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Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Should I upgrade?

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: A little later than last year’s event Google has finally officially launched the new handsets we’ve all been waiting for, but how does the smaller Pixel stack up against last year’s Nexus offering, the 5X?

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Specs at a glance

  Nexus 5X Pixel
Screen size 5.2-inches 5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080) Full HD (1920×1080)
Weight 136 grams 143 grams
OS Launched on Android 6.0 Launched on Android 7.1
Front camera 5-megapixels 8-megapixels
Rear camera 12.3-megapixels 12.3-megapixels
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Memory 2GB RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 16GB/32GB. Non expandable 32GB/128GB. Non expandable
Battery 2700mAh 2770mAh

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Design

Whilst last year’s 5X and 6P didn’t really resemble each other beyond both toting a ‘Nexus’ logo along their backs, the new Pixel twins are unquestionably cut from the same cloth. The LG-made 5X features an all-plastic two-tone design with a satin finish body in a range of muted tones. The finish helps ward off the visibility of scratches and scrapes whilst the heavy rounding makes it a very comfortable handset to wield.

The HTC-made Pixel ups the premium factor with metal in place of plastic with a partly glass back. Like the 5X there’s a centrally positioned fingerprint sensor and camera, whilst the overall footprint is a little smaller as a result of the drop in screen size. That said, the metal build and the larger battery do render the newer Pixel the thicker and heavier of the two phones, but the absence of a camera bump and a bigger battery at the expense of a little extra thickness seems like a small price to pay.

The camera takes up far less of the phone’s back on the Pixel, but the mix of materials means that the 5X might actually offer the cleaner design overall. Neither phone packs expandable memory, but both wield reversible Type-C USB ports and 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Screens

Whilst LG’s LCDs are often known for their brightness and overall versatility, HTC proved that with its latest flagship the HTC 10, it too can offer a great viewing experience on a smartphone and the Full HD AMOLED on the Pixel looks as though it can take on the 5X without issue, with great overall brightness and vivid colours.

The larger 5.2-inch screen on the 5X also renders the phone a little harder to handle and the pixel density a little lower, so from a practical and visual standpoint, the Pixel looks to be the better pixel-pusher.

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: OS

Whilst the 5X may well be the last of the Nexus-branded smartphones, the Pixel is unquestionably carrying on the torch when it comes to software. Just as the 5X served as the launch hardware for Android Marshmallow, so too is the Pixel for this year’s major release of Android, Nougat.

The benefit of the Nexus 5X over the majority of the Android contingent is that it was able to showcase the pre-release builds of Nougat ahead of launch, but the Pixel launches on Android 7.1, the absolute latest available build of Google’s mobile OS, which brings with it a redesigned Google search experience and an even cleaner overall look.

The 5X still has at least one more major update in its life cycle before Google ends support, but as the Pixel is the newer device, it also enjoys support further into the future.

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Performance

The hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor favoured by LG and used in few other phones in 2015, save for the LG G4, made for a competent chipset at launch, but for whatever reason, prolonged use of both the G4 and the 5X resulted in a notable deterioration of performance in the months following their respective launches.

In every day use, this translates to notable lag that seldom occurs on Nexus devices, which run the cleanest iteration of Google’s Android OS available. By comparison, the performance of HTC’s flagship phones seldom comes into question and Qualcomm has also moved passed the awkward overheating issues that plagued some of its most powerful chips from around the time of the 5X and 6P’s launch. The Snapdragon 821 inside both the Pixel and Pixel XL looks to be an absolute beast and backed up by 4GB should stand both phones in good stead for your average 24-month contract.

If storage is a concern, the Pixel offers better prospects. Neither the 5X or the Pixel offer expandability, as we already mentioned, but Google only produced last year’s device in 16GB and 32GB skews, which doesn’t give you much wiggle room. By comparison, the Pixel starts at 32GB, but can also be had with an iPhone-esq 128GB if needed.

The difference in battery capacity isn’t huge; 2700mAh in the 5X versus 2770mAh in the Pixel, but paired to the better power efficiency of Android 7.1 and the new processor, the Pixel should come out on top by a considerable margin – we’ll know more once we’ve had the new handset in for review.

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Camera

Rear cameras appear almost identical between last year’s and this year’s offerings. Both sport a 12.3-megapixel sensor with enlarged 1.55µm pixels and f/2.0 apertures, but the Pixel also adds OIS (optical image stabilisation into the mix), something the 5X lacks completely. This not only means you can expect superior low light performance but also more stable videos, which can be captured on either phone at up to 4K resolution.

Selfie fans will also favour the Pixel over the 5X, which offers an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, versus a 5-megapixel sensor on the LG-made handset.

Google Pixel phone vs Google Nexus 5X: Verdict

Whilst Google made a point of differentiating between the more approachable 5X and the beefier 6P last year, this year, all consumers really have to worry about is size, as both the Pixel and Pixel XL are markedly more similar in their hardware. As such, the Pixel trumps the 5X in practically every aspect of its execution, save for perhaps the more subjective aesthetic choices employed by HTC.

If you’re tired of your 5X, the Pixel looks like a worthy upgrade offering better longevity, but if you’re still enjoying the fruits of LG’s labour, then don’t make the jump just for the sake of it, there’s still life left in the 5X for at least another year, provided Google makes good on the ongoing promise of software support.

Read next: Google Pixel XL vs Google Nexus 6P: Should I upgrade?


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