5 Days with the Nexus 5X – Day 3

Nexus 5X Moko Case

My pair of Moko cases arrived from Amazon yesterday. Upon affixing one to my Nexus 5X I immediately remembered why I don’t care for this particular design—the soft rubber bumpers catch lint and dust like nobody’s business, and the hard shell is slippery on the sides where you need the most grip.

That’s all I have to say about cases for now, but allow me to continue on this theme of protection. Or lack thereof.

You’ll recall that this 5X is rooted, and the method I used to root it disables on-device encryption. There’s one big benefit to an unencrypted install of Android Marshmallow on a Nexus 5X—this thing flies. Maybe it’s the new OS, but this particular 5X feels significantly faster than my Lollipop-powered Nexus 6.

From AnandTech’s recent review it seems that performance is an entirely different story on an encrypted 5X. Random read and write speeds on a 5X with FDE (full disk encryption) are about 30% slower than on an LG G4. Both the 5X and G4 are powered by the same Snapdragon 808. The difference? The 5X is encrypted out of the box; the G4 is not.

So why encrypt in the first place? According to The New York Times we can thank the revelations of Edward Snowden for that. The leaks about PRISM date back to the summer of 2013, but it took until the fall of 2014 for both Apple and Google to enable FDE by default, in iOS 8 and Android 5 Lollipop respectively.

Only thing is, if the NSA, CSE and other Five Eyes partners are indeed snooping on your phone they are almost certainly intercepting communications as they pass through the network.

Does this make the 5X’s fingerprint reader redundant? Not at all; it’s a super-convenient way to unlock your phone. Now that I have a case I can put the Nexus face down on my desk and catch notifications on my desktop computer via Pushbullet. It’s not going to stop an expert data thief, but fingerprint unlock will at least foil my nieces, nephew and drunken friends who want to change my menus to Spanish.

I’m not going to tell anyone to decrypt their phone; I will only suggest that for some users, like me, it may not be necessary. For a final thought on encryption I’ll leave you with some additional perspective on computer security from xkcd:

xkcd - "Security"

Sources: AnandTech, New York Times, xkcd

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