Google took the stage in San Francisco this week, to announce a slew of new hardware. Dave Burke represented the Android team and announced the new Nexus 5X made by LG as well as the Nexus 6P made by Huawei. Now that we have all had a bit of time to digest everything that happened this week in the world of Android, as well as had a chance to check out the Android Team’s AMA on Reddit about these new Nexus devices. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly about the new Nexus 5X.
In 2012, Google tapped LG to build the Nexus 4. It was the first Nexus to come in at an ultra-low price point. Coming in at just $299 for the 8GB and $349 for the 16GB model. LG was tapped again the following year to make the Nexus 5. Which again was pretty low, in terms of pricing. The 16GB model kept its $349 price tag and Google opted to get rid of the 8GB model and add a 32GB model which made it $399. Now Google doesn’t disclose numbers of the Nexus sales, but they did say that the Nexus 5 was their best selling Nexus so far. So the company decided to revive the Nexus 5, and have LG build an unprecedented third Nexus smartphone. Previously, HTC built two – technically – in the Nexus One and the HTC G1. Samsung built two with the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, LG built the Nexus 4 and 5, and Motorola only got one shot at the Nexus 6.
Many were asking for a Nexus 5 refresh for a few reason. Not just because it was such a good looking device, or well-performing device, but because it was a “small” device, at least by today’s standards. Google put out a 6-inch Nexus last year, and oddly enough it didn’t sell as well as they had hoped. So this year they went with a big and a small Nexus. With the smaller being the Nexus 5X and a 5.2-inch display. But did Google really hit the nail on the head with LG and the Nexus 5X? Let’s talk about it.
So spec-wise, we’re looking at a decent high-end phone here. A 5.2-inch 1080p LCD display, Qualcomm’s hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor inside, along with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB of storage or 32GB. We also have a 12.3MP camera on the back that is 1.55 microns in size. It’s Sony’s IMX377 sensor as well. Powering the entire smartphone we have a 2700mAh battery. So for the most part the specs are the same. Google did opt for the bit slower Snapdragon 808 over the 810, possibly to differentiate this and the Nexus 6P. But likely also because the Snapdragon 810 overheats like crazy. In terms of the specs, I think the only issue many people have is the 2GB of RAM. It is still plenty of RAM, especially since this is running stock Android, but over time that could change.
For the build, LG has stuck with the polycarbonate plastic for the back and a glass front. According to those that got hands-on time at the event, the device feels pretty sturdy and could likely take a drop or two. Which is nice to hear, actually. There is a fingerprint reader on the back, dubbed “Nexus Imprint” which is one of the new features in Marshmallow as well. All in all, it seems like a great smartphone. With a starting price of $379. And I must admit, that mint color looks baws.
But let’s look at the other side. The bad side. What are we giving up here? Well a lot of things actually. Remember when Apple changed the ports on their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, everyone had to get all new cables, all new docks and such. Well the same thing is happening here. Many of us will need to pick up a micro USB to USB Type-C adapter or a whole other cable to plug in our new Nexus’ around the house, the office and even the car with our car chargers. USB Type-C is definitely the future, but switching charging standards is never an easy thing to do.
The Nexus 5X also isn’t all that premium. While it’s bigger brother the Nexus 6P is. The polycarbonate build is nice for being a bit rugged, but when holding it in the hand, it really doesn’t feel all that great, unfortunately. But it could be worse, LG and Google could have used that glossy plastic that Samsung had used for so long. Premium doesn’t always mean glass either. I’d much prefer metal over glass, due to the glass being a bit slippery and being easily scratched up. Which I learned with my Sony Xperia Z3.
It’s tough to find an “ugly” side here, but I’d probably say that the 2GB of RAM is ugly. I know, I know, I said earlier that 2GB of RAM is plenty. And it is. But is it future-proof? I don’t think so. We’re seeing phones coming out with 4GB of RAM these days, heck there’s one being crowd-funded with 6GB of RAM right now. For many that want to keep this phone for 2 years or even more, this might be a tough point to get across. With apps getting larger and larger and needing more RAM and space, the 16GB model is looking a bit ugly too. Especially with the Nexus 5X having the ability to record in 4K. That’s definitely going to eat up a ton of space on the Nexus 5X.
For those of you looking for a “smaller” smartphone, the Nexus 5X is basically your only choice. There is the Xperia Z5 Compact from Sony, but good luck getting that into the US at a decent price. The Nexus 5X comes in at $379 and $429 for the 16GB and 32GB models, and work on all four carriers here in the US, as well as Project Fi. Something that the Xperia Z5 Compact doesn’t do. Overall it’s a great phone, and we’ll know for sure how great of a phone it is after we get one in hand for our review. So stay tuned for that.