Hands On With the Nexus 5X and 6Pby Brandon Chester on September 29, 2015 4:05 PM EST
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Today Google announced several new devices at their September 2015 launch event in San Francisco. By far the most anticipated devices were the two new Nexus phones that were announced. The first is the Nexus 5X made by LG, a successor to the Nexus 5 which was released nearly two years ago in late 2013. The second is the Nexus 6P, which is made by Huawei and replaces the existing Nexus 6 made by Motorola. Both of these phones bring significant improvements over their predecessors, particularly the Nexus 5X which can take advantage of all the advancements made in the past two years. Below you can see the specifications for each of these new devices along with the specs of their predecessors to see how they compare.
|Google Nexus Smartphones|
|LG Nexus 5||LG Nexus 5X||Motorola Nexus 6||Huawei Nexus 6P|
|SoC||Snapdragon 800||Snapdragon 808||Snapdragon 805||Snapdragon 810|
|GPU||Adreno 330||Adreno 418||Adreno 420||Adreno 430|
|RAM||2GB LPDDR3||3GB LPDDR3||3GB LPDDR4|
|Display||5.0-inch 1920 x1080 IPS LCD||5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD||5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 AMOLED||5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 AMOLED|
|Wireless||1x1 802.11a/b/g/n/ac BT 4.2, NFC||2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac BT 4.2, NFC|
|I/O||microUSB, 3.5mm audio||USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio||microUSB, 3.5mm audio||USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio|
|Size / Mass||137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59mm, 130g||147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm, 136 grams||159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06mm, 184g||159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm, 178 grams|
|Battery||2300 mAh (8.74Wh)||2700mAh (10.26Wh)||3220 mAh (12.236Wh)||3450mAh (13.11Wh)|
|Camera||Rear Facing 8MP, 1/3.2", (Sony IMX179), F/2.4
12.3MP with 1.55µm pixels, F/2.0
5MP, F/2.0, 1.4µm
|Rear Facing 13MP, 1/3.06" (Sony IMX214), F/2.0.
12.3MP with 1.55µm pixels, F/2.0
8MP, F/2.0, 1.4µm
|Launch Price||$349 (16GB)||$379 (16GB)||$649 (32GB)||$499 (32GB)|
The Nexus 5X is similar to the Nexus 5 in some ways but different in others. The chassis is noticably thinner, although the camera protrudes a fairly significant amount. The device has gotten larger in the other dimensions as a result of its larger display. However, it's not that much larger, and during my time with it I never felt that it was difficult to hold. The SoC moves from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 to Snapdragon 808, with the amount of RAM and internal NAND remaining the same. The battery capacity receives a significant bump, going from 8.74Wh to 10.26Wh. As for the camera, it's greatly improved. The Nexus 5 was never known for having an amazing camera, and with these new Nexus phones Google appears to have implemented a custom camera sensor. It's a 12.3MP sensor with 1.55 micron pixels, which roughly equates to a 1/2.3" sensor format.
The back of the Nexus 5X feels similar to the material used in the black Nexus 5. There's also a blue model and a white model, and while I didn't get to try the white model the blue version seemed to have the same texture as the black one. The design of the phone diverges significantly from the appearance of the Nexus 5. There's no more raised black ring around the camera, which makes the current Nexus 9 a bit of a loner as it's the only device left that has that design accent. The camera has also been moved to the center of the back, while on the Nexus 5 it was situated in the upper corner. Something worth noting is that the Nexus 5X and 6P both lack OIS, something that existed on their predecessors. Google's rationale is that you won't need long exposures as the camera sensor and pixel size is large enough to work well without it. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, but OIS is still a useful feature and I think many users who are hoping to upgrade from an existing Nexus smartphone will be sad to see it gone.
On the software side, Android Marshmallow has a significantly improved camera app. Google has addressed many of the issues with menus and settings being difficult to find, and I also noticed that the camera preview frame rate on the Nexus 5X and 6P was much higher than on the Nexus 5 and 6.
