A prominent, and understandably well-received, trend last year was the availability of relatively inexpensive smartphones without the compromise in quality that used to be seen. The number of fantastic smartphones that you can get your hands on priced around or below $300 is certainly impressive, though some stand out more than others. Three of the most intriguing budget-friendly phones on market right now are arguably the honor 5X, OnePlus X, and the Nexus 5X.
The first two phones stand out primarily for pushing build quality farther than you’d expect given their low price tags. As for the Nexus 5X? It stands out both for its pricing, and for the fact that it is, well, a Nexus. All three of these handsets offer different experiences (as well as their own pros and cons), but in this in-depth look will we aim to give you a better idea of how these smartphones compare.
- honor 5X review
- Nexus 5X review
- OnePlus X review
We start off with the honor 5X that was introduced recently during CES 2016, and while we know that the device is priced at $200, that’s certainly not the price point you’d expect when you first look at this phone. Featuring a metal unibody construction, you get a premium looking device that offers a solid feel in the hand, with the brushed hairline finish really adding to the overall aesthetic. The slightly curved back and flat sides makes for a phone that is comfortable to hold, and for a device that is made primarily of metal, it is surprisingly light, and not slippery either.
Another feature that isn’t usually expected from an affordable smartphone is a fingerprint scanner, but one is to be found with the honor 5X, which works surprisingly well. It may not be the fastest fingerprint reader Huawei has put on a smartphone, but it is fast and accurate enough to not cause any problems at all.
On the other hand, the Nexus 5X is a complete opposite in terms of build materials and the feel it offers in-hand. The Nexus 5X continues where its spiritual predecessor, the Nexus 5, left off, touting a minimalist design that is completely plastic-clad. The plastic build and smooth matte finish doesn’t compare favorably when pit against the phones that feature metal or glass, but the plastic body is actually quite sturdy. The matte finish allows for a very soft and nice feel, and given its overall size, the one-handed handling experience of the Nexus 5X is very comfortable.
Just like the honor 5X, the Nexus 5X also comes with a fingerprint scanner on the back, and Google really did an amazing job with Nexus Imprint. The setup process requires just a few taps to register a fingerprint, and once you are up and running, the scanner is extremely fast and accurate. It is very reliable, and you can pretty much have your smartphone unlocked even before completely pulling it out of your pocket. You also get USB Type-C with the Nexus 5X, which is slowly and surely becoming the new standard, even if the other devices seen in this comparison continue to utilize the older microUSB standard.
Finally, there is the OnePlus X, an even more affordable alternative to the already budget-friendly OnePlus 2. However, despite its low price tag, OnePlus has managed to offer a high quality experience with the OnePlus X. The device features a familiar sandwich design with glass on the front and back held together by a metal frame, and with it being smaller than the Nexus 5X, the handling experience is far more comfortable with one hand. The metal frame also features a series of micro cuts that allow for a better grip of the phone, and helps alleviate any concern with the glass construction resulting in a slippery phone. It has to be said that the glass is prone to fingerprints though, but it won’t be as noticeable with the white version of the phone.
Unlike the other two devices in this comparison, there is no fingerprint scanner to be found here, but the OnePlus X does have at least one of its own unique additions with its Alert Slider. a feature that makes its way over from the OnePlus 2. It allows for a quick and simple way to easily toggle between the various notification priorities, and even though it isn’t a feature seen with other Android smartphones, it certainly should be, given how useful a feature it is.
All three of the devices feature displays with 1080p resolutions, but that is all that is common between them, as differing screen sizes and underlying technologies translate into very different experiences for each of the phones.
The honor 5X is the largest of the group, boasting a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display, resulting in a pixel density of 401 ppi. If you like big screens, the honor 5X may be the way to go, and you get really nice and vibrant colors, very accurate looking whites, and good viewing angles. You’re not going to get very deep blacks, but it gets the job done in most aspects, and is a pretty enjoyable display for your multi-media experience.
The Nexus 5X comes with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display, with a pixel density of 423 ppi. While both the Nexus 5X and honor 5X feature LCD screens, the display of the former unfortunately doesn’t offer colors that are quite as vibrant, with whites that are a little bit pink in comparison, along with a visibly lower overall brightness. It is still a decent looking panel, but as seen, it certainly isn’t the best 1080p screen out there.
Moving on to the OnePlus X, it comes with a 5-inch AMOLED display, resulting in a pixel density of 441 ppi. This display is my personal favorite of the lot, and as is expected from any AMOLED screen, you get vibrant and saturated colors that pop, and solid viewing angles, along with the deep inky blacks that you simply won’t find with an LCD display. In this media-consumption age, the 5-inch display may be too small for some, but for those who are looking for smaller devices that help with aspects like one-handed usability, the OnePlus X certainly fits the bill.
Performance and hardware
Qualcomm processors are the order of the day with all these devices, with the octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor powering the honor 5X, backed by the Adreno 405 GPU and 2 GB of RAM, while the Nexus 5X comes with the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, backed by the Adreno 418 GPU and also 2 GB of RAM. Finally, under the hood of the OnePlus X is the older quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, backed by the Adreno 330 GPU and 3 GB of RAM.
When it comes to performance, none of these devices are really going to blow you away in terms of raw power or benchmark test results, but they are not really meant to, given the fact that these are budget devices. As far as handling everyday tasks go, all these devices perform admirably well though, and while the Snapdragon 801 is the oldest of the lot, it still remains a very capable processor. You will notice some slowdown if you try to push these devices too hard, but the phones handle gaming pretty well, including those that are more graphically intensive.
Despite packing very different Qualcomm chips, for the most part, I haven’t noticed much difference between these three smartphones as far as real world performance is concerned.
If NFC is a part of your requirements from a smartphone, the Nexus 5X is the only choice here, but if storage is a more prominent concern, the honor 5X and the OnePlus X are the way to go, with the availability of expandable storage. Of course, the lack of a microSD card slot with the Nexus 5X isn’t particularly surprising, as that has been the case with Nexus smartphones for several years now.
One really important aspect that needs pointing out is that the honor 5X and OnePlus X lack full LTE support in the US, more so in the case of the OnePlus X, which is missing support for both band 12 and band 17 on a hardware level. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get access to high speed data, but it isn’t going to be as reliable as you may like, and in some areas you may be stuck with HSPA+ speeds.
As far as battery life goes, you can’t expect anything more than a full day’s worth of battery out of any of these devices, but the way they go about achieving that are all very different.
