The Nexus 5X release date is set for the end of October, but the handset is available for pre-order from today in the US, UK and Ireland in three color variants: Sports White, Carbon Black and Ice Blue. The Nexus 5X price is set at US$379 (£339) for the 16 GB model and US$429 (£379) for the 64 GB version.
design and build quality
There’s no denying that the look and feel of the Nexus 5X owes a lot to its predecessor. The velvet polycarbonate body that many fell in love with two years ago makes a welcome return in the 2015 model: the Nexus 5X feels almost exactly like the Nexus 5. The 5X is noticeably taller than the 5-inch Nexus 5 though, and a little thinner, but the buttons remain easy to reach even with one-handed operation.
The 5X is also a less angular, more rounded handset, which is sure to please fans who found the corners on the Nexus 5 too sharp. What’s more, if you are used to placing your finger on the underside of a phone to hold it steady, as I do, you could occasionally run into problems on the slippery Nexus 5. The Nexus 5X compensates for this with a texture which is not quite as smooth – maintaining a little more grip on its matte rear.
I personally like this harmless-looking, “soft” design language used on the Nexus 5X, even if if the prominent edges its predecessor had a certain appeal (though I concede it’s a matter of personal taste).
On the downside, the display bezels are quite large: on the right and left of the screen as well as above and below. If LG could have cut a few millimeters here and there then the Nexus 5X would have looked more modern and tightly constructed.
But with a 5.2-inch display diagonal, the Nexus 5X is nevertheless small by 2015 flagship standards, with the dimensions coming in at 147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm. What this means is that you can reach easily reach the power button and the volume rocker on the right edge with your thumb.
Additionally, the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the back is easily accessible: you will likely find your index finger drifting there accidentally as you hold the device in place. This is used to unlock the smartphone, and it’s not just fast but using it soon becomes second nature.
The Nexus 5X design is strong, but it doesn’t shout premium like its brother the Nexus 6P. Those looking for “stylish” smartphone should look elsewhere. That being said, the Nexus 5X makes perfect sense as a more “basic” counterpart to the larger Nexus 6P: why release two devices so conceptually similar to one another?
Rather than push the technology further than is necessary, the Nexus 5X employs a Full-HD resolution display. This is perfectly fine on a 5.2-inch screen with 423 pixels per-inch. However, if you’re keen to try out VR technology in the near future, the Nexus 5X might not be your best bet.
The 5X display is protected by a Gorilla Glass 3 while the Nexus 6P uses the latest, more robust, Gorilla Glass 4. What’s even more disappointing is the raised edges of device. While this does have the advantage of stopping the display from coming into direct contact with a flat surface (i.e. protecting it), it doesn’t feel particularly comfortable, and it’s a problem which has been solved by devices with 2.5D displays.
LG is more than capable when it comes to screen technology, and the Nexus 5X is bright, with little color-bias, and the viewing angles are excellent. But honestly, these things were also to be expected.
The Nexus 5X is the first smartphone to arrive with Android 6.0 Marshmallow – the latest and most advanced Android software ever produced. Though other manufacturers have donated many useful features to the Android ecosystem, most people generally prefer the stock Android experience (and its quick updates. With the Nexus 5X, they shall receive it.
What I will mention is the fingerprint scanner which Android Marshmallow natively supports. In practice, it appeared to work very fast, and though a comparison to the OnePlus 2, Huawei Mate S and Honor 7 was not possible at the hands-on event, I suspect its performance will be comparable.
Another feature likely to generate a lot of attention in coming days is Now on Tap, the next generation of the Google Now voice assistant service, which premieres on the Nexus 5X. Once again, this feature could not be fully-explored at the time of writing but will be discussed further in the upcoming Nexus 5X review.
The Nexus 5X is powered by a Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor clocked at 1.8 Ghz and 2 GB of RAM. Fans of the original Nexus 5 will notice that both devices have the same amount of RAM. I wouldn't be too disheartened though: as we noted in our Fastest Android Phone article, specs don't mean everything, and larger memory sizes can even have an adverse effect on performance.
It's hard to offer any constructive analysis of the performance when I held the device in my hand for only a few minutes, but suffice to say there were no "wow" moments, for better or for worse.
With stereo front-facing speakers, the Nexus 5X should deliver superior audio performance. At the hands-on event we attended, there was no opportunity to put these speakers through their paces, so a thorough test will have to wait until our final Nexus 5X review.
The camera tech was one of the biggest problems cited with the original Nexus 5. Not only was the hardware itself substandard, but it suffered from a number of software setbacks too. In 2015, LG offered one of the best camera experiences on Android with the LG G4. Has the same tech carried over to the Nexus 5X?
No. Instead the Nexus 5X has an entirely different approach, perhaps inspired by HTC's "ultra-pixel" technology. The Nexus 5X's 12.3 MP camera pixels are larger (1.55 microns) than regular pixels, meaning they capture more light. Thus, they should produce better pictures in low-light conditions.
In truth it would have been unfair to expect an LG G4-level camera in a US$379 smartphone, but with laser-autofocus, an improved camera app and a 5 MP front camera, the Nexus 5X should still represent a big improvement from its predecessor. How it performs in real life will have to wait until further testing.
And so we arrive at the Achilles heel of the Nexus series: battery life. Both the LG Nexus 4 and 5 suffered from weak battery life, which earned much frustration from users. The Nexus 5X arrives with a 2,700 mAh battery, which is a leap above its 2,300 mAh predecessor, but still lags behind other mid-tier phones like the Honor 6, Honor 7 and Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3.
However, raw battery capacity does not tell the full story, and indeed the Nexus 5X will be one of the first devices to benefit from the advanced battery-saving features of Android Marshmallow upon release. Google has promised that the Marshmallow OS represents its biggest breakthrough so far in terms of battery efficiency, but whether this is true remains to be seen.
After testing the Nexus 5X for a short time, my final impressions are almost exactly like they were when I immediately held the device. This an unobtrusive handset with no serious disappointments. Those who love the Nexus 5 – I can almost already say – should have no reason not to love the Nexus 5X: it's almost a clone.
A huge leap forward in terms of technology is not visible after this initial hands on, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The 5X seems to have improved upon the two weakest areas of the Nexus 5, that being the battery and the camera.
But Google may have a tougher time selling the 5X on its price/performance ratio in 2015, particularly with the likes of the OnePlus 2 and Honor 7 offering great hardware at a low price. While lovers of the original Nexus 5 can rekindle that love with the 5X, personally, I think the new Nexus might be lacking in strong selling points for those who never cared.
We'll have our full Nexus 5X review online soon. In the meantime, what's your thoughts on the 5X? Let us know in the comments.