• Overshadowed: Our LG Nexus 5x review


    The LG Nexus 5x signifies two changes in Googleís Nexus strategy. First off, itís the first Nexus thatís actually smaller than its predecessor while at the same time, the line itself bifurcates into regular and phablet sizes.

    To me, the smaller size tells me that that for now, the market has decided that they're happy with how large phones are in general. The 6p is also smaller than the 6 but itís still one of the larger phones on the market, which should satisfy people like me who donít mind something a little bigger.

    The 5x is for people who donít want to sacrifice portability and reach-ability for the largest size possible.
    vs Nexus 6p:



    The 6p costs a bit more but for your extra money you get quite a bit more phone. A bigger, better display, 3GB of RAM vs 2GB (a noticeable difference), more generous storage options, more battery life and much better speakers.



    If you can handle the extra size then Iíd say go for the 5x.

    I did notice when I was typing out the LTE band support that the 5x and 6p differ slightly. The 5x adds bands 1, and 20 while it lacks band 30. I checked and it looks like band is owned by AT&T and isnít currently used for LTE while 1 and 20 are more for roaming overseas.

    vs Nexus 5:



    The Nexus 5 has been around for 2 years now. That said, it has aged well and in absolute terms, the specs kind of slot it in between a 2015 mid-range and high end phone.



    While the 5x lacks optical image stabilization, Iíd say itís an all-around better phone.

    If you liked the 5 for its reasonable size, note that the 5x is quite a bit larger. The screen is only 0.2Ē bigger but itís got a much bigger top and bottom. On the 6p, this is to accommodate the stereo speakers but on the 5x, I get the feeling itís more to accommodate Googleís design language. That and perhaps to make room for a larger battery in the back.

    Specs:

    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (2 x Cortex A57 @ 2Ghz, 4 x Cortex A53 @ 1.4Ghz)
    • Adreno 418 GPU
    • 5.2Ē 1920x1080 IPS LCD display
    • 2GB RAM
    • 16/32GB of storage
    • 12.3MP rear camera
    • 5 MP front camera
    • fingerprint reader
    • 2700mAh battery
    • LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/25/26/29/41
    • carrier aggregation: 2-(2,4,5,12,13,17,29), 4-(4,5,7,12,13,17,20), 41-41
    • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
    • 15 watt Type-C charger
    • 147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
    • 136 grams



    Body:



    The front is pretty generic looking. I call it boring, Andrew calls it ďcleanĒ. I think weíre both right. The design is identical to the 6p save for the speaker grills which differs on each. I prefer the LGís drilled grills over the 6pís less interesting covers.



    While the design looks the same, the 5x can only use one of the speakers at a time, theyíre not used for stereo like they are on the 6p.



    The rear design differs from the 6p. Itís a very clean design with plastic cover and a matte paint job. While Iím not a fan of the 6p, the Huaweiís metal back is much more tactile and gives it a sense of occasion thatís sorely missing from the 5xís which feels much more austere.



    Iíd go as far as to say that the back cover feels a bit cheap. Note that Iím not a metal phone snob, the LG G4 has a plastic body and itís very solid. Heck, the much more modest G4 Vigorís plastic body also feels much nicer.



    You get a fingerprint reader on the back, like the 6p but I noticed something funny. Since the 5x is narrower than the 6p, I find itís reader less conveniently placed. On a taller and wider phone like the 6p, your index finger normally lies closer to the reader on the back which makes it more intuitive to use.

    Still, I think the idea of a rear-mounted reader to be a flawed one. I often sit down to work so I donít like having to lift a phone up to have to unlock it.



    Otherwise the reader works well. I like how you can put your finger on it to turn on the phone and unlock it in one motion.

    One important factor when determine how nice a phone is to use is the size of it. If youíve used a phablet and found it to be too big, then you might like how the 5x is one size smaller. Just check out what Andrew had to say about it. And in case youíre wondering, heís currently rocking a Nexus 6 and finds it a bit too large.



    At the bottom is a USB Type-C connector. Itís a new type of USB connector that can carry enough power to charge a laptop plus itís reversible so you donít need to worry about whether your MicroUSB is upside down or not.

    The new connector works well but in the short term, it causes 2 problems. First off, if you like the convenience of having a few extra Micro USB cables then youíll need to go out and get new cables. Secondly, for now Type-C cables are not that common and will probably cost you a bit more if you want extras now. Thatís the cost of being an early adopter.