The honor 5X relies on a large 3,000 mAh battery to give itself enough juice to get you through the day. There are, however, Huawei’s standard power saving features built-in that adjust CPU and network usage for longer battery life, including an ultra power saving mode that disables most things, except for basic functions like calls and messaging. This, of course, can be really useful in those times when you just can’t get to a charger and you need to stretch out those last few percentages for as long as possible.
With the Nexus 5X, you’re getting a slightly smaller 2,700 mAh battery, and battery life during normal usage is pretty good, but where the 5X really shines is in standby. This is due to Doze, one of the newest features of Android introduced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which puts the phone in a deep sleep and limits unnecessary app activity anytime the phone is idle for long time. It makes a huge difference, and you can really see how little power is being consumed when looking at the battery life statistics. Something else that the Nexus 5X has is fast charging capabilities, which isn’t available with the honor 5X or the OnePlus X.
The OnePlus X has the smallest battery out of the bunch, with a capacity of 2,525 mAh hours, but the smaller 5-inch AMOLED panel is much more battery life-friendly compared to an LCD screen, and the OnePlus X comes with a system wide dark mode that is enabled by default, to help you get the most out of your battery life.
On paper, the cameras of all these smartphones seem pretty close to each other, purely in terms of numbers, with the honor 5X and the OnePlus X featuring 13 MP rear cameras, while the Nexus 5X comes with a 12 MP rear shooter. However, we all know that megapixels aren’t everything, and the actual quality of the sensor, pixel size, and image processing are some of the aspects that make a big difference.
Nexus 5X camera samples
When comparing the quality of the images side by side, there is really not much of a competition here. The Nexus 5X easily overshadows the honor 5X and the OnePlus X. Of course, this may not be much a surprise, considering the fact that the Nexus 5X features the exact same camera setup as the flagship Nexus 6P. In normal to good lighting conditions, the Nexus 5X consistently produces sharper images, with better color accuracy and dynamic range.
OnePlus X camera samples
The OnePlus X takes hold of the second spot, with decent color reproduction and good amount of detail seen in images. However, dynamic range is still lacking, even if it isn’t nearly as bad as seen with the honor 5X, that comes a distant third. What you get is a lot of overexposed highlights and crushed shadows, with many of the images taken with the honor 5X camera having a noticeably warm cast.
honor 5X camera samples
The story remains largely the same when taking pictures in low light conditions. The Nexus 5X does a really good job in these situations, making for images that are well detailed and with very little noise, and highlights that aren’t overexposed, as is the case with the honor 5X and the OnePlus X. The honor 5X is also quite slow in poorly lit situations, and images can come out slightly blurry if you don’t maintain a perfectly steady hand. The camera does try to add some sharpening in post processing to bring out more detail, but with photos being muddy and soft as is, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
These are all Android smartphones, but as is the case with most other Android smartphones out there, the software experience will vary, sometimes greatly, depending on which device you pick.
The honor 5X is running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top, and if you find the experience similar to what is found with iOS, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Like iOS, the interface is filled with a lot of very colorful icons, wallpapers, and transparency effects, along with the lack of an app drawer, which can take some getting used to, and leaves users dependent on folders to stay organized. Emotion UI does bring a few interesting features to the software package, but for the most part, it feels like it is interfering with the Android experience, instead of adding to it.
If you are looking for the purest Android experience out there, a Nexus smartphone has always been the way to go, and that certainly remains the case with the Nexus 5X. With the Nexus 5X, not only are you getting the latest features introduced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, such as Doze, Google Now on Tap, and user defined permissions, but you will also be first in line for future software updates. Stock Android is generally faster and more responsive when compared to its skinned counterparts, so if you are looking for a smooth, streamlined, and clean user experience, stock Android is going to be your best bet.
If you are a fan of the stock Android look, but are interested more in terms of customization and features, that is exactly what you get with the OnePlus X, with it running Oxygen OS, based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Oxygen OS comes with a lot of interesting and useful features baked in, such as the system-wide dark mode and various gesture controls, like double tap to wake, drawing an O to launch the camera, and so forth. You also get custom app permissions here as a part of Oxygen OS, despite it being based on Lollipop.
One of the biggest features of Oxygen OS is called Shelf, a pane that lives to the left of your main home screen, and stores your frequently used apps, favorite contacts, and any app widgets of your choice, which can make a big difference in keeping things organized. The biggest downside here is the fact that there is a lot of bloatware to deal with, including anything from speed boosters to junk file cleaners, along with a plethora of other apps that produce notifications that are often difficult to swipe away.
Honor 5XNexus 5X OnePlus X
Display5.5-inch IPS LCD display
1080p resolution, 401 ppi5.2-inch IPS LCD display
1080p resolution, 423 ppi5-inch AMOLED display
1080p resolution, 441 ppi
Processor1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Adreno 405 GPU1.82 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
Adreno 418 GPU2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Adreno 330 GPU
RAM2 GB2 GB3 GB
Storage16 GB, expandable via microSD card up to 128 GB16 GB, no expansion16 GB, expandable via microSD card up to 128 GB
Camera13 MP rear camera
5 MP front-facing camera12 MP rear camera
5 MP front-facing camera13 MP rear camera
8 MP front-facing camera
3,000 mAh2,700 mAh2,525 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 LollipopAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Dimensions151.3 x 76.3 x 8.2 mm
158 grams147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
136 grams140 x 69 x 6.9 mm
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the honor 5X vs Nexus 5X vs OnePlus X! When it comes to making a choice between these, the important question is with regards to what is important for you from your smartphone experience. The honor 5X offers a solid metal build quality and a fast and accurate fingerprint scanner, along with expandable storage, while the Nexus 5X brings to the table NFC, a fantastic camera, a stock software experience, and a very reliable fingerprint reader as well. Finally, the OnePlus X also features a great build quality and a software experience that overshadows stock Android in certain aspects.
With sub-$300 price points across the board, it would be unfair to expect perfection from this lineup of devices, but in most cases, any shortcomings won’t be completely off putting. For those looking to save some money, it’s also worth noting that the honor 5X is the most affordable at $200, with the OnePlus X next in line at $250. Finally, we have the Nexus 5X, priced at $299.
See also: Best cheap Android tablets (January 2016)86
Get the honor 5X
Get the OnePlus X
Get the Nexus 5X
Starting with the Mate 7 in 2014, Huawei proved to the world that it had the skills and resources necessary to craft a truly premium device that easily competed with more established players in the space. Since then, Huawei has continued to raise up the bar, and made history last year as the first Chinese manufacturer to partner with Google for a Nexus device.
