Everything You Need to Know about the Nexus 6P and 5X

01
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The Nexus 6P

Google Holds Press Event Announcing New Products
Google Holds Press Event Announcing New Products. Justin Sullivan / Staff/ Getty Images

Google introduced two Nexus phones for the 2015 holiday shopping season, the 6P and 5X.

As of 2016, both phones have been discontinued, but you can still buy them if you sign up for Google Project Fi wireless phone service. 

One is built around performance and the other more around price. Neither is a bad deal. Let's break them down. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that Google doesn't actually make phones themselves.  

The Nexus 6P is produced by the Chinese mobile device company, Huawei (that's pronounced "Wah Way"). Huawei is trying to make inroads into the North American mobile market, and this is the first Nexus phone produced by the company. 

02
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What Is New with the 6P

Back of Nexus 6P
Nexus 6P. Courtesy Google

The Body

The 6P has an all metal body, making it a bit unusual for mobile phones. This metal body makes it hard for the mobile antenna to work, so the whole thing is sandwiched in the back of the phone right next to the camera, which is then raised in a single bar along the back instead of the usual single lump for a camera. Google plays this quirk up as a feature. The phone will sit flat on a table. 

The 6P is also big. As the "6" in the name implies, the phone measures six inches diagonally, making it more of a phablet. The large size makes it inconvenient for pocket storage but convenient for phone users who want more surface area for reading e-books, playing games, or editing social media content. 

The Camera

The camera itself is beefed up, which is a great feature for anyone who has ditched the idea of carrying a camera outside of their phone. The Nexus 6P camera uses larger 1.55 µm pixels, which are supposed to provide better image captures in the dark. The camera sacrifices a few pixels in the process, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Here's why. The rear-facing camera on the Nexus 6P takes 12.3 MP images, while the Galaxy 5 Note takes 16 MP images. That may seem like you're getting worse, smaller images. However, the larger sensor pixels most likely means the smaller images are still of better quality. A lot of modern cameras place too many smaller pixels together on the sensor and take lower quality images as the pixels interfere with each other during photo capture. It doesn't matter how many megapixels your image is if the image you've captured is completely dark. Pixel size matters

In addition to the rear camera, the 6P features a large 8 MP front-facing camera, which is ideal for taking selfies, video conferencing, and recording vlogs. The cameras on both sides may not perform quite as well as you'd like when it comes to video, however, because the version currently shipping does not have any software stabilization. That's something likely to be fixed later, but if you expect to have great video in November, expect to need a tripod. 

 

03
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More on the Nexus 6P

Nexus 6P
Nexus 6P. Courtesy Google

Unusual Features

The Nexus 6P moves to USB-C (USB 3.1), which is superior to the USB-2 chargers you're used to seeing on mobile phones (No up or down, faster charging speeds, new industry standard), but it also means you'll need to buy new adapters and/or new cables. You're going to need to buy them anyway. USB-C is coming to a laptop near you. The 6P also has a fingerprint scanner on the back for extra security. The Nexus 6P also appears to be supporting both GSM and CDMA in a single device, which means you don't need to worry about buying the wrong type of 6P. 

Things Missing

You cannot swap the battery yourself, there's no internal storage, and for all of its new phone goodness, it is not waterproof/water resistant. The Nexus 6P also does not support wireless charging (that all metal body strikes again.) 

Price

You can buy the Nexus 6P for $499 or more depending on the internal memory options. Google is also offering monthly payment plans for Project Fi customers. 

Now let's look at the lower cost option, the Nexus 5X

04
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Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X
Nexus 5X Rear. Courtesy Google

The Nexus 5X is the budget solution. It measures 5.2 inches diagonally, making it more of a standard sized phone. Unlike the 6P, the 5X is made by LG, and this is not their first Nexus phone. 

The Nexus 5X body is also of a more standard material (injection molded polycarbonate) instead of the metal body of the 6P which means it does not need to do antenna placement gymnastics, and there's no raised bar on the back. 

The Camera

The camera on the 5X also features larger 1.55 µm pixels on the back and IR laser-assisted focus. This means you should still get good quality night shots. Like the 6P, the 5X takes 12.3 MP images from the rear camera and sacrifices MP bragging rights with a focus on larger pixel size. The front camera on the 5X is not the large 8 MP camera of the 6P but is instead a standard 5 MP. This is, after all, the budget option. 

05
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The Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X
Nexus 5X. Image Courtesy Google

Like the 6P, the Nexus 5X is carrier-unlocked and comes with both CDMA and GSM capability, meaning it will work with any North American network (and possibly those of quite a few other countries as well). 

Unusual Features

The Nexus 5X also sports a USB-C cord. Google advertises that you can speed-charge 3.8 hours of use in just 10 minutes. However, you're still going to have to replace your old USB cords with the new standard. Like the Nexus 6P, the Nexus 5X comes with a fingerprint scanner on the back. 

Things Missing

The budget pricing means you sacrifice some size, some battery life, and some processing power, although all are decent enough for the price. This phone is also an all-in-one with no user-swappable battery and no expandable memory. There's also no wireless charging option listed, and it is not waterproof/water resistant. 

Price 

The Nexus 5X is $199 or more, depending on the memory size. Like the Nexus 6P, Google is offering a payment plan through Project Fi. 

Bottom Line

Both the Nexus 6P and 5X are still great values for the price.