LG and GOOGLE rejoined this year and released the Nexus 5X, a handset that promises to live up to the expectations and deliver the experience we all expected from the Nexus 6. So was the Nexus 5X able to meet all the expectations, thus making it the real successor to the Nexus 5? Let’s find out.


Design

There’s no doubt that LG can make great looking phones with premium designs, but looking at the Nexus 5X you immediately see that it doesn’t fit in the premium realm.

So no glass and metal, you only get a lightweight polycarbonate case, with a matte finish, soft rounded corners, smooth curved edges and a thin metal frame. The phone is not slippery, it’s easily manageable with one hand and it is incredibly comfortable to hold.

But the rounded edges and the overall shape are not the only factors that render a comfortable phone manipulation, the Nexus 5X is also lightweight (weighs 4.8 ounces) and has a screen size of 5.2 inches (the phone measures 6.0×2.8×0.3 inches).

The rear panel doesn’t retain fingerprints, it has rounded edges but it doesn’t really look solid, it feels like it may pop off at any time. The front of the Nexus 5X is home to the display, which is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and around the display bezel, there is a small rim.

However, the buttons feel and placement are a bit of a disappointment. While the original Nexus 5 had smooth, high quality buttons with a rubbery texture, the Nexus 5X has two buttons on the right side, the volume controller and the power button, that both are small and feel cheap and superficial.

But that’s not all, the Nexus 5 had all these small details that enhanced the design (like the metal around the lens) that you just don’t find on the Nexus 5X, giving it a more plain look.

On the bottom of the Nexus 5X there is an USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a lot of debating about the new USB technology, most being against it. We consider that this change has to happen and although change is always hard, the sooner the better.

The Nexus 5X lacks some aspects that the Nexus 5 had, it’s clear that GOOGLE and LG cut some corners in order to make the 5X cheaper, but overall it doesn’t seem too much of a compromise, unless you prefer glass and metal.

Display

The Nexus 5X features a 5.2in IPS LCD display (the same technology used on its predecessor), a resolution of 1920x1080p, a pixel density of 432ppi and a really wide viewing angle.

Colours are a lot more balanced and more accurate, it has excellent contrast, blacks are deep and whites are very bright, making the display visible under direct sunlight, having a peak brightness of 486 nits.

Although the screen is vibrant, comparing it with other smartphones, it may look a bit dull.

But, we really enjoyed this display, it’s a lot better than the Nexus 6 and it has managed to create a good internal balance in order to deliver a good visual experience.

Performance

Inside the case, the 5X sports a powerful 64-bit six-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chipset (a 1.8GHz dual-core Cortex A57 and a 1.44GHz quad-core Cortex A53).

It also has an Adreno 418 GPU, 2GB RAM (while it’s bigger brother, the Nexus 6P has 3GB RAM), 16 or 32GB internal storage memory and, unfortunately, there is no microSD slot.

A lot of handsets have migrated to 2 or 4GB, while the 5X has only 2GB of RAM and it may be enough for now, but in a year or so it may not, so the phone is not exactly a good solution in the long term. Obviously, an extra GB of RAM would have added to the price tag.Thanks to the good quality hardware, the Nexus 5X performs really well. Navigating through Nexus 5X interface is fast and fluid, it handles games really well, there is no stutter and can even handle demanding 3D games (like Riptide GP2).

But, although it’s fast and responsive most of the times, sometimes it does stutter from time to time and an occasionally restart should get things back to normal. Also, booting up can take up to 50 seconds, which is a lot but understandable (2GB RAM).

Still, overall, the performance is pretty smooth.

Software

The Nexus 5X runs a clean, stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which features subtle changes, focusing more on functionality and less on visuals, so it’s not as flashy as the Lollipop redesign. Running a clean version of Android is usual for Nexus devices (no bloatware!!).

So yes, the interface is not too different from the Android Lollipop, but we got changes to the permission system, improvements to the battery life, changes to the app drawer and the GOOGLE Now and Tap.The new permission system is a great addition. If in the past, in order to install an app you would have to accept all permissions, now, you can install apps without accepting the permission request and only allow access to parts of hardware or software the first time they’re used.

So, apps are now forced to be more transparent about what data they collect. Yes, we know, Apple has used the system for a long time, but we’re glad that at last, Android adopted this really useful system.

The app drawer, now scrolls vertically and features an alphabetical list, giving you faster access to apps; also, five of your recently used apps will appear at the top. There’s also a quick launch bar that guesses what apps you’re trying to access using the letters you typed.

The Auto Backup for Apps is also a cool addition, which backs up everything on your phone automatically. In terms of power management, there is a new Android feature called Doze that puts the 5X to sleep when it’s not used.Besides the software features, there is an Android Marshmallow feature connected to the hardware part, named the Nexus Imprint fingerprint. A lot of smartphones have a fingerprint sensor, but what differentiates it from the others is the position on the back of the phone (GOOGLE claims it’s easier to access this way) and the fact that it’s really fast.

So, as you can see, the Nexus 5X runs a pure Marshmallow Android OS, it has a lot of new features that it successfully takes advantage of and in the end, we really enjoyed the new OS experience.

Camera

Nexus 5X features a 12.3-megapixel rear camera (identical to what you can find on the Nexus 6P) with a wide f/2.0 aperture, a Sony IMX377 sensor (with 1.55-micron pixels), laser autofocus, dual-LED CRI-90 flash and a 5-megapixel front camera with f/2.2 aperture.

The rear camera can shoot some pretty great photos, with clear details, rich colours, especially in good lighting. An odd thing is the omission of the OIS. GOOGLE claims that the larger sensor renders the OIS useless (the larger sensor can capture more light for better indoor photos) and in most situations there’s little to argue about (just don’t have shaky hands).

Taking a photo of the sky in normal mode will result in a overexposed image, so you need to use the HDR+ mode in order to get more balanced whites, but be aware that processing is a bit slow (it may take one or two seconds). Now, concerning the front-facing camera, know that it doesn’t shoot at a very wide angle, but the photos are reasonably sharp and detailed.

The rear camera can record sharp, 4K videos at 30fps (does consume the storage in no time), a common feature for any new smartphone.

Battery Life

Nexus 5X packs a 2,700 mAh battery which will get you from morning to evening on moderate use. It’s not really a good performance, but also, not a bad one. Watching a 2-hour long movie will deplete your battery to 70% and looping a video non-stop will drain the battery in 7 to 8 hours.

Thanks to the new USB charging, the phone recharges completely in under 2 hours and we got 25 percent in under 30 minutes.

Conclusion

We saw that the new Nexus 5X has a great camera, the new Android Marshmallow runs smoothly and is seamlessly integrated, it can run resource-heavy games and the display is great. The design is not exactly premium and the battery life is not the best, but these were the compromises GOGGLE had to make in order to keep the Nexus 5X affordable.