With the Nexus 6P, Huawei merges its exceptional hardware skills with Google’s lighter, snappier stock software, and the end result is a handset that is hailed by many as the best flagship currently on the market. But what about Huawei’s Mate series? Despite the huge shadow cast by the Nexus 6P, the Mate 8 is a massive leap forward for Huawei once again, further refining the design of the Mate 7 while also offering exceptional flagship-level performance.
So how does the Huawei Mate 8 compare to the Huawei-made Nexus 6P? We find out as two of Huawei’s best creations go head to head in this detailed Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P comparison.
- Nexus 6P Review
- Huawei Mate 8 review
Even at first glance, it’s pretty obvious these two flagships are related. Premium materials are par for the course regardless of which device you get, and the metallic design language looks great on both. They feel great in the hands too, despite some very minor slippage due to the materials used. Of course, there’s also some distinct differences that help set Huawei’s latest flagships apart.
The Huawei Mate 8′ design language is a direct evolution of the Mate 7, as well as the Mate S. With the Mate 8 you get a symmetrical design that might feel a bit too familiar when coming from the Mate 7, though its rounded camera and fingerprint scanner help give a more modernized look. The speaker has also moved from the rear to the bottom this time around. On the front you get a display that has relatively small bezels and on-screen keys, as well the front facing camera, the usual sensors, and the Huawei logo towards the bottom.
On the other hand, the Nexus 6P manages to stand out from both its predecessor, the Nexus 6, and its Mate brethren. The prominent Nexus logo on the back is right below the rear-mounted fingerprint reader, and the large black bar up top houses the camera and its accessories. The Nexus 6P also has some unique additions including front-facing speakers and a Type-C USB port, features you won’t find with the Mate 8.
While both phones handle pretty well for devices of their size, neither are exactly perfect for one-handed use, though it can certainly be done. Dimensions do differ a bit with the two, with the Mate 8 being a bit wider due to the 6-inch display, while the Nexus 6P is taller, thanks to its front facing speakers. Ultimately though, we’re looking at two phones that are reasonably similar in terms of size and weight, despite differences in screen size.
Which is better? The answer to that is a very personal one and, even among our team, the answer varied wildly. Some of us certainly prefer the Nexus 6P, whereas others have expressed a preference for the Mate 8. Regardless, Both designs demonstrate the very best of Huawei, delivering solid build quality across the board.
For those that are spec hungry, the decision here is an easy one. The QHD AMOLED display on the Nexus 6P is certainly the better performer here when compared to the 1080p IPS display found on the Mate 8. For those that prefer larger screen real estate, however, it is worth keeping in mind that the Mate 8’s 6-inch screen is the larger of the two. Of course, it is up for debate how much of a difference that extra .3-inches really makes.
The Nexus 6P isn’t just at an advantage in resolution, but AMOLED itself is often the prefered choice for many. AMOLED displays tend to offer a better experience for those that are looking for deep blacks, vibrant, vivid, and saturated colors, as well as tons of brightness for comfortable viewing in broad daylight. The Nexus 6P also offers ambient display technology, which utilizes the AMOLED screen to bring us notification cards at a glance.
As for the Huawei Mate 8, the 1080p IPS display might not have the advantages found with the Nexus 6P, but don’t let this fool you, the display is no slouch. For starters, the Mate 8’s JDI-NEO display technology helps make up for some of the shortfall from not having QHD resolution. Overall, the Mate 8 likely has the best 6-inch 1080p on the market, and you’ll find that gaming and media is quite enjoyable here, despite its perceived disadvantages.
If you want that higher res and extra bit of color depth, the Nexus 6P will provide it for you, but for the general user that isn’t a display or spec nut, you’ll probably find little real difference in day to day use.
Despite being made by the same OEM, under the hood we find two very different SOC packages on offer.
For the Nexus 6P, we get the octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 backed by an Adreno 430 GPU and 3GB RAM. Even though the Snapdragon 810 has a somewhat mixed reputation, it performs exceptionally well here, helped along by the fact that the Nexus 6P is running stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
In the other corner, we find the Huawei Mate 8 rocking an in-house HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core CPU with 3GB RAM (or 4GB in select models), backed by the Mali-T880 GPU. Although HiSilicon Kirin chips might not enjoy the same brand recognition as Qualcomm or Exynos processors, rest assured that Huawei has proven itself more than capable of creating a great mobile SOC.
While both of these packages couldn’t be more different on paper, what they have in common is some of the best performance you’ll find in the mobile world. Speed is great on both of these handsets and no matter what we did with either, we haven’t been able to slow them down one bit. Gaming and media are going to be a blast with either one of these phones, and for those wondering about how the Mali graphics compare to the Adreno 430, we really didn’t see a big real world difference between the two.
Summing it up, the Nexus 6P’s familiar stock interface is exactly what you’d want from a Nexus device, and the Snapdragon 810 is more than capable of providing a high-end stock experience. The Mate 8 also moves along swimmingly, despite its more intensive UI.
In the past, the Nexus line has generally offered a more barebones experience when compared to OEM flagships. With the Nexus 6P however, this gap has been reduced significantly.
For starters, the current Nexus smartphones now feature fingerprint readers on the back. Given that both the Mate 8 and Nexus 6P are Huawei devices, it’s no surprise that both these fingerprint readers are some of the best in class, and are impressively fast and accurate. The position on the back makes the scanner very easy to use, since your index finger naturally rests around that spot when holding the device. These scanners provide a seamless, reliable, and fast way to unlock your phone, making them an indispensable tool.
32 GB and 64 GB are built-in storage options available with both, with the Nexus 6P also adding an 128 GB iteration, which power users will have to depend on, given the lack of microSD expansion. The Mate 8 does offer expandable storage, but it does require use of the second SIM slot, leaving it up to the users to make the choice between more storage or dual SIM capabilities. Also of note is the fact that which storage option you opt for with the Mate 8 also dictates what RAM the device packs, either 3 GB or 4 GB.
As far as the audio is concerned, the dual front-facing speaker setup of the Nexus 6P provides a great sound experience, which is unsurprisingly better than what is on offer with the bottom mounted speaker of the Mate 8. Granted, the latter does provide good body, but doesn’t get nearly as loud as the former, and is certainly a few steps back from the experience you get from the Nexus.
Both phones feature a standard suite of connectivity options, including NFC. The Mate 8 comes with every radio possible, allowing for the phone to be used pretty much anywhere in the world, and it’s great that you don’t have to worry about compatibility if you have to import the device. The Nexus 6P has seen a world wide release, and you can find versions that are compatible with every major carrier in the markets it has been released in.
