Google Nexus 5X review: The best value phone you can buy
IF YOU don’t want to buy the latest iPhone, you’re going to be checking out a device running Google’s Android.
Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Sony are all pushing each other’s boundaries when it comes to smartphone hardware, with screens, cameras and processors constantly taking huge leaps.
But nearly every smartphone maker tries to add their own flavour and twist to the Android operating system which makes the Google experience slower, uglier and sometimes harder to use.
Google, sick of manufacturers butchering its software began releasing its own Nexus line in 2010 to show off what “pure Android” looks like. And while they nailed the software part, their phones were often let down by poor cameras, bad battery life and cheap screens.
But Google has two new Nexus devices, the 6P and the 5X, which it believes has finally nailed the brief in both the software and hardware department. While the Huawei made Nexus 6P is the flagship in the series, it’s the LG-made Nexus 5X which is arguably the more important device.
Mainly because it’s priced from $659 for the 16GB model which is over $300 cheaper than its Apple and Samsung rivals. And it’s done that without any real corners cut.
The 5.2-inch screen uses the same IPS technology as the excellent LG G4, just a tad lower, but still higher than iPhone 6s 1080p resolution. While colours aren’t as rich as they are on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, it certainly doesn’t leave you searching for anything more, and you only notice the difference when you’re looking at the two side-by-side.
The design itself is a mixture of glass on the front and polycarbonate (fancy plastic) on the back, and that’s honestly not a bad thing. The polycarbonate back actually feels really nice in the hand, and while it certainly doesn’t feel as premium as a rose gold iPhone, it definitely doesn’t feel cheap.
For the first time on a Nexus device, there’s also a fingerprint reader on the rear, which works fantasticly. Not only does it pick up your finger just as fast as an iPhone 6s, the rear-position is a convenient place to have it. When you pick up your phone, you naturally place your index finger over the reader before you even think about moving your thumb to the screen. The only times I ever wanted it to be on the front of the device was when I had the phone rested on my desk and wanted to quickly check something without needing to pick the device up.
Of course, the rear also is home to the camera. And I’m happy to say, we finally have a Nexus device that can take decent pictures.
The camera’s LG-derived laser-autofocus works brilliantly.Source:Supplied
The 12.3-megapixel snapper takes brilliant pictures in naturally light conditions, with accurate, rich colouring and a good ability to distinguish between shadows. But in lowlight conditions, this is where the Nexus really shines though, with its big pixels allowing lots of light in, you can often take good pictures that wouldn’t even be possible on an iPhone.
While it nails it in those situations, I found in the default Google Camera app, white balance was all over the place in artificial light. If you take a picture, even in your living room with all the lights on, you can look at the photo and the real thing and see that the colours don’t match.
This was mostly caused by the underwhelming Google Camera app which comes installed by default.
But there is good news. Thanks to the beauty of Android you’re able to download another camera app which can process images much better.
I ended up using Manual Camera which not only has a much better auto mode, gives you full manual camera controls.
The camera isn’t quite as good as the LG G4’s or Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s, but it’s just about the next best thing.
Alongside the Nexus 6P, the 5X is the first device to run Google’s latest version of Android, Marshmallow 6.0. It’s mostly just small tweaks that speed things up and make it look prettier, but the addition of Google Now on Tap is welcome.
Essentially, Now on Tap works by you holding the home button while in an app and it will bring up relevant information based on what’s happening inside the app. For example, someone might ask you how far away you’re from Chatswood. Now on Tap will use your GPS to give you an estimated time within seconds. It works really well, and is probably my favourite Android feature in recent years.
Sadly, it is hampered by poor battery life. I would take the phone off its charger at 6:30AM each morning, and use it quite heavily throughout the day, making calls, checking social media, emailing and using various other apps, and I’d be getting the 15 per cent low battery notification by 5PM. Granted, both the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6 aren’t any better, the Nexus 5X actually has a physically larger battery which makes this disappointing.
Also worth noting is the fact it uses a USB Type C connector. This is the new style that most phones and computers will be moving to soon, but right now the only other device using USB Type C to come across my desk has been Apple’s new Macbook. So make sure if you’re going away you remember your charger, because it will be extremely unlikely someone will be able to lend you theirs.
So should you buy it? If you’re the person who absolutely needs the best of the best, then this isn’t the phone for you, it’s a tiny bit slower, has a lower resolution screen and slightly worse camera than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. But if you want a phone that runs a clean version of Android that does everything you want it to do really well at a great price, the Nexus 5X might just be the best value phone you can buy.