As firmly expected, Google has announced a Nexus 2015 phone at its launch event for Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We were at the London event so here’s our Google Nexus 5X hands-on review.
Like the previous Nexus 5, which arrived way back in 2013, the new Nexus 5X is built by LG as Google’s manufacturing partner. It seems the LG G4 maker did a good enough job back then so has been given the task once again.
PRICE AND COMPETITION
The Nexus 5X is priced from £339/$509 in the UK and will be available from late-October from the Google Play Store. That’s a reasonable amount cheaper than the Nexus 6P which will start at £449/$674 – understandable considering the spec difference.
That’s a cheap price, considering the high asking price of the Nexus 6 when it initially came out. Although it’s pretty affordable there is some tough competition when it comes to phones which offer amazing specs for the price.
For example, the OnePlus 2 is £239/$358 and the Motorola Moto X Play is £279/$419 so both are cheaper options. Gone are the days when the Nexus flagship was simply the best value phone on the market bar none.
DESIGN AND BUILD
Despite increasing the screen size (see below), Google and LG have managed to keep the Nexus 5X nice and light. The device has only added a few grams resulting in a comfortable 136g, largely thanks to the 7.9mm thickness.
Rounded edges make the Nexus 5X a nice phone to hold in the hand and we like the matt finish plastic which is similar to the original. This year’s Nexus phone will be available in different colours including Black, White and Ice Blue.
There’s not a lot else to say on the design front as the device, like the Nexus 5, is quite simple. That’s a good thing we’d say although features such as waterproofing wouldn’t go amiss.
One thing to point out is that the camera does stick out a little bit at the back – although the Nexus 5’s wasn’t flush this time it protrudes much more. If you’re wondering what the round circle is below the camera, it’s a new fingerprint scanner but we’ll talk in more depth about that in the next section.
You may also be interested in the fact that the Nexus 5X takes a Nano-SIM rather than Micro which is hardly a surprise but might mean you need to get a new SIM card if upgrading.
HARDWARE AND SPECS
The Nexus 5X has upgrades compared to its predecessor but don’t expect to be blown out of the water by it, the highest and most exciting pieces of hardware have been reserved for the Nexus 6P.
Google has decided to stick with a Full HD screen resolution on the Nexus 5X but increase the size of the display itself from 5- to 5.2in. This does mean a small pixel density drop to 424ppi but that’s still plenty for it to be crisp – of course you can get more if that’s what you’re after with the Quad HD Nexus 6P.
Alongside a small screen increase, a new Qualcomm processor has found its way inside the Nexus 5X. The Snapdragon 808, as used in LG’s flagship G4, is a nice upgrade from the 800 model which was top-of-the-line when the Nexus 5 arrived.
This means the Nexus 5X has a six-core processor with four A53 cores at 1.4GHz and two A57 cores at 1.8GHz. There’s also Adreno 418 graphics and we found performance to be good during our hands-on time. We will, of course, test this much more thoroughly when we get a sample.
Despite certain rumours, the memory has not been upgrade to 4GB and remains at 2GB. Meanwhile the Nexus 5X doesn’t offer up to 64GB and instead comes in 16- and 32GB options. Once again, like Apple iPhones, there is no Micro-SD card slot so you’ll need to choose wisely.
A key new feature on the Nexus 5X, as mentioned earlier, is the fingerprint scanner. It’s positioned below the camera at the rear of the phone like many others we’ve seen. This is a suitable place and naturally where your index finger lies.
It’s also fast at under 600ms and a new feature called Nexus Imprint learns your fingerprint better over time and opens it up to the enitre app ecosystem – a Marshmallow feature.
There’s also a new physical port in the form of Type-C USB which we’ve now seen on phones like the OnePlus 2 and the Gigaset Me range. The main feature is that it’s reversible but it also charges faster and you can charge other devices from it should you wish to.
You get NFC, dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 but there’s no infrared port or extras such as a heart rate monitor. Although the design suggests that the Nexus 5X has front facing stereo speakers, this is a feature only found on the Nexus 6P.
Probably the main upgrade of the Nexus 5X is the camera which is now 12.3Mp from a pretty good 8Mp shooter on the original – and it’s the same as found in the 6P. The new camera is not only higher resolution but comes with a dual-tone LED flash, phase detection autofocus, laser focusing and can shoot 4K video. At the front is a nice upgrade to a 5Mp selfie camera. Results on both cameras look decent during our hands-on but we will, of course, test the cameras out properly soon.
There’s little to say on the software front as the Nexus 5X is one of the launch devices for Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Yes, this is the new version and it means there are some new features but it’s been in the public domain for a long time now and existing Nexus devices will be upgraded very soon (next week in fact) so it’s not a stand out difference compared to the original Nexus 5 or the newer Nexus 6.
What you do get, as with any Nexus phone or tablet, is stock Android also referred to commonly as vanilla. This means the operating system is as Google intends it to be – no add on skins like Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense.
Not only does it offer something of a blank canvas with which to customise Android to your heart’s content, it means you don’t have to worry about things like pre-installed apps which you may not be able to delete (Google’s apps such as Gmail and Maps are a given).
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 5.2in Full HD screen
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, six-core processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16/32GB storage
- 12.3Mp rear camera with dual-tone LED
- 5Mp front camera
- Fingerprint scanner
- 11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 2700mAh battery
The new Google Nexus 5X seems like a tasty upgrade from the original, although that was two years ago now. It’s a decent smartphone at an affordable price if you’re not fussed about the extras which are available on the Nexus 6P such as the Quad HD screen. The key features are the upgraded cameras and the fingerprint scanner. However, there are cheaper phones out there offering similar specs so stay tuned for a full review soon.