Being the supporting act to a high profile product can be a horribly cruel fate – just ask the iPhone 5c or the Compact series of devices that have come in the wake of Sony’s Xperia Z flagships. So one cannot help but feel a twinge of sympathy for the Nexus 5X that has been asked to carry the bridal trail of the Nexus 6P. It is getting its place in the spotlight all right, but well behind the 6P.
And well, to be brutally honest, it does look like a supporting act – unlike the metallic 6P, the 5X is an all plastic affair. Mind you, it is much better quality plastic than the smudge prone Nexus 5, whose spiritual successor it is supposed to be. In terms of design, however, the 5X seems to be more from the Motorola school than the LG one – the 5.2 inch display is flanked by speakers above and below, and the slightly convex curves at the top and base of the device have been replaced by straight lines, although the corners remain gently curved. The volume rocker and the display/power buttons are now on the same side (the right), as compared to different ones on the 5 – the SIM card slot is on the left, though.
Similarly, both the USB port (type C, mind) and the 3.5 mm audio jack have been moved to the base of the device instead of being on opposite ends. Then there is the feature that for most people is the most compelling one on the Nexus 5X – the 12.3-megapixel camera with laser autofocus and dual tone flash. The camera that is supposed to end the perception of Nexus being as good on the snap as a toothless shark. It juts out a fair bit, which is oddly reminiscent of some of the Lumias and has none of the adornment that the Nexus 5’s less-hyped shooter did (remember those concentric circles around it) and just below it is the fingerprint scanner and then the iconic Nexus logo – printed rather than engraved, though.
Yes, all this is in an impressively slim frame (7.9 mm) and at 136 grammes, the Nexus 5X is lightweight too. And truth be told, it feels more comfortable to hold than the much larger Nexus 6P. However, try as one might, one cannot dodge the signs of cost cutting – the absence of a unibody, the use of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 rather than the 4 used on the 6P, the use of plastic even for the buttons, the printing of the logo rather than engraving it. This is a feeling that comes across when we sees the spec sheet too – yes, the full HD display is good and we know the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor did a very good job on the LG G4, but the 2 GB of RAM (so Nexus 4!), the 16 GB / 32 GB storage options, and the 2700 mAh battery are definitely not in keeping with the “premium” tag that Google India head Rajan Anandan slapped on to the new Nexus devices. Let’s be brutal, the Moto X Style offers more in hardware and design terms at a lower price, oh and it comes with pure Android too.
Our first impressions of the Nexus 5X are therefore, a trifle mixed. It definitely is not the dazzling beauty that the 6P is and bears the scars of costs that have been cut, but its compactness has a charm of its own, especially in these days of phones designed to extend the palm! Raju PP summed it up at the launch, when holding the 6P in one hand and the 5X in the other, he remarked: “Bhai, the 6P looks so much better, but the 5X just feels more comfortable in the hand.”
But will that be enough to keep the likes of the Moto X Style and OnePlus 2 at bay? Stay tuned for our detailed review.