Google Nexus 6P review
When I left the Apple camp at the release of the, in my opinion, very ‘meh’ iPhone 5 I hopped over to the HTC One M7 and the screen size took a while to get used to. Now, leaping from the One M9 to the Google Nexus 6P I thought I just wasn’t going to get along with the new 5.7-inch flagship Marshmallow phone. Could it win me over?
Last year’s Motorola-designed Google 6 had the chops but was huuuge with its 6-inch display. This year Huawei was given the job and returned with a thinner, lighter, 5.7-inch screen-packing model. This brings it in line with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5, not to mention that the Apple iPhone 6s Plus is only 0.2-inch smaller.
So, rather than being the large freaky phone, it now has similarly large companions in the ever-increasing phablet arena.
The thing is, how does it stack up against those big name, big phones?
Google Nexus 6P design
Huawei is really making waves in the smartphone scene over in the West now. The Honor 7 looked impressive when I got some hands-on time at the launch and the 6P really does showcase what the Chinese phone cobbler is capable of.
I intended to use the Nexus 6P as my second device but, after a few hours, I fell in love with the handset’s design and so it became my main squeeze.
This is a truly handsome slice of metal-bodied hardware.
Huawei have obviously taken a lot of time over the 6P’s design. The softly curved rear feels right in the hand but is so subtle that it will lay nicely on a desk.
The black strip at the rear of the phone that houses the camera tech actually looks better in real life than it does in the press snaps. Even the camera bulge looks like a cool design feature rather than something that *had* to be done.
The edges of the device are nicely finished and the curved corners all pull everything together in a very considered, elegant way.
The screen has Gorilla Glass 4 to protect it from the toxic twins of keys and coins. This is joined up front by a pair of front-facing speakers that delivers audio that won’t be ruined by hands, cases, surfaces, etc. Along the bottom edge there’s one of those new fangled (can things be old and still fangled?) USB Type-C ports, which my Nexus contact assures me will soon become the standard – so no fretting about compatibility. Also, the Nexus 6P comes bundled with a USB C fast charging cable and a C to A converter.
The beauty of these Type-C ports is that they are far more robust than their Micro-USB equivalents. I am sure that we’ve all had to hold our charging cables at a silly angle to make the contact at some point.
Not only that but they can squirt through more power for faster charging as well as more data for speedier syncing and, possibly more importantly, as they are reversible, it should mark the end of fumbling around trying shove your cable in to the slot the wrong way. Does anyone else know why it takes three attempts to find the right way around to plug in a normal USB cable?
On the back is a mysterious recessed circle. This is the Nexus 6P’s fingerprint scanner, for added security.
Google Nexus 6P display
The Huawei Google Nexus 6P comes equipped with an AMOLED screen which dishes out awesome contrast and amazing colours that pop.
I am not saying that the colours are saturatated though. The colours are vibrant yet balanced.
The screen goes nice and bright. True, in glaring sunlight (probably will have to leave this fair isle for that kinda thing) it might wash out, just like any other phone I have tried in that situation but in ‘normal’ environments, whether under stark office lights or at home, the display remains sharp.
This sharpness may also be due to the 1440 x 2560 resolution partnered by a peeper-pleasing pixel density of 518ppi. Boom!
Let me put that in to context for you my gadgety friends – the only smartphone on the market right now that can better that is the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium – and that has a brain spraining 5.5-inch 4K display.
Google Nexus 6P performance
Under the 6P’s hood purrs a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa-core processor, 3GB RAM and there’s a 3,450mAh battery to keep everything powered.
Yes, there may be more impressive spec sheets out there but I have yet to find anything that will slow the Nexus 6P down. True, it does help that this is a Google-commissioned phone built to run the latest Google Android software but I wasn’t expecting such buttery smoothness.
Even after playing graphic intensive games for a while, the handset doesn’t get particularly hot.
So, large fancy screen and gutsy performance – I bet it munches the battery.
Not so much. Granted, while I have been putting the phone through its paces the level does drop pretty sharply but on days of ‘normal’ use – browsing, socials, music, video, a couple of short calls, and some Google Maps action, the Nexus 6P will get me through a day and a bit.
The great thing is that you can have this phone recharged fully in no time and a 10-15 minute top up will get you back around a third of a charge to see you on your way. From dead empty to a full charge takes around an hour using the bundled charger!
This has been a thorough and total win for the Google Nexus 6P so far – it’s just a crying shame that there’s no provision to add a microSD card. This means that you have to be considered in your choice of 6P model. It comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB flavours so be careful which one you opt for.
Saying that though, Google has a full range of free cloud storage so I have all my snaps ping over to Google Photos, for instance. My 32GB model shows that 6GB has been taken up by apps but this includes a couple of off-line TIDAL playlists so I still have plenty left of the 25GB you actually start with on the 32GB version. I would personally aim for the 64GB if given the choice.
On the subject of playlists the front-firing speakers on the Nexus 6P are very good. Having stereo speakers at the front was one of the reasons I went to the HTC One and the 6P is as good as, if not a little better than the One in the audio department.
Google Nexus 6P camera
The rear main snapper on the Nexus 6P is the same 12.3-megapixel, laser autofocusing unit found on the Nexus 5X.