Of course, the hardware aspect that everyone talks about when it comes to Huawei devices is power. On one hand, the Nexus 6P comes with a 3,450 mAh battery and Google adopting the new USB Type-C standard means that the battery can be charged very quickly. Granted, Type-C cords are harder to come by, and there will be some growing pains associated with getting used to something new, but that will change quickly as more and more OEMs make the switch.
On the other hand, the Mate 8 packs a larger 4,000 mAh battery, and EMUI does a very aggressive job of letting you know what apps are being power hogs, with you also having the option to blacklist these in the optimizer, to help get that little bit of extra juice. All things considered, the Mate 8 comfortably allows for 2 full days of battery life. Providing that extra bit of icing on the cake, the device also comes with fast charging capabilities of its own, giving you a full day’s worth of battery after charging it for just half an hour.
A day and a half of battery life is possible with the Nexus 6P, by taking advantages of features like Doze, and you can’t go wrong with either phone when it comes to power, but if you are a power user that really needs your phone to last the extra mile, the Mate 8 may be exactly what you’re looking for.
On paper, you might assume that the Mate 8 has the Nexus 6P soundly beat when it comes to the camera, with the former featuring a 16 MP rear shooter with OIS, compared to the 12.3 MP primary camera of the Nexus 6P, with optical image stabilization unfortunately missing here. Of course, the on-paper specs never tell the full story. Before we dive into camera performance, let’s talk about the camera software.
Taking a look at the respective camera applications first, they couldn’t be more different. While the Nexus 6P camera app does come with different options and a few modes, simplicity is the order of the day here, with a “what you see is what you get” user interface, with the only mode prominently used here being Auto HDR. With the Mate 8, you get a lot more features and modes built in, including a manual mode that allows for a lot of granular control over key aspects, and it works really well to let you cater the shot to exactly how you like it.
Nexus 6P camera samples
As we get into actual camera samples, we do find a bit of discrepancy between the two. The Nexus 6P’s larger pixel sizes just barely make it that much better than the Mate 8 in brighter situations. There’s a bit more color depth in Nexus 6P photos, and when using HDR, it simply has a much better way of interpreting the scene than the Mate 8, which sometimes doesn’t look like it is doing much at all when HDR is enabled. While it is a tough call between the two when in ideal lighting conditions, things are a lot more clearer, quite literally, in dimly-lit situations. You get much darker and noisier photos with the Mate 8, and nowhere close to the same type of quality available with the Nexus 6P in these conditions.
Huawei Mate 8 camera samples
It was a bit disheartening to see the Mate 8 provide a lackluster camera experience overall, especially when considering Huawei is capable of a good one, as seen with the also Huawei-manufactured Nexus 6P. As far as the camera is concerned, the Nexus 6P is certainly the better companion to have in your pocket.
Finally, we have software. This is one of those categories that will be really easy for a lot of people to pick between, because either you’re a stock Android purist or you actually enjoy all of the extra features that might come in an Android skin.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow is seen with both smartphones, so a number of the same features can be found, such as Google Now on Tap. That said, the stock Android experience is definitely far more streamlined, even if its simplicity is what sometimes turns some people off. You do get an app drawer here though, which is something that a lot of people gravitate to, and is unfortunately once again not a part of the EMUI experience.
Stock Android provides exactly what you need for a great mobile experience, without too many extras, but if extras are what you need, the Mate 8 might be worth a look. However, it has be to be said that while EMUI is not lacking in features, a great number of these additions aren’t particularly useful. Knuckle sense, for example, is a feature that you seemingly can’t trigger without sometimes practically punching the device, and really ends up being slower than if you would have just done things “the old fashioned way.” The dual window function is also fairly useless, given that there aren’t too many apps that can take advantage of it, with only eight apps offering support, many of which really don’t pair all that well together.
Of course, many of these extras can be ignored if they aren’t right for you. But let’s talk about what’s missing from EMUI: the app drawer. With no app drawer to be found, users are left dependent on folders to keep things organized and clutter free. This works for some, especially those coming from an iPhone, but it certainly goes against the traditional Android approach. It also needs to be pointed out that the multi-tasking menu, notification tray, and settings are all a good deal different than what you’d get with stock Android. Whether that’s better or worse is down to your own personal preferences.
That said, one area of software where Huawei truly shines is EMUI’s power consumption features, as these are the reason its battery can go the distance. Not only are there difference modes such as a ultra power saving mode that turns off everything but calling and texting, there’s also a smart mode, a performance mode, and a variety of tools that help you better regulate what apps are allowed to work in the background, and which aren’t.
For those that aren’t pleased with the out-of-box look and feel of EMUI, you’ll be happy to know that custom themes and plenty of settings options exist that can help you customize the experience to make things a little bit more to your liking. Ultimately though, we find ourselves installing third party launchers, just so we can bring a bit more of a traditional Android experience to the Mate 8.
Huawei Mate 8Nexus 6P
Display6-inch IPS LCD display
Full HD resolution, 368 ppi5.7-inch AMOLED display
Quad HD resolution, 518 ppi
Processor2.3 GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 950
Mali-T880MP4 GPU2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
RAM3/4 GB (depending on storage option)3 GB
Storage32/64 GB (also dictates amount of RAM)
expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB32/64/128 GB
Camera16 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera12.3 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, 1.55µm pixel size, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS + GLONASS
USB 2.0 (microUSB)Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS + GLONASS
USB 2.0 (USB Type-C)
Battery4,000 mAh3,450 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
Dimensions157.1 x 80.6 x 7.9 mm
185 grams159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The Nexus 6P is available unlocked through the Google Store and through select retailers globally, priced at $499 for the base model. On the other hand, the Huawei Mate 8 is not offered in North America, though it is avaliable in Europe and parts of Asia. For those interested in picking it up in the US, the good news is that the Mate 8’s variety of bands means it will play nicely with US LTE networks. You can find imported international models for around $600 on Amazon, alongside a number of other e-tailers.
There you have it for this comprehensive look at the Nexus 6P vs Huawei Mate 8! These are two of the best devices that Huawei has ever released. Both handsets provide a great experience underneath the hood, as well as great materials on the outside, and it really shows you just how much Huawei has matured over the years. In reality, neither choice is a bad one, as it really comes down to what you really need in a flagship.
