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Nexus 5X vs. Nexus 5: Was it worth the wait?

After two years, Google has finally upgraded the Nexus 5. The new Nexus 5X is, like many upgrades, bigger, badder, meaner, and leaner. But has it resolved any of its predecessor’s issues? Does it deserve to supplant your old Nexus 5? We dig into the specs and pit Nexus 5X vs. Nexus 5 in a head-to-head battle.

Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X

Nexus 5

Nexus 5

Size  147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm  137.9 x 69.2 x  8.6 mm
Weight  136 grams (4.8 oz)  130 grams (4.59 oz)
Screen  5.2-inch  4.95-inch
Resolution  1920 x 1080 pixels  1920 x 1080 pixels
OS  Android 6.0,  Marshmallow  Android 6.0,  Marshmallow
Storage  16GB, 32GB  16GB, 32GB
SD Card Slot  No  No
Processor  Snapdragon™ 808  Snapdragon™ 800
RAM  2 GB  2 GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE, NFC Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE, NFC
Camera  Front 5MP, Rear 12.3MP  Front 1.3MP, Rear 8MP
Water Resistant  No  No
Fingerprint Sensor Nexus Imprint sensor No
Bluetooth  Yes, version 4.2  Yes, version 4.0
Battery  2,700 mAh  2,300 mAh
Charger  USB Type-C  microUSB
Marketplace  Google Play Store  Google Play Store
Ave. Price  From $379 $350 (discontinued)
Availability  Unlocked  Unlocked
DT Review Hands on 4.0 out of 5 stars

Power

Out of the gate, the Nexus 5X has a more powerful hexa-core processor that outpaces the aging quad-core processor in the Nexus 5. It’s not cutting edge, but it will play the latest Android games, and it’s a great deal snappier than the hardware in its predecessor. The 2GB of RAM has been deemed enough, so there’s no upgrade there for the 5X.

With a USB Type-C charger the Nexus 5X can be recharged a lot faster, offering nearly four hours of use from just ten minutes of charging. The battery capacity is also slightly larger, but so is the screen. On balance, the 5X should outlast the Nexus 5, though both will benefit from the power-saving features of Android 6.0, Marshmallow. It’s worth noting that the wireless charging capability of the Nexus 5 has been dropped in the 5X.

Design

The Nexus 5X isn’t a great deal different from the Nexus 5 in terms of design. The Nexus 5X is a little thinner, a little more square, and is available in carbon, quartz, and ice — or dark gray, white, and light blue, respectively. As mentioned in our hands on of the Nexus 5X, the phone definitely has a light, plastic-y feel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One drawback is that the phone’s svelte nature makes the camera bulge out awkwardly from its body. Not only does it look a bit funny, but it prevents the 5X from lying completely flat if laid down on its back without a case. This was true of the Nexus 5, too, but it was far more subtle.

One huge upgrade in design that sets the 5X apart, is the incorporation of a fingerprint sensor, which allows quick and easy access to the phone and apps. The placement of the sensor on the back of the phone is comfortable, and it improves on its memory of your fingerprint, so that it gets faster and more accurate each time it’s used.

Related: Nexus 6P vs. Nexus 5X

Camera

The camera is where we see the biggest improvement in specs. The old 8-megapixel Nexus 5 camera is blown out of the water by the 12.3MP rear camera in the Nexus 5X. The new model can also shoot 4K video and slow motion at 120FPS, it has IR laser-assisted autofocus, and it features a broad-spectrum CRI-90 dual flash. The camera in the Nexus 5X also has a better sensor with bigger pixels so, although the camera isn’t equipped with optical image stabilization (OIS), it should still fare better in low light. The front-facing camera on the Nexus 5X is a big improvement, too — up to 5-megapixels from just 1.3-megapixels — so those selfies will look sharp.

Price

Two years later and multiple improvements, and the price of the Nexus 5X is only $30 more than the $349 that the Nexus 5 retailed for. At a starting price of $379, the Nexus 5X is extremely reasonable. To opt for increased storage (which we would definitely recommend) costs an additional $50.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest, the Nexus 5X is worth it for the camera upgrades alone. Throw in the beefed up processor and the fingerprint sensor, and you’ve got yourself a very solid upgrade to the Nexus 5. While it might have been nice to see some additional upgrades (microSD card support or a 64GB option spring to mind) we can’t grumble too much, because the price has only seen a small bump. The Nexus 5X is clearly superior, and worth making the leap for.

Nexus 5 available at: Amazon Best Buy

Nexus 5X available at: Google