What we think
The Google Nexus 5X, produced by LG, is the impressive successor to the Nexus 5. We have tested this phone thoroughly, and we’re impressed with Google’s new beta software, “Android N”. The Nexus 5X boasts a 12.3MP camera which we were very pleased with, and the unique fingerprint scanner is a cool addition, as is USB-C. There are a lot of great rivals out there, so how does it compare?
- Good value
- Impressive fingerprint scanner
- Camera performs well
- Lovely design
- Materials makes it feel cheap
- Inconsistent performance
The Nexus 5X is a sleek, slim phone, similar to its predecessor, the Nexus 5. The main change to the design is the introduction of a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, but aside from that it’s essentially just a slightly taller, wider, yet thinner version of the Nexus 5.
The phone measures 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm (5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches), with a 5.2-inch screen. This phone is pretty much on the borderline of being a phablet – any larger and you wouldn’t really be able to use it one-handed, but it’s still not the largest phone out there by any means, and you can get a fairly good grip when holding it.
At 136g, it weighs slightly more than the Nexus 5, but is still a very light phone. One of the reasons it is so light is because rather than using just metal and glass like most of its major rivals, LG has used a polycarbonate back, with a metal edging.
Although the phone looks very nice, I’m not a big fan of the materials, as it makes the phone feel cheap – I would rather have a phone made out of metal and glass. For the price you pay, I personally wouldn’t want it to be plastic.
With a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels (423ppi), the screen is great, and a definite improvement on the previous Nexus models. It’s not quite up there with the smartphones that are using AMOLED displays, but the colours are fairly vibrant and everything looks sharp on the whole.
In terms of colours, you have the option of Quartz White, Ice Blue and Carbon Black. The front of the phone is always black, and the Quartz White option certainly does look very nice.
I wasn’t a fan of the power button and volume controls all being on the right-hand edge of the phone though, as I prefer having them on separate sides. Meanwhile, the 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the bottom of the phone, along with the USB-C port.
However, I did like the fact that LG decided to put speakers on the front of the phone, rather than on one of the edges or the back. Although I generally hate the quality of phone speakers, it is at least much better when the sound is coming straight at you.
Along with the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, you will find the main camera, which does stick out slightly, unfortunately. I always prefer phones to have the camera as flush with the back of the phone as possible, as it feels subtler that way, but it isn’t a real concern of mine.
Additionally, much like Samsung has done with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and Apple with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, there is a larger version of the 5X available if you do want more of a phablet – the Nexus 6P. This has a 5.7-inch screen and slightly improved specs compared to the Nexus 5X, but also a higher price, costing around £450.
The main feature of the Nexus 5X is the introduction of a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, called the Nexus Imprint. At first this seemed very odd and rather inconveniently placed, as all other phones I have used have had a home button on the front, acting as the fingerprint scanner.
However, when I actually used the phone, I realised my finger was generally in the correct place for the scanner, so it wasn’t a problem. Because the scanner was on the rear of the phone, it meant that LG could do away with having a home button, freeing up more space on the front of the phone, which is good – they chose to have speakers on the front, which was a smart move in my opinion.
Given the choice, I would choose a phone with a physical home button on the front, which acts as the fingerprint scanner, but the design of the Nexus Imprint is still pretty nifty, and the scanner ‘ring’ does like very sleek and stylish in fairness.
Using the Android Marshmallow Operating System (OS), and with a 1.8 GHz, hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor powering it, along with an Adreno 418 GPU and 2Gb RAM, the Nexus 5X performs strongly.
I found that navigating around the phone, and using a range of apps and games, was a smooth, straightforward process generally. I’ve used faster phones but I certainly wouldn’t describe this one as being slow. It has performed well, and I have rarely encountered any bugs.
It is also possible to try out Google’s new beta software, known as Android N, which offers a fantastic glimpse into what the future of Android looks like (although due to it being in beta mode not all apps will work with it).
