Nexus 5X Review

What Nexus 5 Users Have Been Waiting For

2013 marked the launch of the Nexus 5. That LG Nexus marked a huge change for Google’s Nexus line. That year they focused less on the developer, and more on the consumer. With it’s stock Android build, solid performance, and low price, it was a formula for success that paid off for Google. The Nexus 5 was a huge success for the Nexus lineup. However the following year, Google went from a compact inexpensive phone, to a not so cheap whale of a phone in the Nexus 6. Now two years after the launch of the original Nexus 5, Google has once again turned to LG to create it’s successor, the Nexus 5X. With many of the same selling points as the original and improvements in all the right areas, the Nexus 5X might be another hit for the company.

Specs

  • 5.2” LCD IPS 1920×1080 Display
  • Snapdragon 808 Processor
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16/32GB Storage
  • 12.3MP Rear Camera f/2.0, 1.55 μm
  • 5MP Front Camera
  • 2,700 mAh Battery
  • USB Type C
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Hardware & Design

Just like Nexus devices of years past, the Nexus 5X has a pretty understated design that’s actually very reminiscent of the original Nexus 5. It has a matte plastic back in your choice of white, “ice” blue, or black. The sides are black on all models and the front of the phone is also black. The unit I used was white on the rear.

The white Nexus 5X retains the stormtrooper from the original and I like that for reasons...

The white Nexus 5X retains the stormtrooper from the original and I like that for reasons…

Since this is a completely plastic device, the Nexus 5X doesn’t feel as premium as devices like the Moto X Pure Edition, Galaxy Note 5, and others. However it doesn’t feel cheap. One the questions I’ve been asked most about this device is how the build quality is and I’m happy to say it’s pretty solid. While this phone doesn’t feel as well built as devices using a metal body, it feels very good in it’s own right.



The Nexus 5X may be plastic, but it still feels great.

The Nexus 5X may be plastic, but it still feels great.

The one advantage of plastic over metal is weight. This phone is light, stupid light. Picking it up you’ll wonder right away if it actually has a battery in it. In reality this device is barely lighter than the Galaxy S6, but it is very well balanced in the hand. However personally, I don’t love it. I prefer phones that are subsantial and have some heft to them. I would have liked to see a metal chassis on the Nexus 5X to give it a bit more weight or at least a bigger battery. Regardless, the Nexus 5X has some solid hardware that you will not be disappointed with.

Fingerprint Scanner

Found on the back of the Nexus 5X is the “Nexus Imprint” fingerprint sensor. This new sensor sits in the location your finger would normally land at and, long story short, it’s an awesome sensor. The placement is convenient and the sensor is very accurate and extremely fast. Setup is an absolute breeze as well. It takes only 4-6 times to register a fingerprint and from that point on everything works very well.

Setting up the fingerprint scanner on the Nexus 5X is ridiculously fast.

Setting up the fingerprint scanner on the Nexus 5X is ridiculously fast.

Display

On the front of the Nexus 5X is a 5.2” 1080p IPS display. In all honesty, there’s not much to talk about here. Is this display good? Yeah, sure. It’s nothing amazing but it certainly gets the job done well. Viewing angles are good, colors are good, and the size is good as well. The real downside is the brightness. Outdoor viewing on this display is going to struggle, and that’s probably an understatement if I’m being honest.

The display on the Nexus 5X is good, but it's not great.

The display on the Nexus 5X is good, but it’s not great.

Software & Performance

The Nexus 5X is the first device to ship out of the box with the latest and greatest version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest release doesn’t change much visually from Android Lollipop, but under the hood there are some majors changes and improvements.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Review

One of the biggest new features is Google Now on Tap. By holding down the home button, Google Now on Tap will process what is on screen and give you relavent information. For example if you’re having with someone about the latest episode of The Flash, Google Now on Tap might give you the options to see information about the show, find images, and look up the cast. Or perhaps you’re talking with someone about what the best phone is right now, then Google Now on Tap will show you basic information about the smartphones mentioned. Another scenario it proves useful in is when listening to music. If you have Spotify open to your favorite band, Google Now on Tap can show you where to find that artist’s social media accounts, the album that song is a part of, or perhaps even music videos. It’s a very powerful feature that is only going to get better over time.

