Product Reviews

Nexus 5X

Update: Our Nexus 5X review has been updated with details of the Android Nougat update you can download, but if you’re looking for Google’s latest smartphones check out our Pixel and Pixel XL reviews.

What’s the sound of one hand clapping? It’s a Nexus 5X owner giving praise to Google and LG for remaking their palm-friendly Android phone while effortlessly holding it in the other hand.

Yes, Google’s final Nexus handset comes in two sizes, and this 5.2-inch phone is for those non-giants out there who literally can’t handle a 5.7-inch Nexus 6P or its 6-inch Nexus 6 predecessor.

The Nexus 5X is more than just a normal-sized phone at a smaller price, though. Its 12.3MP camera is able to capture low-light photos, and the specs are still fast enough for the average user.

Its reversible USB Type-C port provides quicker charging, its fingerprint sensor is yet another way to effortless unlock your phone, and it’s pre-loaded with Android Marshmallow, but you can download Android Nougat right now to ensure you’re fully up to date.

Nexus 5X specs

Weight: 136g
Dimensions: 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 6 (upgradable to Android 7)
Screen size: 5.2-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 1920
CPU: Snapdragon 808
Storage: 16GB/32GB
Battery: 2,700mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 5MP

Compromises and competition mean Nexus 5X isn’t for everyone. The Nexus 6P requires two hands to operate, but it isn’t a stretch to hold in one, making its size difference tighter and all-metal design and more powerful specs tempting. 

The Nexus 5X, made of plastic, also faces stiffer competition than the Nexus 5 did back in 2013.

It’s also not quite as fast as many rivals when under pressure. Multitasking with the GPS and playing music, for example, is going to see some slowdown. The same happens when the camera app loads while you’re switching from other heavy-duty applications. It’s noticeable, but occasional and by no means a deal breaker if you’re on a budget.

Easy-to-hold, priced right and feature-packed, this is the Nexus 5 reborn as the Nexus 5X, but over two years have passed since it broke cover. Is it still a worthy stock Android phone at an unbeatable value? Let’s break it down.

Nexus 5X price

The Nexus 5X price now starts at $399 (£275, AU$659) for the SIM-free 32GB version – although with the arrival of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL the 5X is harder to find in stores and online.

Unless you’re desperate to save money and must have a Google-branded smartphone, you’ll be better off looking at the Pixel or wealth or reasonably price Android phones launched within the last 12 months.

Nexus 5X review


  • Easy to use one-handed
  • Plastic body lacks premium appeal

The Nexus 5X looks and feels like the Nexus 5 adapted for modern times. It’s lightweight and, with a 5.2-inch display, my fingers can barely reach all the way across the screen. That’s what I want.

It appropriately pushes the limit of a one-handed phone with dimensions of 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, making it taller and broader, but ultimately skinnier than the idolized phone from 2013.

Nexus 5X strikes the right balance: a screen size that’s maximized, but still operable in one hand. It’s still light, too, at 136g. That’s a modest gain from 130g.

Nexus 5X review

I didn’t exactly want a camera bulge around back, which is what happened to the center-located rear snapper, but I’d rather have that than a weaker camera. It’s a fair trade-off and camera bulges are coming commonplace among today’s smartphones.

Thankfully, the camera protrusion isn’t as significant as we saw in leaked prototypes, and it at least gives me a landmark when trying to find the new, oddly-placed fingerprint sensor on back.

The 5X owes its lightweight design to LG sticking to a polycarbonate back and thin metal frame. This bucks the trend of moving away from plastic and going with all glass or strictly aluminum.

Nexus 5X review

For this reason, it doesn’t feel different from the hard plastic of the Nexus 5, although you won’t find the soft touch coating of the black Nexus 5 here. It’s more of an egg shell texture.

There are three Nexus 5X colors again, but this time it’s Carbon Black, Quartz White and Ice Blue, doing away with red. All three come with a black front, however. You won’t find an all-white Nexus 5X.

The black-and-white combination makes my white Nexus 5X review unit look like a delicious ice cream sandwich more than a phone. While not as stylish as Motorola’s curved Moto X design, it’s mostly flat and functional.

Nexus 5X review

In fact, the only glaringly impractical design choices here are the power button and volume rocker located on the right side. They’re small, feel cheap and the power button isn’t riveted.

That’s a design choice I appreciate in recent phones like the Moto X Style and Nexus 6P. At night, it’s easier to tell a power button accent with rigids from a smooth volume rocker.

There is a pulse notification light here. It hasn’t been omitted, it’s just tucked inside the speaker grill located at the bottom front of the phone and, rudely, turned off by default.

Whether or not you’re ready, the Nexus 5X includes the USB-C port on the bottom of the frame instead of micro USB, and it’s joined by a never-changing 3.5mm headphone jack.

Nexus 5X review

As future-proof as this Android phone tries to be, it doesn’t take advantage of Gorilla Glass 4 like the Nexus 6P does. Instead, it sticks to Gorilla Glass 3 like the curved LG G4.

The LG G4 gets away with this in my book because of its protective, curved design. The Nexus 5X has only a small lip around its display bezel, so you may want to opt for a case.

Luckily, the Google Play Store is ready in this department. I’m more of a fan of the official Nexus 5X cases with a microfiber back and what looks like the Amazon Web Service logo (awkward).

I have this official Nexus 6P case, but got stuck with the Speck CandyShell case for my 5X. It has military grade drop protection, but really drives the point home that it’s unflattering rubber.

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