This means you get an aperture of f/2 and large light-gathering 1.55-micron pixels (the larger the microns the more light they can grab – The Apple 6S plus is rated at 1.22-micron pixels). There’s no optical image stabilisation – but the shutter seems to be swift enough.
Taking snaps on a typically gloomy day on Oxford Street shows how well, in even poor light, the Nexus 6P is still able to pick up details.
The same is true indoors. None of these were taken using the flash and none of the example photos have been tweaked in any way – hence the reason for some not being straight 😉
Impressively, video can be recorded at resolutions of up to 4K and 30fps but the lack of stabilisation can be a bit of a bigger deal here. Not a deal breaker per se but something to be aware of.
Whilst I love(d) my HTC One M9 the camera didn’t love low light. The Nexus 6P, on the other hand, seems to do well in all lighting scenarios. Pictures come out as vibrant and clear. The on-board software doesn’t allow for much tweaking but then, should some touching up be required, I can always turn to the trusty Snapseed.
Google has added smart burst mode to the camera which is activated by holding down the shutter button. This captures photos at a rate of 30 frames per second. The Nexus 6P then turns your stream of snaps into a SmartBurst – basically an animated GIF. If you don’t want this you can turn it off in settings. Above is a SmartBurst I took at a Wonk Unit gig.
On the video side of things, you get slow-motion video. This can capture up to 240 frames per second, complete with editing capabilities. This gives a nice slo-mo effect when played back. Particularly cool for action shots – obviously, you have to be expecting something to happen.
Flipping the 6P back over you get the front-facing 8MP camera which is great for vid-calls and selfies. I do think that people with shorter arms than I might find getting a group shot a tad tricky. Please get a Policeman or bar staff to take one the picture in that case. Friends don’t let friends use selfie-sticks.
Google Nexus 6P call quality
Must remember that I am reviewing a mobile telephone!
Phone calls were clear when out and about around the capital. I have used an EE PAYG and O2 contract SIM and I had no issues hearing or being heard.
Speakerphone was loud enough in an office/home environment. I didn’t test it when I was out as, well, I don’t use speakerphones in cafes and such. If you do, let me know as I have plenty of cheap earbuds with in-line mics and you’re welcome to one.
Google Nexus 6P and Android Marshmallow
Possibly the main reason a lot of mobile geeks get a Nexus phone is that they get the latest and unsullied version of Google’s Android operating system.
The Nexus 6P comes loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow straight out of the box.
This is my first time living with vanilla Android and it’s not as boring as I thought it would be.
I am digging the new Now on Tap feature. If there’s a person’s name, or a picture of a landmark or film poster on your phone, holding down the home button will then get Google to scan what’s on the screen and then you will get back relevant contextual information. Yes, it’s still early days and it can get confused but this is what getting software before anyone else is all about.
Earlier I briefly mentioned the fingerprint scanner, or Nexus Imprint as they call it, and this locks in with Google’s focus on security and privacy.
This involves enforced encryption and that fingerprint unlock. I’ve used the scanners on LG, Apple and Samsung phones and they’ve been ok. I am pleased to report that the Nexus 6P has it nailed.
Having the scanner on the rear of the phone makes perfect sense now, as it’s not long before picking up the phone sees your scanned finger resting naturally in the rear indentation. It’s just a seamless transition whether you’re using it to unlock the handset or purchase items on Google Play.
If you want to unlock the phone when you have it resting on the desk, you can simply use the 9-dot pattern recognition.
I also like that double-pressing the lock key launches the camera even when the phone is locked.
Google Nexus 6P review conclusion
The Google/Huawei partnership was a masterstroke. If you’re looking for a handset with a big screen, at a price that won’t make a huge hole in your bank balance, this is the one for you.
Google have an excellent and practically bargainous offering with the Nexus 6P starting at £449 for the 32GB model (up to £579 for the 128GB version). You also get a choice of Aluminium, Graphite or Frost finishes.
For Huawei they have proved that they have the know-how to design and build a remarkable and stylish phone worthy of the world’s third-largest smartphone-maker.
The Nexus 6P has the speed as well as the looks. It feels nice in the hand even though it’s packing that 5.7-inch AMOLED screen. The cameras are very capable and for everything the phone does, battery life is impressive.
I honestly can say that if someone offered me a choice between the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Nexus 6P it would be a difficult decision. What makes that decision easier, however, is that choosing the Nexus 6P means spending around £100 less.
Google Nexus 6P specifications at a glance
Processor: Octa-core (quad 2GHz and quad 1.5GHz),
Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1
RAM: 3GB LPDDR4
Screen size: 5.7-inches
Screen resolution: 1,440 x 2560, 518ppi (Gorilla Glass 4)
Screen type: AMOLED
Front camera: 8MP
Rear camera: 12.3MP (f/1.9, phase detect autofocus, OIS)
Flash: Dual LED
Battery size: 3,450mAh
Wi-Fi: 802.11ac (2x2 MIMO)
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2 LE
Size (WDH): 78 x 7.3 x 159mm
Operating system: Android 6.0 Marshmallow