The 6P provides stock Android experience that is very smooth, snappy, reliable, and offers a good battery experience. You also get front facing speakers and promise of quick updates that Google provides with its Nexus devices. But if power is what you need, there’s really no other device out there that can compete with the Mate 8. The Mate 8 also has a few advantages like dual-SIM functionality and microSD. On the downside, the Mate 8 lacks front facing speakers and offers a software experience that may not be for everyone.
Which handset best matches what you’re looking for in a flagship? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to Android Authority for more great comparisons, reviews, daily news, and so much more.
See also: Nexus 6P review110
Buy Nexus 6p on Amazon
Buy Huawei Mate 8 on Amazon
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The official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7 is less than two weeks away, and with the rumor train chugging along at full steam, we’re slowly but surely getting a clear idea of what to expect on February 21. However, before we move on to what is soon to be Samsung’s latest and greatest, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at its predecessor.
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The Samsung Galaxy S6 featured one of the most radical changes that Samsung has ever made to their flagship Galaxy S line, and with a quite a lot being new, there is some curiosity with regards to how the device has aged since its release last year. That’s what we find out, in this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 – now!
The drastic changes Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S6 were seen right off the bat, with the company finally giving users what they wanted with a more premium metal and glass build. The use of these new build materials not only makes for a device that is still one of the best looking in the market, but also helps the smartphone hold up much better over time when compared to its plastic-clad predecessors. Of course, an additional $100 will get you the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with its unique curved edges to the display that spill over on the sides, and is personally the one I prefer.
Granted, accusations of the design being “inspired” by one of its biggest competitors were flung around, and while there are admittedly some similarities, the Galaxy S6 is still a Samsung smartphone through and through, while also being a far better designed smartphone that year’s past. While many appreciated the updates to the design and build quality, it wasn’t without its detractors.
The new design language did result in previously staple elements like expandable storage and removable batteries going by the wayside, which understandably caused quite the uproar among users who took advantage of these features. Obviously, the story is pretty much the same to this day, with users having to opt for for the highest 128 GB built-in option to alleviate any storage concerns, but that, did of course, require paying the resulting hike in the price point.
With replaceable batteries no longer an option, users had to resort to fast charging or wireless charging to stay topped up. Both are fantastic features, the Galaxy S6 did lose some of its luster when you had to charge it multiple times a day. The Samsung Galaxy S6 didn’t offer a particularly impressive battery life when it was initially released, and that unfortunately holds true even today. However, this situation could potentially improve with the upcoming update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For now, if you are looking for a Galaxy S6 with good battery life, the Active iteration, with its much larger battery, is the way to go, but even its availability is limited by its AT&T exclusivity.
Speaking of updates, the Galaxy S6 has received quite a few over the course of the year, including the official update to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The Apps Edge feature that was initially exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ also made its over to its smaller sibling, which was great news, given that this is the most useful Edge feature on offer. The update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is also slowly starting to make its way to users, A beta version of the software is also floating around for those who are interested, and Nirave has already given us a look at what this updated software package brings to the table.
Samsung also made a lot of its improvements to the software experience available with the Galaxy S6, but despite that, it’s still not one of my favorites in terms of aesthetics. However, what was a welcome addition and one of the best parts of TouchWiz now is the robust Theme Store, and being able to cater the look of the user interface to how you want it does make the whole experience feel a lot more bearable.
The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution remains just as gorgeous as it has ever been, and is another great example of how well this phone has held up, despite being one of the earlier flagship releases of 2015. This is still one of the best smartphone displays currently available in the market, and everything from reading text and watching videos to playing games continues to be as enjoyable as it did when the phone first came out.
As far as performance is concerned, the Exynos 7420 has proven to be a beast of a processor, and in my experience, everything seems to be as snappy and responsive as it was initially. Applications and games continue to load smoothly, but the aggressive RAM management that has become a well known issue is still unfortunately still there. The fingerprint scanner also doesn’t feel as fast as before. That’s not to say that the fingerprint scanner isn’t as accurate or reliable as before, but when compared to the implementations found with the more recent smartphone releases, the Galaxy S6 does now feel a step behind.
Of course, one of the best features of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the camera. The 16 MP rear shooter is capable of taking amazing photos, and the Galaxy S6 camera can still be considered one of the best smartphone cameras currently available, which is certainly saying something, given how a lot of OEM flagships in 2015 featured camera experiences that were much improved in their own right.
The camera is a pleasure to use, with its clean and intuitive software that certainly does not lack in features. Samsung also makes launching the camera a breeze, requiring only a double tap of the home button. I began to once again appreciate how convenient this shortcut was when I started to use the Galaxy S6 again, and a quick method to launch the camera like this is something that I’m hoping a lot more OEMs wills adopt this year.
So there you have it for this look back at the Samsung Galaxy S6! It may not have always been the case with Samsung’s flagship offerings, but the Galaxy S6 has certainly managed to stand tall against the test of time. The design and build quality are fantastic, the display is beautiful, the processing package continues to deliver, and what you have here is still one of the best smartphone cameras around. These statements are not usually easily made when considering a device that is a year old, and even more so in the case of previous Samsung devices. If nothing else, the Galaxy S6 is a testament to the fact that Samsung began to right the ship in 2015, and that is something we are hoping to see continue in just a few days from now.
Mobile World Congress 2016 is just around the corner, and as has been the case every year, there is a slew of Android smartphones that we can’t wait to get our hands on. Particularly exciting is the upcoming launch of the flagship offerings from the two Korean giants, Samsung and LG, but before ushering the new, we thought that some retrospection may be in order. We’ve already revisited the Samsung Galaxy S6, and this is our look back at the LG G4.
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LG G4 review
Last year, LG was the final holdout as far as offering expandable storage and removable batteries was concerned, and with even Samsung letting go of these previously staple features in favor of an admittedly premium design, the LG G4 was the only option if these features were important to you. Granted, expandable storage was still an option with some flagship releases that followed the G4, but removable batteries has almost entirely gone by the wayside with premium smartphones.
What the G4 offered over the competition was already a big plus, but LG managed to pack it all in to a beautifully-designed body as well; the G4 offers a slightly curved display that was adopted from the G Flex line, along with LG staples like the ultra-thin bezels and rear button layout. There were some extra, stylish elements found as well, with users able to choose a leather rear backing for the device, available in a variety of colors and textures. Of course, the more standard metallic (seen in this video) and ceramic finishes were available as well so there is certainly something for everyone.
