Nexus 6P review — for purists
+ True premium design, solid aluminium build
+ Fast fingerprint sensor
+ Excellent performance
+ Zero bloatware
+ Amazing camera performance
+ Long battery life
+ Fluid user interface
+ Future-proof USB Type-C port
+ Large third-party developer community
- USB Type-C port may limit cable choice currently
Widely regarded as the only true Android devices, the Nexus are a special pedigree of smartphones altogether. With various manufacturers behind the Nexus line-up, fans of Nexus devices are often feted with the best technologies that each OEM can bring to the table. Last year it was Huawei’s turn to produce the Nexus 2015, named the Nexus 6P.
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The Nexus 6P comes with a 1 m long Type-C to Type-C cable and a shorter 30 cm short Type-A to Type-C cable. This foresight on Google’s part is great to ensure that older hardware will be able to connect to the 6P.
Instead of skimping on build quality by using plastics and spending the main portion of the budget on raw performance, the Nexus 6P features a great aluminium body which is getting to be a trademark of Huawei’s.
The front is fully taken up by a single sheet of glass, with speaker openings on both ends. There are no logos on the front side as is customary of all Nexus devices. The 5.7″ screen in addition to the stereo speakers on both ends make the Nexus 6P quite a long phone.
On the rear end we have an elevated sliver of glass that covers the camera and also hides a few wireless radio antennas below. On the lower lip of the protrusion there is a microphone hole. The Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor is also located on the rear. There is a big Nexus branding, a much tinier Huawei branding further down. All of it is smooth sandblasted aluminium except for the glass at the top and a small plastic cutout at the bottom for reception purposes.
On the top you get the usual 3.5mm jack.
The left side has the nano SIM slot near the top while on the right you get the power and volume buttons.
The buttons are all on the right side. The power button features a texture that enables you to easily differentiate it from the volume buttons.
The Type-C port sits on the bottom.
The design is really great and premium looking. I find nothing to complain about the outlook of the 6P, and Android purists are finally getting a proper Nexus flagship in the form of the 6P.
|CPU:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v 2.1 (4 x A57 @ 2.0 GHz + 4 x A53 @ 1.5 GHz)|
|Display:||5.7″, 1440p AMOLED display|
|Storage:||64GB internal (non-expandable)|
|Camera:||12.3MP f/2.0 Sony Exmor R IMX377
8MP f/2.4 front camera
|OS:||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow (Pure Android Experience)|
|Battery:||3450 mAh (non-removable)|
Powerful Nexus devices are the norm already, and the Nexus 6P isn’t going to break any traditions here. The Nexus 6P packs the controversial Snapdragon 810 v 2.1 which is supposed to overcome the overheating issues faced by the earlier batch. Are the issues solved? While the sexy aluminium body does get warm during benchmarking runs or extended use of the camera, I have not had the device shut down on me even in the hot Malaysian weather lately as we are approaching Chinese New Year.
For tests that have detailed information, they will be in the thumbnails below the description of the benchmark.
The Adreno 430 shows itself as a powerhouse, giving us great scores in this graphics-centric benchmark.
Antutu tests the overall performance of the device.
Geekbench tests the CPU performance of the device. As you can see here the performance of the Snapdragon 810 is quite formidable.
PCMark tests overall performance in work-oriented workloads, and surprisingly the 6P trails the Huawei Mediapad M2 8.0 that I reviewed recently.
The 6P features a massive 3450 mAh battery which allows it to last a day of moderate use, even with the large 5.7″ 1440p AMOLED display showing us bright whites thanks to Google’s decision to go with white backgrounds in Material Design. The large battery combined with Marshmallow’s Doze feature allows for some pretty good battery life.
I frequently use Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp with the sporadic firing up of the camera here and there, and managed to milk out 3 hours 53 minutes of on screen time before the battery hit 15%, with over 12 hours away from the plug. Charging is fast with the 15W charger.
Holding the Nexus in my hands, the subtle curvature on the edges help me hold it naturally. While it may not be as ergonomic as, say, the Mate S or Zenfone 2, it fits very well in my reasonably large hands. The 178 gram that it weighs offers a stable feel in hand. With its rather substantial size, getting a proper hold of it is a very important factor to ensure that the phone stays in your hand and not hit the floor every other time you hold it.
With the fingerprint sensor, I doubt anyone will use the power button. The one here is fast and accurate, but loses out in terms of features when compared to the Mate S which puts the fingerprint sensor to good use as a shutter key, for swiping through photos in the gallery and more.
