Nexus 5X and 6P review roundup: the droids you're looking for

Google's Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones are in reviewers' hands now, and some sites have already published their takes on the latest iterations of the Android device as it's meant to be. So far, impressions of both phones are largely positive.

Huawei's 6P is the higher-end Nexus this time around, and its $500 starting price attests to that fact. Reviewers say the phone's all-metal body delivers on those premium bearings, though the slightly off-color plastic antenna window at the bottom of the phone and the full-width glass "bulge" up top ever-so-slightly mar the overall package. Even so, Dieter Bohn of The Verge says the 6P feels as well-built as Apple's iPhone 6S.

As for LG's Nexus 5X, many say it picks up the torch of the company's affordable, popular Nexus 5. The 5X isn't as well-built as the 6P—Dan Siefert says the 5X is "boring to look at, boring to touch, and doesn’t engender any sort of emotion when you use it" in The Verge's review, but he thinks it's solid enough for a mostly-plastic device. Considering the Nexus 5X's $380 starting price, we bet that's a situation many will be able to live with.

Google set a high bar for the Sony camera module in both Nexuses when it took the wraps off its latest phones. For the most part, it seems that the shooter delivers. Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica pitted the Nexuses' camera against the iPhone 6S and Nexus 6, and he thought the droids held their own against Cupertino's latest, especially in low light. The iPhone delivered better dynamic range in some high-contrast situations, but Google and its hardware partners do appear to have closed the gap substantially.

Bohn called the camera "really good, just not quite as good as the best of the best in all situations." Despite a couple of drawbacks—he found that the camera's big, light-hungry pixels don't obviate optical image stabilization in low light as Google claims, for example—Bohn says he trusts the camera to get his shots right and calls that the most important factor in a smartphone camera.

On the performance front, the Nexus 6P and its Snapdragon 810 SoC hang with other Android flagships like the Galaxy Note 5, according to Ars' benchmark results. In real-world use, The Verge's Bohn says he never experienced any lag or slowdowns with the 6P. The 6P's battery life is also right up there with the best of them: Engadget's Chris Velazco says his 6P "routinely lasted through 13-hour workdays with around 30 percent left in the tank."

The Nexus 5X trails its stablemate a bit with its Snapdragon 808 chip, but it still appears to deliver performance proportional to its price. Benchmarks don't tell the whole story, though. Siefert noted hitches and hangs during his time with the 5X, especially with the camera app. He opines that "another gig of RAM would likely do wonders for the 5X." The 5X's battery life falters compared to the 6P, as well, especially in more demanding workloads. 

Reviewers  praised the devices' "Nexus Imprint" fingerprint sensor. Though the rear-mounted sensor on both phones may seem odd at first glance, Amadeo says the position of the reader is exactly where one's index finger naturally falls on the device. He also says the performance of the sensor is so fast that he never saw a lock screen when waking up the phones.

Overall, The Verge calls the Nexus 6P "the best Android phone"—it's hard to get higher praise than that. Engadget is more reserved in its praise, calling the 6P "great for Android enthusiasts." However, the site also opines that the 6P "doesn't do much to outshine the competition." As for the Nexus 5X, The Verge's Siefert says "among phones under $450, I don’t think there’s a better option, and it’s easily the one I’d pick."

Ars Technica says "every other Android phone pales in comparison to the Nexus 5X and 6P," and the site smartly notes that Google's promise of three years of monthly security updates is a perk that you can't get anywhere else.

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