Tuesday , October 24 2017

Opinion: The Nexus 5X, and why it is considered by some to be a huge disappointment

Nexus 5X Title

When Nexus time comes around in the latter half of each year, it’s a special place for real lovers of Android; we get to see the vision that Google (and its partner manufacturers) have for Android in the coming months. In fact, it’s an exciting time of year for us, and 2015 was no different.

The rumours proved correct, and there were two devices from two different manufacturers; this only added to the excitement, especially as the two brands are well respected. Huawei has done great things over the last 12 to 18 months with their brand recognition and market penetration as well as delivering some really solid devices.  LG, for their part, have built a great line of products over the last couple of years, including their Nexus 5 and own-branded G-range, capped off with last year’s G4 which was an absolute gem of a device and remains a powerful phone even today.

With this is mind, it’s easy to understand why we (and the industry generally) were pretty excited at the prospect of two killer Nexus devices, and the Nexus 5X and 6P certainly sounded like they’d fit this description.

However, while Huawei’s Nexus 6P has undoubtedly hit it out of the park, LG’s Nexus 5X isn’t receiving nearly as much love. In fact, some of those who’ve bought the Nexus 5X are experiencing a good amount of buyer’s remorse.

The Hardware Aspect

LG have built a reputation of making great hardware, and on paper, the Nexus 5X really shouldn’t be a slouch. It carries much of the same hardware as the G4 which is (as already mentioned) an absolute gem. Featuring a Hexa-core Snapdragon 808 Processor, Adreno 418 GPU, 2GB of RAM (wouldn’t have taken much to go to 3GB would it?) and your choice of 16 or 32 GB of storage, there’s nothing about the Nexus 5X on paper that looks exceptionally bad.

Quite the opposite. On paper, it looks amazing.

The experience, though, has been anything but, and there’s two areas that the hardware falls down.

Somehow, the Snapdragon 808 isn’t as fast and snappy in the Nexus 5X as it was on the LG G4; this

is surprising, because the Nexus 5X doesn’t have LG’s custom skin or bells and whistles. It’s stock Android, and it should be faster, but it isn’t.

The jankiness is not omnipresent, but it is easily spotted; switching apps is sometimes slow, multi-tasking can bring things to a grinding halt, loading the camera can be excruciating (more on that later).

It’s unclear whether its a software or hardware issue, or a combination of both, but the Bluetooth stack is ridiculous. Google Play Music works nicely with car stereos; where a Bluetooth Audio connection is present, it’s used consistently, delivering a good experience. Other apps, somehow, seem to completely ignore the existence of a Bluetooth Audio connection, and play music through the phone’s speaker even though Bluetooth is connected up. It’s not specific to any one app, leading me to believe that the phone is at fault; other phones — with the same apps — don’t have this issue.

Camera Woes

On the topic of the camera …. just don’t even talk to us about it. It has some good points, but some really terrible ones.

The Camera hardware at least is pretty sweet and very capable of delivering some outstanding photo results.  Only offering a 12MP sensor isn’t what you’d call “brilliant” but as we regularly state, megapixels aren’t everything!  At the end of the day, the megapixels are a small influencing factor in the end result but of much higher importance is the optics on the camera.  Where the 5X camera could shine above others is the 1.55um pixel size which lets in a lot of light: giving the camera the capability to perform extremely well in low light conditions and minimise motion blur or shakiness of photos by employing faster shutter speeds.

Then we get to the camera software. It’s a stinking pile of … well, you get the idea. Whoever designed the updated camera app did so while half asleep; it looks nice, but doesn’t perform.

There, we said it. It’s so slow that it makes Sony’s lacklustre camera software look fast. We’re talking many seconds delay in loading the camera, shutter lag that’d miss all but the slowest of children or action sequences, and lag even when changing the orientation of the phone. LG might have pretty good camera hardware in the Nexus 5X, but the camera software is awful. It utterly destroys the experience, and leaves a really foul taste in the mouth.

