Google's latest flagship smartphones boast a bunch of new productivity-boosting features, including a fingerprint scanner, quick charging and better videoconferencing capabilities. The Nexus 5X is a 5.2-inch phone that was announced this week alongside the Nexus 6P, a 5.7-inch phablet. Aside from the difference in screen size and a few design differences, both phones pack a similar feature set.
Both the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P are available for preorder in the Google Store, starting at $379 and $499, respectively. The phones come off-contract and are compatible with most major carriers.
While we wait to get our hands on Google's new Nexus smartphones, here's a rundown of the features that should make them good for work.
Competing smartphones from Apple and Samsung have included fingerprint scanners for the past few generations of devices, but the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P are the first smartphones from Google to offer the security feature. It's a big deal for business users who want to keep their work phone locked without having to fuss with a cumbersome password screen every time they turn on their phone.
The new fingerprint scanner, dubbed Nexus Imprint, is located on the back of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Google says the rear placement makes the scanners easier to reach when you're holding your phone, though I personally think that front scanners are more convenient. On the bright side, Google says that Nexus Imprint is one of the most sensitive and accurate fingerprint scanners yet. The company says Nexus Imprint can recognize your print in less than 6 milliseconds with one quick tap and instantly wake your phone.
Instead of a standard micro-USB charger — the kind virtually all Android smartphones use currently — both of the new Nexus phones come with USB Type-C charging ports. The new format has a couple of big advantages, including the ability to charge your smartphone much more quickly than you could with older charging technology. In fact, Google says both new Nexus phones will complete a full charge more than twice as quickly as the iPhone 6, although we have yet to confirm that claim in our testing. That's good news if you need to top off your smartphone's battery during a short business-flight layover.
USB Type-C chargers also enable faster data transfer from your PC to your smartphone. Plus, they're reversible, so you'll never have to flip it over several times while you try to plug in your phone.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will be the first smartphones to launch with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. In addition to an updated look, Marshmallow introduces a slew of features that business users will appreciate.
For starters, you get a smarter version of Google Now, the personal assistant app that comes preloaded on all Android smartphones. As usual, the updated app will continue to provide a stream of helpful information, from appointment reminders to flight delays. But now, it can provide information using context clues. For example, if a client emails you to ask about meeting at a restaurant to discuss business plans over lunch, Google Now can automatically retrieve related information, like turn-by-turn directions to the location, as well as the restaurant's business hours.
Google also made some big improvements to the way Android uses your smartphone's battery, to help your device last through the end of the workday. Now, when your phone has been idle for a little while, it automatically goes into an energy-saving "doze" mode that limits background app updates, saving you hours of battery life in the processor. Don't worry; you'll still get alerts for calls, messages and alarms, and other updates will still arrive — they'll just be a bit slower than before.
Marshmallow also makes it easier to input and edit text. For example, the basic word selection tool now has the ability to intelligently highlight chunks of text. Plus, a new clipboard toolbar makes frequently used functions, like copy and paste, easier to access.
A good front-facing camera is a nice feature if you use your smartphone to meet remotely with clients, colleagues or employees via a videoconferencing app like Skype or GoToMeeting. That's why the Nexus 5X and 6P's massively improved cameras might be noteworthy for workers. Google says the 8-megapixel front shooter has bigger pixels to let in more light, allowing it to capture clearer, brighter video images. That's especially important in low-light locations like offices.