Nexus 5X – Software
Nexus devices’ use of a completely unskinned versions of Android has always been a key selling point.
This continues on the Nexus 5X, which runs a vanilla version of Google’s latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.
Android Marshmallow is one of the best mobile operating systems around and is a massive improvement on Google’s 2015 Lollipop version.
The OS adds more new features than can easily be counted. The best of these are its enhanced privacy controls and an upgraded “Google Now on Tap” feature.
The enhanced privacy controls make it easier to manage which apps can access your data. Unlike past versions, apps will have to ask permission to access different data reserves on a case-by-case basis, rather than present you with one all encompassing request.
The feature is a massive improvement that forces apps to be more transparent about what data they’re collecting.
For example, installing a dictaphone app, an alert popped up saying the feature required access to my phone’s microphone, then a second popped up requesting access to its storage – all well and good, after all it makes sense the app would need these to work.
But then another set of alerts popped up saying it wanted permission to access my Facebook and Google accounts. Considering the fact the app didn’t have a cloud storage option, its thirst for access to the data made less sense.
Thanks to the improved privacy controls, I was easily able to spot the discrepancy, which on Lollipop I may well have missed, and delete the app.
Marshmallow also adds a central control section from which you can see and change what specific permissions you’ve granted apps.
The Now on Tap feature aims to make it easier for you to pick Google’s brain for information. On Marshmallow you can access Google’s Now service within applications by holding down the phone’s home button.
Once activated, Now pulls contextual information to offer shortcuts to features or services you may be interested in and lets you mount web searches using voice commands.
Activating it within the music app, Now brings up things like shortcuts to live recordings on YouTube of the artist you’re listening too, or related bands you may like, for example.
Alternatively, when viewing a photo of a tasty looking dish, you can launch Google Now and mount a web search for nearby restaurants serving it or find recipes for it.
This may sound small, but I found the Now on Tap feature is a massive aid that streamlined the way I interacted with my phone. Now on Tap makes it easier to access the information or services I want without switching between multiple windows.
The fact the Nexus 5X uses an untouched version of Marshmallow is doubly awesome as it will let the phone be updated to new versions of Android significantly faster than most skinned handsets.
This is because Android skins – such as Samsung’s Touchwiz, Huawei’s emotion UI and HTC’s Sense – have to be tweaked to work with updates’ code, a practice that can take weeks, if not months.
Nexus 5X – Performance
The Nexus 5X is powered by a 1.8 GHz, hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, Adreno 418 GPU and 2GB RAM.
A few months ago I’d have said these specs are a steal for £340. But, thanks to the appearance of key handsets, such as the £250 OnePlus 2 and £360 Moto X Style, they’re not that amazing.
The OnePlus 2 runs on a Snapdragon 810 processor with 3-or-4GB RAM. The Moto X Style features a Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB RAM.
Benchmarking the Nexus 5X’s scores are reasonably impressive, though. On Geekbench the phone ran in with a 3,543 multi-core score. On the GPU intensive 3DMark Icestorm Unlimited the Nexus 5X scored 18,916.
The score puts the Nexus 5X, on paper, slightly below the Moto X Style and OnePlus 2. The Moto X Style scored 3,597,on Geekbench while the OnePlus scored 4,460.
With real world use, the Nexus 5X’s performance is pretty good. The phone is smooth to use and navigates between menu screens and windows with no discernible chug of stutter . Applications open in milliseconds and the software is pristinely bug-free.
The Nexus 5X is also more than fast enough for 3D gaming and ran demanding titles, like Riptide GP2 and Grand Theft Auto hassle-free.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.