5X packs a 12.3MP camera on the back and a 5MP snapper in front. For storage you can go for either the 16GB variant (Rs 31,900) or 32GB model (Rs 35,900); there is no microSD card support for storage expansion. For connectivity, you get Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC as well.
Of course, Nexus 5X is also the first Google smartphone to feature a fingerprint sensor, named Nexus Imprint.
Nexus 5X is the first smartphone to be released with Android Marshmallow, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, onboard. The software brings a bunch of new features, but does not radically change the look the same way Lollipop did a year ago.
While there is not much of note on the homescreen, you will notice the app drawer/menu now has a single, long scroll instead of the multiple pages that you had to swipe through. We have seen this setup previously in old Motorola smartphones (the pre-Moto G models) and all HTC smartphones.
The Nexus 5X software has a separate tab for frequently used apps in the menu on the top, just below the search bar. This search bar is all-powerful; you can look for apps straight from this bar and if the app is not downloaded on the phone, then the menu provides the option to search for it in Ply Store.
To be clear, these features are actually part of the Android 5.1.1 build, but very smartphones have this version of Lollipop and even fewer retain the stock Android look.
Head to Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Settings menu and you will find pretty much the same stuff, but digging a little deeper reveals a few goodies. Nexus 5X has a LED notification light, but it is disabled by default; you need to go to the Sound & Notification menu in Settings and hit the Pulse Notification Light button to turn it off.
In the Apps menu, you get the option to deny or allow permissions sought by apps individually. The Memory option shows you exactly how much memory was used by apps, but doesn’t allow you to control it.
Under Security, you will find the Nexus Imprint fingerprint setup; storing your fingerprint on the device is extremely easy and much faster than the process used on Samsung, OnePlus and other Android smartphones and even quicker to setup than the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.
Android Marshmallow also allows you to customize the Quick Settings menu in the notifications bar.
In the week we spent with the handset, we found that Nexus 5X is not the fastest model in the market, but it is no slouch either. It gets the job done, and gets it done without a hitch. The system improvements brought about by Android 6.0 Marshmallow help the Snapdragon 808 processor and 2GB RAM to deliver a performance that is completely free of lag and glitches.
Nexus 5X handled all the apps and games we threw its way with ease, delivering a consistently smooth experience throughout. However, the smartphone starts heating up around the camera and fingerprint sensor even with casual gaming (happened to us on Relic Run).
However, we still feel that the 2GB of RAM may turn out to be insufficient in the long run (in case you plan to use your Nexus 5X for 1.5-2 years). With Android apps getting heavier in size even without 64-bit apps hitting the market, just 2GB of RAM may not be enough to handle the load. Throughout the week, we noticed that the RAM consumption stood at 1.5GB on an average, so we foresee a lot of ‘Out of Memory’ messages for Nexus 5X users when apps start hogging more system memory.
The 2,700mAh battery delivers a decent battery life of just over a day with moderate usage and a little under a day with heavy usage. This is a little surprising to us, since Google says its Doze and App Standby features can increase battery life by up to a hundred percent and we have seen smartphones by the likes of Samsung and LG deliver better life with the same battery capacity via software optimizations.
USB Type C, which we have also used in OnePlus 2, is pretty convenient due its backwards reversible design. The Nexus 5X smartphone supports fast-charging with the bundled charger, which charges the handset in 1 hour and 10 minutes flat (on an average after 5 tests). Sadly, the bundled charger has USB Type C connecters on both ends, which means you cannot use it to transfer data to your laptop. If you want to, you need to buy a mother USB to USB Type C cable from Google separately.
The Nexus smartphones of the past have been somewhat lacking in terms of camera performance. But Google aims to change that with Nexus 5X and 6P.
Nexus 5X’s 12.3MP camera sensor has a 1.55micron pixels and f/2.0 aperture, which help it capture more light under lowlight conditions. Backing the camera setup are the laser autofocus and dual-LED flash. However, it lacks optical image stabilization (OIS), a feature that was present in Nexus 5 and 6. You can either head to the app drawer to open the Camera app or press the Power button twice to fire it up.
The camera of Nexus 5X’s camera is fast to focus on the object and takes quick shots, but we have seen smartphones with faster cameras (but those are top-end models that cost around Rs 20,000 more than Nexus 5X, so we have no qualms).
In terms of quality, we got images that are extremely sharp and detailed, without any overprocessing. The colours are accurate, with white balance usually hitting the sweet spot. We noticed that noise crept in indoors shots, but it is not readily noticeable.
The Nexus 5X rear camera is good at taking capturing macro shots, and also renders the depth of field effect despite any dedicated hardware (like a second camera on the back, as some smartphones today have). It can shoot slow-mo as well as 4K videos with ease, but heats up a little while capturing the latter.
The 5MP front camera is quite capable as well, allowing us to squeeze in as many as six people in one frame for a selfie. The image quality is also quite detailed and has balanced colours.
Google Nexus 5X is a good device and a meaningful update to Nexus 5, but is not as noteworthy as the latter was at launch. The reason behind this is the relatively high price tag and the intense competition in the market today.
But none of this can take away from the fact that Nexus 5X is a good smartphone by itself: it has a great camera, delivers power-packed performance, decent battery life, and not to mention the Android Marshmallow experience.
If you are Nexus 5 owner and want to change your phone, then Nexus 5X is a good choice. But, we warn you that the price tag is not justified considering the hardware (the Indian market has cheaper devices with similar specs) and the RAM may prove be too less for long-term usage.