In order to keep up with the current manufacturer trend and stay at par with its arch rivals, Google has churned out two Nexus models built by different OEMs – Huawei-built Nexus 6P and LG-built Nexus 5X. The 6P is the crème de la crème and gets all the finesse and fancy features, while the Nexus 5X is a toned down device targetted at the budget audience.
Although a starting price of Rs 31,900 isn't quite the budget offering you may say. We received the 32GB unit priced at Rs 35,900. After penning down our views on spending 24 hours with the device, we now have a thorough review after spending almost a week with it. While some points remain the same, prolonged usage unwind a lot of aspects about a device. Read on to know, if the device stands a good chance to compete in this price bracket.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
Design-wise, there is nothing exceptional about the Nexus 5X. In fact, devices these days adorn metal in their construction for lesser price. However, it's the simplicity and convenience that has earned the Nexus 5X some brownie points for its looks and feel. To begin with, unlike its higher-end sibling, the 5X comes with a plastic back. This has worked to its advantage in the sense that it's light at 136 grams. Now, couple that with 147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm dimensions and it makes the device a breeze to use with one hand. Be it swiping across the screen or accessing apps, all could be done one-handed.
The Imprint fingerprint sensor that's sensibly placed on the back just below the slightly protruding rear camera adds to the convenience. The placement makes it quite effortless as your fingers will curl behind the device anyway, unlike when the sensor is fitted on the home button.
We received a white unit but you also get to pick from Black and Ice blue options. The white needs to be instantly wrapped in a back cover, as it starts attracting dust and starts yellowing around the edges within a couple of days of use. The back also houses the rear snapper, LED flash and laser-assist auto focus. The right edge accommodates a volume rocker and power button while the SIM tray is fitted on the left edge. The 5.2-inch display on the front has space above and below to accommodate speaker grills and front camera. Overall, it is decently built and the plastic back doesn't give the device a cheap or ugly feel.
The Nexus 5X is an upgrade to the 2013 Nexus 5. On the front, you will find a 5.2-inch Full HD display with 1080 x 1920 pixels of resolution. It also gets a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with oleophobic coating.
It is among the first smartphones to run Android's latest 6.0 Marshmallow OS out of the box, which is a big deal for pure droid lovers. Being a Nexus device, you can expect it to get quick future updates too. The Nexus 5X is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset which houses a hexa-core processor along with Adreno 418 GPU. It gets 2GB RAM and we've received the 32GB unit out of which roughly 24GB is available for use. It is also available in 16GB capacity and you cannot expand the storage.
The device features a 12.3MP rear snapper along with laser autofocus, dual-LED flash unit and has a 5MP front-facing camera. It takes in a single SIM card and ropes in all usual connectivity options and even more including 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2 with A2DP, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Type C reversible connector, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and also the ac draft, and Wi-Fi Direct. It also comes with a fingerprint sensor, along with accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass and barometer. Finally, a non-removable Li-Polymer 2,700mAh battery fuels the device.
The Nexus 5X runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box, which is definitely the USP of the device. Read here to know some of the coolest features in the latest Android flavor. If you prefer a pure blood Droid, then Marshmallow is delightful. While in terms of design it doesn't look much different from Android Lollipop, it is certainly more refined and clean.
Now on Tap is the new feature to look forward to. In our 24 hours with Nexus 5X, we had shared our experience about getting started with the feature. After prolonged usage, we think the feature has a lot of potential. It makes Google Now more worthwhile by offering quicker way to access data or more meaningful information about what’s on your current page. Google also lets you turn off the feature under Settings.
The Marshmallow brings some new apps such as Android Pay, which along with NFC and fingerprint verification could be useful once it arrives in India. Another change is the app permissions that have been given a huge overhaul. Just like the iPhone, you can now allow or revoke an app permission that will be asked only as and when required. So, you don’t have to accept all permissions during the first install of the app. On the security front, you will notice that each time you restart the smartphone, it asks users to unlock the device using a passcode or pattern even before getting onto the homescreen.
The camera app is simple and neat, and one can easily load it by clicking the power button twice. There are many other improvements that we will take a look at separately below.
The Nexus 5X has been upgraded to come equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, but it maintains the same 2GB RAM that is good enough to handle apps. While we didn’t find any stutter during our limited usage, we won’t say the same after a prolonged usage. While gaming we did observe frame drops. It can handle multi-tasking well, as we didn’t face too many hiccups while switching between apps or with animations. However, unlike the 6P, the Nexus 5X isn’t buttery smooth. We also tried some casual yet popular games such as Subway Surfer and Temple Run, and we did face some heating issues. Even while watching or shooting a 4K video, the rear side tends to heat up.
