When comparing the new Google Pixel with the old Google Nexus, a few big differences become apparent. Here, we run through the differences and similarities between the Pixel and the Nexus 5X and explain why this is more than just another smartphone comparison.
One of the most striking differences between the Nexus and Pixel devices is the price. The recommended retail price of the Nexus 5X when it came out in 2015 was $379 or $429 for the 16 or 32 gigabyte version, respectively. Currently, you can get the Nexus 5X (16 GB) for around $250.
Best Offer: Google Nexus 5X
With the Pixel, Google has pulled out all the stops and has set the price for the 32 gigabyte version at a hefty $649. If you go for the version with 128 GB of internal memory, it will cost you $749.
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: design
Google and HTC designed the Pixel devices together. The first thing you might notice is that the production partner has foregone putting its own logo on the device. On the Nexus 5X or even on the Nexus 6P, you can still see the logo of the providers (LG and Huawei respectively) so upon first inspection, the Pixel devices appear to come directly from Google.
Google has made the Pixel slimmer, smoother and higher quality than the previous Nexus models. While the Nexus 5X was still an ugly duckling, the Pixel doesn’t compromise on design and puts itself firmly in league with the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S. Unfortunately, it's not quite up to scratch in this “Premier League” as far as waterproofing is concerned.
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: display
Google has shrunk the 5.2 inch display of the Nexus 5X to 5.0 inches in the Pixel. With full HD, the number of pixels remains the same so that the resolution rises from 424 ppi to 441 ppi. Through its AMOLED technology, the Pixel gains in contrast. Whether it can beat the Nexus at maximum brightness or not will be found out in a detailed test that we'll carry out once we have the device in-house.
A special feature of the Pixel is the night reading mode that removes blue tones from the display. Further down the line, an Android 7.1 update will make this available for other existing Android smartphones. Which brings us to the next point.
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: software
Pixel smartphones are shipped with Android 7.1 Nougat. At the time of release, this version was not available for Nexus devices. An upcoming update of the Nexus devices will not include all Pixel features, meaning that the Pixel device software will continue to offer unique features.
Currently, these include seamless updates that install system updates in the background and activate them with a reboot. Delays due to downloading, installing and optimizing apps are therefore completely eliminated. Since the system is located in a separate partition of the internal memory, it cannot be retrofitted with an update on other smartphones. New Android smartphones, which come with Nougat, can include this feature.
You can see a list of exclusive and general Android 7.1 Nougat features in our separate article.
Aside from all this, the Pixel phones are no longer a Nexus. While the Nexus series claimed to offer a pure Android experience, the Pixels are really demo units for Google services. You should use the personalized AI assistant wherever you go. This service is intended to accompany you in your daily routines, manage appointments, write shopping lists, collect notes, remember PIN numbers, get to know your favorite music and later control your Internet of Things household appliances.
The Nexus 5X features, like all units of the Nexus series, a firmware that is simple to change. Mods like CyanogenMod are always available for Google's developer devices and these help to reduce the number of Google apps, enhance control of the device and in the long term, receive updates. It's still not clear whether Google will continue this open policy with the Pixel devices or whether in the future, you'll have to switch to projects like Cyanogen OS.
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: camera
The cameras on the Nexus 5X and the 6P were equally outstanding. You could take fantastic pictures, whether in daylight or at dusk, with backlight or in motion. The Pixels take it one step further with their exclusive camera software. In addition, they make good use of the sophisticated capabilities of the Hexagon ISP in Snapdragon 820.
In the hands-on demonstration, Google made sure that all the images shown looked stunning. We couldn’t get the devices in our own hands though and so the cameras could not be tested properly. If we trust the data sheet and the DxOMark test, we assume that the Pixel camera is better. But surely it isn’t three times better, unlike the price that is three times higher.
A small bonus does await picture collectors: the AI-supported gallery and cloud storage app Google Photos gives you an infinitely large amount of online storage of video and photos that you can upload with the Pixel. Through the memory optimization function on your smartphone, device memory is freed up after the pictures have been synchronized.
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: specs comparison
Google Nexus 5X
Sorry, not yet available!
147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6 mm
1920 x 1080 pixels (424 ppi)
1920 x 1080 pixels (441 ppi)
6.0 - Marshmallow
7.1 - Nougat
16 GB 32 GB
32 GB 128 GB
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Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Number of cores:
Max. clock speed:
HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
Pixel vs Nexus 5X: preliminary conclusions
Google has buried the Nexus brand and ushered itself into a new device era. The Pixel and Pixel XL deliver, at exorbitant prices, a new software approach that could be described as Google First or Assistant First. As far as software policy goes, this is a paradigm shift. The hardware has hardly been improved. Only the design and marketing have a new language, which reminds us of Apple.
The Nexus 5X, and for just over $100 more the Nexus 6P, are the last of their kind and a recommended buy. You will still be able to get the Android O update for them and you can then keep your head above water with one of the many Mods. The new devices, however, are only worth their money if the Google Assistant proves to be the breakthrough that Google hails it to be. And that still remains to be seen.