Interface and Functionality

There’s more to love with Android 6.0.

If you haven’t done so already, go and check out our full in-depth review about the sweetest and smartest Android version to date – Android 6.0 Marshmallow. You’ll be put up to speed regarding what’s new, different, and exciting about this latest release. In this review, however, we’ll focus on a few things that directly relate to the Nexus 5X’s experience.

The Material Design vibe that debuted with Lollipop is here to stay, and it hasn't been changed a bit. This is not a bad thing or an issue in our book, mind you - we still think that this refreshing design language is one of the best things that could have happened to Android. This means that you still get a host of card-based UI elements, paired with colorful icons, and predominantly white menus.

One of the more notable additions to the OS is the revamped app drawer. Gone are the horizontally-scrollable cards that were present in Lollipop! Marshmallow comes with a stock launcher that displays the installed apps in a neat vertical window, which is not comprising separate cards (the same applies to the widgets pane as well). As usual, it sorts the apps in an alphabetical order, yet some of the apps you use the most will appear at the top of the drawer page, providing you with easy access. There's also a nifty search bar at the very top of the app drawer that allows you to manually search for an app.

Another area in which Android 6.0 Marshmallow has received a visual update of sorts is the lock screen. In Lollipop, you had a dialer and camera shortcuts, but the new variation of the OS has ditched the former for a Google Now voice search shortcut. That's pretty understandable considering that Marshmallow puts emphasis on the improved pro-active and contextually-aware Google Now. Still, we miss the dialer shortcut a bit.

This is not everything that's changed within Marshmallow, of course – we have a surplus of minor other changes that aim to make the user experience more coherent. Some of the more notable ones that we will highlight are the revamped Apps menu, a new Do Not Disturb toggle in the quick settings pane (which allows you to easily configure it straight from the notifications panel), as well as a revamped stock Phone app.

Ambient Display


Taking a bite out of Motorola’s playbook, the Nexus 5X, along with Nexus 6 and 6P, provides us with useful information upon picking up the phone – or whenever notifications arrived. The time, date, and any relevant notifications are briefly displayed on the screen, offering us quick access to them without having the need to turn on the phone completely. Not only that, but it’s meant to reduce power consumption as well.

Now on Tap


The changes that Google Now has scored are rather significant. The star of the show is Now on Tap, a proactive and contextually-aware functionality for Google Now. You enable it by holding the home button of your device and once you do so, the feature will "scan" the screen for places, people, movies, song names, others, and provide you with relevant actions. Sounds a bit dull on paper, but it's actually pretty exciting in real life, we promise!

Quick camera access


Indeed, the camera can be accessed through the lock screen, but now there’s an even faster way of launching it. From a standby state (with the screen off), we can simply double press on the power button to launch the camera – ensuring that we’re never too late to capture a moment. While this isn’t a particularly new feature, as many other phones offer something similar, we’re nevertheless grateful to have it on board.

Pure versus customized skins


As a whole, there's little not to like about the newest Android version on the block. It's polished, doesn't suffer from any major issues (no "memory leak"!), potentially prolongs the time you can spend away from your charger, and feels way more mature than Lollipop. All of these are paired with the regular arsenal of unrivaled features that Android offers.

For purists, you can’t get any better than this. As much as Marshmallow introduces new things to the experience, those who have grown to absorb and become complacent to the rich features that accompany these other customized experiences, such as TouchWiz or LG’s take, they’ll miss having that higher degree of functionality coming back to stock Android. Those custom experiences take pride in their heavy multi-tasking, like having two apps running simultaneously, which isn’t something that can be done with stock Android at the moment.

Yes, we’ll point out stock Android’s simplicity and straightforwardness, something that doesn’t require such a high learning curve for newbies, but on the flip side, it’s going to be tough convincing those used to those rich and extensive features in other experiences to make the transition. Cohesively, stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow can adhere to the strict requirements of power users – it’s just a matter of being able leverage its tangible features to best suit each individual user.

Phonebook


The Phone app has seen some small tweaks with the tab indicators — instead of text, those have been reverted to icons. Moving over to the call log section, it looks different as well, coughing up individual borders for each call interaction. And finally, the settings menu of the Phone app has also been re-organized, with more options available at a first glance instead of buried within submenus.

Organizer


Functionally, the core basics are well intact with the Google Calendar app, as it integrates with Google’s ecosystem seamlessly. Visually, there are some subtle changes, but for the most part, it retains the principles of Material Design. In addition, we can choose what view that suits our liking – whether it be a daily, weekly, or monthly one. Enhancing the experience comes from leveraging Marshmallow’s new ‘Now on tap’ feature, whereby it scans an appointment and populates relevant information back to us. For example, it’ll offer useful actions to appointments that are attached with specific destinations or addresses.