The overall design aesthetic has paid dividends, with the ergonomically-friendly curved body making for a smartphone that is one of the most comfortable to use. With its unique elements, the G4 looks different from pretty much every other Android smartphone out there. However, this did lead to some issues, with the curved sides and thin profile of the device, resulting in a device that’s difficult to grip. This problem was particularly prevalent when lying in bed and holding the phone up above your face, resulting in a few, quite painful, drops.
If the current rumors about the LG G5 are true, we might actually be seeing the end of the curved display and still unique rear button layout. This will, of course, be a radically different addition to the flagship G series, and while LG is definitely going to make the design stand out, the death of these features will certainly be a shame. We really liked the design language of the LG G4, as the device stands out from the crowd, and we’re hoping that the LG G5 doesn’t disappoint.
In terms of hardware, the LG G4 brings to the table pretty much everything that is expected from a high-end LG flagship. Continuing from its predecessor, the LG G4 features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a Quad HD resolution, and comes with excellent color reproduction and high brightness levels, allowing it to be legible in broad daylight.
Under the hood is a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, and while Qualcomm did have a technically superior processing package on offer in 2015 in the Snapdragon 810, the former manages to do a good job. Overall, the Snapdragon 808 proves to be nothing short of reliable, with the G4 easily able to handle GPS navigation, YouTube and Netflix video playback, music playback and general day-to-day use. The only noticeable slowdown was while gaming, with the handset displaying a little stutter while navigating in-game menus or in some cases, while playing the games themselves.
Of course, the main claim to fame for the LG G4 is all that it offers, which primarily are expandable storage and a replaceable battery. It has to be said here however, that I haven’t used a replaceable battery since the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is obviously a very long time ago. As far as battery life is concerned, I was able to get a full day of use out of the device, with an average of around 3.5 hours of screen-on time, which is on par with what you can expect from most smartphones..
Expandable storage is also something that I concern myself with only when I’m close to running out of space on the device, and the 32 GB of built-in storage proved to be quite sufficient to cover my needs. That said, if these features are necessary for you, the LG G4 remains your best bet, and we’ll have to wait and see if the micro SD card returns in the upcoming LG G5.
The 16MP primary shooter on the LG G4 comes with f/1.8 aperture, laser autofocus and a colour spectrum sensor, and proves to be pretty reliable. When using the G4 in Auto mode, I found the experience to be quite fun, requiring just a tap anywhere on the screen in order to take a shot. While the picture taken is good most of the time, Manual mode is perfect for those moments where Auto mode doesn’t quite cut it.
2015 was the year of the manual mode, and the LG G4 showed us what it could be like, with granular control over minute details. For example, even the Kelvin readings inside the white balance setting were available, so if the Auto mode wasn’t up to the task, I was able to tweak the settings to exactly what I wanted using the manual mode.
Camera shootout: Xperia Z5 vs LG G4 vs Galaxy Note 5 vs iPhone 6S431
The only qualm with manual mode was the fact that using a touchscreen to change settings can be a little bit cumbersome, and it takes time to get settings correctly adjusted, which isn’t great when you’re trying to take a shot quickly. The overall picture quality has been good, with nice and detailed photos, even though the coloration could use the extra punch that I’m used to from other phones.
Finally, on the software side of things, you may have seen in the video above that I’m running the Google Now launcher on the LG G4. That may not come as much of a surprise as, unfortunately, LG’s G UI does not have that many useful features, even though it isn’t lacking in them. For example, the Smart Widget on the home screen only really served to offer weather updates. There is also the Smart Cleaner, which I have only used once or twice, and also the Q Slide, which I am thankfully able to hide in the notification drop down.
So there you have it for this quick look back at the LG G4! The overall experience with this smartphone has been very good, and it remains a very reliable device to have, especially if you’re able to leverage features like expandable storage and a removable battery. The design aspect is what I have enjoyed the most about this phone, and we hope that, even if we don’t see some of the more unique elements make it over to the LG G5, we get to see them in other parts of LG’s lineup.
Are you using an LG G4? What do you think of the G4 now and do you intend to buy any of the new devices expected for MWC 2016? Let us know your views in the comments below!
Next: LG G5 rumor roundup
Samsung refreshed their Galaxy A series at the end of last year, with the new smartphones in the series borrowing heavily from the design language and construction of Samsung’s 2015 flagships. Apart from the 2016 editions of the Galaxy A3, A5, and A7, Samsung also added a new device to the lineup, which is also the largest of the bunch, and at least on paper, falls squarely in the “premium mid-range” category that we’re all increasingly familiar with.
What does this latest large Samsung offering bring to the table? We find out, in this comprehensive Samsung Galaxy A9 review!
Samsung has always had a penchant for bringing their flagship design language to the rest of their smartphone portfolio, so it’s not really surprising that the Galaxy A9 looks like an over-sized Galaxy S6, or a Galaxy Note 5, albeit without the curves on the back. What returns is the fantastic build quality, with two Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panels held together by a metal frame. A few elements do differentiate the Galaxy A9 from its flagship counterparts however; its corners are less rounded, resulting in a more angular look; meanwhile, flagship features like the S-Pen and the heart rate monitor aren’t to be found here.
Featuring a large 6-inch display, the handling experience is admittedly quite unwieldy, and while Samsung has done a great job in keeping the top part and the bottom chin relatively thin, one-handed use is quite literally a stretch. Some users will find hand gymnastics to be required to get across and to the top of the display, but with a somewhat slippery glass backing, using this phone with two hands will be your safest bet. Worth noting here is that despite being slightly thinner than the Galaxy Note 5, the camera unit on the back doesn’t protrude as much, which is one less thing to worry about when handling the device.
What you will notice right away when you first pick up the Galaxy A9 is its weight, and at 200 grams, it is certainly one of the heaviest smartphones we’ve come across. This heft does result in a substantial feel, but combined with the phone’s large dimensions, it can feel a little unbalanced when maneuvering it around. Given that the additional weight is likely a result of the huge battery packed into the device, it’s something that is at least understandable.
The Galaxy A9 comes with a 6-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 367 ppi. Samsung’s display prowess makes itself known once again with this screen, and everything you’d expect from a Super AMOLED panel, including vibrant, saturated colors, deep blacks, high brightness, and good viewing angles, are all to be seen here. The large display may not make for the best handling experience, but media-consumption and gaming-centric users will certainly appreciate the additional display real estate that is available to them.
With Quad HD being the current flagship standard, some may be disappointed with the comparatively lower resolution of the display, but Full HD definitely gets the job done in this instance. Granted, some texts may appear fuzzy, and you may notice that the images are not the sharpest, especially if you’ve moved over from a device with a Quad HD display. All said and done however, the resolution doesn’t make as much of a difference as the vibrant colors do, and this display in certainly gorgeous. Add that to the fact that using a Full HD display will also lead to some benefits in terms of battery life, and Samsung’s decision to stay with a 1080p screen does make sense.
