The way you buy a smartphone has changed. Now that major US cellular carriers will no longer let you buy a smartphone for just $200 with a two-year contract, cheaper phones are starting to look like a good deal. Phones that don’t have all the whizz-bang features you’d get in a brand-new Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but still feel like solid picks. Phones like Google’s new $379 Nexus 5X, available to preorder today.
The Nexus 5X is one of two brand-new smartphones that come with Google’s latest operating system, Android 6.0 Marshmallow. There’s the smaller Nexus 5X, a 5.2-inch smartphone made by LG, and the larger Nexus 6P, a larger 5.7-inch smartphone made by Huawei.
Even though both of them are constructed by other companies, they are part of Google’s Nexus program — which means they were designed in conjunction with Google to be a pure Android experience. They’ll be the first to get new software updates. They also both work with Google’s exciting new Project Fi wireless service, which combines Wi-Fi and cellular signals from multiple carriers (it’s currently only in the US, on T-Mobile and Sprint) to make sure your phone is never without a data connection. Previously, Project Fi was only available on the gigantic Nexus 6.
Here are the hardware highlights of both phones:
- Improved cameras: a 12.3-megapixel rear camera that shoots 4K and slow-motion video
- A fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, placed inside the divot for your index finger
- A new, reversible USB-C charging port (faster charging, and you can plug it in upside down)
Google says the new 12.3-megapixel camera, which uses a Sony sensor, has large 1.55-micron pixels that can collect even more light than the 1.22-micron pixels of the iPhone 6S Plus. The company also claims the new fingerprint sensor system, dubbed Nexus Imprint, will recognize your touch in under 600 milliseconds and more reliably to boot. Needless to say, we’ll have to thoroughly test both of those, but during our short time with it, fingerprint-unlock took less than a second and felt fast.
The biggest reason to buy these devices might be early access to their new operating system: Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It comes with a number of hotly anticipated features, including some specifically designed to help your phone’s battery last through the day. Android 6.0’s Doze feature can learn when you leave your device unattended — say on your bedside table or desk — and flip some of your apps into standby mode, letting your phone last up to 30 percent longer.
Google Now on Tap, meanwhile, takes Google’s voice-activated assistant to the next level, letting it recognize context-sensitive commands based on what you’re doing with the phone. You’ll need to wait a bit for it to gather enough information to show relevant results, but when it works, it can be pretty useful. One example: ask Google, “Show me more pictures of this place” when surfing through Google Images. You won’t need to get any more specific than that.
With information Cnet.com