The Nexus 5X is the smaller of the two nexus devices launched this year. It may not be the phone that would set the imaginations of current Nexus 5 users on fire, but is a pretty much the perfect device for anyone who is looking to migrate to the Nexus line for the first time. It is also not the device for those who mind little details in construction of the phone or are looking for a pretty device with expensive metal or glass construction, for that you are better off trying out the Nexus 6P or going the route of the iPhones or even the new Xperia Z5. If you are a hardcore gamer and are looking to burn the walls down in the engine room of a smartphone, then perhaps the Nexus 5X will not give you maximum pleasure. For everything else you seek, the Nexus 5X is as good an Android phone as you can hope for.
We have been using our Nexus 5X for about ten days and have religiously used the smartphone as our daily driver. In this period, we wrote our initial impressions as well as the performance update of the device based on its benchmark performances. We feel in this period we have formed a decent opinion on the phone to be coming out with a full review of the device and can do justice to the phone. So, without delaying anymore, let’s jump right into it.
Pricing and Availability
The Nexus 5X we have been using is a 16 GB version in the Ice Blue color. We recently invested in a Gadgetshieldz skin on the device and it is totally worth the investment along with a tempered glass. The best price of the Nexus 5X for a 16 GB version, we could find was Rs 26,499 in the e-com space and around Rs 25,499 offline. Throw in about Rs 2,000 more on the aforementioned accessories and you would be able to have the phone for about Rs 29,000 up and running if you are okay with the 16 GB version.
The phone was available fairly easily and most of the big retail chains we checked had the phone in stock. Both the black and the blue variants were available though we were not able to spot any white units yet.
Design and Construction
As we commented earlier the Nexus 5X comes with a rather uninspiring but a no compromise design and build. Put the phone side by side with a Nexus 5 and you can definitely trace their genes backward, but the Nexus 5X feels a little more refined and better in hand.
The phone is constructed completely out of plastic and unlike the Nexus 5, the Nexus 5X has done away with the ceramic power button replacing it with hard plastic or polycarbonate. The front of the phone is dominated by the 5.2 inches 1080 P LCD screen with two grilles on either side on top and the bottom. Do not go by the looks as the phone comes with mono speakers and the audio plays out of the bottom grille. The grille on top is the earpiece for phone calls only. The notification light is hidden below the bottom grille on the device. Also on the front you have the proximity sensor which is just below the earpiece and the front facing 5 MP camera which is towards the left side on front. The bezels on the Nexus 5X are identical to those on the Nexus 5, but the added screen size makes the phone a tad wider. The Nexus 5X weighs only 136 grams and thanks to a solid build with no creeks around, the phone feels really good in the hands.
Talking about the back of the device, you get the 12 MP sensor with Dual Tone LED flash and Laser autofocus. You have the Nexus Imprint, which is the Fingerprint scanner, Nexus and LG branding and nothing else. We had some reservations about the light color back picking up smudges or dust particles, and to a large extent they were true. Put the phone in a tight pocket jeans and there have been reports of the cloth fabric leaving residual marks on the back of the device. This is by no means a worry or an issue more than it is on any plastic clad phone. One more major change that LG has made to the design on the phone versus the Nexus 5 is placing the volume rocker on the right side, just below the power button on the phone. In the beginning, you may need some getting used to with the power button and the volume rocker feeling virtually the same but you get used to it.
The left side of the phone has the slot for SIM card. The phone uses a Nano SIM card, so you may want to get yourself a smart SIM if you do not have the required size yet. On the bottom is a 3.5 mm headset jack, main microphone and slot for USB Type-C connector. The top chin of the phone has a secondary microphone for noise cancelation.
Overall the phone feels good in the hands and if we really have to pick a flaw it would be that perhaps the phone could have done with a bit of a pattern on the power button to help you distinguish it from the volume keys below. We have not dropped the phone so far so cannot comment how well will it take the falls, but with no cover for ten days, the phone has held well in regular usage.
Display and Screen
The screen on the Nexus 5X is a 5.2 inch when measured diagonally. It is an LCD panel, so you will never have very saturated colors on the phone. If you are coming from a high-end Samsung smartphone or any display which has an AMOLED panel, you will feel the colors are a little muted. Some users are complaining of extremely yellow display on the Nexus 5X so if you plan to pick the phone, be a little wary of that.
Colors generally are a little warmer so you have whites that are slightly creamy rather than blue-cool whites that you may have seen on some Samsung panels. The blacks, though, are deep and we also noticed that the display gets better over a period of few days too and the colors appear to pop a little more. Viewing angles were not a problem at all and there was no major color shift happening. Another concern could be that the display is not 2K like most of the high-end devices today, but unless you are downgrading from a 2K panel, this should not be a problem. If it is, then the Nexus 5X is anyway not a phone for you.
The responsiveness of the screen was never a problem and touch was as accurate as anything you will see. Under direct sunlight, the visibility held on its own and we had no problems reading on the device. Ambient Display, where the phone gives you a peak of what’s on the lock screen for just a flash of a second worked perfectly too. We would have liked an AMOLED panel for better implementation of Ambient Display as on an LCD panel like on the Nexus 5X, all the pixels are fired up every time you trigger it by lifting the phone up. There is a minor delay in Ambient Display turning on when you lift the phone, but that is helpful in case you have to pick the phone from far away from you.
