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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.

And here's the real rub: Since the standard is so new, accessories are still somewhat tough to find. The transition will be worthwhile in the end, but this kind of shift is inevitably going to be a hassle in the short-term -- and being a pioneer in the changeover doesn't make it any easier.

One Marshmallow-enabled element that's unequivocally enjoyable to use is the new fingerprint sensor present on both the Nexus 5X and 6P. I've used plenty of phones with fingerprint sensors before, and it's never been anything I've felt terribly excited about. On Google's new phones, though, the sensor does more than just keep your data secure; it actually transforms the way you use your device.

The circular sensor is situated in the upper-middle of each phone's back. Once you've set it up -- a process that takes all of 15 seconds -- you simply touch your finger to the circle and shazam: The phone is awake, unlocked and ready to roll. It's practically instantaneous and almost perfectly accurate; I've had maybe one or two missed readings in the entire time I've been using the phones.

It's gotten to the point where I rarely turn either phone on with its power button; it's just quicker and more intuitive to touch my finger to its back -- right on the spot where my finger instinctively falls when I pick up the phone, anyway -- and then jump right into action.

The Nexus camera surprise

Google's making grand promises about the camera quality on its new Nexus phones, and let me tell you: The identical imaging setup on these two devices doesn't disappoint.

I pitted the Nexii against the Galaxy Note 5, Android's current photography leader, to see if they could hold up to its impressive imaging standard. You can see the results for yourself -- but the short answer is that the phones are very much neck and neck, and the Nexus family actually pulls ahead of the Note in some areas.

Photos taken with the Nexus phones look fantastic in almost any lighting condition. The Note's pictures are occasionally a little lighter and less richly saturated, while the Nexus's pictures consistently have a crisper focus and greater detail when you zoom in and look closely at the full-resolution versions. These observations are nitpicking, though; for all intents and purposes, the Nexus devices and the Note are in the same top-tier league, and any of them will give you superb pictures almost all the time.

05 nexus 6 camera sample a 2
The cameras on the Nexus phones offer good general daylight picture-taking.  

 

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