The Nexus 5x

Nexus

It’s hard to believe that over three months have passed since we first wrapped our mitts around the Nexus 5X, but here we are in 2016 and Google’s own-brand mobiles are already a quarter of a year old.

The Nexus 5X was the cheaper of the two new Google blowers launched in 2015, despite sharing many of the same features with the more expensive Nexus 6P, including a fingerprint sensor and fantastic 12-megapixel camera. However, the 5X didn’t impress us enough to earn more than four stars out of five in our in-depth review back in October.

So, has time spent with the Nexus 5X made us warm up more to this LG-crafted handset, or does it still have some unresolved issues? Here’s what we know about it.

Plastic fantastic

When the Nexus 5X and 6P first launched, the 6P was understandably the phone to receive the most love from fashionistas. After all, that shiny metallic body and distinctive jutting edge gave it a touch of class that seemed to be missing from the bog-standard plastic Nexus 5X.

Still, after months people like the look and feel of the 5X more than when they first clapped eyes on it. For one, it’s noticeably lighter than many other 5.2-inch phones, so it’s comfortable to wield and won’t weigh down your pockets. The Nexus 5X is also a tough bugger, putting up with plenty of rough handling without complaint. Sure, it isn’t waterproof like Sony’s Xperia Z5, but that’s no biggie – just don’t use it while you’re soaking in the tub.

And after three months of fondling with greasy, sweaty fingers, that plastic back on our ‘Quartz’ (a.k.a. white) model is still in good nick. Scuffs and fingerprints are difficult to make out except under very close scrutiny, and happily solved with a quick spit and polish. We would definitely say go for the Quartz or Ice (light blue) models of the Nexus 5X as they look pleasingly neat. The black (sorry, ‘Carbon’) version is rather generic looking and a bit bland by comparison.

People are also enjoying the Type-C USB a little too much, for a fully-developed human being. Trying to stab the charging cable into your phone is suddenly a lot less frustrating and confusing when you’re exhausted or smashed, although you’ll need an adapter to hook up to your computer as both ends of the bundled cable are Type-C.

Screen and media

One of my biggest complaints with the Nexus 5X is the fact that there’s no support for microSD memory cards, a regression into Apple territory that’s quite limiting for anyone not living constantly in the cloud.

The Nexus 5X is only offered in 16 and 32GB flavours, with no 64/128GB options like the Galaxy S6. Considering our 32GB model only had 25GB of usable space (the rest was taken up with Android and other pre-installed software), I started to feel the lack of expandable storage very early on. If you take loads of high-res photos, download a few games and stick on some music and movies, that space is going to disappear. Then you’ll either need to shift your media online or start figuring out what you can delete.

Still, people don’t have any complaints with the Nexus’ 5.2-inch screen. That IPS LCD display isn’t quite as colourful or bright as rival Androids such as the Moto X Style, but images are perfectly crisp thanks to the Full HD resolution, with natural colours and deep blacks. The front-facing speaker, positioned beneath the screen, is perfectly fine for watching videos on the go without plugging in ‘phones, although audio quality is typically tinny.

Stock Android

As it’s a Google-branded phone, the Nexus 5X was of course the first mobile to rock Android 6.0 Marshmallow, along with the Nexus 6P. And while it may look like Android Lollipop, Google has made a few behind-the-scenes changes to improve the overall experience.

There’s now integrated support for fingerprint sensors, so of course the Nexus 5X sports one of these scanners on its back, just beneath the camera lens. This sits naturally beneath the index finger when you grab the phone, so you can unlock the Nexus quickly and securely when needed. It’s impressively fast and doesn’t fail too often, although that rear positioning means you have to pick up the phone or open with a PIN when the Nexus is sat on a desk.

One of the best changes in Marshmallow is the ability to toggle individual app permissions in the settings. You can see exactly what privileges each app has, be it access to your calendar or contacts or camera, just to name a couple. If you don’t want Twitter to know your current location, for instance, just tap it in the apps menu and then hit App Permissions, and switch location access to off.

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