Chris says he’s really sorry, LG. He really loves you guys, and your G4 is still one of his favourite phones of all time. However, the Nexus 5X camera experience is a massive letdown.

Lacklustre battery life

Another disappointment on the Nexus 5X is the variable and sometimes unpredictable battery performance.  While the end result is not wildly varied, it is surprising how different the battery use can be on a day to day basis with similar usage patterns to the day before.  There are sometimes when the phone appears to get stuck on high CPU for no apparent reason during the day, getting warm and destroying the battery.  Others when the phone ‘dozes’ and notifications don’t come through to the device or you get smashed with a heap of notifications when you next wake the device.  This appears to be another software issue with the phone that detracts from what should be an outstanding user experience, but ends up delivering an inconsistent one that detracts from the phone’s experience.

As a phone the Nexus 5 is a decent device; the form factor is popular, the sound quality is good, it’s capable indoors and out, and the screen is good, whether it’s being used for texting, emailing or enjoying some multimedia playback.  That all sounds like a really great start, but that is the extent of the experience positivity with the Nexus 5X.  

It looks like it promises so much … but the delivery just misses the mark.

Inconsistent performance and touch accuracy

Android Marshmallow is solid and when it’s optimised for the hardware and for the most part the Nexus 5X delivers a predictable Android experience, at least initially…

We’ve already spoken about the ‘quality’ of the camera software and performance on the Nexus 5X, but the ‘joys of ownership’ don’t quite end there.

If you own a Nexus 5X and have tried to use the device while its on charge you’ll know exactly what we mean.  The screen response is akin to old school resistive touchscreen monitors, the lag on the software is diabolic and only a fool would try to type while the device is on charge.  You can either use your phone or charge it because while it’s charging, even some of the simplest functions are near-on unusable.

On top of that, the touch accuracy seems to be off pretty well most of the time; typing on the Nexus 5X is appreciably more difficult than on competing smartphones. I don’t know why it is, but the Nexus 5X makes me think I have dumb-fingers, where the same keyboard (SwiftKey) on other handsets manages to figure out exactly what I’m trying to say, and it says it.

I don’t know how, or why, the Nexus 5X is so bad in this respect, but as I say — it’s appreciably bad. It just shouldn’t be.

The lag can quite likely be attributed to the processor falling behind; when installing Play Store apps, the phone slows considerably, to the point that it’s basically unusable when apps are being installed.

Clearly there is a lot of room for improvement in this device and on paper at least, it can be done with software updates.  But the volume of issues can’t all be attributed to the software can they?  The Nexus 6P specs aren’t significantly higher than the 5X, yet it doesn’t have any of these experience destroying issues.

Sadly delivering a device of this quality is a massive failure on the part of LG and has likely done them a little reputational damage in the eyes of their potential customer base. This, after the stellar effort with the LG G4, and ahead of the fascinating rumours surrounding the LG G5, leave us just a little bit puzzled.

The mysterious Nexus 5P

During their reddit AMA, the team behind the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P told their fans that the P in 6P stood for premium, while the X in 5X, well to quote directly ‘X for the core of the Nexus brand (plus it sounds cool!)’ – so where’s the 5P?

There’s a lot of love out there for smaller form factor phones. Sony’s Xperia Z series Compact line receives a lot of attention every year for its almost uncompromised hardware on the smaller form factor. And generally every year, the Moto G with its smaller size and decent hardware gets a lot of love – and heck, we all LOVE the original Nexus 5 don’t we (let’s forget about the camera and battery life)?

So where’s the premium Nexus 5? Well, Google, or at least the Nexus team has apparently heard users concerns and there’s hope for the future, with Nexus team members at a ‘Nexus’ event in New York city in December telling users that they have heard feedback loud and clear. They haven’t outright promised a Nexus 5P next year, but well, the thoughts are definitely heading that direction.

Where to from here?

