This year was pure bliss for Android purists, with two Nexus devices hitting market. One phone definitely doesn’t fit all, something Google learnt with the Nexus 6, a device that was significantly larger than most smartphones and came with a price tag that was heavier than usual.
We have been playing with both the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X for some time and are ready to put them face to face. These Nexus devices have plenty of differences, but the price is obviously the first that comes to mind. The Nexus 5X costs $379, while the Nexus 6P will set you back $499 – but will this make one of these phones better than the other? Let’s find out in our full comparison of the Nexus 6P vs Nexus 5X.
These smartphones come from the same family, but you would surely think one of them is adopted. They look nothing alike. And much of that is due to the fact that they are made by different manufacturers. Also, the “P” in Nexus 6P stands for premium, which will definitely make it a bit more high-end than the Nexus 5X. “Premium” is definitely the best way to describe the bigger, badder of these two products. Huawei managed to make a good-looking smartphone with a metal design that is ever so slightly curved on the back. Of course, things change once you take a look at the large and heavy top area that houses the camera and its accessories.
Some folks are not too fond of the black bar on the 6P, but it has really grown on us. After all, it actually serves a purpose; and since it’s covered in strong glass, it should hold up under normal usage. Below said bar you will find the fingerprint reader and the landscape-oriented Nexus logo, which does manage to look quite snazzy.
Looking around the phone we can find that the sides are nice and flat, giving the device a very nice grip. Regardless, the phone is still a bit too large for one-handed use. All the buttons are on the right side, and a USB Type-C port sits lonely at the bottom of the smartphone. We are still getting used to this new port, but it’s something that’s growing on us. Aside from being double-sided, this should make a huge impact on peripheral support and accessories.
Finally, there are two front-facing speakers: one above the screen and the other one below, with the 5.7-inch panel right in between them. Front-facing speakers are definitely a must for many of us. I still don’t know why manufacturers continue making phones without them at this point.
On the other hand (quite literally), we have the Nexus 5X made by LG. It’s not only made by a different manufacturer, but it falls under a different price range. For starters, the Nexus 5X is made completely of plastic, so no metal here. And though the black bar in the back is missing, the Nexus 5X’s camera optics do pop out a bit, creating that dreaded protruding camera bump. The fingerprint sensor and landscape Nexus logo are still on board. The general button layout and ports are also the same as with the Nexus 6P, with the only exception being that the 3.5 mm headset jack is located at the bottom of the 5X.
One complaint is that the front of the handset does sport only a single front-facing speaker right below the 5.2-inch display. The good news about this smaller display is that it makes the handset much easier to handle. And though it’s not made of sturdy metal, the soft plastic does manage to feel great in the hand, similarly to the original Nexus 5.
As you can see, these phones are quite different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We will say the the exquisitely chiseled 6P looks better than the more generic plastic-clad 5X. But I also wouldn’t say the 5X’s plastic body makes it cheap, though. After all, it’s somewhat similar to the previous-gen Nexus 5, and that phone was loved by many. It just happens to be a phone of essentials. No bells or whistles.
Does this mean the Nexus 6P is trying too hard? Certainly not. The high quality build will be familiar to Nexus fans, and it goes in line with Google’s philosophy. Just lifting the device evokes a pleasant emotion, and this phone has everything it needs to give you the best Google has to offer.
Talking about premium – this Nexus 6P display is gorgeous. The 5.7-inch AMOLED panel touts a Quad HD resolution (2560×1440), which emits vibrant colors, deep blacks and steep saturation, something we can expect from high-quality AMOLED screens. Text is obviously amazingly sharp, and media is a pleasure to view.
What about the Nexus 5X display? I have always said a good 1080p panel trumps a bad QHD screen, but there are obvious differences in this case. While a Full HD resolution works just fine for most uses, there’s an obvious difference in color reproduction here. The Nexus 5X looks a bit washed, so to speak. Colors are simply not as vibrant, and this can be mostly due to the AMOLED display doing a better job of displaying black levels, which help with contrast and ultimately make colors pop better.
The spec hungry will need a larger screen and overall higher-end specs. Without a doubt, the Nexus 6P does provide a better experience. And it’s not even about the resolution.
The Nexus 6P obviously brings the best performance to the table, in this case, featuring a powerful Snapdragon 810 processor and 3 gigabytes of RAM. It has what it takes to compete against the best of the best, and quite frankly, there is very little we can do to slow it down. Going through every single part of the phone was a breeze.
In contrast, the Nexus 5X features a Snapdragon 808 chipset with 2 gigabytes of RAM. Given the demands that Android can have on the system, more RAM has become the standard and 2 gigabytes seems like the bare minimum at this point. With that in mind, the 5X is still capable of providing a great daily experience.
