Well, the OnePlus One was a lot of phone for the money but, only a year old, is dying; the GPS has checked out and the pictures it takes look bad. I didn’t feel like phone-shopping but when I did, the 5X was an easy choice. It’s just fine, but only three features matter. With winter beach pix.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

What doesn’t matter · The screen’s great; the phone’s thin and light; the GPS is as good as I’ve had; the LTE’s fast; the OS is contemporary and fast; the battery gets though a day. And these things are true of every phone at every kiosk in every mall.

The 5X isn’t the biggest but I don’t care, I use a 7" device for book-reading and game-playing and so on.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

Fingerprint! · The fingerprint sensor is da bomb. So far, a few days in, it just doesn’t miss unless I totally miss. Actually, the first time I hit the thing sideways with the corner of my finger and it misfired, I was relieved; reassured that it was actually checking.

Dunno about you, but I turn my phone on a whole lot. Which with the sensor is a lot of not tapping in my (nontrivial) PIN; it adds back a chunk of time to every day, and subtracts significant irritation.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

The sensor’s on the back, right where your index finger wants to land, with a little ring around it to help you land right. They tell me some other phones put the sensors elsewhere; I can’t imagine why.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

Camera! · When the phone cams started getting good, I gave my Mom my excellent Sony pocket cam. So it really hurt when the One+’s started failing, and “good camera” was high on my shopping-list criteria. Reviews suggest that the 5X’s is as good as the best, more or less.

These pictures (taken on Vancouver’s Point Grey Foreshore) won’t tell you much about camera quality. There was plenty of even, grey light coming in from all directions, and any phonecam would have done well. Having said that, I thought the review link above made a good case for the 4:3 aspect ratio, as opposed to the skinnier 3:2.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

I do have one issue; the built-in Camera app is very bare-bones. I might like to experiment with aperture and RAW mode and so on, but it doesn’t offer that. The underlying Camera API can do all sorts of cool stuff, and there are a bunch of photo-taking apps for sale; I’d like one of the good photo sites to do a comparative review.

Hmmm… if I shot RAW, I wonder if Lightroom (or any other good photo editor) would be able to deal with the files?

Being a Nexus · With scary stuff like Stagefright in the wild, you really want to be carrying a phone that gets OS patches promptly. The Android ecosystem is getting better at this, but for now, a Nexus means rarely having to say you’re sorry.

Vancouver winter beach, Nexus 5X

Connector · It’s a USB Type-C. Which is good, I guess, because it doesn’t care which way you put it in. I suspect there’ll be a measurable bump in global productivity once we’re no longer taking, on average, 1.5 attempts for every mobile-device cable insertion.

In the here and now it’s a major pain in the ass; our family has a half-dozen or so mobile devices, and many many charging cables, none of which work with the 5X. Progress, sigh…

Will it change my life? · Nope. The days when a new mobile device would do that are long gone.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: EricH (Jan 17 2016, at 21:34)

I'm totally with ya, particularly about the fingerprint reader: I'm surprised how much I appreciate it.

On the minus side: the compass was crazily flaky until I "calibrated" it in a non-obvious way (see https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/nexus/SK7gbrV5MhU). Seems OK so far, but I'm wary.


From: Bruce (Jan 17 2016, at 22:21)

USB-C: It's a good thing. Just buy a bunch of connectors from Amazon and you'll be fine. They're not expensive and the fast charging is great.

I'm mostly happy with my 5X, but it's gotten kind of slow lately and in particular the camera takes a while to come to life. Time to clean out some software crud I guess.


From: Stephen Shankland (Jan 18 2016, at 04:56)

First: I like the fingerprint reader placement fine, but I can see Apple's decision as useful, too. I often have my phone sitting next to me on a desk, in which case I either pick it up or unlock it the old way.

Second, on both my Nexus 5X and 6P I've had them gradually reject my fingerprints more and more. Some of that was, perhaps, because I lost some fingertips on a burned pan handle (d'oh) but that was only one of the hands. So I had to delete them and re-add them. Not much hassle but somewhat worrisome.

Third, yes, you can shoot raw and import the photos directly into Lightroom. The camera uses DNG (Google collaborated with Adobe on the support, encouragingly). However, in my experience it's a hassle because Dropbox doesn't auto-upload them to the folder from which I import into Lightroom. So there's a sync hassle. I shoot raw with the FV-5 app, which has tons of manual fiddling options as well as an intervalometer and other perks. I have to say, though, that the app doesn't really blow my hair back, and it's worked inconsistently on a number of devices.

Last, you saw my comment about the 5X getting gradually slower. You'll be pleased to hear that since the 6.0.1 update I haven't had this problem.


From: PJ (Jan 18 2016, at 09:05)

Re: changing your life: USB-C + USB-3.1 will, I think, be a game changer: supporting charging + video + USB all in one connector makes it essentially a docking station. I look forward to collapsing desktop + laptop (for work at least) into my phone.


From: J. King (Jan 18 2016, at 19:23)

Personally, I wouldn't take it as a given that every phone in every kiosk has a "contemporary and fast" OS; it's certainly not a given that the OS you'll get is -good- that's for sure. Coming from a TouchWiz phone, I recently installed CyanogenMod 13 on my phone, and it like like it was a new piece of hardware. I had more options, it had considerably better aesthetics, it was better organized, and it actually -does- seem faster.

It's not exactly life-changing, but it's been a big deal for me since the change, psychologically. I have a greater sense of control, and that's hard to dismiss.

I do wish it had a fingerprint scanner I could use, though.


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