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Nexus Engineers Reveal More Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P Details

Four members of the Google Nexus team, including Hiroshi Lockheimer, David Burke, Krishna Kumar and Sandeep Waraich, took the time to answer questions from Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P fans about the two new phones. Here's a summary of the most important details.

Why Huawei And LG?

Google seems to have a good relationship with LG, and many fans have also requested an updated Nexus 5 since last year, so the company decided to satisfy that request.

As for Huawei, Google thought it should mix things up and try new a partner. Google has always wanted to give more manufacturers the opportunity to show the best devices they can make, and that's why it has already worked with HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Asus and now Huawei.

Why The X And P In The Names?

The team said they chose the X to represent the "core" of the Nexus brand, while the P was chosen for "premium."

Why No OIS?

Probably the biggest criticism of the new Nexus devices so far is that they don't have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which is a piece of hardware that can increase the cost and usually bulks up the camera on the back.

During Google's keynote announcing the new devices, the Nexus team's David Burke already said that they think the bigger 1.55um pixels make up for the OIS, at least in terms of capturing more light. However, OIS also helps with video stabilization, where it will be missed on these devices. The Nexus team said that they will continue to work on improving the Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS).

To help alleviate concerns about the lack of OIS (again in terms of how much light is captured and how good the final picture is), the devices have algorithms to pick the best picture out of series of pictures.

"We have a feature we call 'lucky shot' internally. When you take a picture, behind the scenes, we select the best of three bursts of images. When you use video, we have optic-flow-based image stabilization. When you use SmartBurst, we select the best image from the burst (for example a shot with eyes open)."

Why No Wireless Charging?

The second major criticism for the two devices has been the lack of wireless charging. The Nexus team's answer basically came down to the fact that the USB Type-C port (which they said only supports USB 2.0 on these phones) is much easier to plug in and is also much faster to charge (3A and 5V, which leads to 97 minutes of full charging for the Nexus 6P, with the first 45 minutes charging the battery at a much faster rate).

The Google engineers also said that wireless charging would've added unnecessary thickness to the devices.

Why 2 GB RAM And 16 GB Storage On Nexus 5X?

The Google team responded to this by saying it was a cost-cutting decision to keep the Nexus 5X affordable.

What Type Of Storage?

The engineers said the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P come with eMMC 5.0 (not the faster UFS 2.0).

Cameras

Both devices have the exact same camera sensor (Sony's IMX377). They both have 12.3MP resolution, 1.55um pixels and Laser Detection Auto-Focus (LDAF). The main difference between the two is that the Nexus 6P has 240 fps slow-motion video recording, whereas the Nexus 5X is capable of only 120fps. This is due to the 5X using a slightly lower-end chip (the Snapdragon 808).

The Nexus engineers also said that Nexus 6P comes with EIS, but they didn't mention the Nexus 5X. It's not clear whether this means the Nexus 5X has no image stabilization whatsoever. We've reached out to Google for clarification.

Fingerprint Sensor

When asked how the fingerprint sensor security works, the Nexus team replied by saying:

"Fingerprint features are securely encrypted on the device, and processed in the secure Trustzone protected area of memory. The Android 6.0 fingerprint APIs do not provide any access to the fingerprint material to apps. Fingerprint features never leave the device and are not shared with Google (so for example if you setup a new phone, you need to re-enroll your fingers). If your phone is ever lost or stolen you can easily find, lock, and erase your phone using Android Device Manager."

In fewer words, the fingerprint data seems to be as secure as possible on Android hardware right now, and it is never shared with Google or other third party apps.

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.