Nexus 5X versus Nexus 5 original

When talking about phones that carry the Nexus name, we typically consider them to be iterative updates of one another – each building on the success of the one that came before. Google decided to change things up a bit last year by releasing the Nexus 6: a phablet – not a phone. Thankfully, this year Google returned the Nexus to its roots by releasing the Nexus 5X. How does it stack up against the original Nexus 5 from two years back? Let’s dive right in!

Nexus 5X vs Nexus 5

To begin with, both the original Nexus 5 and the Nexus 5X are remarkably similar in terms of overall dimensions. This year’s version is slightly taller and barely wider than the original (147 x 72.6mm versus 137.9 x 69.2mm). It’s also a little slimmer (7.9mm versus 8.6mm), and a smidgen heavier (136g versus 130g). Some of that weight can be attributed to the battery, which is 400 mAh larger in the new phone (2700 mAh verus 2300 mAh). Unless you’ve got both of them in-hand, you’ll probably never notice the difference.

Where you might notice a difference is in the shape: the original Nexus 5 had gently curved top and bottom edges, whereas the new one is much more square. Sure, the corners are still nicely radiused, but the elegant curve of the original is gone. Instead, the elegant curves surround the camera.

Nexus 5 Camera

Ah, the camera. Back in 2013, Vic Gundotra said Google was committed to making Nexus phones “insanely great cameras”. We thought that was going to be in the original Nexus 5, but despite getting an update that addressed camera performance, the Nexus 5’s 8MP camera didn’t live up to its potential – or Vic’s promise.


Nexus 5X Camera

The laser autofocused 12.3 MP shooter on the Nexus 5X, on the other hand, performs admirably well, despite not having OIS (which, ironically, the original Nexus 5 did). It performs well in both bright light as well as low-light situations, though we’re hoping the 5X gets an update to its camera to help fix the sluggishness and “cannot connect” errors many 5X owners are reporting.


Android 6.0 Marshmallow

It should be obvious that the original Nexus 5 didn’t ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but thanks to an OTA update, that’s what it’s running now – just like the new 5X.

Marshmallow has a lot going on under the hood to help the Android operating system look and perform smoother than previous versions. One could assume that the extra “smoothness” would require more RAM, a faster processor, and better graphics chip. While all those are present in the 5X, the original Nexus 5 does remarkably well with Marshmallow.

Performance & Hardware

Nexus 5 leak
No article about the original Nexus 5 would be complete without this guy!

Just as a reminder, the original Nexus 5 has a 32-bit, quad-core Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3 GHz compared to the 64-bit, quad-core Snapdragon 808 clocked at 1.44 GHz (and teamed up with a companion dual-core 1.82 GHz processor). Both have 2GB RAM, but the RAM in the 5X is faster than the original*. Interestingly enough, there are times when the processor in our Nexus 5X will “max out” and cause some serious hesitation, which the original Nexus 5 doesn’t seem to exhibit. We’re not sure if this is due to the slower clock speed (despite the more advanced architecture in the 808), the hand-off from the “LITTLE” cores to the “big” cores, or some other reason that we haven’t discovered yet. Once the cores in the 5X are spun up it outperforms the original Nexus 5 in almost every way – but not by very much.

(*Editor’s note: some have pointed out that the 5 and the 5X both have DDR3 RAM, which is correct. The reference here was to the SoC capabilities: 933MHz on the 5X’s Snapdragon 808, and 800MHz on the 5’s Snapdragon 800.)

The main differences between the two phones are in their hardware. The original Nexus 5 supports Qi wireless charging and sports a microUSB port. The 5X does away with the convenience of wireless charging in lieu of USB Type-C “rapid charging”. Even the “charging wirelessly” message on the original is replaced by “charging rapidly” on the new phone. The 5X uses a nano-SIM, the original takes the larger micro-SIM. Both support WiFi AC and the 5GHz spectrum, and support LTE – though band support is better on the 5X, and Bluetooth on the the 5X is bumped to 4.2 from 4.0 on the original.

Also new is the rear-facing fingerprint reader which serves not only as a power button to quickly wake your phone, but also as a biometric security mechanism to unlock the phone – all at the same time. Last up is battery life. As we mentioned in our review of the Nexus 5X, its battery is pretty good (though not great), but charging is very quick – especially from empty. The battery on our original Nexus 5 can’t stray far from a charger and takes a fair amount of time to top off which is, at least in part, due to the battery is starting to show its age.

Be sure to check out our full review of the new Nexus 5X, and the After the Buzz (episode 32) where we took another look at the original Nexus 5. All in all, the original Nexus 5 has aged very well, however, if you’ve been holding out, the 5X is most definitely a worthy upgrade.


(Video produced by Pocketnow’s Jules Wang.)

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