“The all-around champ is back.” That’s Google’s pitch for the new Nexus 5X, which is for all intents and purposes the spiritual successor to 2013’s excellent Nexus 5. It is by no means the latest and greatest device on the market—not by a long shot. But with the best version of Android, a fingerprint sensor, an improved camera, and that same affordable price, this is clearly Google’s vision of the “every day” Android phone it has so desperately been trying to make.
I can’t wait to buy one.
Don’t let the spec sheet fool you into believing the Nexus 5X isn’t worthy of your hard-earned money. Sure, the Snapdragon 808 processor isn’t Qualcomm’s latest, and 2GB of RAM doesn’t sound as good as 3GB or 4GB. But this isn’t meant to compete on power alone. The Nexus 5X is a phone designed to let the beauty of Android stand on its own; the rest of the device just kind of gets out of the way.
That said, we still have no real idea how the phone will perform over a lengthy period of time—or even a short period of time—so we can’t say for sure just how good the Nexus 5X is. We’ll get our hands on the handset soon, and we’ll be sure to share our early thoughts. Until then, below are five of the things that stood out.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
This one is a no-brainer. Android 6.0 Marshmallow might not seem like a major update, but Google has made a lot of small changes that add up. Leading the charge, of course, is Now on Tap, which brings Google Now into every little crevice of the Nexus 5X. With a simple tap, you’ll get cards with information about anything and everything; summon Now on Tap in Google Play Music, for example, and information about the band you’re listening to will pop up, turning you into an expert on all things Kurt Vile.
There are many, many more features coming to Marshmallow, too, such as Doze, app standby, more granular app permissions, native fingerprint support, and more. The design of the OS hasn’t changed much since Lollipop, but you shouldn’t notice a huge difference during your day-to-day use thanks to things like Doze and Now on Tap. What better way to experience Android 6.0 than with a brand new Nexus phone?
More and more devices are supporting fingerprint technology, and Google is finally onboard with the great new trend. With native fingerprint support built right into Android 6.0, the new Nexus 5X’s rear fingerprint sensor can take advantage of things like Android Pay and purchases through Google Play. Not only is there an element of convenience, but the new “Nexus Imprint” feature makes your device more secure. Google says Nexus Imprint will get better the more you use it, and with the Nexus 5X, we have a feeling you’ll be using it a lot.
Nexus phones have always been less than great in the camera department, but Google is attempting to change that this year. The Nexus 5X comes equipped with a 12.3-megapixel sensor with a f/2.0 aperture. That’s not the most wide open aperture in smartphone world, but it should be fine for low light use. And if that wasn’t enough, Google says the pixel size is 1.55μm pixels, which can capture more light even in really dim conditions. That means your photos inside a dingy bar should look better. And, hey, even if that makes no difference to you, maybe you’ll be happy with shooting video in 4K? Yeah, we thought you’d like that.
As you’d expect, the Nexus 5X is still one of the cheapest phones around. Not the cheapest you can buy, but it’s still mighty competitive. For just $379, you can pick up the 16GB model, while the 32GB model will set you back $429. There’s no expandable storage, so my advice to you is to pick up the 32GB model, but it’s ultimately your call. For what you get, Google’s new device is still cheaper than the Moto X Pure Edition, though, to be fair, the Moto X has a sharper screen and microSD support (but no fingerprint sensor).
Good old Nexus 5
Even months after the Nexus 5 went out of style, we continued to love the device, and we’re happy to see the sequel finally arrive. The Nexus 5 was a bit of an oddity because it didn’t really excel at any one thing. The hardware was good, and the specs at the time were decent. But it just kind of existed in a weirdly forgettable way—maybe it was just an acquired taste.
What did make it great was that it did exactly what you wanted, and ran Android beautifully without any annoying hangups. We know by now that a device doesn’t need the latest specs to run well, and the Nexus 5 was one of the better examples. Even with the latest Android phones on the market, the Nexus 5 is still a great option—if you can find one. That’s what makes the Nexus 5X so exciting.
Google clearly went down a road of nostalgia when making the Nexus 5X, but it didn’t just introduce more of the same; the search giant’s new phone is built on an already terrific foundation, with some of today’s best new technology. You know exactly what you’re getting with the Nexus 5X, and at just $379, you’re not paying an arm and a leg.
While it’s not the most powerful Android device on the market, it’s still worthy of consideration. You still get great hardware, an improved camera, the latest version of Android, and some cool new technologies, including USB-C and a fingerprint sensor. I can already hear a sigh of disappointment around the industry from people hoping for more, but you have to temper your expectations in these situations.
There is no perfect smartphone, and the Nexus 5X is no different. That still doesn’t mean Google’s new phone won’t be a very, very good device.