However, one issue, primarily down to the phone only having 2Gb RAM, is that having multiple apps open can sometimes cause it to slow down a little. Additionally, when repeating processes over and over, I noticed the speed and performance did end up dropping slightly over time, and so you may find that this phone’s performance starts deteriorating before even two years have passed, which is a bit concerning.
Featuring a 12.3MP, f/2.0 camera on the rear of the Nexus 5X, which has 1.55-micron pixels, the camera is very impressive, especially in low-light. Because the pixels are larger, more light can be captured, improving the quality of any photos you shoot when there is not as much light.
While 12.3MP isn’t as high a number as some of its rivals, it’s still capable of capturing reasonably high-quality photos, and definitely the best camera in a Nexus phone to date, so kudos to Google on that aspect.
In terms of videos, you can shoot 4K quality, with 30fps. The front-facing camera is the fairly standard 5MP, and while your selfies will be alright, they won’t be amazing. For phones in the same price bracket as the Nexus 5X, you will struggle to find a better camera, but if you really want outstanding photography, you may want to check out other, more expensive alternatives.
The battery in the Nexus 5X is a definite improvement on the previous offering. Packing a non-removable 2,700mAh Li-Po battery, I found the phone would last me through the working day even with a fair amount of use. If you wanted to go out at night afterwards, you would need to charge it back up more to ensure it doesn’t die on you during the night, but it’s still a strong performance.
If you watch a standard-length film on normal brightness, you can expect the battery to drop down to around 70 to 75 per cent, from 100 per cent, which isn’t too bad.
One of the major talking points with this phone is the introduction of USB-C, a technology which is currently on the borderline of taking off and becoming the mainstream way to charge smartphones.
Unlike the standard MicroUSB cable, which has to be plugged into your phone in a certain position, USB-C is reversible, which is very useful. It also allows for faster charging than MicroUSB, which, quite obviously, is highly convenient.
It takes just under two hours to charge the phone fully from 0 per cent charge, and just over 20 minutes for the first 25 per cent to be restored. This is because the phone recharges fastest when it is emptier – the final 10 per cent will take the longest amount of time.
Although these speeds are pretty impressive, they aren’t quite as good as some phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, which still uses the MicroUSB charger. Also, your collection of MicroUSB cables will now be useless, annoyingly.
Unfortunately, a number of specifications remain unchanged from the predecessor to the Nexus 5X. There is no MicroSD card slot, so you are stuck with either 16Gb or 32Gb, depending on how much money you are happy to spend on the phone.
My personal viewpoint is that 16Gb is nowhere near enough memory, unless you really are a very light user, because in actuality you only have 10.6Gb due to pre-installed apps and software taking up some space to begin with.
It would be fine if you could expand the memory size with a MicroSD card but as that isn’t possible, I strongly suggest choosing the 32Gb version, which should definitely be enough memory.
Thankfully the price is not as high as it was when the Nexus 5X was first released. You can generally buy the phone sim-free for around £200, depending on the memory size you go for in the end.
When it was first released, the phone cost around £330, which frankly is a bit too much in my opinion for what it offers. For not a huge amount more, you could get a premium phone, capable of more than this one.
However, now that the price has decreased, taking the medium-range phone closer to the budget price bracket, I think that this phone represents excellent value for money. If you want to buy a new phone, but only want to stretch as far as £200, you will be hard-pressed to find a better one than this offering from LG.
Overall, LG’s Google Nexus 5X is a very good phone, but not the best. If you buy it at its reduced price then it represents a great deal, especially with the performance of its camera, which is very good for a phone costing around £200.
The fingerprint scanner is a cool addition, and I was pleased to use a smartphone with USB-C, but I was rather disappointed by the lack of a MicroSD card slot, and the 2Gb of RAM certainly does its performance no favours, as I experienced a bit of lag occasionally.
If you really want a high-quality phone then the Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S7 are the leading lights, but for those on more of a budget, this is certainly worth serious consideration.