You’ll find something quite different under the hood this time around, with Qualcomm returning to the Samsung fold with this device. The Galaxy A9 comes with the recently-renamed octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 GPU, backed by the Adreno 510 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. Seeing a Snapdragon 6xx at the helm may make you think of this as a mid-range processing package, but in terms of performance, what you get is actually quite close to the Galaxy Note 5, and the A9 seemingly surpasses the Galaxy S6, which is very impressive.
The device handles everyday tasks with ease – opening, closing, and switching between apps is a breeze, and gaming is a lot of fun, with few and far between dropped frames. Everything remains smooth and snappy for the most part, and the only instances of stutter that are noticeable are when moving to the Briefing screen to the left of the main homescreen, but that has been the case with previous Samsung smartphones as well, and is likely an issue with software optimization. The overall experience has been incredibly smooth, and the Galaxy A9 is certainly not going to disappoint as far as performance is concerned.
In hardware, the Galaxy A9 comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, including NFC, and you also get dual-SIM capabilities. 32 GB is the only storage option available here, but the great news is that expandable storage is now available with a near-flagship Samsung smartphone once again, with microSD card support up to 128 GB. The lack of expandable storage with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 caused an uproar among consumers, and it’s nice to see Samsung bring this feature back with a device that features a premium unibody construction, and perhaps, this is a little foreshadowing of the future as well.
Retained from its flagship counterparts is the fingerprint scanner, returning to its usual position up front and embedded in the physical home button. Its placement allows for the scanner to be accessed at any time, letting you quickly unlock the device even if it is resting on a table. It can be a little awkward to reach it when you hold the device up, in which case the rear positioning that some OEMs have opted could be preferable.
You still have to push the home button for the scanner to do its thing, but the scanner is otherwise very fast and accurate, failing to read the registered fingerprint only once in around twenty attempts. Apart from just unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner is used with Samsung Pay as well, which is always a big plus. You may not get all the bells and whistles that Samsung packs into their flagship devices with the Galaxy A9, but it’s great to see the very useful fingerprint scanner making the jump.
The single speaker unit is located on the right side at the bottom, and, as is the case with most bottom-mounted speakers, the placement isn’t ideal, as the sound is directed away from you, and makes for a speaker that is also very easy to cover up when holding the phone in the landscape orientation. However, it does get loud and the audio is also quite clear, with only a small amount of compression to it.
Moving on to the battery, we were certainly excited to put the Galaxy A9 through its paces when we first heard that it featured a large 4,000 mAh battery, and along with that, the promise of fantastic battery life. It’s certainly great news that the device stands up to that promise, and comfortably so, easily lasting for as long as 2 days with average use. Even when using the device to take a lot of pictures, I experienced a very impressive 8 hours of screen-on time.
You’ll be hard-pressed to drain this battery quickly unless you’re a heavy gamer. On the flip side, you can get even more juice out of the battery by using Samsung’s built-in battery saving modes when you’re running low. You will rarely find the need to charge the Galaxy A9 every night, and when you do have to, it charges really quickly as well, taking advantage of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology.
The camera, on paper, seems to be a step down from the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5, with the Galaxy A9 featuring a 13 MP primary shooter with a f/1.9 aperture. Fortunately, optical image stabilization is available as well, and overall, this camera is capable of taking some really good shots. To take pictures at full resolution, you’ll have to resort to shooting in a 4:3 aspect ratio however.
In good lighting conditions, the camera performs very well, and there is some sharpening that happens during post processing, that helps create sharp looking pictures with vibrant colors. On the negative side, the camera can struggle with dynamic range, and lots of detail can get lost in the shadows. Overexposure is also very common for the camera, especially on overcast days, but HDR does a great job with fixing this while maintaining a realistic look. Image quality deteriorates as lighting conditions worsen, and you will start to see images that are quite dull, with not a lot of vibrancy to the colors, along with lots of noise as well.
The front-facing camera of the Galaxy A9 is actually a step up from what is found with its flagship counterparts, and the 8 MP shooter, also with a f/1.9 aperture, makes for a noticeable difference. While the selfie cam of the Galaxy S6 lacked detail, the Galaxy A9 allows for a good amount of detail to be seen in images. It is a wide angle lens as well, which helps get a lot of information into the shot.
Overall though, the cameras of the Galaxy A9 are very capable, but the Galaxy S6 is still the one to beat.
Finally, on the software side of things, it is certainly very surprising, and disappointing, to see the Galaxy A9, a device launched in December 2015, running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. Granted, an official update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is in the works, but with a device released so late in the year, we were certainly expecting it to come with the latest version of Android right away. For now, we have a version of TouchWiz that we’ve been familiar with for close to year.
Samsung has done a decent job in toning down this version of its software package, when compared to previous iterations, but there are a few nice features still included. The notification dropdown is very nicely designed, if you don’t mind the color choice, and you do get to customize the Quick Settings toggles for easier access. Dual window support is also available, which can easily be taken advantage of when using this large display, but the feature is limited to only a select set of applications for now. Finally, the robust Theme Store is returning, which gives you the opportunity to really make the experience your own.
Granted, there is still work to be done here, like addressing the small stutters that are seen in relation to the homescreen animations, or when swiping over to the Briefing screen, but these will hopefully be taken care of when Samsung releases the official update to Marshmallow for the Galaxy A9.
DIsplay6-inch Super AMOLED display
Full HD resolution, 367 ppi
Processor1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652
Adreno 510 GPU
expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
FM Radio with RDS
Cameras13 MP rear camera, f/1.9 aperture, OIS, LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera, f1/.9 aperture
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Dimensions161.7 x 80.9 x 7.4 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The Samsung Galaxy A9 can be found on Amazon priced at close to the $600 mark, which is quite steep, but given the flagship features this device provides, it does make sense. Available color options include silver, white, gold, and pink gold.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Samsung Galaxy A9! This smartphone proves to be quite compelling, by offering a flagship design and build quality, high-end performance, and incredible battery life, along with expandable storage coming back into the fold as well. The display resolution may not be the highest out there, and the camera may not be as good as Samsung’s flagship devices, but they are certainly not bad either. The Galaxy A9 proves that Samsung can definitely find the balance between looks and functionality, and this device could put the company back on top when it comes to creating smartphones for the power user.