You might read this as us hating on LG, and really, nothing could be further from the truth. Chris remains a steadfast fan of LG’s work, and if anything, he’s disappointed for LG that the Nexus 5X wasn’t the pocket rocket that it could’ve been. We’ve seen such great things from LG, both recently and in years gone by, and we hope they can turn this around. We’re very excited by the rumours of a new G-series phone this year and the rumours already sound rather incredible.

If LG can pull off the LG G5, and have it be half as good as it sounds it might, a revamped, premium Nexus 5 variant in 2016 from LG could well turn the tide of public opinion around.

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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45 Comments on "Opinion: The Nexus 5X, and why it is considered by some to be a huge disappointment"

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Danske
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Danske

100% agree with everything in this article. The Nexus 5x is a dud of a phone and Google / LG should either come out and say “we well messed up” or do a product recall for people experiencing issues. I am convinced it’s hardware related.

Pesobill
Valued Guest
Pesobill

Love my N5X, no issues, great battery life and none of the issues the writer had. Love the size and it functions well.. I bought it under $300 so happy.. It also has great reception and amazing wifi signal, impressive..

Andy Bradley
Valued Guest
Andy Bradley
I had a 6P but as you probably know there are issues with it on the Telstra network. I swapped to a Samsung S6 and had even more trouble and that’s how I came to owning a nexus 5X. I have had it for a month now and haven’t had any issues. I’m a service tech and use it all day for work. Battery lasts all day with no issues. This is with playing my music though the car via Bluetooth. It has worked in rural areas where the above 2 didn’t. I run it on stock Android apps mostly,… Read more »
TT
Valued Guest

Not surprised, LG can never make good mobile phones, even watch. That’s the reason this year I have a choice and bought a huawei Nexus. Much much better than rubbish LG Nexus.

Ian Thomas
Valued Guest
Ian Thomas
I replaced my Nexus4 with the 5X and I can’t say it’s been a great experience. The first phone I got was replaced after about 3 weeks when it suddenly stopped seeing any Wi-Fi networks and the next one seems to be a dog too – seems that having Bluetooth switched on but not in use will cause the battery to last less than 8 hours with no use of the phone at all! This is in Safe Mode, so no 3rd party apps. I can feel the heat of the phone in my pocket just draining it’s life away.… Read more »
Andrew
Valued Guest
Andrew

Can absolutely relate to all the issues you guys are having with your 5X. Coming from a N5 I thought the 5X would be the perfect follow up (love the one-handedness of the 5). Currently on my second replacement 5X from Telstra and the issues are all still there. The touchscreen losing sensitivity while charging was the last straw for me – just yesterday I went out and bought a 6P. The 6P is a stellar phone and if they made a 5P I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it.

Danske
Valued Guest
Danske

Did you get a refund via Telstra? I’ve had my phone since December and I fear it might be too late to get a refund lol.

jdt1986
Valued Guest
jdt1986

The (at least initial) starting price was my main disappointment, and it was why I abandoned the Nexus line and went with a Moto G 2015 instead, which I got for $255. The next Nexus needs to start at under $500 AUD…

magn0053
Valued Guest

Hmm, some of these problems seems familiar on my old Nexus 5, though it ran fine untill I updated to Android 6, that ruined everything, except battery when my phone is 100% idle, and Android 6.1 didn’t help in any way

Kelvin Chan
Valued Guest
Kelvin Chan

I think you just had overly high expectations for the 5X tbh. I love my new 5X handset for the very reasonable price tag it comes at. Sure, its not as high powered as the 6P but most of us buy a device based on its screen size, not its internal specs.

Jay
Valued Guest

Definitely agree with the comments abt the slow camera UI. Went from N5 to 5X and it’s so bad at times I’ve considered going back.