Talking about call quality, it let us make calls effortlessly even in packed Mumbai local trains. However, the audio speaker is disappointing, as it isn't loud enough even for a small room.
On the other hand, the Imprint sensor is not just thoughtfully placed but also works efficiently. Out of the numerous times we unlocked the device, and the only way we took to unlocking it, it responded perfectly. It was just a couple of times that it said the finger was pulled out too soon. However, if you want to unlock the device when placed on a sofa or a table, it could get a little tedious unless you opt for pattern unlocking at that time. You can feed more than one finger prints to unlock the phone.
The 5.2-inch Full HD display features 1080 x 1920 pixels of resolution that is good enough for the size. The pixel density goes all the way up to 423 ppi. The display is sharp and clear. The viewing angles were good in ambient light and also outdoors in sunlight.
The camera may not seem like the highlight of the device on paper, but is truly one of the best we've seen at that price. The 12.3 megapixel snapper is fitted along with laser auto-focus and LED flash unit on the back. It is good at capturing details not only in bright light but also in low light conditions. Take a look at some of the camera sample shots.
Please note: Click on the images to see the high resolution uncompressed images
It does come with options such as Lens Blur which is great for food, nature or any other close-ups. It blurs the background so the focus is on the subject. Android 6.0 Marshmallow also adds Photo Sphere, allowing users to create 360 degree Panoramic image.
While the quick launch from power button and simple stock camera app are handy, it's pretty lean in terms of modes. For instance, you won't find the basic burst mode. It can capture some decent videos and even supports 4K recording. However, we wonder how smart it would be to capture 4K videos on a device without a microSD card slot and specially so for the 16GB storage variant.
LG has fitted the device with a 2700mAh battery. The PCMark test gave us a decent battery life of 7 hours 47 minutes. However, with 3G, social media and some web surfing, we couldn’t make it through the day, which is disappointing.
Google has gone with a USB Type-C reversible charger, which is obviously the way ahead. But the device doesn't bundle a USB Type C to Type A adapter and you will have to buy in order to connect the handset to your laptop or desktop, in case you want to transfer heavy files.
USB Type-C hasn't become mainstream yet, so good luck in case you forget to carry the bundled charger on a weekend trip. Type-C is great when you need to juice up your device and don't have much time on hand. It supports fast charging which is different from Qualcomm's Quick charge technology. However during our review period, at one point, the charger blatantly refused to power the device. After trying to charge it via multiple switch boards and a few restarts, we finally had to factory reset the device and things started functioning normally. Hopefully a software update can fix this type of behaviour.
It also comes with a built-in power management feature called Doze. Doze activates every time it notices your device has been idle and shuts down background processes till you pick up the device. This helps increase the standby time.
Verdict and Price in India
The Nexus 5X isn’t a high specced device, rather it's average for what’s on offer by many others at this price. It's the kind of device that isn’t excellent, but could be a good option depending upon what you're looking for. Maybe Google planned it this way so that the users have an incentive to go for Nexus 6P.
A good camera, decent build and some swanky features such as USB Type-C and fingerprint scanner make it likeable. Of course there are flaws such as frame drops while gaming, heating up and an average battery life. Having said that, it is a significant upgrade over the 2013 Nexus 5 and a good option to consider for Nexus 5 owners looking to move on from their two-year old device.
Now, the 32GB variant we received is priced at Rs 35,900 and 16GB at Rs 31,900 on the official Google store. The price is what puts it in an iffy position, especially when it is compared to some others such as the OnePlus 2 that is priced almost Rs 8,000 less. Apart from OnePlus 2, it also faces stiff competition from Moto X Style that also runs Android Marshmallow and comes with a better specs sheet and also Samsung's Galaxy A8 that comes with a bigger display and performs better. Moreover, it isn’t far off from the Nexus 6P either (Nexus 6P starts at Rs 39,900), which is again at a higher-end and is a better sibling. However, we did spot the 16GB Nexus 5X listed online for as low as Rs 27,000. So keep an eye out on the online retailers, you may just get a good deal.
Ultimately, it all boils down to what you value - high specs or a pure Android experience. If it is the latter option that's significant for you, then the Nexus 5X is a phone worth considering.