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Nexus Spec Showdown: Nexus 6P vs. Nexus 5X

nexus  p vs x google
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

Google unveiled its newest Nexus smartphones — the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X — at a conference in San Francisco on September 29, and although they may share parentage, the two handsets couldn’t be less alike in appearance or price. That makes the job of prospective buyers everywhere tougher, but our handy breakdown should help narrow the options.

Huawei Nexus 6P

Phone Image

LG Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X Thumb

Size 159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3mm (6.27 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches) 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm (5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 178 grams (6.27 oz) 135 grams (4.80 oz)
Screen 5.7-inch AMOLED 5.2-inch IPS LCD
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels
OS Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Storage 32GB, 64GB, 128GB 16GB, 32GB
SD Card Slot No No
NFC Support Yes Yes
Processor 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (v2.1) 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM 3GB 2GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE
Camera Rear 12.3MP w/ IR laser-assisted autofocus,  Front 8MP Rear 12.3MP IR laser-assisted autofocus, Front 5MP
Bluetooth Yes, Version 4.2 Yes, Version 4.2
Sensors Barometer, gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, hall sensor, digital compass, Android Sensor Hub Barometer, gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, hall sensor, digital compass, Android Sensor Hub
Fingerprint Sensor Yes Yes
Misc. RGB LED notification light
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4, smudge-resistant oleophobic coating Corning Gorilla Glass 3, smudge-resistant oleophobic coating
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3,450 mAh battery Non-removable Li-Po 2,700 mAh battery
Charger USB Type-C USB Type-C
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Ave. Price From $499 From $379
Colors Aluminum, Graphite, Frost Carbon, Quartz, Ice
Availability Preorder starts Sept. 29, full release late October Preorder starts Setp. 29, full release late October
DT Review Coming soon Coming soon

Design and display

Given the bifurcated development of the two Nexus phones, it’s not surprising that the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X look and feel quite different.

Chinese phone maker Huawei’s Nexus, the Nexus 6P, takes a cue from HTC’s One series in adopting a fully anodized aluminum body. With the exception of a black plastic strip on the top rear that houses the handset’s camera, radios, and sensors, the Nexus 6P is composed entirely of metal and glass. The glass, speaking of, is Gorilla Glass 4, the newest iteration of manufacturer Corning’s protective touchscreen material.

The Nexus 6P’s corners are rounded, its edges chamfered, and the rear ergonomically curved. It’s a slick look, and one that serves to spotlight the 5.7-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) display.

Related: Read our hands on with the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X

LG’s Nexus 5X, on the other hand, exhibits a minimalist design philosophy very much in line with its predecessor, the Nexus 5 (2013). It’s made of injection-molded plastic and Gorilla Glass 3, and features considerably fewer embellishments. With the exception of a protrusion around the rear camera, it’s generally flat and understated.

The Nexus 5X’s 5.2-inch, 1080p LCD panel is a bit of a step down from the 6P’s, but the 5X has the advantage of compactness. That smaller display fits in a body measuring 5.79 x 2.86 x 0.31 inches, which is just a tad thicker, but shorter than the 6P (6.27 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches). It’s a good deal lighter, too, at 4.80 oz, which is almost a full two ounces less than the 6P (6.27 oz).

Size and weight are ultimately matters of personal preference, but the Nexus 6P undoubtedly takes the crown in the areas of build and display quality. Plastic may have its advantages, but the Nexus 6P appears beautifully sculpted, and it’s hard to argue the superiority of LCD over brilliantly saturated (if sometimes power hungry and color-inaccurate) AMOLED.

Winner: Nexus 6P

Power

Both the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X pack 64-bit Snapdragon chips, but the two occupy radically different places on the processing spectrum.

The 6P’s processor, the 810 (v2.1), is a 2.0GHz processor with eight cores in ARM’s big.LITTLE configuration. There are four powerful cores to handle processor-intensive tasks, such as gaming and video rendering and four less capable, power-conservative cores to assist with lighter loads.

