From about the mid-way point of 2014 it became increasingly clear that handset makers weren’t content releasing just one flagship per year. We saw two Galaxy S6 flagships, two from HTC in quick succession and a bunch of handsets from Sony, though given the company’s penchant for splatter-launching stuff this isn’t all that surprising.
Whether this is down to offering consumers more choice or just a means of selling more hardware remains to be seen. But for you and me and everybody we know it does mean more choice. And that is always good.
Apple then got involved with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus but no one really expected Google to launch two handsets until word got out that both Huawei and LG were making Nexus handsets for 2015/16. Even more so when it became obvious that Google was rebooting its Nexus 5 AND releasing a brand new flagship handset for 2015’s market.
In 2015/16 Google Nexus users have two handsets to choose from — one is cheap, a la the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, while the other is premium and outfitted with the best specs and hardware money can buy. Below is our verdict on the latter, the AWESOME Nexus 6p.
Nexus 6p Review: Design
If you make a premium handset these days it HAS to be constructed from metal or aluminium. I don’t know who created this rule or when it was implemented, but it is one nearly all manufacturers follow these days and the result is, well, a lot of metallic handsets doing the rounds.
The Nexus 6p is now exception to this rule and is, as you’d expect, constructed out of only the finest build materials Huawei could lay its hands on. It is not a particularly eye-catching device from the front, looking like a long, black slab, but it does feature a very tight unibody design with excellent button placement (volume/power right hand side; screen unlock/fingerprint scanner on the back) that feels exceptionally premium in the hand.
At the bottom you have a USB Type-C port, the new standard for charging and data transfer on phones, tablets and laptops which you’ll be seeing A LOT more of in 2016, and a slight protrusion on the back at the top where the camera is housed. At first this protrusion is a problem — I couldn’t stand the way it looked or why it had to be encapsulated inside what looks like a mini version of the pavilion from Lords Cricket Ground.
NEXUS is daubed along the back of the handset and about an inch above this is where you’ll find the Nexus 6p’s rather excellent fingerprint scanner. The protrusion and finger print scanner, as well as the NEXUS logo, are the most eye-catching elements of the Nexus 6p’s overall design and finish. On the whole I find the handset rather conservative, if I’m honest. It’s not “in your face”, it’s not too showy and it’s not too thin, either.
One area of concern, however, is to do with the build materials: the Nexus 6p’s exterior chassis material is metallic to the touch and scratches-up VERY easily. An errant lighter in your pocket can put a permanent scratch in the back of the Nexus, and when you’ve dropped £350+ on a handset this is not something you want to happen. For this reason, and a bunch more, GET A CASE! Do not learn the hard way as I did.
Nexus 6p Review: Display
The Nexus 6p has an AWESOME display. The giant 5.7in QHD AMOLED panel clocks in with a ridiculous 518ppi pixel density and some of the truest, brightest colours I’ve ever seen on a mobile phone. Colours really do pop off the screen and the contrast, thanks to the AMOLED panel, is stunning.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Nexus 6p supports ambient display mode as well which basically means you can view notifications and updates on a blank lockscreen without using any power. Not a new feature by any stretch, the original Moto X had years ago, but a great addition to an already excellent Nexus handset.
Nexus 6p Review: Specs & Hardware
Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display: 5.7 inches; WQHD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display at 518 ppi; 16:9 aspect ratio; Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4; Fingerprint and smudge-resistant oleophobic coating
Battery: 3,450 mAh battery; Fast charging: up to 7 hours of use from only 10 minutes of charging
Wireless & Location: LTE cat. 6; Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz); Bluetooth 4.2; NFC; GPS, GLONASS; Digital compass; Wi-Fi use requires 802.11a/b/g/n/ac access point (router). Syncing services, such as backup, require a Google Account.
Ports: USB Type-C; Single Nano SIM slot: 3.5 mm audio jack
Material: Anodized aluminum
To say the Nexus 6p has good specs and hardware would be an understatement. This thing is so jam-packed with the latest bells and whistles it makes the iPhone 6s look like a handset from 2010. The Nexus 6p has all the grunt and firepower you will ever need from a handset, but importantly — and this isn’t always the case inside Android — it ACTUALLY feels that way too.
Why is this? Simple: Huawei — through some kind of voodoo — has apparently tamed Qualcomm’s squiffy but incredibly powerful Snapdragon 810 CPU. How do I know this? Again, simple: the handset does not overheat, like at all, and in the two months I’ve been using it hasn’t once crashed, stumbled or glitched-out. Android Marshmallow runs buttery smooth and everything, from video editing to high-end gaming titles, chug along at a very impressive rate.
I don’t know what Huawei did with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 but it WORKED. The Nexus 6p is the fastest, most reliable and non-glitchy Android phone I have tested all year. Nothing else, save for Samsung’s Galaxy S6, S6 EDGE and Note 5, even come close to what Huawei and Google have achieved here. Hell, I evened dumped my beloved iPhone 6 Plus for the Nexus 6p. It really is THAT good.
Nexus 6p Review: Camera
For the longest time Nexus cameras sucked. But this was OK, most of the time the devices themselves were so affordable you could forgive them. All this changed in 2014, though, with the launch of the Nexus 6, a big budget Nexus handset tasked with going head to head with Android’s top players both in terms of specs, hardware, performance and price.
I didn’t much care for the Nexus 6. It felt like a rushed job, something Google kicked out at the 11th hour simply because it had no other choice. The Nexus 6 wasn’t awful all round. It was just about adequate for the most part. But one area that really was pants was its camera, which blew harder than Hurricane Frank.
The Nexus 6p is an expensive handset (for a Nexus handset) but unlike the Nexus 6 it has the Nexus 5x, a cheaper, more traditional Nexus handset to back it up, meaning you have a choice now of either a classic Nexus handset and all that comes with it or a next-generation Nexus handset and all that comes with it, including EASILY the best imaging technology ever packed into a Nexus phone.
The Nexus 6p rocks a 12.3MP camera on the back and, once you’ve fired off an image, you’ll notice right away that this is a significant cut above what came before. It doesn’t have OIS, which is a shame, but it does let a TON of light in thanks to its 1.5 microns sensor, meaning better general performance and a HUGE boost to low-light performance.
The front facing setup is decent too, and I have A LOT of love for Android’s simple and easy to use Camera App. I also like the fact you can access the camera by clicking the power/unlock button twice in quick succession. Granted, this isn’t a huge new feature but it is one you will use over and over again, once it is committed to your muscle memory
Nexus 6p Review: Battery Performance
I love the Nexus 6p. I really, really do. But one of my favourite things is something I hadn’t even dreamed was possible — great battery life. And not just GREAT battery life, but battery life you simply do not have to worry about anymore.
The Nexus 6p features a HUGE 3450mAh battery, large even by today’s standards, and normally this would deliver excellent results. Combine it with Android Marshmallow’s Doze mode and other built-in power-saving features, though, and it goes above and beyond expectation.
One of the main reason I used the iPhone 6 Plus has my daily driver for so long was because of its battery life — it was insanely good. Nothing else ever came close until I used the Nexus 6p, which does just about the same as my iPhone 6 Plus, meaning it’ll do a solid two days with minimal usage and a full day with hardcore usage.
Nexus 6p Review: Verdict
The Nexus 6p is EASILY my favourite handset of 2015 — bar none! It looks great, feels great, performs great and has the best software currently available inside the mobile space. Battery performance is exceptional, the camera is decent and overall performance — I’ve had this phone for months now — is solid, reliable and consistent.