Marcos Morales
Valued Guest
Marcos Morales

Nokia Nexus. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Phill Edwards
Valued Guest
Phill Edwards

Wow, this is a harsh review! My 5X performs just fine. The main annoyance for me is that the battery life is poor, especially compared to the LG G2 I had before. And, now you mention it, there are some issues with Bluetooth, and it’s only now you mention it that I realise it could be a problem with this model.

Herwin Tan
Valued Guest
Herwin Tan

I believe the 5x in this review is from a bad batch. I own a nexus 5x h790 and has been using it as my daily driver for a month. None of the problem mentioned above occured to me. In fact, i’m typing while charging my phone right now, no problem here.

Luis Figueroa
Valued Guest
Luis Figueroa

^This, had mine since early December and no issues. I’m able to use the phone while charging just fine and no lag or camera issues.

Dan
Valued Guest

My 6p has also been somewhat of a disappointment. I love the phone heaps but starts slowing down and battery life gets worse. I used to get 4.5-5 hours of sot . even restoring or flashing back to earlier 6.0.1 hasn’t helped. I think it’s just the software and hopefully new updates help

李三乎
Valued Guest
李三乎

Actually, you should try battery save softwares. I’ve got similar problem, but it can last for more than one day after installing my software ( I don’t know it’s english name, what I see is only the Chinese name. But there are so many softwares could do this)

Member

I wonder if there is a bad batch out there. Both my brothers and my daughter haven’t complained about any of these things. I’ll have to ask them about it.

altechi
Valued Guest
altechi

Time to use another oem I think. Heck, it’s not like they don’t have potential suitors. Get HTC, Sony or Samsung.

jdt1986
Valued Guest
jdt1986

I would LOVE to see a Sony Nexus!

Chris
Valued Guest

I’d like to see what Sony does with a Nexus … and these days, both HTC and Samsung would probably do something wonderful.

jhillsy
Valued Guest
jhillsy

Yes. Give me a Z5 Compact Nexus and I’m sold!

JD
Valued Guest

I blame Google. Clearly the hardware is capable. As seen on the G4. Google always makes a dog’s breakfast of good hardware.

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael

Yes, I don’t get the article’s insistence on blaming LG. Google is just as culpable.

And I think people forget how bad the camera and battery life and general performance of the N5 was on release. It improved significantly over time – I suspect the N5X will also improve with newer Android releases.

Andrew Darlington
Valued Guest
Andrew Darlington
It’s Google’s job to provide the complete software suite in the form.of the latest iteration of Android (in this case 6.0 “Marshmallow”) and the manufacturer’s job to stitch it together with the hardware they have built (under Google’s guidance). If the stitching is bad yes, Google is partly at fault, but its mostly LG. The OS (Android) software performs very well on other devices with no glaring issues. And that hardware setup performs very well on other devices. So if the OS isn’t to blame, and the hardware isn’t the problem (which clearly it isn’t) then the only things left… Read more »
mrjayviper
Valued Guest
mrjayviper

Google signed off on the device though otherwise it wouldn’t have been released…

Andrew Darlington
Valued Guest
Andrew Darlington

Also fair

magn0053
Valued Guest

I know that it’s easy to blame either of the companies, and you need more knowlegde to do so, but actually I agree a little only blaming google.

I think the biggest part of the errors comes due to bad coding of OS, and I can tell because I after updating my N5 to Android 6.0 got significantly more errors, bugs and slower performance, so actually I think that JD is sort of right

Andrew Darlington
Valued Guest
Andrew Darlington

Fair

David
Valued Guest
David

It is too big! I was looking forward to it, but very disappointed when they released this monster size phone with just a 5.2″ display. I am still using the LG G2, which also has a 5.2″ display but is only 138x71mm in size. The 5X with same size display is 147×72.6! Would love a compact new phone, lile the G2, but with fingerprint scanner and more power.

