I don’t know why everytime I say Google’s name out loud I feel like the fish from Nemo with his bubbles (bubbles….). One of the most magnificent companies out there that brings us so much great stuff! Ok, I admit that I am a little biased there. Thankfully it’s well placed today as I bring your our opinion of Google’s new Nexus 5X smartphone that they were kind enough to send our way.
One of two new Nexus models that have entered the market, the Nexus 5X is the Nexus 5 reborn. Bigger screen, smooth design and of course the new Android 6.0 OS (aka Marshmallow). A more affordable Android phone amongst the mixture of options, it doesn’t seek to dethrone anyone. The hardware is mid-range but with some added current tech and smooth-running OS experience. This phone is for those that don’t want the latest monster phone that will cost them a month’s mortgage just to own.
The Nexus 5X features a simple all-plastic design with a few nice curves on the backside. On the back you find a dual-LED flash accompanying the 12.3MP camera. Right underneath the camera, you find a new silver-lined circle around the same size of the camera’s footprint. This is a fingerprint sensor that can be used to unlock your phone with. The location seems very convenient while holding the phone since you can manage everything with just one hand. Under that you get the familiar Nexus logo as well as LG underneath.
The top-side if the phone is simply a microphone for background noise isolation, and the left-side is where the small tray is located for the SIM card. On the bottom you’ll find the 3.5mm input for headphones, the main microphone and the new USB Type-C port for charging, adapters and so forth. The only thing noticeable on the front-side of the phone is the camera (5MP) and two speakers, one top (phone calls) and one bottom (external speaker)–All complimented with a 5.2-inch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
The new USB Type-C, just like Lightning, is super flexible as it doesn’t matter how you plug it in–as it goes both directions. The cable the Nexus 5X comes with has the Type-C on both ends. This has its pros and cons to it as it doesn’t matter which end you plug into the phone and which into the wall adapter. It doesn’t get anymore universal than that. The only trouble with this, is that there aren’t really any computers out there yet that directly support USB Type-C, which means you will be stuck buying an adapter if you want to attach it to one (ie, for file transfers) using one of your old microUSB cables. Thankfully there are options out there like AirDroid that allow you to transfer the files back-and-forth over WiFi.
The reason they include a Type-C to Type-C solution is because the Nexus 5X supports the new faster charging standards, which makes plenty of sense. It’s just something to prepare for until computers start hitting the market supporting the new Type-C by default.
Another thing to point out is that it does not offer wireless charging. The feature was opted out in exchange for a thinner design and the fact that USB Type-C is so user friendly now, eliminating the trouble of fighting with cables. Although it is unfortunate, it does make sense to a point. You know there will still be some hardcore Qi fans out there that will hold their nose up at this.
It also does not feature any form of SD card slot to accompany the SIM. This isn’t anything out of the normal for the Nexus phones, but SD support is starting to become a hot item as consumers demand more storage without having to rely on a cloud solution. Because of this, even the bargain devices (phones and tablets) have been including external memory support to fulfill this demand.
The Nexus 5X performs pretty smoothly and the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow looks great. Everything favors the typical flat color/graphic design that most gadgets have been leaning towards due to current trends (which is debatable).
Inside there is a 1.8Ghz Snapdragon 808 hexacore 64-bit processor and a Adreno 418 GPU. App response as well as game, web browsing, camera and all else–seems to fall right into today’s standard of things when you compare the phone to models such as the latest ZenFones from Asus. No noticeable lag and we never got anything to crash on us (or any other chaotic events).
The fingerprint sensor on the back is highly accurate which is nice. It takes a number of times of randomly placing a single finger on it so that it can read all variable scenarios. Once it is complete, that finger is locked away in Android’s vault of data and we couldn’t get any other finger in the office and elsewhere to work. This also includes every other finger on the hands of the person who recorded theirs. Only that one finger would unlock it, and it delivers instantly making it a wonderful feature. Of course there are those hacking groups out there that have found James Bond methods of extracting the print off of similar devices such as the iPhone to gain access to them, but the chances of this happening to you are so small. Unless of course you are a potential target for those kind of parties (or big brother).
The camera’s performance is notable as they have stepped up to the plate with a great 12.3MP solution that works really well. Image quality is pretty good for what it is. It won’t compare to the flagship phones of course, but it will stick it to the competition. Color quality and detail is right where you want it to be, so that you can mostly leave your point-and-shoot cameras at home.
Here is a gallery of sample shots taken with the Nexus 5X:
It doesn’t just stop there. The Nexus 5X can also shoot up to 4K at 30fps for video, which is also a great feature to have for it’s price-range. Video does look a little better steady-wise in 1080p, but detail looks great in 4K. The only issue is the steadiness, as it feels a little jittery, regardless of how still you hold yourself. Using the two videos as an example, you can see the outcome of a walking shot (flowers) vs a hip-twist shot (park) which normally gets you the best steady performance when not using any fancy equipment.
Both videos were shot with the 4K (30fps) setting. So it isn’t perfect, but if you’re looking to keep the phone on a mount/stand solution and not have it move during your shoot, you can rest assured that it will look great. For everything else, you may want to stick to 1080p so that you don’t give the viewer a headache.
We tested out the phone on WiFi, AT&T’s network and Google’s new Fi network. Both the 5X and it’s bigger brother, the 6P (made by Huawei), are the only two phones currently to support the new Fi network. The whole concept of Google’s service is to constantly give you the best connection possible by piggy-backing off all the major networks while also including nearby WiFi networks that they deem safe.
On WiFi, we were getting speed tests of around 30-40mbps and everything performed amazingly fast. Of course, you’re not always going to be near a WiFi network so it’s all about the service providers. Slapping a SIM card in from AT&T resulted in typical speeds that relate to any other phone floating around here. Average speeds fell around 7-10mbps, which is pretty slow compared to what networks are capable of, but that is AT&T here (slow). It was enough though to achieve all those wonderful things people enjoy in smartphones. Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, SiriusXM and so forth, all performed perfectly well. Phone calls didn’t drop out and both parties could hear each other flawlessly.
We didn’t spend too much time on Google’s Fi network because it seemed to show preference to the HSDPA (H icon) network of things. This led to speeds of less than 1mbps which made it unfeasible to test anything out with. There were some times where LTE popped up and things were fine, but not enough to give that a score just yet. We will let Google work out any kinks and see what it looks like when the network is fully ready to roll out. I could confirm that there wasn’t any total dropouts at least, so the phone was always connected to “something”.
It’s a good phone with a great camera for the price and with contract, i am sure the price will only get that much better. Our only complaints are the missing SD support, the supplied cable and no wireless charging. We can live without the wireless charging, so that didn’t really touch the score (just something to point out). The SD support and cable is another thing. If they really wanted the Nexus brand to shine in the current market of things, they should have added SD support as well. As for the cable, they could have supplied both types or included the adapter. That way you still get the fast charging capabilities of USB Type-C while still being able to connect the phone to any computer. Thankfully the adapter is cheap to buy and will only become cheaper as Type-C becomes a normal features vs a popular trend, and for those not scared of the cloud, you still have a lot of storage options open to you. The phone is fast enough, stable enough and once again has a great camera. This makes the Nexus 5X a great mid-range smartphone.
The phone can currently be found on Google’s store/website and in the future will start finding its way to markets like Amazon and so on. It will function on all major US carriers.
147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
2700 mAh Battery
USB Type-C for fast charging
Rear: 12.3 MP2; 1.55 ?m; f/2.0
Front: 5 MP
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808 processor, 1.8 GHz hexa-core 64-bit
Adreno 418 GPU
Options of 16GB or 32GB
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