Google’s LG Nexus 5X reviewed

Grab the Nexus 5X and it’s quite clear from a design point of view that Google isn’t going out of its way to impress you with fancy curves, special shapes, or neat design features that make it look like it was made from a block of a fancy metal, because what is being offered in this phone is basically a softened rectangle made of plastic.

That’s not bad, either, it’s just the Nexus 5X is an ordinary looking phone, with a simple glass front and a simple plastic back, which basically makes the handset look like a slightly tightened up version of the Nexus 5 from a few years ago.

In fact, much like that last Nexus — which we recall giving five stars to — the new Nexus feels great in the hand, with the soft plastic body not so much feeling cheap, but just comfortable and easy to grip.


The design of this handset is a little ordinary, though, with pretty much just a glass front and the plastic back, and given that even the edges like a defined shape outside of, well, having an edge, you find that there’s really nothing remarkable about how the a Nexus 5X looks. That won’t bother some people, and if you’re after an ordinary phone, Google’s Nexus 5X certainly delivers.

There is one thing, however, that does draw the finger in, and it’s a circle on the back of the handset. It’s not the camera, though it can be confusing as this sits above the circle that has been designed to draw your finger in intentionally, and that’s the fingerprint sensor.

Now it’s not the first time that we’ve seen a fingerprint sensor on an Android phone, but it is the first time we’ve seen one on an official Google phone, and that means Android is ready with support. But that’s not all that’s new with Android.


New to the Nexus range is Android 6.0, also known as Android M or by its dessert-themed moniker, Android Marshmallow.

The look of this operating system isn’t super different to the previous Lollipop Android 5.0 incarnation, as a change in look and a refresh in design (introducing Material Design) was one of the main reasons for version 5 of Google’s OS to rock up. No, version 6.0 brings with it more of an update to functionality, offering up more Google search and indexing of your information whenever you want, better battery life, and fingerprint support, but we’ll get into that momentarily.

Switch the phone on and the screen comes to life, and while this display won’t break any records, it’s another excellent LG screen displaying the perfectly clear Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, which means it is definitely clear enough for every day viewing.

We could run the “higher amount of pixels” argument until we’re blue in the face if we wanted to, but the simple fact is that with 424 pixels per inch being shown on the Google Nexus 5X, you’ll most likely be happy, given it matches at least Apple’s Retina resolution that kickstarted this pixel argument, and then some.

Google is also bringing over a trick from its previous Nexus work with Motorola, delivering what appears to be some of the active display technology


Using the phone is a little different than your regular 2015 Android handset, though, and that’s because the star of the show is the newest of the new of operating systems, with Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” taking centre point.

The new operating system appears on the Google Nexus phones well ahead of models from other manufacturers, though given how much the Nexus 5X has in common with the G4, we understand LG’s flagship G4 from earlier in the year isn’t far behind, so that’s nice to know.

Still, let’s focus on what the Nexus 5X has to offer in Marshmallow, because it’s pretty sweet.


Your look stays the same, with much of the flat look ushered in by Material Design sticking around, relying on bright colours and a paper-inspired view, so elements sit on top of each other, almost as if someone handed you a brightly coloured folio of work and said “make this into a phone”.

What changes, however, is how deeply Google’s search skills integrate with your life, and now that most of us know how good Google Now’s voice assistant is at picking up your voice (we have more luck with asking Google questions than we do Siri), you’ll find a feature called “Now on Tap” which can be called up whenever you’re in an email or message.

Basically, when this happens, Google quickly looks through your message for keywords or places and delivers the information you may be looking for, saving you from having to get out and go to a different screen.

Like how 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S feels like a way of bringing two-handed phone operation back to one, Now on Tap feels like it’s a way of cutting the need to do multi-tasking, allowing you to stay in the message when you need to look something up instead of getting lost doing another action.


In reality, our limited time with the Nexus 5X and Android 6.0 has shown us that Now on Tap isn’t totally ideal for us, though perhaps it’s because we’re not really speaking with the keywords Now looks for. It won’t, for instance, pick up on every keyword you might want it to, and sometimes pretty much says it has nothing for you.

As time goes on, perhaps it will get more intelligent, learning how to work with you, but right now in the initial stages, it’s a great concept that we’re not using too much of.