We re-review the Google Nexus 5X, the cheapest Google Nexus phone from 2015, almost a full year after launch to see how this LG-manufactured mobile holds up in 2016.
We’re hopefully less than a month away from the launch of Google’s new 2016 Nexus phones, dubbed the Nexus Sailfish and Nexus Marlin. These HTC-crafted handsets (or so the leaks suggest) should be worthy successors to last year’s Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, and they’ve come at a good time too. After all, while the Nexus 6P still holds up well after almost a year, the 5X is starting to look rather long in the tooth.
The Nexus 5X was the cheaper of last year’s two Google blowers, with an asking price of £300 out of contract. That’s despite sharing many of the same features with the more expensive Nexus 6P, including a fingerprint sensor and fantastic 12-megapixel rear camera. However, the 5X didn’t impress us enough to earn more than four stars out of five in our in-depth review back in October 2015.
Here’s our all-new Nexus 5X review after almost a year of use, in case you’re thinking of picking it up at a reduced price after the 2016 Google Nexus launch.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Design
When the Nexus 5X and 6P were first unveiled, it was the 6P which understandably received the most love and attention. After all, that shiny metallic body and distinctive jutting lip on the rear end gave it a serious touch of class that still looks lovely.
Meanwhile, the Nexus 5X made do with a rather straightforward plastic frame. The black (sorry, ‘Carbon’) model is rather generic and bland but our white model (‘Quartz’) and the light blue version (‘Ice’) both look quite sleek, even if the phone lacks the premium feel of rivals such as the Galaxy A5 2016.
After many months of fondling with greasy, sweaty fingers, that plastic backing is still in good nick. Scuffs and fingerprints are difficult to make out except under very close scrutiny, and are quickly removed with a quick spit and polish. The colour hasn’t faded over time either, keeping its fresh, clean look.
The Nexus 5X feels quite compact compared with many recent phones and is also noticeably lighter than many other mobiles, so it’s comfortable to wield and won’t weigh down your pockets. And it’s a tough bugger too, putting up with plenty of rough handling without complaint.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Screen and media
One of my biggest complaints with the Nexus 5X is the fact that there’s no support for microSD memory cards, a regression into Apple territory that’s quite limiting for anyone not living constantly in the cloud.
The Nexus 5X is only offered in 16 and 32GB flavours, with no 64GB option like the OnePlus 3. Considering our 32GB model only had 25GB of usable space to start with (the rest was taken up with Android and other pre-installed software), I started to feel that lack of expandable storage very early on. If you take loads of high-res photos, download a few games and stick on some music and movies, that space disappears pretty quick. Then you’ll either need to shift your media online or start figuring out what you can delete.
Still, I don’t have any complaints with the Nexus’ 5.2-inch screen. That IPS LCD display boasts a Full HD resolution which keeps everything crisp and clear. Those natural colours and deep blacks make for good looking images, although rivals like the Galaxy A5 and OnePlus 3 boast richer, more vibrant hues.
The Nexus 5X’s front-facing speaker, positioned just beneath the screen, is perfectly fine for watching videos on the go without plugging in ‘phones. Of course, audio quality is typically tinny.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Android OS and features
As it’s a Google-branded phone, the Nexus 5X was of course the first mobile to rock Android 6.0 Marshmallow, along with the Nexus 6P. It’s a vanilla version of Google’s OS with no modified launcher or feature-packed overlay, so you really do get a straight-forward and clean user experience.
And of course you can expect the Nexus 5X to get an update to Android Nougat very soon after the new Nexus Sailfish and Nexus Marlin are launched in September 2016, well ahead of rivals such as the OnePlus 3 and Sony’s Xperia X (although the Moto G4 probably won’t be far behind).
The Nexus 5X also sports a fingerprint scanner on its back, just beneath the camera lens. This sits naturally beneath the index finger when you grab the phone, so you can unlock the Nexus quickly and securely when needed. It’s impressively fast and doesn’t fail too often, although that rear positioning means you have to pick up the phone or open with a PIN when the Nexus is sat on a desk.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Performance
A Snapdragon 808 processor is packed inside the Nexus 5X and performance on the whole has been decent over the past year, although I do notice the occasional stutter or pause these days. For instance, loading up an app sometimes takes a few seconds, which is particularly annoying when it’s the camera app and you’ve only got a limited time to capture your shot.
I’ve also experienced a couple of crashes, such as the Photos app locking up when I attempted to delete a photo. And the Nexus 5X gets a little toasty at times, especially when using the camera. Thankfully it’s not a serious issue, just something that’s noticeable compared with many rivals.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Battery life
As for battery life, the Nexus 5X will just about make it through a full 24 hours these days, as long as you don’t hammer it. If you’re constantly whipping out the phone to take snaps however, you’ll likely find the Nexus dies in a lot less time. Again, compared with phones like the OnePlus 3 and Moto G4 Plus, that’s a poor result.
There’s no support for wireless charging here, but I haven’t missed it at all. And while the fast charge feature isn’t a match for OnePlus’ Dash Charge, at least it means that you get a fully charged phone in roughly an hour and a half.
I’m enjoying the Type-C USB a little too much, for a fully-developed human being. Trying to stab the charging cable into your phone is suddenly a lot less frustrating and confusing when you’re either exhausted or smashed.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Cameras
My favourite bit of the Nexus 5X is still the 12.3-megapixel camera, which produces sharp, realistic images in everything but dim light. It’s pretty much the same snapper as the more expensive Nexus 6P’s, although you don’t get a couple of that phone’s features such as 240fps slow motion video capture.
The Nexus 5X definitely holds up well against rivals when it comes to mobile photography, thanks to the dependable HDR feature which is built into the camera’s auto mode. This handles tricky lighting well, keeping your subjects well lit.
You can also shoot video in Ultra HD 4K resolution, which is something many rival phones around this price point miss out.
Check out our in-depth Nexus 5X camera review for more info.
Google Nexus 5X by LG 2016 Re-Review: Verdict
Since the Nexus 5X hit UK stores, loads of other excellent Android phones like the Moto G4 Play, OnePlus 3 and Samsung’s Galaxy A5 2016 have launched at around the same £300 price point or less. Sadly the Nexus 5X hasn’t really dipped in cost in the previous year, with most retailers asking for close to £300. And while you can pick it up for £250-ish from the likes of Amazon, it’s hard to recommend even at that price point thanks to the performance issues and poor battery life.
If you can’t afford the excellent Nexus 6P (or don’t fancy such a big handset), then check out one of those previously mentioned rivals instead.