Google showed off two new Nexus smartphones Tuesday: the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P.
While some onlookers were skeptical going in to Tuesday's reveal, Google has managed to make two extremely sleek, well-made, yet very different, Android smartphones. They were worth the wait.
Google says the Nexus 6P is the "most premium" Nexus handset the company has had to date, and it shows. The all-metal build makes the phone feel more like a premium flagship than any other Nexus smartphone.
Though its 5.7-inch display is only slightly smaller than its 5.9-inch predecessor, the Nexus 6, the 6P doesn't feel or look nearly as gargantuan. Google almost completely eliminated the bezel so the device itself is several millimeters narrower than the Nexus 6. The overall thickness has also been noticeably reduced. These changes make the 6P feel much more manageable than most phablets out there.
That said, if you have small hands like I do, then there's no amount of design or engineering that can make it easier to operate a close to 6-inch smartphone with one hand. But I was pleasantly surprised by the size overall. Unlike the Nexus 6, the Nexus 6P should slide into most pockets fairly easily and doesn't feel unwieldy when using two hands.
Luckily, with this Nexus launch, Google acknowledged that not everyone wants a phablet-sized device. In a market crowded with giant screens, the Nexus 5X will be a welcome addition — particularly for those still stubbornly hanging onto their now two-year-old Nexus 5 devices.
The LG-made Nexus 5X's 5.2-inch display will hit that sweet spot for many who prefer to stick to the smaller screen. The polycarbonate body is a lot like the backing on Google's Nexus 8 tablet: it feels solid and not overly plasticky. If it was any lighter it would probably start to border on feeling cheap but as it stands it strikes the right balance of lightweight yet solid. The HD 1,920 x 1,080 display is crisp though it looks flat next to the WQHD 2,560 x 1,080 display of the 6P.
Better hardware all around
Both the Nexus 5X and 6P come with the kind of hardware we've come to expect on a flagship Android smartphone in 2015: a fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C rapid charging and a sweet camera.
At the outset, the most noticeable of these features is the new fingerprint sensor. Both handsets come with identical Nexus Imprint sensors located on the back side of the phone underneath the camera.
It was lightning fast on both devices. Setup required only six taps — significantly faster than adding a fingerprint to Touch ID on the iPhone 6S — and unlocking felt almost instant. The placement of the sensor may throw some people off, but I found it to be quite intuitive once you get used to not using your thumb.
Both smartphones also have the same 1.55µm Sony camera sensor and both have excellent cameras because of it. The 12.3 MP rear camera on the 6P is sharp, responsive and far faster than the camera on the Nexus 6. It also has a few neat tricks: hold down on the shutter to activate a burst mode that fires off shots as long as you hold down the shutter and it also supports 4K video as well as a slow motion video mode. The 8 MP front-facing camera on the 6P is also really good. Photos in dim light were crisp and clear, with surprisingly vivid colors — your Snapchats will never look better.
Nexus 6P & 5X Impressions! (Marques Brownlee / YouTube)
With identical rear-facing camera sensors, the camera on the 5X is also excellent, though it lacks 4K video support and the burst mode of the 6P. The 5 MP front camera is also really good with an extremely fast shutter.
Both smartphones also come with a quick-charging USB 3.0 port and if there's one hardware improvement that has potential to make your life a lot easier it's this: 10 minutes of charging will buy you almost 4 hours of battery life on the 5X and as much as 7 hours from the 6P, according to Google. We'll have to wait for our review to thoroughly test those claims but if the phones can deliver on even half of that, Google just made charging anxiety a thing of the past.
When you consider the price of both devices — the Nexus 6P starts at $499 and the 5X at $379 — both will be difficult to beat. With the Android market increasingly moving toward low-cost flagships like the OnePlus Two and others, Google's Nexus lineup will easily stand out from many of its competitors.