Nexus 5 Review: Major Improvements For 2015’s 5X
It’s been two years since the original Nexus 5 was released. In many ways it was an eye-opener for the mid-range price point; it was comfortable, lightweight and good-looking, it performed well, it integrated nicely with Google features including Google Now (as you would hope a Google phone would) – and it came unlocked. There were some drawbacks in the Nexus 5, though. The display could be fuzzy at times, and the camera and video functions were very disappointing.
The new Nexus5X has finally been released, and it retains most of the positives of Nexus5 while fixing most of the negatives. Here’s a closer look.
Nexus 5X: The Good, The Bad – and Is It Ugly?
The Nexus 5X, built by LG and available in Google stores, is easy to carry around or tuck
into a pocket since it’s quite compact at just 5.2 inches and very lightweight (a little under five ounces). The main reason why this Nexus is so light is also somewhat of a negative: it has a plastic frame which can get scuffed easily and feels somewhat cheap. In fact, it feels cheaper than the original Nexus 5, and not quite as comfortable. But you get used to the feel pretty quickly, and it’s not a bad trade-off for a phone that is so lightweight. Whether it’s ugly is in the eye of the beholder. It’s sleek and simple-looking, but to some it might look more like a toy than a smartphone, especially after the plastic starts to show some wear.
Connectivity is a big plus. All major US carriers (and many smaller ones) are supported as is Google’s cell service, Project Fi. The 5X is also compatible with CDMA and GSM networks around the world, so all you have to do is swap out SIM cards to get connected just about anywhere.
The operating system on the Nexus 5X is clean and terrific. It’s Android, of course, but it’s Android 6.0, and Marshmallow brings with it both the graphical (great new animations) and the functional (much better notifications and performance), plus cool features like a scrolling app drawer and a permissions system which lets you decide which apps can access your personal information. Marshmallow also supports Google On Tap, theoretically letting you immediately perform a search on what you’re reading without leaving your original screen. However, the function is slow (at best) – hopefully, this will be improved in later releases.
The 1920x1080 LCD display is sharper than the 1080p display on the original Nexus 5, without any of its predecessor’s problems. However, the quality isn’t as impressive as more expensive competitors, and can wash out easily in sunlight. It’s good, not great. Where the 5X suffers is in the audio department; there’s a single low quality speaker which is close to unlistenable. You’ll want to use headphones.
Now, for the camera. The one in the original Nexus 5 was just plain bad. The one in the 5X, though, is really good. It’s 12.3 megapixels, the autofocus actually works well, and both color and detail are strong. In video mode, you can capture at 4K (with no OIS) or 120 fps slow motion and be happy with the results, particularly in low light. Google/LG did it right this time.
Nexus 5X: The Bottom Line
This is a solid phone in the mid-level price range, although some people might feel that its plastic construction and feel aren’t overcome by the corresponding advantages of weight and functionality. Our only other major objections are that battery charging time is way longer than it should be, and the 5X comes standard with only 16 gigs of storage for $379. You can get a 32-gig model for an extra $40, but it’s strange that they’ve produced a solid phone with sub-standard storage capacity.
The Nexus 5X is a very nice phone with welcome improvements over the Nexus 5. If you prefer something with a little more heft, though, it won’t cost you a whole lot more to move up to the 6P or another upper-level phone.