The fingerprint sensor is positioned on the back of the phone just below the camera, right where your index finger naturally lies. The Nexus Imprint sensor is the best fingerprint scanner I have used to date. It’s one of the fastest available instantly recognising my finger and unlocking the phone with near 100% accuracy. Its position on the back, below the camera, is a natural place for your index finger to rest when holding the device. I found I unlocked the phone simply by picking it up and I never felt like I was going to drop it when unlocking it, as I have done with home button-style fingerprint scanners. The one downside is that you can’t unlock the device when it is flat on the table with a fingerprint, but you can just tap in a pin, password or pattern to unlock it instead. Marshmallow brings baked-in support for fingerprint scanners, which means greater third-party app support will come. Once you use a fingerprint scanner of this quality you will never want to go back to tapping in a pin.
The new Nexus camera is excellent – easily one of the best, if not the best camera I have had the pleasure to use on a smartphone. In good light the level of detail captured in photos is fantastic, and when blown up to full size suffers none of the over-sharpening or artefacts that many other do. Colours were natural and white balance was solid. I found the autofocus to be snappy and accurate for the most part, and macro shots looked particularly good. In low light I found it capable, It’s still a relatively compact smartphone, but now has a 5.2in screen and a longer body than the Nexus 5, which lets it fit in a front-facing speaker at the bottom. The top and bottom speakers do not work as a stereo pair, unfortunately. It is 7.9mm thick, covered in a smooth soft-touch plastic, and weighs 136g, making it one of the lightest top-end smartphones currently available. The 6.8mm thick Samsung Galaxy S6, for instance, weighs 138g. The iPhone 6S is 7.1mm thick and weighs 143g. It doesn’t feel quite as premium as the iPhone or Galaxy S6, but its plastic is high quality, warm to the touch and a lot easier to hold onto. The buttons on the side feel a little basic and cheap, but the rest of the phone feels very well built. The 5.2in screen is excellent. It has a 1080p resolution, a density of 423 pixels per inch and is pin sharp. The Galaxy S6’s 5.1in 2K display with 577ppi is technically sharper, but it is very difficult to spot the difference at that size of screen.
The Nexus 5X comes in three colours, black, white and ice (a kind of duck egg colour) and with either 16GB of storage costing £339 or 32GB for £379 from Google. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S6 with 32GB of storage currently costs £390, the 32GB Sony Xperia Z5 costs £540, and a 16GB iPhone 6S costs £539. The 16GB OnePlus 2 costs £239.
The Nexus 5X is a brilliant phone, with only minor downsides. The biggest is lacklustre battery life. It generally lasts a day, but no more, which is disappointing. The camera is excellent, the fingerprint scanner fantastic, it’s snappy, has a great screen and is both light and relatively small in a smartphone landscape dominated by phones with screens larger than 5.5in. It’s well future-proofed, apart from the lack of wireless charging, and is excellent value. The Nexus 5X is arguably the best smartphone available for around £350, but buy the 32GB version as 16GB of storage just isn’t enough.
Pros: excellent camera, fantastic fingerprint scanner, great screen, feels nice, light, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, snappy Cons: battery life could be better, no microSD card slot and no option for more than 32GB of storage, no wireless charging, only comes with USB-C to USB-C cable in the boxll smartphone cameras it really struggled in very dim light. The biggest issue is that the camera app is slightly slow. Taking HDR photos takes a steady hand and a second’s patience, for instance. It takes smooth video and can do 120FPS slo-mo, as well as 4K at 30FPS. The front-facing selfie camera did an admirable job, and produced snaps with surprisingly good detail in middling light. Double-pressing the power button launches the camera app, which works well. This is the best camera fitted to a Nexus device by a factor of 10 and is easily up there with the best of the rest.