NUU Mobile may not be a household name, but the Singapore-based company has been released a number of solid affordable smartphones that make for a great entry point into the world of Android. Of course, the competition in the sub-$200 category is more intense than ever, with more and more OEMs fighting it out in this price range with some pretty high quality offerings that don’t break the bank. Does the latest affordable device from NUU Mobile manage to stand out from the crowd? We find out, in this comprehensive NUU Mobile X4 review!
Right off the bat, it has to be mentioned that the inspiration for the design language of the NUU Mobile X4 is obvious, with the device sharing a fair number of design elements with the far more high-end Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Everything from the metal band, to the placement of the buttons and antennas, to the appearance of the speaker grill, as well as the curves along the sides of the back cover are seen here, and the only thing missing is a tactile home button up front. Nuu Mobile has taken quite a lot of inspiration from Samsung, but with the Galaxy Note 5 being one of the best looking smartphones in 2015, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, the premium build quality of the Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t make its way over, which is understandable, given the significant difference in price points between these two smartphones. What you get instead is a plastic rear cover, which is removable, and allows for access to the dual SIM card slots, the microSD card slot, and the user replaceable battery. The backing is easier to remove this time around, compared to other smartphones from NUU Mobile, but it was disappointing to see some gaps around the corners where the cover is supposed to meet the body.
Taking a look around the device, the power button is on the right side, while the volume rocker can be found to the left. The buttons do seem to exhibit a bit of a rattle, but otherwise offer a comfortable amount of tactile feedback. The single speaker unit is placed at the bottom, and the headphone jack and microUSB port are both up top. Up front are the three capacitive navigation keys below the display, in a standard layout, and there is also a black border around the display that can be quite distracting, particularly on this white model, but is something that you will get used to eventually.
Featuring a 5-inch display, the handling experience of this phone is very good. Not only does the device feel solid and substantial in the hand, but its relatively compact size puts it well within the realm of comfortable one-handed use, which is quite refreshing to see, given the general trend that skewers towards larger displays. The phone feels better built than the majority of the devices that fall in the sub-$200 category, and is definitely one of the better aspects of this device.
The NUU Mobile X4 comes with a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 720p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 294 ppi. Unfortunately, this display is of a rather poor quality, and doesn’t offer what you’d generally expect from an IPS LCD panel. The color reproduction is inaccurate, the viewing angles are quite bad, and the brightness range falls between being two high in dark environments, and too low when in broad daylight. There were also noticeable bright spots on the display after just a couple of weeks of use, but that might only be in the case of this particular review unit. The only positive here is the very accurate color temperature, but the overall display quality is certainly disappointing.
Performance and hardware
Under the hood, the X4 comes with an octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor, clocked at 1.3 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T720 GPU and 1 GB of RAM. While this processing package has been seen with other similarly-priced smartphones, and proved to be a decent performer, the performance in the case of the X4 is actually quite disappointing. Applications can be painfully slow to load, and the device occasionally locks up entirely when more than a couple of apps are running. The amount of lag seen throughout is reminiscent of a low-cost smartphone from several years ago, and is likely a result of the availability of just 1 GB of RAM. Graphically-intensive gaming is almost out of the question as well, with disconcertingly low frame rates and frame drops to be seen.
`16 GB of on-board storage is the only option available here, but you do get expandable storage via microSD card by up to an additional 32 GB. The X4 comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, with the exception of NFC, but while the GPS performance has seen an improvement from previous NUU Mobile devices, the Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities continue to be quite weak. Where other phones received five full bars of service, the X4 managed only three, and Wi-Fi speeds and range were also less than anticipated.
Call quality on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks was also disappointing, with the audio through the earpiece sounding both quiet and distorted. However, what is impressive is the availability of full 4G LTE support on both these networks, which is nice to see on an unlocked budget smartphone. The single speaker unit of the device is also of a poor quality, and apart from not being loud enough, the audio quality is also very tinny and heavily distorted.
The X4 comes with a 2,250 mAh battery that is user replaceable, and allows for a battery life that can be quite hit or miss. On some days, the battery lasted for up to 18 hours with around 4 hours of screen-on time, and on others, that would drastically drop to 13 hours of use with just 2.5 hours of screen-on time, despite no change in the usage. The good news here is that users do have to option to carry around spares to alleviate any battery life concerns.
The X4 comes with a 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing unit. As has been the theme throughout this review, the primary camera unfortunately produces below average images, even when making considerations with regards to the price point. Images were noisy and grainy, lacked sharpness, and the camera often had trouble exposing the shot correctly. HDR does help with the latter issue, but colors still appear quite dull, and in general, the images are of a poorer quality.
As far as the camera application is concerned, it is the standard open source MediaTek camera app, which is easy enough to use. There is some level of granular control available here, but any photography enthusiast is better off staying away from this camera anyway.
The NUU Mobile X4 comes with with a nearly stock build of Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, but there are few useful additions that have been made, including a Clear All button in the Recent Apps screen, along with support for air gestures and smart gestures. The former is a bit gimmicky, but the smart gestures can be very useful. Also, unlike many other smartphones that we’ve seen in the sub-$200 price category, the NUU Mobile X4 is completely free of any bloatware.
However, there was a noticeable bug that proved to be very frustrating, where the Recent Apps screen would only display a few of the open apps. Considering that the user will be responsible for a considerable amount of the memory management with only 1 GB on-board, not being able to close the apps from the multi-tasking screen is certainly annoying. Hopefully, a future software update will address this issue.
Display5-inch IPS LCD display
720p resolution, 294 ppi
Processor1.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6753
expandable via microSD up to 32 GB
Camera13 MP rear camera
5 MP front-facing unit
SoftwareAndroid 5.1 Lollipop
Dimensions142.2 x 71.1 x 7.8 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The NUU Mobile is currently priced at $169.99, with black and white being the available color options, and you also get some nice additions, including a two year warranty, a screen protector in the box, as well as a pair of earphones.
So there you have it for this closer look at the NUU Mobile X4. We did have high hopes for this latest affordable smartphone from NUU Mobile, considering how good some of their previous releases were, but the X4 ultimately ended up being a let down in almost every aspect. While the decent build quality, full 4G LTE support, and a stock Android experience are positives, these factors certainly aren’t enough to overshadow the glaring negatives, that include a poor display and camera experience, and disappointing performance, which are all essential parts of the smartphone experience. Even with its low price point, there are actually cheaper and better options out there as well, making the X4 somehow actually feel overpriced for what it offers.