    Type-C cables can either have the Type-C connector at both ends (think a MicroUSB connector but rounded) or a Type-C on one end and a regular type A connector (the one that goes into the square old-style connector thatís probably on your computer).

    The Nexus 5x comes with a Type-C charger and a Type-C to Type-C cable so if you want to connect it to your computer that doesnít have Type-C (most donít) then youíll need to shell out for a Type-C to type A cable.



    Speaking of charging, like the 6p, the 5x omits wireless charging - a feature previously championed by Google. Does this mean wireless charging is dead? While Iím 100% sure wireless charging will be back, for now itís sort of on life support.



    In itís current incarnation, itís just too limiting to be useful so has some growing up to do before itís a must-have feature.

    Display:



    You get a 5.2Ē IPS LCD with a resolution of 1920x1080. With a sharpness of over 400 PPI itís as sharp as a tack. Color is also quite nice. Check it out, when youíre viewing identical home screens on the 5x and the 6p and have them side-by-side the colors on them is almost identical. Both phone displays have received a lot of tuning!

    That said, I was a little disappointed with the display because it doesnít have the deepest blacks. I was expecting something like what you get with the G4. Overall, itís a minor issue but since Iíve been spoiled by the G4, itís something I noticed.

    Overall though, this is a minor problem. I think most will be happy with it.

    Camera:

    On the back you get the same brilliant camera as the Nexus 6p. It has a dual LED flash, autofocus and the same laser autofocus which is also found on the LG G3, G4, etc.

    Despite a lack of optical image stabilization - a feature which is becoming very common, the 5x cameras is one of the very best cameras on the market.

    Itís ability to control noise without sacrificing detail is impressive.

    Focusing is usually quick and accurate. Shot-to-shot speeds are good.

    If you have the 5x and 6p side-by-side, youíll notice that the 5x pictures look a lot brighter on its screen. I suspect itís a AMOLED vs LCD thing. When you download the pictures to your computer, theyíll look more or less the same.

    I love how you can quickly launch the camera by double pressing the power button.

    While the rear-facing cameras are identical the front-facing cameras are different. The 6pís is quite a bit better in low light than the 5xís which isnít all that great.

    While the omission of stabilization doesnít keep the 5x from taking great pictures, it does make for jerky video. While it looks fine if youíre staying still, the moment you move, thereís no doubt itís not as smooth as some other phones.

    Software:

    Like the 6p, the 5x comes with Android 6.0. As such, this section is taken from the 6p review.

    Included is Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If youíre into Android and software updates then Googleís Nexus phones are the ones to get. The 5xís great, great grandfather, the Nexus 4 received updates from Google for closet to 3 years.

    More importantly, Nexus devices are usually the first to receive updates. You donít usually need to wait for your device manufacturer to wait while they re-skin Android and give you your update a week before the next one comes out.

    To me, the most noticeable upgrade to 6.0 is built-in fingerprint reader support. Iíve been using readers since the iPhone 5s and once youíve used one, itís hard to go back to pin codes, passwords and unlocking patterns. I used to use pin codes religiously but now I find them a nuisance and canít be bothered.

    A small change I noticed is that the 5x will tell you how fast it's charging (regular or fast charging) along with time remaining to full charge. Itís nice to know how fast itís going when youíre using a new charger youíre not familiar with.

    By default, the 6p will only charge when you connect it to a computer. So if you want to transfer files, youíll need to go in and change it to MTP mode manually.

    There is finally a built-in file manager which is hidden in the storage & USB option in settings. Youíll have to scroll down to find it.

    Some other changes which I had to look up include improved power management when youíre not using the phone.

    Performance:



    Under the hood is Qualcommís Snapdragon 808. The 810 has gotten a rep for running quite hot, so I guess itís more suited for phablets which have larger bodies which have more space to dissipate heat.

    The 810 has 8 cores, 4 of them are high power 64bit Cortex A57 cores running at up to 2Ghz while the 808 only has 6 of which only 2 are A57ís.

    So the 808 is seriously down on power compared to the 810 right? Youíd think that but most of the time theyíre in the same ballpark.