As for the rest of the core set of organizer apps, such as the Calculator and Clock, there’s honestly not much that’s different from what we’ve exposed to previously. At the core of it all, they function in the same manor – while sporting very subtle changes to their appearances. The Calculator’s functionality, for example, has been slightly expanded.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 53178
Apple iPhone 6 50888
Samsung Galaxy S6 58382
LG G4 50330
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 2161
Samsung Galaxy S6 2237
LG G4 2369
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 4220
Samsung Galaxy S6 5751
LG G4 3948
Sunspider Lower is better
Google Nexus 5X 650.5
Apple iPhone 6 353.4
Samsung Galaxy S6 354.5
LG G4 730.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 38
Apple iPhone 6 48.9
Samsung Galaxy S6 37
LG G4 25
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 16
Apple iPhone 6 25.8
Samsung Galaxy S6 16
LG G4 9.4
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 1537
Apple iPhone 6 1239
Samsung Galaxy S6 1767
LG G4 1549
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 1179
Apple iPhone 6 1630
Samsung Galaxy S6 1440
LG G4 1112
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Google Nexus 5X 3379
Apple iPhone 6 2927
Samsung Galaxy S6 5127
LG G4 3559

Messaging


Gone is the email app that in previous years populated our other accounts, while Google’s own Gmail app handled, well, our Gmail account all by itself. There’s not even a placeholder for an icon as well, where it notified us in the past that the Gmail app is now the only option for checking email.
We have no complaints with that decision, since it’s logically arranged so that accounts can be viewing separately – or in just one universal inbox. Beyond that, it leverages the same set of functionality we get from using Gmail on a traditional desktop PC, so it’s well-endowed to handle even the most demanding of email users.

Jotting down messages using the stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow keyboard is just as effortless as it was before, mainly because it’s responsive, logically arranged, and offers us access to many of the numbers and punctuations from within the main layout by performing long presses on specific buttons. Now, if individual tapping isn’t your forte, then you can always resort to using its gesture typing for a more seamless process. And if you prefer going all voice, there’s the option too by just pressing on the corresponding icon just above the keyboard.

Processor and Memory

Don’t underestimate the Snapdragon 808, it has one wicked bite with its processing punch.

Although it’s not shocking revelation, more and more companies are choosing to go with the Snapdragon 808 chipset to power some of today’s prized stallions – and the Google Nexus 5X is no exception! Based on 64-bit architecture, this 1.8 GHz hexa-core processor is no joke when it comes to its real-world performance. Accompanied with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM and the Adreno 418 GPU, it consistently delivers snappy responses just navigating around the phone. Therefore, it’s accompanied with instant responses with things such as opening apps or multi-tasking between them.

It, too, impressively achieves some good performances with it comes to graphics processing, putting it on par to formidable devices like the Note5 and LG G4. No doubt, 3D graphics are handled in a smooth manner by its hardware combination, establishing pretty good scores in synthetic tests using GFXBench by achieving better-than-average frame rates of over 38 FPS in the T-REX HD test. Yeah, it’s not the buttery smooth 60FPS rates that the iPhone 6s is able to procure, but nevertheless, it’s more than enough to handle the demands of most heavy gamers.

Available in either 16GB or 32GB formats, you’re better off going with the latter because 16GB is regarded nowadays as being insufficient for some people. That tally will undeniable fill up pretty quickly if you’re not apt to managing your content wisely, especially when 4K video recording takes up huge chunks of space. Unfortunately, this phone, along with the Nexus 6P, follow the trend of previous Nexus phones by not offering any sort of expansion whatsoever.

Internet and Connectivity


Even with the introduction of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow, there’s no significant changes to the way we experience surfing the web using Google’s Chrome browser – so it works in the same capacity we’re used to on other phones. Using the Nexus 5X for the occasion is likable on so many levels, even though it’s technically the lower spec’d phone between the two Nexus smartphones, seeing that embodies all of the rich features that make it such a joy to use. From its sharp screen, ample real estate, smooth performance, and fast page loads, there’s very little room for complaint here.

The Nexus 5X supports the following LTE bands: B1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/25/26/29. With its Qualcomm modem, the smartphone is compatible with carrier networks worldwide, providing for a hassle-free transition if you’re the global trotter type. Those customers who call Sprint or Verizon home, they’ll be pleased to know that the Nexus 5X has support for CDMA bands 0, 1, and 10 – so they’re not left in the dust with this latest Nexus.

And finally, it’s accompanied with the usual array of connectivity features we’d expect to find in a modern, well-respected smartphone. They consist of aGPS with GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC.

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