C J
Valued Guest

Nice article, i got a 5X and all what is written is true

Fred
Valued Guest
Fred
Everything being pointed to is software based, no? And software on Nexus devices is down to google. Rather than being LG issues, isn’t it much more likely an issue of google putting the B team on the 5X and the A team on the 6P? Most of the issues sound like optimisation, so it’s even possible that they optimised for the 6P and essentially ignored the 5X. And who was responsible for the looks? Both phones have been mercilessly beaten with the ugly stick. Realistically I’d say that Android is being held back by google and their neglect. Phones have… Read more »
Kyle Beck
Valued Guest
Kyle Beck

The 5x is a budget version of the nexus. If it was performance you were looking for then spend the extra money for the 6p. It’s not meant to compare with the g4 or any other flagship device. It is not a flagship device. It’s intention is to be a budget offering for those with slow older phones who want to come over to the pure Android side. I’ve had so many people complain about the 5x to me and I just don’t understand. It isn’t the flagship premium nexus device.

fitnesspro22
Valued Guest
fitnesspro22

It is not the 5 either. I truly enjoyed the 5 for two years and it was the fastest phone ever. Now, the 6P is better as it should be and a trifle faster. But the X? No way. It doesn’t come close to the 5 except in paper. The LG G4 is slower compared to the 5. After two months with the 6P, I am still getting used to the size. So, a 5P is in order, even if it cost more than the 5X.

chasechs
Valued Guest
chasechs

We this was LG’s 3rd shot at the target and they still didn’t hit it. My biggest disappointed is that Google still uses them to make the Nexus.

Chris
Valued Guest

Not sure I’d agree with that.. the Nexus 4 was (excluding its glass back) a great phone, and so was the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5X is sadly a bit disappointing, compared to LG’s past and more recent endeavours, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying LG are a disappointment to the Nexus program; they’ve released some of the better handsets, though Huawei have done significantly better in 2015 on the Nexus front.

OzJason
Valued Guest
OzJason
I was genuinely looking forward to this phone, it was to have been my 4th Nexus phone in a row. Some of the rumours (microsd support, big battery) had me sold and I even preordered a case befofe launch. Then it was released and I realised it was not at all an upgrade on the N5. It is extremely underwhelming. I had my cash ready.. considered the 6P but there was no indication from Google when Aussies would get it, so I moved on. Now rocking an Xperia Z5 and loving it. A 2016 N5 will really have to smash… Read more »
Sketch
Valued Guest
Sketch

I wasn’t that impressed by the specs or design. Them my N5 died just a couple of weeks after the launch, so I bought one and was pleasantly surprised at just how much of an improvement it was. The massively improved battery life alone is worth the upgrade.

fruitloop
Valued Guest
fruitloop

Skimped on the 5X because it was very poor value for money. Managed to get the 32GB 6P for the ripper price of $650, and it seems I’ll never be satisfied about how big the thing is, even with big hands and using it for 2 weeks. This is also the warmest phone I’ve used, but in all other departments it’s met my expectations.

Can definitely empathise with the desire for a 6P crammed into 5X form factor (with increased width for bigger battery, perhaps).

Member

Sony’s Z compact series fits the bill then.

Mojo
Valued Guest
Mojo

Wow, talked about the disappointments of the Nexus 5X without even mentioning that they dropped wireless charging

Straker
Valued Guest
Straker

The missing wireless charging was the biggest killer of the 2015 Nexus range.

Phil Tann
Valued Guest

Wireless charging was never a particularly big deal for me personally…
Losing it, in favour of fast charge was a win for me

craigo
Valued Guest

It’s only in favour of if you compare it to the Nexus 5. The Nexus 6 has both fast charging and wireless charging. So, it feels like a loss to me.

Shakeel Ali
Valued Guest
Shakeel Ali

I feel as if they could have done both on the 5X (why they didnt on the 6p is understandable). Fast charging, from what i’ve read is really something implemented by the chip maker and the SOC. I mean, the Nexus line is meant to be Google’s premier line of phone to lead the way for other manufacturers. In all honesty i would’ve preferred it to things like a fingerprint reader (which i love on my 6p btw).

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