The Nexus Experience

Nexus 5X and 6P vs. Galaxy Note 5: A quick camera comparison

How do Google's new Nexus phones stack up with Android's current photography leader? Take a look at these side-by-side shots and see what you think.

Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Galaxy Note 5 Camera Comparison

The Nexus Experience

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Google's Nexus phones have had plenty of good things going for 'em over the years, but camera quality has never exactly been a top focus. At least, until now.

With this year's new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P models, the Big G swears it's turning over a new leaf and making top-notch photography a priority. Both phones -- manufactured by LG and Huawei, respectively -- share the same impressive-sounding imaging setup: a 12.3-megapixel camera with a Sony-made sensor that uses larger pixels to capture more light.

That's a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo -- so do the new Nexii actually deliver? I'm in the midst of living with both phones now and will have much more to say on the subject in my upcoming real-world review. For now, I wanted to share an early peek at some sample shots I've taken side by side with the Nexus 5X and 6P and the Galaxy Note 5, Android's current camera champion. While this is by no means the full story, it should give you a quick glimpse into how things are shaping up so far.

(Note: All images were taken with the phones' default settings -- which includes an auto-HDR feature on all of the devices -- and no post-capture processing or editing, aside from being sized down and occasionally rotated to fit on this page. You can click on any image to view it in its full-size, full-resolution form.)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 a)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n5 a)

Nexus 6P on top; Nexus 5X on bottom. Let's get one thing out of the way first: These two phones are equally equipped when it comes to basic photo-snapping with their main rear cameras. The 6P has a few extra features -- which I'll explore further in my review -- but with regular still photography, we're looking at the same exact setup on both devices, and there's consequently no discernible difference in the results.

So from here on out, I'm going to show only the 6P's photo alongside the Note 5's for the sake of simplicity. You'll have to take my word that, aside from minor variations based on the exact angle and positioning of my hand from one shot to the next, the 5X's images looked practically identical to the 6P's in each and every scenario.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 b)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note b)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Outside in the shade on a sunny day.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 c)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note c)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Up close and personal.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 d)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note d)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Don't worry: The rabbit agreed to be photographed.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 e)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note e)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Bright colors and direct sunshine.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 f)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note f)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Indoors with average afternoon lighting -- a couple of lamps and some indirect sunlight coming in through a window.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 g)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note g)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Indoors with an overhead light and very minimal natural light coming in through a distant window.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 h)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note h)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. A (gorgeous!) subject in constant motion. She was squirming around and banging her hand on the floor this entire time (you should try it -- it's surprisingly satisfying). I took several shots with each phone and picked the one with the least amount of blur to use here.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 i)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note i)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Even more extreme movement from the same stunning creature. Both shots were taken mid-hoist, at the peak of the movement. Again, I took several pictures with each phone and picked the best one to use.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 j)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note j)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Low light, in a dim garage with just a bit of indirect light coming in through a partially open door and covered window across the room.

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (n6 k)

Nexus Note Camera Comparison (note k)

Nexus 6P on top; Note 5 on bottom. Extreme low light, with just super-dimmed lamps on across the room at night. (For perspective, my 2014 Moto X returned a useless almost-all-black image in this same scenario as well as in the previous one. The 2015 Moto X Pure Edition didn't fare much better. Low light ain't easy, folks.)

These samples are just scratching the surface, of course. I'm taking and looking at tons of different types of shots with the new Nexii -- including lots of on-the-go shots of my ever-moving little one in all sorts of awkwardly lit real-world environments -- and I'll have a full analysis of how both phones hold up in my upcoming review. I'll also tackle the broader issues of what each phone is actually like to use in day-to-day life, including some crucially important comparisons related to the devices' forms and displays.

I've got a busy weekend ahead, my friends. Keep your eyes open for some important conclusions all throughout next week.

[See "The Nexus Experience," below, for updates and additional analysis.]

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