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Google Nexus 5X Review


Google introduced the Nexus program with the HTC Google Nexus One. The primary objective is to showcase the power of Android by using decent hardware and selling the devices at decent price points. Nexus devices always have a place in the hearts of Android purists as it has a stock Android experience and always are the first phones to receive new updates. Since the first Nexus smartphone, Google has released a Nexus smartphone every year. This year however, Google released two smartphones, the LG Nexus 5X and the Huawei Nexus 6P to provide two options for users. The 5X is the “lower-end” handset of the two and is a direct successor to the Nexus 5 which was released in 2013. Nexus phones in the past have always had issues and compromises that the users had to make in exchange for a stock Android experience. However, things appear to be different this time around with both the Nexus devices. Let us dive into the review to see whether the Google Nexus 5X manages to break-free from the usual Nexus restraints.

The contents of the box are:
  • LG Nexus 5X smartphone in Carbon Black color (32GB)
  • In-ear headset
  • USB Type-C 15W (5V-3A) charger
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Quick start guide, Safety and Warranty information
Design, Materials and Build Quality

The Nexus 5X comes two years after the introduction of the Nexus 5 and it is a good thing to see that Google have a smaller Nexus phone for those who don’t really want to carry around a larger phone. The design up front is pretty bland if you put it up against most of the current smartphones out there. But it looks quite nice at the back. The Nexus 5X is definitely bigger than the Nexus 5 both in terms of screen size as well as physical dimensions. The Nexus 5X measures 147×72.6×7.9mm while the Nexus 5 measured 137.9×69.2×8.6mm. That’s nearly 10mm taller than the Nexus 5 to accommodate the display which is 0.13″ bigger. But with that said, the Nexus 5X actually handles better than the Nexus 5. The reason for that is probably because it doesn’t feel as wide or chubby as the Nexus 5. The screen-to-body ratio is actually lesser than the Nexus 5, as it is 70.2% on the Nexus 5X compared to 70.8% on the Nexus 5. The bigger bezels are the main reason for this.

The device fits well into the palm of your hands thanks to the rounded edges at the back and despite having flat sides, it doesn’t feel too blocky. The build quality is decent but is surprisingly worse than the Nexus 5 itself. It doesn’t creak or feel flimsy but it doesn’t feel as solid as the Nexus 5. One reason for this could be the weight which remains more or less on par with the Nexus 5 despite the larger footprint. The device is majorly made of plastic itself just like the Nexus 5 but the plastic feels thinner to touch than the Nexus 5 which felt more solid. Still, it does feel good enough to withstand a drop or two in case it does happen.

The front is dominated by the 5.2″ display. Above the display, you have the earpiece which has a design identical to the loudspeaker below the display. You also have a front facing camera as well as the ambient light and proximity sensors. The speaker grilles have a dotted pattern which looks quite nice.

The right side houses the volume rocker as well as the power button. I felt that the placement of the buttons are wrong. For the first two days, I kept pressing the volume up button instead of the power key. While I did get used to it, I feel that the positions of both the keys should’ve been swapped as the power button should ideally be placed where the thumb comes to rest. That position is where the volume up button currently lies. However on the plus side, your hands do get accustomed to this layout in a day or two. The buttons have good feedback when pressed.

The left side houses just the nanoSIM tray and at the top, you find just the secondary microphone. At the bottom, you have the new USB Type-C port as well as the primary microphone and the 3.5mm audio jack.

At the sides, you can see that the back panel has been attached separately and we would’ve preferred a unibody solution that would’ve looked more elegant. However, the good thing to note is that it doesn’t stick out and at least you can’t really feel the ridges when using the phone regularly.

The back is where things get interesting and frankly I quite like the design of the back. At the top, you have the main camera, the dual-tone LED flash unit and the Laser AF. Below that, you have the fingerprint sensor which we shall talk about in detail later on. The phone has quite a stealthy look all around the sides and at the front but at the back, it looks more premium thanks to the silver accents of the LG and Nexus logo as well as the ring around the fingerprint sensor.

The back panel is non-removable and neither is the battery. The Nexus 5X comes in a Black, White and Ice blue colours. The Black variant that we are reviewing is more of a graphite colour. If you want to go for a more unique look and feel, you are better off with the Ice Blue variant but many retailers are charging a small premium for it.

Display

The display unit on the Nexus 5X is a 5.2″ 1080p IPS display. It has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection along with an Oleophobic coating. The glass is quite resistant to scratches and with regular usage we didn’t face any issues with it getting scratched. The coating also makes sure to reduce the number of fingerprints that appear on the display. It also makes it smoother and easier to use. The display isn’t the highest resolution unit out there but it is no short in terms of sharpness. In fact, it seems as if there has been some optimization in terms of sharpness as it looks sharper than most other 5.2″ 1080p displays we’ve used. Don’t worry however as it isn’t overly sharpened either.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor on the 5X is located at the back below the camera unit. The sensor is round in shape and has a nice silver bezel that looks good. I personally had been used to and preferred fingerprint sensors on the home button. But I was suprised by how well the fingerprint sensor is implemented on the Nexus 5X. The position is perfect and is where your index fingers rest by default so those two fingers would be ideal to register. The accuracy is quite good and the speed at which it recognizes is really fast as well. So far, it is one of the fastest fingerprint sensors that we have used on any phone. The sensor only faces issues when your finger is sweaty or your finger or sensor is wet. We found the round sensor pad to be easier to use compared to square-shaped sensors as well.

Software and UI

This is probably the most important aspect of any Nexus smartphone. The 5X is no different as it runs on the latest version of Google Android which is Marshmallow. At the time of writing this review, the latest version on the phone is Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and comes with the latest security patch dated 1st December 2015. Google has promised to issues monthly updates in order to fix any flaws in security. It should also bring about changes and improvements to performance.

Being Marshmallow, you can see many of the new features and changes from Lollipop. First thing you would notice immediately is the permissions. Starting off, the phone asks for permissions for multiple things. Installing, giving an app access to a camera or the internet etc. You can choose to deny all permissions or a particular permission for an app. You can now reset just your network settings without having to reset the entire device itself. The new Doze feature allows the phone to go into a deeper state of sleep than previously capable. We shall talk more about this in the battery section later on. The lockscreen gives you quick shortcuts to the dialer as well as the camera. You also get information regarding the day, date and time. Users can choose whether to show all notifications, hide sensitive content or show no notifications at all.

Camera






Storage

Nexus smartphones typically don’t come with microSD card slots and that doesn’t change with the 5X nor the 6P. There are 2 storage models available – a 16GB as well as a 32GB model. The 32GB model comes with 24.89GB of space out of the box. There is a new storage monitor that gives a more detailed and better statistics of the space on-board. There is an explore option as well which basically is a file manager that is built-in to the device. The devices supports USB OTG as well.