Related: All the news from Google’s September 29 event

The Nexus 5X’s 808 processor is similar architecturally, but lacks two of the 810’s high-power cores. Instead, dual cores handle the intensive tasks, while the aforementioned low-power quad cores take on computational matters less taxing.

Day-to-day, the difference might not be all that noticeable. Use a lot of complex apps, though, and the 810 will no doubt shine. Also worth noting: the 810’s paired with a slightly revised GPU that can theoretically, for example, higher frame rates in graphics-heavy games. Of course, overheating could be a concern, as many 810 processors have been known to overheat. The new version that’s in the 6P doesn’t run as hot, though.

The 6P’s a winner on other performance fronts. It’s got more RAM (3GB vs. 2GB) than the Nexus 5X, which confers a multitasking advantage. It offers more storage — up to 128GB. And it’s got a much larger battery (2,700 mAh vs. 3,450 mAh), although the 6P’s higher-resolution screen and more powerful processor may partially negate that advantage. Still, from a raw numbers perspective, the 6P wins the hardware round.

Winner: Nexus 6P

Camera

The rear-facing cameras on the 6P and 5X appear by and large the same — both are 12.3MP shooters with f/2.0 apertures, IR laser-assisted autofocus, and dual flash — but differ in one facet. The 6P and 5X can capture up to 4K at 30 frames-per-second (FPS), but only the 6P can capture slow motion at a higher FPS — up to 240fps at 720p and 120fps at 1080p (the 5X is limited to 120fps at 720p).

The differences continue on the front. The 6P sports a 8MP front-facing shooter with an f/2.4 aperture that’s capable of high-def video capture at 30 fps. The 5X’s 5MP, f/2.0 aperture camera, meanwhile, lacks such HD capabilities.

Related: Read our hands on with the Chromecast (2015)

It’s tough to say how even (or not, as the case may be) the two cameras are without access to either, but as far as preliminary/speculative judgments go, the 6P’s superior slow-mo and better front-facing camera put it over the top in the camera category.

Winner: Nexus 6P

Unique features

The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X share a good number of really unique features that most high-end Android phones lack. They pack USB Type-C ports, they support fast charging, and they have 3-mic arrays for noise canceling.

But the 6P offers ever-so-slightly more, namely on the audio front. It’s got stereo front-facing speakers. Like many Nexus smartphones before it, it features a programmable RGB LED light that glows in response to app notifications.

The Nexus 6P wins yet again.

Winner: Nexus 6P

Availability and Price

The Nexus 6P may have utterly swept the Nexus 5X in every category so far, but pricing’s where things get trickier. The Nexus 5X is, it’s true, the cheaper of the two: it starts at $380 for 16GB ($430 for 32GB). The 6P, on the other hand, starts at a much pricier $500 and goes up from there: $550 for the 64GB model and $650 for the 128GB model.

The Nexus 5X easily takes the pricing crown.

Winner: Nexus 5X

Conclusion

By accumulated “wins” alone, the Nexus 6P has the edge over the Nexus 5X. But those wins aren’t the whole story. The 6P may be superior in almost every respect — design, computational prowess, battery life, and camera capabilities, to name a few — but not in price. Price, which is the factor that more than a few purchasing decisions will likely come down to, weighs heavily in the favor of the Nexus 5X.

And it’s competitive at its price, too. $380 for an unlocked, 1080p smartphone with a fingerprint reader, Type-C connectivity, and an excellent camera is nothing to scoff at. The Nexus 6P may technically be superior of the two Nexus phones, but there’s nothing objectively “bad” about or “wrong” with the 5X. It’s just a tier down.

What we mean to suggest, is you can’t go wrong. Value extras and have the money? Go with the 6P. Satisfied with what the 5X offers? Your decision’s made. We’re waiting on review units, but we expect neither will disappoint too much.