Google Nexus 5X in-depth review - X marks the spot

 Google Nexus 5X Review - X marks the spot

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/2/2015 5:32:26 PM


out of 10



out of 5

Look and feel


out of 5

Ease of use


out of 5



out of 5

Battery life


Pure Android | Biometric recognition ace | Decent camera | Nippy


No expandable storage | Looks not brilliant | Internal storage only 16/32GB | No OIS on camera

- By Sunetra Chakravarti

Fans loved the Google Nexus 5, they liked the Nexus 6 a little less with its massive size and curved back. It almost seemed like a departure from the Nexus blueprint, and it didn't pay off. So, this year Google have gone down to the original and drawn inspiration from it to bring us the Nexus 5X by LG, who also manufactured the Nexus 5.

In further good news for Nexus 5 fans, the Nexus 5X doesn't stray very far design wise from the 5, plastic body on-point and everything. Part of a classic double act, Google have gotten Huawei to create the 6P, a silver metal number while the 5X packs all that fans got excited about on the Nexus 5 and the latest version of Android including stripped back Marshmallow at a more accessible price.

What does the Nexus 5X look like?

A very grippable, slim phone, the 5X has a plastic body and my almost duck-egg blue review sample, whimsically christened Quartz by Google had an almost rubberised feel to the back.  With phones becoming phablets with not too many compact phones around anymore, the Nexus 5X was a refreshing change. Not only could I use it one-handed, I didn't have to stretch my fingers too much to reach the other end of the phone. I will not call it effortless, but it was almost perfect. 

What is Android 6.0 Marshmallow like? Is the experience any different?

One of the best operating systems in the world today, Marshmallow has brought in several improvements and enhancements over its predecessor Lollipop. 

If you want to find out every little detail about Google's new version of Android, I have rounded up the top 5 features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow but if you were keen for me encapsulate the best bits of it, I could probably talk about three of the best.

1) Extended battery life 

There is a shiny new Standby mode which will automatically close all your idle and yet open apps to conserve battery. This also works if you have never managed to close any of the apps before going to bed. Android M also comes with a 'Doze' feature which works only when your phone is unplugged. The feature stops push notifications for emails and also stops automatic app updates and in effect everything that might drain battery in the background. 

2) Security features/ App permissions

As I recently discussed about Cyanogen OS on the Wileyfox Storm, data privacy and the access apps get to all the personal details you store on your phone is both a concern and an area around which a lot of education is required. Until Android 5, you ticked a box to basically hand over all your data to all the apps you decided to download onto your phone. No such luck with Android 6. Each app has to be given individual consent for it to access data. It makes your phone a bit of a water-tight ship. And this is a good thing.

3) Google Now on tap

The easiest way to describe this is, if I give you my own experience with it. I swipe the screen to be told that a couple of my friends are celebrating their birthday on the day, information Google skimmed off Facebook, that it would take me 2.5 hours to get to work owing to another eff up on London's transport system, that I have a flight to take in 3 days and I am only allowed to take a very small handbag onboard and I should print my boarding pass. Also that I have an appointment at my son's school later in the day and that my OH will not be attending. 

I think I should stop now, but you get the idea. It is basically a personal assistant on tap, a really keen one, one that's eager to please. Shame that it cannot bring you coffee. It is a fabulous idea, one made better with your interactions with the ones you like and ones you dont.

Tell me about the camera on the Nexus 5X...

Well, the primary camera is a 12-MP one and there is no optical image stabilisation on there. This particular bit of tech helps with low light photography and its absence is baffling. 

Photos are usually really good in regular light but I did notice a slight yellow tinge in pictures taken with fair to middling levels of light. Detail was crisp but I couldnt shake the tinge off.The camera app is surprisingly and disappointingly thin on th ground with processing functionality. You get four standard tools to re-touch your photos and the selfie camera doesn't have a beautification tool!! I will definitely not be spending upwards of £339 for a phone without a camera that can blow my blemishes away.

Auto, Light, Colour, Pop and Vignette are the only functions and there are about a dozen filters available. They do the job, but I would have loved to see some more bells and whistles on it.

By the way, did you know that both the Nexus 6P and the 5X have the same camera on board? They also use the same Sony image sensor with larger pixel size to flood it with light. 

The Nexus 5X is capable of shooting video in 4K but on a phone with no expandable storage and a maximum internal storage of 32Gb, I would ask you to step away from the 4K video record button.

How powerful is the Nexus 5X processor?

The processor sits calmly on the middle ground between the octa-cores of flagships and quad-cores of the value hadset range. With a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808 processor, 1.8 GHz hexa-core 64-bit (Adreno 418 GPU), it has enough heft to promise a good mobile experience. When I was running my usual Youtube test, the phone warmed slightly, but not to the degree that the Sony Xperia Z5 did recently.

The 808 is not Qualcomm's calling card to the world but just so you know, it is the same processor that's on board the 5-star LG G4, Moto X Style as well as the Xiaomi Mi 4c. So, it is no slouch. Google would have picked this chip over the 810 not just because it is cheaper but also because you will hardly ever notice a difference between the two and also because of the negative publicity around the 810 from the start.

How's the media streaming experience? And is the battery any good on the Nexus 5X?

I recently reviewed the Wileyfox Storm (£199) and it has the same display as the Nexus 5X. Both have a Full HD display and a resolution of 1920X1080, the only difference is the size of the screen because the Nexus 5X is a 5.2-inch one. There is Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on it too so you needn't worry too much about scratches and bumps. LG have done a good job with the display because it reproduces colour well and the streaming experience is crisp and sharp.

Battery-wise, it is a 2,700mAH on-board and the device is charged via a USB Type-C charger and so because it is one of the first devices to sport this, you will have to take the charger along with you everywhere. Also, because it is a smaller sized battery as well, it isnt the most long-lasting one. The 'doze' functionality that Android 6.0 brings with it is very helpful and makes it go longer but during a Youtube streaming test over Wi-fi with 100 percent brightness, the phone lost 6 percent of charge, going down from 20 percent to 14 percent in 10 minutes. It isnt quite as dire as the Wileyfox Storm but I was not not wowed by its performance. 

Should I buy the Nexus 5X?

The 5X is a lot more expensive than other phones with similar specifications but what you get for the extra £100-odd you pay over is an undiluted and pure Android experience, one of the best fingerprint scanners out there, NFC, Bluetooth, great camera and a full HD display. However, the memory is not expandable and in today's day of selfies, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, every grain of additional storage is gold dust. 

I quite liked the duck-egg blue, but there are also the more staid black and white options available. It is a great phone but the world of mobile phones has leapt forward since the Nexus 5 was unleashed and when you see other manufacturers paring back their hitherto heavy Android skins and driving down prices, you realise that it is a tough world out there even for Google. 

What are the specs of the Google Nexus 5X?

Price: From £339

OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Dimension: 147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm 

Weight: 136g 

Display: 5.2” Full HD Display

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 LCD at 423 ppi

Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808 processor, 1.8 GHz hexa-core 64-bit (Adreno 418 GPU)

Camera: 12.3 MP with f/2.0 aperture, IR laser-assisted autofocus, 4K (30 fps) video capture and Broad-spectrum CRI-90 dual flash. 5-MP selfie camera

Connectivity: LTE cat. 6, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC

Memory: 16 GB or 32 GB ROM + 2GB RAM. No expandable MicroSD

Battery: 2,700mAh

Misc: Single USB Type-C, fast charging. Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, fingerprint scanner