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The Nexus 5X might be the smaller, pure Android phone we've been waiting for

Two years is a long time to wait

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There's probably no other Android phone in recent memory that elicits as much affection as 2013's Nexus 5. The wide phone found a place in many people's hearts thanks to a rock-bottom price paired with good performance and a plastic design that grew on you. Of course, the fact that it ran an unadulterated version of Android that was true to Google's own vision for the OS didn't hurt.

Read next: The Google Nexus 5X review.

Now, after a year where the only Nexus option was the Shamu-sized Nexus 6, Google has gone back to LG to make another bargain Nexus, the 5X. Thanks to the leaks, we already knew most of the key details about the specs of the device: a 5.2-inch display with 1080p resolution, a reasonably fast Snapdragon 808 processor, USB Type-C, a 13-megapixel camera, and finally that fingerprint reader on the back.

But specs are specs and actually using the device is something else entirely. Now that I've had a few minutes with the device, I can tell you that I like the little guy despite the fact that the curvy plastic build doesn't exactly make it feel like a top-tier device.

The best praise I can give to the 5X is that it feels like the original Nexus 5, only with softer lines. The blue color is probably my favorite. I was concerned going in that the camera bump on the back would be super annoying, but it's actually relatively subtle and not too large.

I didn't get a chance to test the fingerprint sensor nor ask a Google representative why they felt it was necessary to call it "Nexus Imprint." But swiping around Android 6.0 on the device felt, well, fast. That's to be expected: it's clean Android on a device that hasn't been loaded up with too much cruft yet. But I'm hopeful it'll stay that way.

I'm also hopeful for the camera. It had better pull through in real world, non-demo-room use. I caught a lot of flak for saying the original Nexus 5's camera wasn't up to snuff two years ago. But I was right: Google needs to prove it can ship a Nexus phone with a great camera. This year, it has to prove it twice. Google didn't shy away from comparing the Nexus camera (mostly the 6P, but still) to the iPhone. And after taking just a couple of shots in the demo room, I found it to be fast, at least, even if I didn't have time to really test it out.

The Nexus 5X also feel super light — much lighter than I expected despite having a decently-sized 2400mAh battery inside it. It's a little tall where the original Nexus 5 was a little wide. It's actually a little taller than I'd like. The screen is ...a screen. It looks good, it's 5.2-inches with 1080p resolution, but the whole package doesn't have the "how the heck did they make a big screen fit in this phone" effect that you get with the Nexus 6P.

If you're trying to decide between the 5X and the 6P, here's what I'll say. Can you afford the 6P? Then get that one. It's way better, as you'd expect by the price difference.

I expect that the 5X will be great for a lot of people, and in this $400-ish price range I suspect it'll be among the best available — if not the very best. But that's a weird price category these days: not as cheap as the Moto G, not able to quite compete head-to-head with the flagships.

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Nexus 5X hands-on photos


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