Tatsuhiko Miyagawa's Blog

Nexus 5X review

November 26, 2015

I’ve been using Nexus 5X for a month now. This is my belated personal review on this device.

The Hardware

I was expecting that the hardware is almost identical to Nexus 5. It’s not really the case. The hardware is quite big and is actually something between Nexus 5 and iPhone 6 Plus. It is very comfortable to use on my hand though.

The first thing that I noticed in the first few days was that the vibration motor makes some annoying beep when making a vibration. This is pretty noticeable and annoys when you hear it in the morning or night in the bed side. I turned on the DND mode for most of the time when I’m supposed to be in bed, like 1am to 8am.

It makes me realize how great iPhone 6s Taptic Engine is for light notifications, since it doesn’t make a buzz when you put them on the table but you’ll notice that in your hands or in your pocket.

Ambient Display and Nexus Imprint

Ambient Display is a great feature that makes a dimmed screen lighten up whenever there’s a notification coming in, or when you pick up a phone from a table or pocket. It is very useful to just see what time it is or what notifications you have. They are the kind of things you can see on your wrist if you use smart watches like Pebble though. Ambient Display, combined with the Nexus Imprint, makes it almost unnecessary to unlock your phone with the power button. You pick up your phone and see the ambient screen show up, and put your index finger in the back to unlock. This is a nice pattern.

The only problem though is that the Ambient Display is kind of a hit and miss — it works most of the times, but sometimes doesn’t.

The imprint fingerprint scanner is fast, but not so crazy fast as iPhone 6s Touch ID. I was a bit worried about it being in the back of the phone, but I actually got used to it pretty quickly.


The camera takes great shots. It is very comparable to iPhone 6s camera, and iPhone takes bright photos most of the time, whereas Nexus takes a bit darker, but often richer and more natural colors. I took some shots in a bar with very dark light, and the produced photos were phenomenal.

See more photos at My Flickr Album.

The camera software is pretty bad though. It is not very responsive, and takes a while to boot when I activate the camera by double tapping the power button. I tried some other third party cameras like Z Camera or VSCO: they either do not save photos to Gallery by default (which makes backing up with Dropbox and Google Photos complicated), takes worse photos, or has full of ads. Google recognizes this issue and seems to be working on a software update, so I can hope.

Battery Life

Android OS has improved its performance and battery life over the last few iteration of its operating system. Marshmallow on Nexus 5X is snappy, but I’m sad to say that it still has lags. I don’t know if it has not enough RAM, or Snapdragon 808 CPU is not as snappy, but i can definitely tell from time to time the OS just freezes the UI and lags for a few seconds when I try to open an app. Not always, but when it happens it drives me crazy. This kind of thing would almost never happen with an iPhone.

The Doze feature saves a lot of battery life when the phone is put on the table, and the rapid charging (see below) charges the phone pretty fast. This made me change my charging pattern, so that instead of charging the phone overnight, I only charge it when I take a shower in the morning until I leave home, which is about 1 hour. That is enough to bring this phone up to 100% of battery.

The only problem with Doze feature, is that there’s some software bugs that it misses some important notifications like Hangout SMS, or alarms. I missed the alarm a couple of times because of the Doze feature — who would expect the battery saving feature of the phone could stop ringing an alarm? That’s just embarrassing.

USB Type-C

The type C cable is pretty neat so that I can finally forget about flipping the cable to see which side is up or down. One issue with Nexus 5X is that Google/LG has only shipped USB-C to USB-C cable and its own power brick. If you want to charge the phone with a regular mobile battery power or a computer (other than the new Macbook) you’d need a USB-A to C cable, or an adapter.

The type-C rapid charging is kind of cool, and you’ll see the “Charging rapidly” message on the lock screen if you use with the charger that supports rapid charging. It is different from Moto’s Quick Charge, and rapid charge is hit and miss with Macbook USB ports. The charge is about 1–2% per minute, so from 0% to the full it would usually take about 2 hours or less.


Overall I like this phone, but I hate this phone at the same time because it takes such a great photo but the camera app is the worst. Also, I didn’t expect the phone OS to be as laggy as this one in 2015, even though I knew this isn’t the most high-end phone.

It is a great device, $400 for 32GB makes such a good primary phone for a budget, if only Google can bring in a software update to address these software issues.