Nexus smartphones have always focused on the software with everything else coming second. These phones and tablets are meant to highlight what the Android operating system is meant to be, not to sell to the masses. This year however, that changes. With the launch of the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P, Google has a renewed vision for what a Nexus smartphone is. We’ve already reviewed the Nexus 5X and it’s clear what Google wanted to accomplish with it, a smaller, budget minded smartphone. However now we’ve got the Nexus 6P, a larger, more premium smartphone designed to show off the best of the best. Has Google created “the perfect smartphone”? Well, no, but they’ve come pretty darn close. Let’s take a look.
- 5.7″ AMOLED Display – 2560×1440
- Snapdragon 810 Processor
- 3GB DDR4 RAM
- 32/64/128GB Storage (non-expandable)
- 12.3MP Rear Camera f/2.0, 1.55 μm
- 8MP Front Camera
- 3,450 mAh Battery
- USB Type C
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
This year Google has teamed up with Chinese OEM Huawei to create an all-metal smartphone that is nothing short of gorgeous. While the initial renders had most of us concerned about the design, looking at it in person all you’ll see it really is a beautiful device. The chamfered edges around the sides and the aluminum back create a phone that is great to look at and to hold. The cool touch of the metal body is a treat and something we’ve never truly had on a Nexus. However as with all metal smartphones, the Nexus 6P is very slick. A case or skin is a must with this phone as without one you’re going to run a very high risk of dropping and damaging the phone.
One thing you won’t have to worry about with the Nexus 6P however is bending it. While it has been shown that it’s not the hardest device to bend, the phone feels sturdy in the hand and as long as you’re not actively trying to bend it, you’ll be just fine.
As far as size is concerned, the Nexus 6P is still a pretty huge device. The 5.7” display does make for a large phone, but even when compared to the Galaxy Note 5 with it’s 5.7” display, the 6P comes out bigger in nearly every dimension. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. The extra size gives the phone a bit of extra weight which helps in handling and allows for the dual front facing speakers, but more on those later. When compared to the Nexus 6 from 2014, the 6P is only a bit larger. It’s display is 92% the size of the 6’s and it’s also not as wide or as thick. It is a tall phone however falling in at the same height as the Nexus 6. This honestly feels a little awkward since the display is smaller, but the reason is because of those front facing speakers, a trade-off I’m more than willing to make.
The weight of the phone is very reassuring as well. It’s just a tad lighter than the Nexus 6 but since it’s so well-balanced, it gives a better feel in the hand.
Overall, the hardware on the Nexus 6P makes one solid phone. The all-metal body definitely lives up to it’s premium marketing and while I hate to see features such as wireless charging lost to this move, I’m happy with it in the end.
On the back of the 6P is the “Nexus Imprint” fingerprint scanner. While this is not the first device I’ve used with a fingerprint scanner, I must say it’s the best. Accuracy is on point, speed is lightning quick, and setup is extremely short. While the rear placement can be a burden for some, it’s definitely not a complaint for me.
Out of the box the Nexus 6P runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest, greatest, and arguably biggest Android release to date. I won’t go too in-depth on software, but rather I’ll point toward our in-depth Android Marshmallow review linked below.Android 6.0 Marshmallow Review
One of the biggest questions regarding the Nexus 6P was how it would handle performance and heat. With the controversial Snapdragon 810 under the hood, there was reason for concern. Luckily I’m happy to report that the Nexus 6P does just fine under normal use. In day to day tasks this is without any doubt the fastest Android phone on the market. In gaming and during long periods of use you’ll notice a bit of heat, but nothing out of the ordinary for a smartphone.
The 5.7” AMOLED display on the 6P is quite simply the best ever on a Nexus device. Viewing angles are great, brightness is good, and colors are all awesome. It doesn’t quite match the Note 5’s display, but I’ll give it a close second. The one true sore point is outdoor viewing. Without any software enhancements to help with outdoor viewing, the screen can struggle, but otherwise there’s no room for complaint.
Inside the Nexus 6P is a 3,450 mAh battery. While that capacity might have you thinking that this phone will last for days, well, think again. Personally I’ve been quite disappointed by the 6P’s performance as it’s only been slightly better than my Nexus 6 on Marshmallow.
On an average day I’ll get through about 15 hours of use with about 2 hours to 2 and a half hours of screen on time. That includes perhaps a phone call or two, surfing through apps, playing a few lightweight games, and streaming some music here and there. I wouldn’t consider it heavy usage, but considering the huge battery I’ve found myself a bit underwhelmed.
Note: Our Nexus 6P was used on Verizon’s network for the entirety of the review period.
USB C And Charging
Like it’s little brother, the Nexus 6P uses USB C for charging. This new standard is still in it’s infancy and thus products compatible with it are a bit harder to come by. Most of the accessories you own right now likely don’t use this standard and that means buying new cables. This can be a bit expensive as well seeing as many low cost options don’t meet USB C spec and could cause damage if used. Personally I’m rocking the cables that came with my device at home and I picked up an extra USB C to USB A cable from Google for use in the car. At $12.99, it’s not the cheapest cable, but interestingly it’s the average price for a USB C cable that meets spec.
One thing I’m missing greatly on the Nexus 6P compared to other devices is wireless charging. While USB C and fast charging are both great, I really miss the convenience of dropping my phone on the charger without plugging anything in. While I understand this is not possible with the all-metal build, I’m still very sad to see it go.USB C Accessory Reviews
Up on the front of the Nexus 6P are two front facing speakers. Unlike the Nexus 5X, both of these are active and long story short, they are both awesome. Sound quality is great and volume is also solid. They get just as loud as those found on the Nexus 6 and they have greater range in volume as they can get a bit lower before going silent. I love being able to play music through my phone’s speakers when I’m home rather than being forced to use headphones in order to get good sound quality. Thanks to the tall body of the phone, the sound is even more immersive which is a huge bonus.
Last but not least, let’s talk camera. On the back of the Nexus 6P is a 12.3” MP Sony-made camera sensor that is just wonderful. Shots taken with this camera look great with wonderful colors and plenty of detail. This camera also features enlarged pixels which is a huge bonus in low-light shooting. It’s easy to say that this is the best camera we’ve even seen on a Nexus, but it’s also one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone today period.
The camera application itself is pretty basic, but overall I’m happy. I do wish that we could get a few extra manual controls, but in the end it’s better to be able to get a good shot everytime like the 6P does.
One note to factor in however regards video. The 6P does shoot fine video, but this is where the lack of image stabilization really takes effect. Video taken with this phone is always going to be shaky regardless of what resolution you record in. One of my favorite parts of the video camera on this phone is the slow motion which can get up to 240 fps.
Later on during my review period with this device I did start to notice tremendous amounts of lag when shooting slow-motion video. Hopefully this will be addressed in software updates later on.
So, have Google and Huawei made the perfect Android smartphone? Well, no, but has anyone? When you think about it, every phone has problems. Whether that’s battery life, features, software, camera, or any other list of things. However when you look at the big picture, the Nexus 6P checks just about every box a flagship should hit. It’s got a good camera, great build quality, a large beautiful display, smooth and speedy software, good battery life, and it all comes at a very reasonable price. Start at $499, the Nexus 6P is really a no-brainer. I can’t think of a better way to spend $500 on a smartphone.