Nexus 5X review

Google's palm-friendly handset puts function over form

Nexus 5X review
Nexus 5X review

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The Nexus 5X runs Android Oreo, Google's most recent software release.

It's full of behind-the-scenes tweaks to battery life and background app efficiency to make this version much smarter than Android Marshmallow and Android Nougat combined.

Possibly the most interesting addition to stock Android is Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode, while allows you to multitask in a new way. If you use YouTube or frequently make calls on Google Duo, the entertainment will overlay onto a corner of your screen so you can get to business with the rest of the display.

If you're familiar with Android, the interface and the look of the apps haven't changed much. It comes pre-loaded with Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, Contacts, Calendar, Hangouts, Drive, YouTube and Photos, and more apps can be downloaded via the Google Play Store.

Nexus 5X review

The app drawer - where every app you download is located - now scrolls up and down, not right to left. The bigger deal is that five of your recently used apps appear at the top. No, there's no way to hide Tinder or other dating apps. You're caught.

Nexus 5X review

What I appreciate most about all Nexus phones is that they run stock Android, the way Google had intended. There are no junk or sponsored apps that seem worthless.

For example, when I redownloaded my past apps from the Google Play Store, I skipped 24 junk apps in a row. "When did I download these awful apps on another device?," I wondered.

Turns out, they were all required (non-removable) apps that came with the phone, which was loaded with two calendars, two to do lists, two browsers, etc. Needless to say, I didn't redownload these dirty two dozen, and am thankful Google doesn't pull the same junk-app-drawer stunt.


I caught some flak last year for listing this app as a "con" on the Nexus 6 review. My reasoning was that this SMS app came out of nowhere, and yet Hangouts was left underdeveloped.

Nexus 5X review

Hangouts has been redesigned, thankfully, and you can do logical things like start typing a message, THEN attach a photo (seriously, you couldn't do that before two months ago because the attach icon would turn into the send icon as you started typing).

Both are good choices now, but I still prefer the cleaner Messenger app between the two texting apps, and more than anything, remain a fan of how Apple combines iMessages seamlessly across platforms.

Google, you have an excellent keyboard. Please fix Messenger and Hangouts. My Nexus 9 tablet is lonely without proper SMS. The Hangouts revamp was a good start.

Movies and Music

The 5.2-inch display of the Nexus 5X is a better fit for watching HD movies in its 16:9 aspect ratio when compared to the Nexus 5 from two years ago.

No, the screen size isn't as big as last year's 6-inch Nexus 6, but the color is more accurate. I don't find the hues to be overly saturated, though some people may find this to look washed out.

Nexus 5X review

Really, you can see the difference in side-by-side comparisons of actors faces. Orange is the new tan, or at least that's what it looked like when I rewatched the movie Big on the Nexus 6P.

This phone doesn't have the artificial pop of the Nexus 6P and doesn't boast a quad HD display, but it's more true-to-life. Nexus 6P, however, beats the 5X when it comes to sound quality.

Listening to music and movies is a bit one-sided on the Nexus 5X. The speaker for all media is located in the bottom of the phone, whereas the multimedia-friendly Nexus 6P has stereo speakers at the top of bottom.


The Nexus 5X could handle all of the game apps, with no discernible slowdown or imperfections in the graphics and color. Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8: Airborne chugged along just fine.

Nexus 5X review

Slight variations between Nexus displays favored the Nexus 5X when it came to movies starring real people, but game apps I tested looked like a tad more muted in color on this phone.

Bezel has become a bad word among smartphone, but I found games in landscape mode easier to control thanks to the slightly thicker bezel of the Nexus 5X (the same is true of the Nexus 6P).

Matt Swider