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Nexus 5X and 6P deep-dive review: Google's dynamic duo

JR Raphael | Oct. 28, 2015
Google's latest Nexus devices set a new standard for how good Android can be -- and how much a standout smartphone should cost.

If you're like me and have yet to be wooed by the giant phones that dominate the current mobile landscape, you'll appreciate that extra manageability. I'm coming from a 2014 Moto X, and even though the 5X is a touch taller than that device, it's about the same width and noticeably slimmer. It feels more svelte, in both my pocket and my hand -- and the 2014 Moto X was already quite comfy for me.

The Nexus 5X is by no means a premium device, but it doesn't come across as cheap, either. The phone has a solid matte-plastic back -- available in black, white or light blue -- and it seems sturdy and well-constructed. The plastic material has a nice warm feel to it that further adds to the comfort factor.

The other Nexus is a different story. Where the 5X is small and modest, the 6P is large and luxurious: 6.3 x 3.1 x 0.29 in., with a gorgeous black, white or silver-colored aluminum casing. The result is a phone that's less warm and inviting, and more sleek and futuristic. It feels carefully crafted and thoughtfully designed. Even the power and volume buttons are made of metal -- a noticeable contrast to the more subtle and recessed plastic buttons on the 5X. It's clear within seconds of picking it up that the 6P is the premium option of this pair.

The Nexus 6P is most comparable in size to Samsung's Galaxy Note 5. Like the latest Note, it's just small enough to be reasonably manageable, even for a big-phone holdout like me. "Reasonably" is the key word there: The 6P's height does make it a touch too tall for comfort at times, like when I'm at the gym and find myself shifting the phone around in my pocket to keep it from falling out. And unless you have freakishly long thumbs, using it one-handedly requires some awkward palm-maneuvering in order to reach the screen's farthest edges.

These are typical tradeoffs of a plus-sized phone, though -- and as far as that category is concerned, the 6P really isn't that bad. While the 5X is more ergonomic, I've found I get used to the 6P's frame pretty quickly. Once I've had it with me for a few minutes, I usually stop thinking about its size.

(For further context, the Nexus 6P is basically the same size as Apple's 5.5-in. iPhone 6S Plus -- and yet it holds a significantly larger display and at 6.3 oz. weighs slightly less than the 6S' 6.8 oz.)

The 6P's advantages

If you're wondering why you'd want to bother getting a larger and less ergonomic device, the most compelling reason resides in the display: The 6P's screen is a stunning 5.7-in. WQHD AMOLED panel that's among the finest you'll feast your eyes on today. It's bright, crisp and clear with delightfully deep blacks and richly saturated colors. It's a true treat to view and it'll spoil your eyes for anything less spectacular.

 

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