The Nexus 5X runs Android Marshmallow out of the box and it runs great.

The Nexus 5X runs Android Marshmallow out of the box and it runs great.

Another feature of Android Marshmallow that shines on the Nexus 5X is Android Pay. Google’s new mobile payments service works on any phone, but with Android Marshmallow you can use the fingerprint sensor to make mobile payments work.

As far as how the phone performs on this OS, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some days the phone will run extremely well without even a hiccup, but other days it’ll slow down to a crawl. Gaming is very solid and most tasks perform very well on the device, but there are clearly some software bugs on this initial release. Hopefully those can be fixed in later updates.

Battery Life

On the original Nexus 5, battery life was truly it’s biggest issue. With an expanded capacity and battery improvements, we could only hope that the 5X would do better. Luckily it has. The new 2,700 mAh battery is still sealed in, but it will get you through a day of use most of the time. Battery life isn’t impressive, but it’s good. I can get through a day fairly easy with a bit of battery to spare at the end of the day. I’m not exactly what you could call a heavy user, but even on day where I spent time playing games and surfing through social media, I didn’t really have any problems making it through a day.

The Nexus 5X has pretty solid battery!

The Nexus 5X has pretty solid battery!

That is thanks in part to Doze. This feature alone makes Marshmallow worthwhile since it can really improve your battery life tremendously. Whenever the phone is lying on the desk or in your pocket for an extended period of time, Doze will shut down as much as it can to dramatically increase your standby time. This feature works well on the 5X and provides excellent standby time.

USB C And Charging

One of the new additions to the 2015 Nexus lineup is the USB C port. At this point Google and basically everyone else has made it clear that USB C is the future, but that’s the key point, it’s the future. Right now, USB C is almost a downside less than it is a benefit. Accessories are hard to come by and when you find them, they aren’t exactly cheap. The one benefit is that this port is reversible. Over time accessories will release, but for now it’s tough to use anything other than the included cable.

Speaking of that, the Nexus 5X does come with an included USB C to USB C cable for charging only. So unless you have a computer with a USB C port, you’ll need to buy another cable.

The included charger in the box with the Nexus 5X is a USB C charger that does included rapid charging. Sadly this is not the standard Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. That means all your Quick Charge 2.0 accessories simply won’t work, even with the right cable. On the bright side, even when charging with a standard charger, the Nexus 5X charges fairly quick.

Fast charging over USB C is great on the Nexus 5X.

Fast charging over USB C is great on the Nexus 5X.

Speakers

The Nexus 5X follows on the Nexus 6 with front facing speakers, but sadly only one speaker is active. The bottom speaker is front facing and it’s pretty solid, but it’s not a stereo speaker experience. The volume is a bit on the lower side as well, but overall it’s a decent setup.

Camera

Let’s get this out of the way. In literally every Nexus up until now, the cameras have been terrible. The Nexus 6 from last year was OK, but other than that it’s just been a sea of terrible cameras. For 2015, Google has put a massive focus on the cameras and finally, they’ve got a winner on their hands. Both the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P bring a 12.3MP Sony camera sensor that is actually very good. Outdoor/well lit shots compare with the best and even indoor/low light shots are very impressive. Is it the best camera out there? No, not at all, but it’s very close. In the current ranking, the Nexus 5X/6P fall in 3rd place just behind the Sony Xperia Z5 and Galaxy S6.

As far as features go, this is a pretty barebones experience, but the essentials are here. There’s a quick access gesture to easily activate the camera by double pressing the power button. In video mode, there’s slow-motion at 120fps and up to 4K video recording. Sadly in video mode the lack of OIS is very apparent and EIS doesn’t make up for it. Hope this can be fixed in future updates.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, is the Nexus 5X a phone worth your time? There really is no short answer to that. If you’re looking to upgrade from the original Nexus 5, without a doubt. If you’re looking for a 5” Android smartphone under $400, then yes, you should. But if you’re just looking for the best bang for your buck, I don’t know if I can recommend the Nexus 5X. This phone will certainly appeal to a select group of people, but really it’s not for everyone unlike the Nexus 5 before it.

The Nexus 5X is a solid all-around phone.

The Nexus 5X is a solid all-around phone.