Nexus 5X review

Google's palm-friendly handset puts function over form

Nexus 5X review
Nexus 5X review

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Google proclaimed that the Nexus 5X (as well as the Nexus 6P) has the best camera it has ever put into a Nexus. That's not saying much, given the very average Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 photos.

Loading up the default Google camera app, I quickly realized how much it lives up to its Nexus-beating hype, thanks to the 1.55-micron pixels that do well in low light.

These are larger than normal pixels, and therefore can capture more light for stronger indoor photography. I found the Galaxy S7, LG G5 and Moto X Style to snap bright photos, too, so it's really going to come down to a personal preference in some cases.

Nexus 5X review

The camera sensor here is 12.3MP, a lower number than its top-performing Android rivals in 2015. But the Nexus 5X is able to to use that extra light for superior low-light images. A whopping 80% of photos are taken in low light, according to Google.

What better place is there to test it out than your local bar during trivia and karaoke night? I took the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, iPhone 6S Plus and Galaxy Note 5 out of the lab to the closest pub.

Nexus 5X review

A bar is a common environment for photos to be taken with friends, but among the toughest due to often poor lighting conditions, and the Nexus 5X did fine in low light. Not perfect, but almost as good as its competition most of the time. Samsung and LG still have it in 2016.

In case you're wondering, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P's 12.3MP sensors are exactly the same. I noticed that image processing is a little slower on the Nexus 5X, especially for photos using Lens Blur mode, but the results were the same, or close to it, via the rear camera.

I actually had to double check that I wasn't accidentally looking at the same files when comparing the two.

Nexus 5X review

This rear camera records video in 4K at 30 frames per second, while the front-facing camera is 5MP with the normal 1.4 microns and the same f/2.0 aperture. You can definitely tell the selfie quality between it and the 8MP Nexus 6P camera, though the iPhone 6S, with its "Retina" flash, beats both of them.

Google's camera software has improved since the Nexus 6 debut. It no longer hides all of the important options like the timer, HDR+ and the selfie toggle. They're all on-screen when you need them the most.

Likewise, switching between snapping photos and recording video is now a matter of swiping left and right, and the only hidden options in the side menu are returning modes: Lens Blur, Panoramic and Photosphere.

Nexus 5X review

Don't go into this expecting all of the nifty Samsung and LG options, which include the ability to shoot in RAW, gesture control to trigger selfies and wide selfies to capture group shots.

This is just a basic camera app, but one that fully harnesses the phone's low light photo capabilities. It's the best Nexus camera next to the Nexus 6P, and there's even more hope for Nexus 2016 phones now.

Camera samples

Matt Swider