Below the camera is Google's new fingerprint sensor. According to Google it can recognize a finger in under 600ms and has a very low error rate. It's difficult to say how it compares to other devices, and I wasn't able to get time to use it, so that will have to wait for when we actually review the Nexus 5X. The position on the back seems to be well chosen, and because it also will wake up the phone it doesn't suffer from the issue with some early rear-mounted fingerprint scanners which is that you had to wake the device first.
As for the front of the phone, there's not a whole lot to say. It's dominated by the display, with the earpiece on the top and a single speaker on the bottom and a front-facing camera to the left of the top speaker. The display itself seemed very good, and the color rendition looked similar to the Nexus 5 which is a good sign. While the Nexus 6P has an AMOLED display, the Nexus 5X is an IPS LCD.
Next is the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. Every aspect of the device feels like a large improvement over the Nexus 6. The first thing that stood out to me is the size. The Nexus 6 was extremely large and I couldn't hold it properly in really any circumstance. The Nexus 6P takes a step back to a 5.7" display, and the dimensions of the phone itself are not much larger than the iPhone 6s Plus despite the larger screen. Of course, you end up losing some real estate to the on screen buttons while the iPhone has a physical home button, but the point is that the phone is much easier to hold and use than the Nexus 6 was. The thickness also contributes to this as well, as the Nexus 6P is almost 3mm thinner than the Nexus 6.
Beyond the dimensions, the construction and feel of the phone is miles ahead of the Nexus 6. It's an aluminum unibody construction with a diamond cut edge edge, and the primarily plastic construction of the Nexus 6 isn't even remotely comparable. It's also fairly light considering the aluminum build and its size.
Something worth noting is that Google seems to have given Huawei and LG a lot of freedom when designing these new phones. The Nexus 5X doesn't share many visual characteristics with the 6P apart from the Nexus logo on the back and the fingerprint scanner. Rather than mounting the camera in the middle, Huawei has put it in the upper left corner like the old Nexus 5 did. The entire top of the back also has a slightly raised black bar. I'm honestly not a fan of this, as it just interrupts what should be a continuous aluminum surface.
Like the Nexus 5X, there's not a whole lot to say about the front of the Nexus 6P. It has stereo speakers, a front-facing camera, and a large display. The 6P bumps the front camera resolution up to 8MP from the 5X's 5MP, with a corresponding increase in sensor size to maintain the 1.4 micron pixel size.
The display is the part of the Nexus 6P that I was most curious about. The Nexus 5 was notable for having a very accurate display despite its low price, and with the Nexus 7 also having accurate calibration it was hoped that Google would continue this across all of their products. Unfortunately, the Nexus 6 shipped with a very poorly calibrated AMOLED display with low brightness. When I first used the Nexus 6P I was very upset to see that it was clearly oversaturated like the Nexus 6, but there's more to the story this time around. In the Nexus 6P's developer settings there is a switch to enable an sRGB mode, and when this switch is turned on the Nexus 6P's display appears to have similar color rendition to the Nexus 5X which is a very good sign. While we'll need to get a review unit in order to analyze all of the display's attributes, I am hopeful that Google has recognized and fixed the issues with the Nexus 6's display in the Nexus 6P.
On the top of the Nexus 6P you'll find a 3.5mm audio jack, whereas you'll have to move to the bottom to find it on the Nexus 5X. However what you won't find on the bottom of either Nexus phone is a USB Micro-B port; Google has decided to be forward looking, and like the Chromebook Pixel the new Nexus smartphones use the USB Type-C connector for data and charging. While this will come with some pain in the short run as users won't be able to use existing USB Micro-B cords, I think the benefits are worth it.
Both new Nexus devices also come with the new Android Sensor Hub. This essentially refers to the different sensors that the devices include, and how they are now controlled and managed by a dedicated processor rather than the device's application processor. This is important for features like Doze in Android Marshmallow, as it allows Google to use minimal power to check the status of sensors and determine whether or not to go into deep sleep.
For me personally, the Nexus 5X is the most interesting of Google's two new Nexus phones. I always like to see what vendors can do when they're targeting a price far less than that of a flagship smartphone. The Nexus 6P definitely has its appeal too though, and we'll be running both of them through our standard suite of tests in order to see how they compare to the competition. If you're already convinced that you want the Nexus 5X or 6P you can pre-order them online now from the Google Store so long as you live in the US, UK, Canada, Japan, or Ireland. The Nexus 5X starts at $379 and comes in black, white, and blue, while the Nexus 6P starts at $499 and comes in standard aluminum, white, and black.
