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Nexus 5X review: Time to move on from Google's great budget handset

Alan Martin Seth Barton
12 Feb 2018
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Nexus 5X back sideways
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
339
inc VAT (16GB)

The Nexus 5X was an excellent Android handset for a reasonable price; it's a shame it's gone the way of the Dodo

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Specifications

Processor: Hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Screen Size: 5.2in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 12.3 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10GB) / 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 147x73x7.9mm, Weight: 136g, Operating system: Android 6.0 Buy the Nexus 5X now from Carphone Warehouse

Chipset

The Nexus 5 wowed us with what was, at the time, a top-end chipset at a knockdown price. Sadly those days look to be long gone, although the Nexus 5X certainly isn’t a slouch. It too uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, this time the 808, which is a 6-core design consisting of two high-performance Cortex A57 cores running at 1.8GHz, supported by four more power-efficient Cortex A53 cores running at 1.44GHz.

A Geekbench Multi-core score of 3,489 puts it alongside the likes of the similarly-specified LG G4 and Moto X Style. Again it’s not the best out there, but in practice everything was quick and smooth. It’s well ahead of the Moto X Play here, which was sluggish in comparison with its Snapdragon 615 chipset. In terms of gaming, it’s well behind the Z5’s and S6’s of this world, but it played our usual selection of Android titles without a hitch.


Camera

In most areas, the Nexus 5X may be simply competent, but its camera is truly excellent. I pitted it head-to-head against the very capable Samsung Galaxy S6, and the LG-made phone came out on top. The camera has an unremarkable 12-megapixels on a typically-sized 1/2.3in sensor; however, each pixel is bigger than most, measuring 1.55um. By comparison, the S6 reportedly has 1.12um pixels on its 16-megapixel sensor.

Whatever the reasons, the results speak for themselves. Across a range of tests, the Nexus 5X’s photos were packed with detail, compared to the more smoothed off appearance of the Galaxy S6’s efforts. Outdoors, you can see great detail in brick walls and a sharper image overall. Colour balance was spot on too, with the camera matching the output of the S6 almost exactly - a good thing in our experience.

S6 vs 5X outdoors

It dealt well with higher-contrast scenes, eliminating noise from large flat areas of colour without removing detail elsewhere. Indoors with our still life, you can again see that accurate colour temperature, along with great detail in complex textures and well-balanced exposures across our various lighting setups. You could argue the results have a more rough and ready look than that of the S6, but I certainly prefer it over that phone’s more smoothed-off results. There's no optical stabilisation here either, but I simply didn't miss it.

S6 vs 5X indoor

All my tests were done in the default auto mode with HDR enabled. The Nexus 5X was quick to shoot in this mode and you can jump straight to the camera by double-clicking the power button. The only downside of using that shortcut is that doing so while using the phone also locks you out of the handset.

Another niggle is that the phone only comes with Google’s rather basic camera app. This is fine for basic snapping, but lacks any serious manual controls or fancy, fun features. You can, of course, get a different app from Google Play to unlock such features, and I’d highly recommend it.

Nexus 5 camera app

Colours, memory and UK price

The Nexus 5X comes in three colours: Ice (blue, pictured), Carbon (black) and Quartz (white). The 16GB model has around 10GB of memory to spare out of the box, which is usually enough for plenty of apps and pictures, but those who want to carry lots of music around will need to upgrade to the £379 32GB model. Google loves the cloud, so there’s no micro SD storage here.

And that’s all the options you have: three colours and two memory choices. It seems expansive compared to some previous Nexus models, but compare it to Motorola’s Moto Maker system of customisable colour schemes and it’s a bit drab.

On contract, a 16GB Nexus 5X currently costs £660 over two years with unlimited text and minutes and 1GB of 4G data, from Carphone Warehouse. You can buy the phone upfront and get a SIM-only deal for around £570 over the same period, a significant saving of £90 - although that doesn't take the cost of minutes, text and data into account.

Conclusion

The Nexus 5X isn’t the best-looking phone or the best designed. It isn’t the fastest phone, it doesn’t have the best battery life and the screen isn’t outstanding either. However, it’s far greater than the sum of its parts, and all at the very reasonable price of £339.

Its most immediate competitor is the Moto X Play, as Motorola’s take on Android is so close to Google’s for that to be a non-consideration for your average buyer. The Play costs £60 less, has much better battery life, a microSD slot for extra storage, is water-resistant, better-looking and tougher-feeling too. The Nexus 5X has a better camera, is faster with more graphics power, is slightly smaller and much lighter, and it comes with a fingerprint sensor and USB Type-C.

Personally, I’d buy the Nexus 5X over the Moto X Play. It simply feels better to hold, carry and use than the bigger Motorola and is better future-proofed than its rival - both in terms of features and performance. Both are phones are excellent in their own right, they’re just for different people.

The Nexus 5X is a serious comeback for the Nexus brand after last year’s model that no one wanted - sorry Nexus 6. It’s a mid-range handset that will suit a lot of people, and although it’s not the ridiculous bargain its predecessor was, it’s a very good phone indeed. With its raw-looking images, neutral colour cast onscreen, clean-sounding speakers and vanilla Android OS, you could say the Nexus 5X tells it like it is, and I rather like that. If this handset doesn't take your fancy, check out the Expert Reviews best smartphone guide instead.

See all of the best Nexus 5X deals on uSwitch

Buy the Nexus 5X now from Carphone Warehouse

Hardware
ProcessorHexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM2GB
Screen size5.2in
Screen resolution1,920x1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5megapixels
Rear camera12.3 megapixels
FlashDual LED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)16GB (10GB) / 32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)None
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size147x73x7.9mm
Weight136g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 6.0
Battery size2,700mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£339
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £27.50-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierhttps://store.google.com/product/nexus_5x
Contract/prepay supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Detailswww.google.com/nexus/5x
Part codeLG H791 

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