After some years using either an iPhone or a Windows Phone, I decided to come back to Android with the Nexus 5X in early 2016. Having used all three platforms recently, I can say they each have their strengths and weaknesses, but I am very pleased with the current generation of Android and with the Nexus 5X.
The 5X was introduced as the budget-friendly version of the Nexus line in 2015. It was designed and manufactured by LG, but the software was controlled directly by Google. I read some early reviews deriding the “cheap” feel of the phone, but I strongly disagree. The phone, while not a premium metal handset, feels very good in the hand and holds up well over time. I used it as my daily driver for six months and was quite pleased.
in terms of specs that matter, the phone is generally fast, fluid, and responsive. Every now and then, it seems to get hung on an application. This is annoying, but I’ve seen the same from iPhones and Windows Phone, so please don’t think I’m saying the phone operates any worse than the others. But I do have to wonder if the phone could have avoided these minor hiccups had LG seen fit to include 3Gb of onboard RAM instead of the 2GB in the 5X. While 2Gb is sufficient for operation, some apps are memory hogs, and many other phones now had 3Gb, 4Gb, or even 6Gb. That extra memory makes a difference in how the phone runs.
Speaking of which, the phone would initially run hot, but software updates have corrected any minor issues such as this.
If the 2Gb of RAM is a minor complaint, so is the lack of an SD card and the cap of onboard memory at 32Gb. Again, this is plenty for most needs, but Google made a big deal out of building a special memory extension into Android such that the OS could effectively use an SD card as an extension of the harddrive, but then Google’s own Nexus line didn’t have an SD card to take advantage of this feature.
The Snapdragon 808 processor is not a speed demon, but it is still better than the processors in many new budget phones even now in 2017.
My bigger gripe is the 2700mAh battery. It simply is not strong enough to get you through a normal day without having to top it off.
I wanted to get the negatives out early. As you can see, even the complaints are fairly minor: Would have liked more memory and the option of expandable memory and a stronger battery. That’s really about it.
In terms of positives, there are many. First and foremost, I appreciate a completely unadulterated version of Android coupled with the first OS updates. Android remains something of a fractured system, so I greatly prefer to have a device that will stay .current. Until Pixel, Nexus has been the only way to do that.
Second, the screen is lovely. I know it’s not AMOLED, but it still looks great.00
Third, the camera is surprisingly strong. Nexus has not been known for great cameras, but this one is excellent. A few negatives, though; it is SLOW to launch and lacks optical stabilization. But it does a great job capturing detail, even in low light.
Fourth, the phone is a good size: not too big, not too small. It also feels good in the hand. However, it does have a bit of a large chin for no apparent reason. So the phone could have been a bit smaller with the same size screen. Also, this is good place to mention the 5X has only one speaker, and it’s pretty weak. That said, I’m not a fan of speakers on most phones, anyway. I always connect via a BT headset or a BT speaker. Just don’t try to listen to the speaker on a 5X after listening to the speaker on a more premium phone, like an iPhone.
Fifth, it works great as a phone. I know we should take this for granted, but I’ve experienced some other phones that didn’t work all that great for voice calling. The 5X is solid. Also, it seems to have a strong antenna for data. I often have signal when someone with a different phone may not.
Overall, this is remains a strong budget phone that provides a pure Android experience. For my money, I can’t think of a better phone in the same price range. There are some that have better specs, such as the OnePlus and some of the Moto line, but they work on more limited carriers or have too much layering over the OS. Give me the Nexus 5X instead.