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Ziich - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkHonestly I think Sony got it right with the sensor integrated in the side with the power button.
RdVi - Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - linkI can't get past the top and bottom bezels. Size is everything to me and unfortunately while these are both okay in the width department and great in the depth, height is still important to me as I find it greatly affects how a phone balances in the hand when used with one hand only. Of course on screen buttons will help a lot here as the phone can be held closer to the center but I still find the height questionable, stereo speakers and larger battery considered.
gfieldew - Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - linkGoogle has the Nexus 6P front facer listed with an f/2.4 aperture.
dragonsqrrl - Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - linkI was really excited for the 5X, but some of the specs have dampened my enthusiasm for it, the available storage capacities in particular. Why Google didn't make available a 64GB version is beyond me, and the decision to include only 2GB of memory rather than 3 is disappointing. 16GB shouldn't even be an option anymore simply due to the progress made in manufacturing processes, and the subsequent reduction in the per GB cost of NAND, not to mention the ever increasing storage demands of modern apps and media by end users. It's more than reasonable to expect 32 and 64GB as standard capacities at this point. The lack of stereo speakers is also disappointing, but at least its one speaker is front facing. I really feel like Google went too far with some of these compromises and trade offs, and the end result is a phone that seems far less appealing and doesn't feel like as much of a successor to the Nexus 5 as it could've.
gg555 - Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - linkAs always, I am wondering what noise cancellation the 6P will use. I'm assuming it's Qualcomm's mediocre Fluence noise cancellation, since that's built into the Snapdragon chipsets.
Say what you like about the Nexus 6, at least it has Motorola's four microphone noise cancellation, which is way better than Fluence and the best noise cancellation in a Nexus phone since the original Nexus One that had the Audience chip (still the best phone I ever had for call quality in noisey places).
So add downgrading to Fluence noise cancellation as another step backwards for the Nexus phones (in addition to the loss of OIS and wireless charging).
To me it seems like the Nexus line is no longer about having the latest and greatest hardware to show off Android. Instead it's just a good enough platform to showcase pure Android.
kspirit - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkThe N6 has the same mic array as the 2014 Moto X? Hm. This is a surprise. I thought it had dual mic only, since no one commented on it before.
gg555 - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkI researched this extensively, at the time, and confirmed with Motorola that it has the same four microphone noise cancellation (which makes sense since it basically is the same phone as the 2nd Gen Moto X). I also tested both phones and the seemed to perform similarly in noisy settings (quite good at fully blocking background sound).
gg555 - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkThis is interesting: http://www.slashgear.com/nexus-6p-hands-on-googles...
Slashgear lists in their specs that the 6P has three microphones, two one the front and one on the rear. If that's accurate maybe there will be some sort of noise cancellation that's better than Fluence.
Since two of the microphones are on the front (again if it's true) that would suggest (I think) they are for noise cancellation and not for stereo audio recording in videos.
Zoomer - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkLooks like the back mic is right below the black bar.
gg555 - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - linkYes, I noticed that also. I'm assuming the mic you talk into is in the bottom speaker cutout and perhaps the third mic is in the top speaker cutout? Or it could be on the side of the phone somewhere.
I hope when AnandTech reviews the 6P, they pay some attention to the noise cancellation, like they used to in the days of the iPhone 4 (when it had the Audience chip).
I think I've heard that Fluence has a three microphone noise cancellation solution, so if there really are three microphones it could still be Fluence. Maybe it finally will be less mediocre? It would be great if Qualcomm bothered to improve their poor noise cancellation, since it has become the de facto solution in just about every phone with a Snapdragon chipset.
I know that Audience also has a three microphone noise cancellation solution. I can find at least one instance in 2013 in which Huawei used Audience's Earsmart chip in a phone, so I suppose it's possible they're using Earsmart. But most companies that once used Audience (LG, Apple, even Samsung who was one of the last holdouts) seem to be dropping it these days, no doubt to avoid the extra cost, when Fluence is included with Snapdragon anyway.