When you put these phones side to side though, there is a noticeable difference. We would say the Nexus 5X is a couple steps behind the Nexus 6P. It’s not a huge difference, but it just may be enough to sway some of you from one device to the other.
This part is interesting, because much of what makes the Nexus experience has been put in both gadgets. The lower-end Nexus 5X still enjoys the benefits of the fast fingerprint reader, Nexus Imprint and awesome camera. Is there anything in which the Nexus 5X falls short, though? The speaker set-up has to be the main concern. But at the very least the single front-facing speaker LG opted for has a nice soundgate, though it could use more volume.
Battery is another point of contention – the smaller 2700mAh battery in the Nexus 5X is not made to go for long periods of time, but we did find it does much better than the older Nexus 5. We can probably thank Doze for this, which puts the phone in a deeper slumber when in sleep for extended periods of time. Overall, you should be able to get a full day of juice, but this is not great compared to the Nexus 6P.
The larger Nexus comes with a massive 3450mAh battery, allowing us to experience battery life times that go well over a full day. We managed to get over 4 hours of screen on time during our tests, without even trying to save battery.
In addition, the dual front-facing speakers provide a loud stereo experience. Once again, the Nexus 6P is simply the better of the two.
Both phones offer the USB Type-C port, which is very convenient, but does come with its downsides. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge solutions are no longer available, for one. Charging is still pretty quick, though, with both phones reaching 0% to 100% in under 90 minutes.
Finally, we have to mention that we love the circular fingerprint readers in these handsets. These are literally some of the best performers we have ever used. They are not only easy to set up, but are also a breeze to use. One can wake and unlock the devices in no time. Using these sensors really do feel like second nature, and you can have your phone ready to go in the very motion it takes to take it out of your pocket.
Perhaps the best news in terms of these phones’ similarities is the camera, which is the same in both cases. These Nexus handsets have a 12.3MP sensor that Google claims is better at registering more amounts of light. Aside from the better sensor and improved optics, these handsets also tout laser auto-focus, which makes focusing faster.
The app also brings great auto interface, but we must say the software lacks in terms of manual controls. HDR+, Photo Sphere, Panorama and Lens Blur modes do all the work on their own; all you have to do is point and shoot.
4K UHD recording is also available, as is 120 and 240 fps slow motion, though that would be recorded at 720p. What I do love is that Google has added a way to quickly launch the camera by double tapping the power button.
After some testing, we have found the images are actually very detailed. The Nexus line-up has never been known for having great cameras, so it’s definitely pleasant to see this change with the 6P and 5X. Low light performance is quite good, and HDR does a good job at keeping lighting uniform.
All in all we have a good time with these cameras despite the omission of optical image stabilization, which is most felt when shooting video – in photos, it might have been a good boost but hasn’t felt like a huge gap.
You can’t go wrong with Nexus software, right? I mean, these phones offer a pure Google experience, which means the software will be as clean and simple as they get. You also get the benefit of enjoying the latest and greatest Android version, which is 6.0 Marshmallow.
One of the main differences you will find is within the app drawer, which now scrolls vertically, as opposed to horizontally. There’s also a row of favorite apps added to the top of the drawer, which is great for accessing your 4 most used applications. The flashiest addition to Android 6.0 is definitely Google Now on Tap, though. This software addition looks at what is displayed on the screen and pulls related information on the fly. You can easily access it by pressing and holding the power button. The service might be a little off at times, but overall it works great with text (not so much with images).
Other significant additions are Nexus Imprint, Doze, granular app permissions and more.
|Nexus 6P||Nexus 5X|
|Display||5.7-inch AMOLED display|
2560 x 1440 resolution, 518ppi
|5.2-inch LCD display
1920 x 1080 resolution, 424ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor||2.0GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor|
|Storage||32, 64, 128GB||16, 32GB|
LTE Band 2/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/41
LTE Band 2/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/41
|Software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Camera||12.3MP rear-facing camera|
8MP front-facing camera
|12.3MP rear-facing camera
5MP front-facing camera
|Battery||Non-removable 3450mAh||Non-removable 2700mAh|
|Dimensions||159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3mm, 178g||147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, 136g|
Pricing and final thoughts
This time around price is much less of an issue compared to other years, this is because Google’s offerings now include both an affordable and a high-end option. The Nexus 5X costs $379. On the other hand, a bigger battery, faster processor and superior build is still quite reasonably priced at $499.
We have to tip our hats to Google for bringing the best high-end Nexus they have ever put together, yet they also made a lot of Nexus 5 fans happy with the 5X. Those grabbing the mid-end device will have an amazing experience, but if what you want is to be on the cutting edge, the Nexus 6P is the obvious option. The Nexus 6P is incredible, the Nexus 5X is essential. Assess your needs, take your pick, and you can enjoy the best that Google has to offer in this year’s two great Nexus offerings.
What are your thoughts? Would you choose the Nexus 6P or the 5X? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.