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My main problem with the Nexus 5X: You have to compromise

Published Oct 2nd, 2015 12:15PM EDT
Nexus 5X Nexus 6P Differences

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Earlier this week, Google unveiled the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, confirming all the rumors that came ahead of the press event. The Nexus 5X is Google’s most affordable Nexus option while the Nexus 6P is the best Nexus handset in the company’s history. Google fixed some of the complaints that surrounded the launch of the Nexus 6, but it still isn’t selling the Nexus phone I would want to buy.

MUST READ: How to abandon Android and switch to the iPhone 6s

The high-end Nexus 6 was a departure from Google’s Nexus mantra. The device packed top hardware and came with a prohibitive price, though Google partnered up with carriers to sell it with subsidies. However, the expensive price wasn’t the only problem with the device. What bothered many people was the size of the phone, as not all Nexus fans were thrilled by the huge phablet.

Fast forward to 2015 and Google made things right with customers. The Nexus 5X has a more reasonably sized case and is more affordable than the Nexus 6. But it’s also a lot less exciting than the Nexus 6P, and it just feels like a compromise.

Google still doesn’t grasp the idea that some Nexus buyers might be interested in a higher-quality Nexus handset packaged in a smaller body. Think Nexus 6P build quality and hardware with the Nexus 5X’s size. A Nexus 5P if you will, considering that “X” indicates essential Nexus features and “P” means premium, according to Google.

You can’t have a metal 5.2-inch Nexus handset that features a top of the line processor, more RAM, a significant storage bump, and all the camera features Google cooked up for this generation of Nexus handsets. There’s not even a plain old USB cable in the Nexus 5X’s retail box that can be used to connect it to a computer.

Imagine the backlash Apple would get in a scenario where only the 5.5-inch iPhone Plus model packs top components, features and build quality, while the 4.7-inch iPhone was the smaller, dumber version of it. But Apple’s iPhones are almost twin brothers – there’s just one feature that differentiates them aside from size, and that’s optical image stabilization, which is only available on the bigger smartphone.

Comparatively, Google is effectively telling buyers that you can’t get top hardware in a smaller form factor, and you have to either decide between the cheaper Nexus 5X, or the more expensive Nexus 6P, with neither model meeting all your needs. For the sake of the argument, there’s no Nexus 6X phablet option for buyers looking for a cheap Nexus device with a bigger screen.

Yes, it’s likely that a Nexus 5P would be more expensive than a Nexus 5X, and Google might be more interested in pleasing Android fans on a tighter budget than those looking for a premium phone that you can actually use with one hand. But then again, OnePlus and even Motorola proved earlier this year they can make amazing high-end handsets that are still very affordable.

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Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.