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LG Nexus 5X review

 Review: October 2015  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The LG Nexus 5X is a good-value phone premiering the brand-new Android Marshmallow. It's a lightweight and easily managed phone, with a 5.2 inch screen and a convenient fingerprint sensor on the back. The cameras are good, the 6-core processor fast, and it includes the new USB Type-C connector, which enables fast charging of the battery. You might need this, as battery life isn't stellar. The main issue we have with the Nexus 5S is the lack of expandable memory - don't even think about buying the base 16GB version!



It's been two whole years since LG released its Nexus 5 - one of our favourite Android phones ever. Now LG has released the Nexus 5X, updating the Nexus with Android Marshmallow and a groovy new fingerprint scanner. But is that really enough to show for two years of work? What has LG been doing all this time? Let's take a closer look.

Design & looks

2015 was the year Samsung finally made the move from plastic to metal, following the likes of Apple and HTC. At the top of the smartphone market, metal now seems to be a basic requirement. The Nexus 5X is still firmly wedded to plastic however. We don't have a problem with that actually, as plastic is a wonderful material that is flexible and lightweight, and so much cheaper than aircraft-grade aluminium. But we know that some people will have a problem with a plastic phone. Those people should look instead at the Nexus 6P.

The Nexus 5X, despite its plastic shell, feels like a solid product. It's a good size, lightweight, and reasonably slim, although not superslim. Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen from scratches and bumps. We're not so keen on the fact that the rear camera sticks out at the back, however. The phone comes in a choice of Black, White or Ice Blue.

Also on the rear of the phone you'll find a conveniently-placed fingerprint scanner, located just where your index finger tends to rest. You can use the scanner to unlock the phone, access Play Store, Android Pay and apps. Although the location of the scanner means that you have to pick up the phone to unlock it, it's super-easy to use, once you've learned not to smudge the camera lens each time you reach for it.

The screen hasn't really progressed since the Nexus 5 from 2013, but it's good enough for a phone that isn't priced right at the very top of the market. It measures 5.2 inches diagonally, and has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, which is a match for many flagship phones, and is actually higher than the iPhone 6s. It's an IPS screen that offers decent brightness and colours, but isn't up there with the very best.

Android Marshmallow

The Nexus 5X launches with Google's brand-new Marshmallow flavour of Android. Marshmallow's big new feature is "Now on Tap", which displays a card with helpful information when you press and hold the Home button. It's context-sensitive and aims to provide info about what's on screen. It's basically like "Google Now", but inside apps.

There are new battery management features, such as Doze and App Standby, which stop battery wastage, especially in standby. You now have much more control over permissions for apps, so you can stop them accessing your contacts, etc, if you don't trust them. Marshmallow also supports USB Type-C, which provides faster charging, and enables the Nexus 5X to include a USB Type-C connection.

One advantage in choosing the Nexus is that it will receive the very latest Android updates as soon as they become available.

Hexacore processor & fixed memory 

The Nexus 5X comes with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 processor, as used on the LG G4. This is 64-bit 6-core processor running at a moderate 1.8GHz. It's not as fast as high-end processors, but at least it avoids the over-heating problems that have become an issue with phones like the Sony Z3+. The RAM is a moderate 2GB, which is less than the LG G4.

The phones comes in a choice of 16GB or 32GB storage. Neither has expandable memory, which we feel is a major error on LG's part. 16GB will fill up in no time, and even 32GB runs the risk of filling up during a 2-year contract, leading to heartache and misery. Don't buy the 16GB version, and be very careful before opting for the 32GB version. Neither may be adequate.

Upgraded camera

The phone comes with a 12.3 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera.

The main rear-facing camera has a dual LED flash, HDR mode, fast autofocus and UHD (4K) video recording. It's an excellent camera - not a match for the likes of the iPhone 6s or Galaxy s6, but very competent. The same camera is used in the more expensive Nexus 6P.

The front camera is just right for selfies or video chat, and can record at 1080p resolution.


The Nexus 5X is a 4G phone supporting a wide range of LTE bands. It's also compatible with 3G and 2G networks, with support for HSPA.

The phone handles dual-band Wi-Fi for extra fast data access. You'll also find Bluetooth, a reversible USB Type C port (instead of a microUSB), NFC, and a 3.5mm audio jack. GPS and GLONASS positioning services are available.

Battery life

The Nexus 5X has a larger battery than the old Nexus 5, but it also has a bigger screen and a 6-core processor. Continuous use will drain the battery in less than 12 hours, and heavy users may struggle to make it through a full day.

The phone does have a secret weapon however - super-fast charging via USB Type-C, which will recharge your phone in much less time than a conventional charger. It's good that the phone has this feature, as you may need to use it!

Conclusion - not as good as the first Nexus 5

We probably shouldn't do this, but we can't help comparing the Nexus 5X with the original Nexus 5 of 2013. That phone registered a "wow" from us, whereas this one gets an "OK."

Let's examine the phone on its own merits. It's a nicely-sized, lightweight phone with a good screen. The fingerprint scanner on the back is a nice addition. It includes the all-new Google Marshmallow, and has a fast hexacore processor. The camera is good, and it incorporates the new USB Type-C fast charging. So there's lots to like here.

You can buy the 16GB version for £300 or the 32GB version for £350. These are fair, sensible prices. Don't buy the 16GB version however - it's just too small.

The problem is that even the 32GB version might prove to be too small. We're not too happy about the battery life either. So, although the Nexus 5X is a good phone with some nice features, it's not one that we'd recommend. There are better phones for the same price, including the superb Sony Xperia Z3.

LG Nexus 5X features include:

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