As a fan of the Nexus 5, I was delighted to discover that Google has belatedly released a follow-up to this handset. Dubbed the Nexus 5X, this LG-made device provides solid build quality, a pure Android 6 software experience, and reasonable pricing.
Indeed, the Nexus 5X presents a problem for anyone who was hoping that Microsoft’s Lumia 950 would set the world on fire. These two phones—the 5X and the 950—have a lot of common. And while it’s fair to say that the Lumia comes out ahead in a few areas, I have to give the nod to the Nexus overall.
Granted, it’s early yet. But consider the following.
Both devices are … similar. They’re both 5.2 inch handsets with hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processors, for example, though the Lumia offers more RAM (3 GB) than the Nexus (2 GB). Both include USB-C for charging.
The Lumia provides a higher resolution screen, at 2560 x 1440, compared to “just” 1920 x 1080 on the Nexus. It’s highly likely that the Lumia 950’s 20 megapixel camera is superior to the 12.3 megapixel unit on the Nexus, but that will require testing.
The Nexus does outclass the Lumia in some key areas too, though. It ships with a fantastic fingerprint reader, which I find superior to the slow Windows Hello iris scanner on the Lumia. It is even lighter (136g) than the very light (150g) Lumia, and while the Lumia does indeed feel cheap, the Nexus feels wonderful, and of high quality. (To achieve that feel, the Nexus cannot be opened, so you can’t access or replace the battery, as you can with Lumia, and no microSD slot is offered, as with the Lumia.)
Unlike the Lumia, the Nexus 5X will work on all major carriers, including Verizon here in the U.S. So this phone is truly portable, in the sense that it can move with you to new carriers should the need arise.
I assume I don’t need to explain to anyone why Android’s superior app and mobile payment stories are big draws.
Amazingly, the Nexus is significantly less expensive than the Lumia 950 as well. Where Microsoft’s phone costs $550 for an unlocked unit with 32 GB of storage, the Nexus 5X starts at $380 for an unlocked 16 GB version, or can be had with 32 GB of storage for $430. (Both Nexus models are currently on sale for $80 off, which is a great deal.)
This is a solidly made handset. The packaging is great, as is all modern Google device packaging, and you really feel like you’ve picked up something special.
The software is getting better too. With Android 6.0, Google finally has something to crow about, and while Windows phone fanatics will correctly complain about the user experience issues of a whack-a-mole grid of icons, Google is in many ways moving past that with Google Now and On Tap, which deemphasize apps much in the way live tiles do on Windows.
I’ll need to spend some time with the Nexus 5, of course. Test the camera. See what day-to-day performance, and battery life, is like. But right off the bat it seems that Google has gotten the value equation just right with this release: It’s a well-made phone with great specs and killer pricing. And that is something we cannot say about the Microsoft Lumia 950.