When we talk about any Nexus’ user experience, we are actually talking about what Google intended us to experience in Android. Google, not the OEMs. The pure Android 6.0 Marshmallow UI is rather light on features, but that does result in a smooth experience. The default launcher is the Google Now launcher, which offers quick access to Google Now but lacks the customizability of other third party launchers. All the built-in apps here are Google Apps, which can be downloaded from the Play Store. The notification shade is brought over from Android 5.0 Lollipop, which means the dual-staged quick settings-notification is here again. Overall, using the Nexus 6P is like a dream, with no stutters or lags experienced anywhere at all.
The camera was always the weak point of previous Nexus devices. The 6P changes that and in fact brings in a camera that is actually capable of matching if not beating the recent slew of flagships. Instead of joining the megapixel race, the 6P goes with a bigger is better ideology and incorporates a Sony Exmor R IMX377 12.3MP 1/2.3″ sensor, a pretty huge sensor to cram into a smartphone, especially one that is only 7.3 mm thick. There is even a laser autofocus system hidden under that black glass panel. Yes, the camera lacks OIS, but the omission is not missed at all thanks to the huge 1.55 µm pixels, as you can see for yourself in the shots I have taken with the 6P. Selfies are handled by an 8MP sensor.
The camera UI doesn’t need a lot of explanation. You get a huge shutter button, another big button below it for you to swap between the front and back camera, some icons at the top which lets you pick whether you need a timer, HDR+ or the flash and last but not least a shortcut to the gallery. Swipe up (or right) and you will enter video mode. I like the dedicated video mode as it allows you to judge the field of view of your video. Pressing the menu button offers access to the Photo Sphere, Panorama and Lens Blur mode. The camera settings is also accessed through this menu but the settings are about as minimal as they can get. This is a true point and shoot. If you really need more control over your shot, you can use third party apps which will make use of the Camera2 API which offer support for manual controls.
The quality of the shots taken with the 6P is just superb. I keep the HDR+ on all the time as it doesn’t really affect the shot-to-shot times much. Shots come out with great dynamic range, and I just love the noise control of the 6P even in low light. The features may be sparse but the fact that it is able to shoot such great images without any tweaking of settings may make any manual controls counter-productive in the end. Check the full-sized samples here.
The 6P pumps out the sound waves through front-facing stereo speakers. That is the only logical position for speakers as having them on the back or on the sides are just setting them up to be blocked somehow or another. They are as loud as they are clear, but they do distort a little bit at maximum volume. Bass is lacking but that is to be expected from such tiny speakers. Plug in a pair of earphones and you will be able to tune the output to your liking with the built-in equalizer in the Play Music app. The 6P’s 3.5 mm output is great and capable of driving my earphones and headphones but you may have to turn it up a notch higher than you usually do with other phones.
The 5.7″ 1440p AMOLED display panel is great. While I still hold on to my stance that there is literally no observable difference between 1440p and 1080p, the color output of the panel here is just superb. I use the sRGB mode which makes the saturation a tad lower. While the sRGB mode may make the screen look dull immediately after you activate it, it actually feels more comfortable and natural to look at after you get used to the less saturated colors. Viewing angles are wide, the blacks are true, all characteristics of an AMOLED panel.
I don’t usually talk about the USB port of the smartphones I review, but this time, it’s a Type-C port. Is it really worthy of all that hype? I found it great that I never had to feel for the little stubs on the microUSB connector again before plugging it into my phone, but I did notice that I can’t use ANY of my pre-existing cables. That also means trouble when you are out and low on juice. Unless you have the privilege of being surrounded friends with Nexus 6Ps and 5Xs, chances are they won’t carry around a Type-A to Type-C cable. You really have to carry your own powerbank or at the very least carry the cable to borrow their powerbanks for a quick charge. With that said, with the 6P I rarely had to use a powerbank. Speaking of a quick charge, the Nexus 6P does support fast charging with its included 15W charger. Connecting the 6P to a computer with the included 30 cm short Type-A to Type-C cable is also quite convenient, as long as you use a laptop. If you use a desktop PC with the USB ports in the middle of the case, you may have to let your 6P hang precariously from the cable.
The Nexus 6P is a proper wholesome flagship smartphone and represents what the Nexus brand should have been from the very first day. While the previous Nexus may have placed performance first and everything else later, the Nexus 6P offers everything any smartphone user will need in a very compelling package. Great performance and premium design are often expected from a flagship, and oh does the Nexus 6P deliver on those fronts. The price tag of RM2698 is very worth it if you intend to spend some time and take advantage of the massive developer community for this phone, but even if you aren’t interested in meddling with the device and using it as is, the 6P is still worth considering. I will award the 6P our highest level of recommendation, the Gold Pokdeward. The Nexus 6P represents what a proper flagship Android smartphones should be. Great performance, premium design.