Performance, Gaming and Nexus Imprint
We have covered the performance of the Nexus 5X in detail in our post here and the phone has stayed true to the performance that we initially had experienced. There has been no major slowing down or speeding up. The Snapdragon 808 is a really capable chip, but as expected it is not going to win you any race where the dominator is raw power. The fact that the Nexus 5X comes with just 2 GB RAM shows up with occasional freezes when you try to run application right out of the recent app menu.
We had major issues with Snapchat as the application was extremely jittery and phone continuously froze while using it. Playing very high-end games like Fifa 15 drained the battery pretty fast and the phone only got marginally hot then. In regular day to day usage, there were no heating issues nor app crashes or stutters. If you use the phone very aggressively right after a boot, you will see minor jitters when opening a folder as the animation looks a little unpolished. Another instance where we had an issue with the phone slowing a little was when we tried to double press the power button to activate the camera. Few times, the device totally ignored the command, and other times simply took so long to launch the app that we ended up missing the shot altogether. Shifting the camera from portrait to landscape too had a minor delay but nothing that you cannot live without.
It would be a disservice if under performance we do not mention the Nexus Imprint or the Fingerprint scanner of the Nexus 5X. Arguably, the best feature of the device, the scanner on the back works like magic. We did not have one failed attempt where the phone did not unlock or unlocked by a wrong finger. The response time too was pretty epic and by the time you brought your phone out of the pocket, it was unlocked. It pretty much matched the iPhone 6s Touch ID speed when it comes to unlocking speed, which was awesome.
The Nexus 5X is running the latest Android version, which is Android 6.0 or Marshmallow. We received the security patch update for November on November 13th on our device though there were users who reported getting the update earlier.
Like all Nexus phones, the device is running stock Android which brings with it a promise of immediate updates being rolled out on the phone as and when Google releases it. Marshmallow does not have a lot of visual changes from Android 5.0 Lollipop though you do have a few add-ons other than performance improvements and increased stability and polish.
You have a nifty new File Manager inbuilt in Marshmallow as well as a shortcut where double pressing the power button activates the camera on your device. Doze is a power saving feature which improves the standby performance on the phone and we will talk about that more under the battery segment.
Tap to Now is a new feature in Android Marshmallow and honestly, other than just picking up a few restaurant names or names of famous personalities, the feature was next to useless for us. The camera app on the new Nexus phones is a little more refined and organized and we definitely prefer it over the previous ones. The animations are slicker and more unified across the system UI too.
Other than that, stock Marshmallow is pretty much like stock Lollipop. It is pure Vanilla Android bundled with Google apps, and open to you customizing it with apps that you may want.
Battery Life and Call Quality
The battery life on Nexus 5X is distinctively average. Blame it on a rather diminutive 2700 mAh battery or Google still struggling to control Android processes from sucking power out, either way, the phone will die on you after a day’s usage. We got on an average day, about 3 hours of screen on time with 21 hours backup. This was with three Gmail accounts always syncing and mixed usage on WiFi and 3G.
Doze, which is a new feature that Google has introduced in Marshmallow shows initial promise and what it is capable of but ultimately does little to save the battery on your phone. The main reason we feel is that Doze only gets activated if your phone is absolutely static for 30 minutes and unless you are sleeping through there is never a chance where you will leave your phone idle for so long. Therefore, unless you talk about long hibernation periods, Doze does little to improve your battery. Credit where it is due, Doze does help when you put the phone down and let it be. We experienced about 1-2% battery drop with data and WiFi turned off over an 8 hour sleep period.
Call quality on the Nexus 5X was just fine and the phone did a great job of suppressing background noises, kudos to the noise cancellation on the phone which is possibly the best we have experienced. Even in the most tricky coverages, we had little issue with the phone, both, latching on to data and making calls. We could not test 4G on the phone though it does support all the Indian bands, but 3G clocked very decent speeds of about 6 Mbps down here in Mumbai.
Camera has been one of the burning concern of users when it comes to Nexus devices. This is the first time when Google has actually given the due importance to the camera and it shows on the Nexus 5X. The device comes with a 12 MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture lens and dual LED flashlight. There is no OIS so video shooting was a bit over the place, but other than that we were really pleased with the camera. HDR+ mode worked well on the phone and we were able to take superlative shots in dim situations too.
Colors on the pictures were natural and had a decent amount of details. Some noise crept in when we shot in really dark conditions, but that is to be expected. Taking macro shots was a bit tricky as the phone does have a problem focussing on very close objects, but a little effort and you get the shot you want. We did not notice any excessive greens on the device like being reported by some and 4K video recording was butter smooth, even if it is capped at 5 minutes.
We have attached some camera shots taken from the device below for your reference.
If we were to bring in an analogy and compare the Nexus 5X to the real world, we would call the phone the Arsenal of mobile phones. It will not win you the best league, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do spectacular stuff. It is capable of mesmerizing you and at the same rate can leave you a bit deflated at places. Nexus 5X is a steady performer and like we mentioned above a great phone for those who care about updates, have a limited budget and want solid but unspectacular build quality. The phone competes well with the top phones with features like Fingerprint scanner but ultimately loses out to the powerhouses due to the hardware constraints. Ultimately, it is a phone that is value for your money and delivers perfectly what you would want from a phone that costs just above Rs 25,000.