September 29, 2015
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Months of rumors preceded today’s unveiling of the Nexus 5X. The phone is all that we expected it to be and more, with a price point and specs that will make it one of the sweetest deals around. So was the Nexus 5 during its times of glory, though. How does the current Nexus 5X compare to its direct predecessor? We put them next to each other in a quick comparison while at Google’s event, so let’s jump into the details and see what’s better in the new Nexus 5-incher!

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Design & build quality

Looking around the Nexus 5X we can see that it has some similarities to the previous LG Nexus 5, but these phones are definitely not to be confused. LG has evolved, Google has evolved and the industry has evolved. This evolution is something you can really see reflected when comparing these handsets.

Both devices feature that affordable, utilitarian design with a plastic body, but they definitely don’t feel cheap. They are also about the same weight, with the Nexus 5X weighing 136 grams and the Nexus 5 being 130 grams heavy. The newer Nexus is slightly thinner at 7.9 mm, too.

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Now let’s jump into the differences, which there’s plenty of. The most obvious aesthetic changes will be the protruding camera and fingerprint scanner, which adorn the back of the Nexus 5X. Look at the bottom of the phone and you’ll see the new Nexus 5X will also sport a brand new USB Type C port, which is the next step in connectivity and supports more than just data transfers and charging but also is fully reversible. The addition of dual front-facing speakers will also offer a significant difference in the front’s look.

Think of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 5 as devices made with the same audience and purpose in mind, but coming from different ages.

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Display

Though the Nexus 5X screen is larger, it doesn’t beat the smaller one by much. The newer Nexus handset sports a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD display. On the other hand, the previous Nexus 5 featured a 4.95-inch 1080p panel. Both have Gorilla Glass 3 protecting them. While the original Nexus 5 will actually offer slightly higher PPI due to the smaller display, the real world difference between the two should be pretty minor.

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Hardware

Now, this is where you will find the true changes between the handsets being compared today. The Nexus 5X has a powerful Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 16-32 GB of internal storage and a 2700 mAh battery with no wireless charging.

Meanwhile, the Nexus 5 has a more outdated Snapdragon 800 chipset running 4 cores at 2.3 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 16-32 GB of internal storage and a 2300 mAh battery with wireless charging. Of course, the obvious caveat about the newer Nexus phone is the lack of wireless charging, which is a shame to see in a Nexus phone this day and age.

Also important is the Nexus 5X addition of USB-C (already mentioned above) and Nexus Imprint, which allows all security processes to be performed with the aid of that fingerprint reader.

While the Nexus 5 is still capable of providing a decent Android experience, the Nexus 5X is obviously a major step forward, even if the decision to keep just 2GB of RAM may prove to be a turn off for some.

Camera

I still remember the Nexus 5 announcement. Google was going on and on about how darn fast the camera was, but that was probably about the only good thing the Nexus 5’s shooter had going for it. It turns out the 8 MP camera wasn’t very good at taking clear shots, and the 1.3 MP front-facing camera was only average.

Google aims to fix this issue with the Nexus 5X, or at least make the situation better. The new 12.3 MP camera comes with 1.55 micron pixels, which should allow for more light to enter the sensor. In addition, the f/2.0 aperture can help push shutter speeds higher and the laser-assisted auto-focus will definitely improve your focusing times.

The Nexus 5X does lack OIS, but the other technology should justify that. What it isn’t missing is 4K video shooting and a dual-flash set-up for those dark party shots. The front camera has also been upgraded to a 5 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. It’s too early to say how much better the camera experience is, or how it compares to other 2015 devices, but at the very least we can expect a push forward compared to the aging camera of the original Nexus 5.

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Software

For Android enthusiasts, Nexus devices are the kings of software. These phones get updates directly from Google, and usually before other smartphones out there. The thing here is that older Nexus devices start getting pushed aside as successors come into the game. Chances are high that the Nexus 5 will lose support soon, as it is pretty old and now has a direct replacement.

And even if the older Nexus 5 sticks around for longer, the Nexus 5X will always get preference. For now we can say both phones will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which means they can take advantage of new features like Android Pay, Google Now on Tap, the new permissions system, improved battery management, revamped sharing functionality, simplified volume controls and more.

That means the software experience with both will be quite similar, but it won’t be long before the Nexus 5 is left in the dark in terms of new OS updates, while the Nexus 5X is just getting started.

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Price and conclusion

The Nexus 5X is priced at $379 for the 16 GB, compared to $349 for the Nexus 5 16 GB when it launched. Though the Nexus 5X is slightly pricier than the Nexus 5 was in its time, this can be justified by multiple things. The newer phone adopts new technology that wasn’t even around back when the Nexus 5 was launched. This obviously means manufacturing prices will rise. Not to mention, the Nexus 5X is definitely a better phone!

For those that enjoyed the Nexus 5 and were turned off by the larger display on the Nexus 6, the Nexus 5X is certainly a great option. Of course, those who want the absolute best experience might find that the Nexus 6P is more to their liking.

Joshua Vergara
Writer, blogger, and videographer - Josh is a former support technician that learned much about technology by fixing everyone else's. On the side, he wrote and performed spoken word, maintained his own personal blogs, and began his own video podcast. Now, he's here at Android Authority looking to put it all together!
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