    Most tasks only require one or two cores. Itís rare that a phone will have to fire up all 4 A57 cores to maximum. Thatís why the 808 isnít far off from the 810ís pace. Itís a reminder that sometimes more is not more.

    Where the 810 does have an advantage is when it comes to graphics. The 810 pairs with a more powerful Adreno 430 while the 808 has the Adreno 418.

    The 430 is more suited for QHD devices like the 6p, while the 418 pairs better with a FHD display.



    Thatís why the 6p and 5x have similar on-screen graphics scores.

    The 6p comes with 3GB of RAM while the 5x only comes with 2GB. This doesnít make any difference to benchmarks but practically speaking if you switch between apps a lot then going from 2-3GB does make a small difference.



    As a Phone:

    Maximum earpiece and speakerphone volume are both slightly above average.

    RF performance is average.

    You get a 2700mAh battery which Iíd say is sized about right for the size of the display and the SoC.

    I tested the battery by leaving the screen brightness at 50% with adaptive brightness on. The 5x was connected to my 5Ghz WiFi network and placed on the corner of my desk in my brightly lit office. I played a Netflix video for an hour and recorded the battery percent before and after and then extrapolated this to see how long it would take to drain the battery completely.



    The 5x managed 5.5 hrs while the 5 only managed 3.5. Not bad. In case youíre wondering, the 6 pulled 5.25 hrs while the 6p lasted a remarkable 8.3 hrs.

    Media Capabilities:

    I adore the 6pís stereo front facing speakers. They sound amazing and are very powerful. Given than the 5xís sibling, the G4 has one of the most powerful speakers on the market, I was expecting a lot from the 5x.

    Theyíve received some tuning but they donít have a lot of bass. In terms of volume, theyíre about average and come up way short compared to the 6p and G4. So while theyíre average to slightly above average, I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting way more.

    You get the 5x with either 16 or 32GB of storage. 32GB is a nice starting point but if you need more, youíll be disappointed because thereís no MicroSD slot.



    Headphone jack is located on the bottom - where it should be as far as Iím concerned. The 6pís is located on top of the phone.

    Conclusion:



    The 5x isnít a bad phone but it has the misfortune of being released at the same time as the Nexus 6p. The 6p addresses most of the 5x shortcomings - namely the plastic body, the milky blacks, the ordinary sounding speakers and to some, the lack of built-in storage.

    Then again, the 6p costs quite a bit more so I guess you get what you pay for.

    I can imagine how excited LG was to find out that Google wanted them to design the 5x and then having the wind being taken out of their sails when they said Huawei would be making the 6p, the Nexus flagship device.

    You get this feeling that while LG made the Nexus 5x, they didnít put the same enthusiasm they did when they designed the Nexus 5 and the 4.

    Or perhaps LG didnít want the 5x to take the spotlight away from their own branded devices so they held back a bit more on features to create more breathing room.

    Anyways, the 5xís advantage, or its ďXĒ factor if you will is its size. If you think phablets are too hard to use with one hand and are too big for your pocket then chances are the 5x is the perfect size for you.

    Itís about as big as you can go while still being usable with just one hand, plus itís easy to whip out of your pocket.

    Then there's the price, at $500 CAN for the 16GB the 5x is priced about right. Itís right there in no-manís land. Itís about $100 cheaper than a flagship but a bit more than a upper-midrange phone like the Moto X Play or a ZTE Axom. I guess itís close to the HTC One A9 but HTC doesnít back the A9 up with the specs youíd expect at its price point.

    Overall, while itís not a bad phone, the 5x is overshadowed by the 6p.

    4 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:

    • Still photos are amazing
    • Fingerprint reader


    Cons:

    • No optical image stabilization results in shaky recordings
    • No details in dark areas of recordings
    • Location of fingerprint reader
    • Speakers
    • Only a Type-C to Type-C cable is included
    • Front-facing camera isnít very good
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Overshadowed: Our LG Nexus 5x review started by howard View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. LouisR's Avatar
      LouisR -
      "I love how you can quickly launch the camera by double pressing the power button."

      I just checked on my Nexus 6 running Omni 6.0 and it does this as well, so I'd assume the feature is somewhere in AOSP.
    1. flyguyset's Avatar
      flyguyset -
      Good review. The 5X is a nice phone, but the Huawei 6P is the gold at the end of the rainbow.