Google Pixel full review

Google has ditched the Nexus brand and replaced it with new Pixel phones. But should you upgrade to the shiny Google Pixel or get the older Nexus 5X? We take a look at your options in our Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X review. See also: Best phones 2016.

While the Nexus brand might be dead, you can still find the Nexus 5X online at retailers such as Amazon, Carphone Warehouse and Argos. A year on from its release, can the LG-made Nexus 5X stand up to the new Google Pixel, essentially its successor? Note that although Google is pitching the Pixel as own-brand, it is manufactured by HTC.

See also: Google Pixel vs Pixel XL.

Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X review: Price

With the new Pixel range of phones, Google has done away with the bargain prices which it offered with the Nexus devices. The smaller and cheaper Pixel is £599 for the 32GB model which matches Apple's iPhone 7.That's a bold move and you can add on £100 if you want 128GB of storage.

Meanwhile, the Nexus 5X is available for under £200 for the 16GB option so you could buy two and have change left over in comparison. Even the equivalent 32GB is only £269 from Argos so is it really worth pay more than double for the new Google Pixel?

Google Nexus 5X

Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X review: Design and build

The Google Pixel might be the new phone on the block here but it's thicker and heavier than the Nexus 5X despite having a smaller screen. It's 8.5mm and 143g compared to 7.9mm and 136g. That's not a huge difference and the weight is largely down to the metal and glass design which you may well prefer.

We still like the plastic build of the Nexus 5X which is one of the nicest plastic phones we've tested, it doesn't feel as premium compared to the Google Pixel, though. While the Pixel uses fancier materials, we're not totally convinced by the back piece of glass which takes up a third of the rear – the white model looks like it's been dipped in chocolate.

You might think that the new Pixel would be waterproof, with many other flagships offering the feature but it's actually only IP53 which is splash resistant. The Nexus 5X isn't at all though, so it's still better in this battle.

Google Pixel rear cover

Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X review: Specs and hardware

Bucking the smartphone trend, Google has made the screen smaller on the Pixel compared to the Nexus 5X. It's 5in instead of 5.2in so not hugely different but enough that it will mean users with smaller hands will find it easier to manage.

The resolution is Full HD (1080x1920) on both phones so the Pixel has a marginally higher pixel density. It also uses AMOLED panel technology instead of LCD so provides punchier colours, but some may prefer the more natural look of the 5X.

Google Nexus 5X screen

As you'd expect from a phone which is a year ahead, the Pixel wins when you look under the bonnet. It has Qualcomm's new flagship Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM which outclasses the Nexus 5X's Snapdragon 808 and 2GB combination. That said, the 5X is still decent and offers good performance, especially for the money.

Like Apple, Google does not offer expandable storage with a Micro-SD card slot – strange considering the vast majority of Android phones do. Here the Pixel wins, too, with 32GB of storage as standard and the option to get 128GB. While the Nexus 5X only has 16- or 32GB capacities, you can get the latter for half the price of the Pixel.

The pair are largely matched on connectivity with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and NFC. The newer Pixel does have Cat 9 LTE compared to Cat 6 but you're unlikely to notice a different in real world usage.

Both have rear mounted fingerprint scanners so that's also a tie of sorts, but the Pixel's can be used for gestures such as the camera and notification bar which is handy.

It's also not much difference when it comes to battery and ports as each has a USB-C connector and the battery inside the Pixel is only 70mAh larger at 2770mAh. Neither features wireless charging but the Pixel does have fast charging with v3.0.

Google Pixel camera

On paper the Nexus 5X and Google Pixel have essentially the same rear camera – 12.3Mp, f/2.0, 1/2.3in sensor, 1.55µm pixels and a dual-tone flash – although the Pixel does have phase detection auto focus. However, DxO rates the Pixel's camera at 89 which is 5 points higher than the Nexus 6P (which has the same camera as the 5X).

Although the Pixel ranks higher on DxO (which we're referring to as we've not tested the camera properly yet), those of you out there who aren't photography nerds are unlikely to notice the difference and the Nexus 5X will provide photos and video more than adequate for posting online or printing out.

It's the front facing camera which is better on the Pixel at 8Mp compared to 5Mp if you really need that extra detail in your selfies.

Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X review: Software

Comparing two of Google's own phones in the software category shouldn't be a big deal but in this case it sort of is; that's because the Pixel comes with the latest 7.1 Nougat version of the mobile operating system.

The pixel has a new-look homescreen with new navigation buttons, Google tab (instead of search bar) and you swipe up to access the app draw rather than tapping an icon. They might not be the biggest changes but they are worth pointing out.

Google Pixel Android 7.1 Nougat

Then there's the Google Assistant 'built-in' on the new Pixel so although it will be downloadable as an app on other phones, you can long-press the home button at any time on the Pixel so summon the feature. It's like a more conversational version of Google Now which will aim to help you out with whatever you're doing.

While the Nexus 5X is upgradable to 7.0 Nougat, it's unclear when it will get 7.1 and the same features as the Pixel.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017


Google Pixel: Specs

  • 5in Full HD display 1080x1920
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 12MP rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • 2770mAh battery
  • USB-C charging port
  • Fast Charging support
  • headphone jack
  • SIM card slot
  • Android 7.1 OS