Nexus devices are meant to showcase the best software-hardware combination that is currently possible. Google’s Nexus 6P is their attempt to showcase the best that Android currently has to offer. After the mediocre response to the Nexus 6, Google went back to the drawing board to design the new Nexus devices for this year. Breaking the tradition of one smartphone a year, Google launched the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P to fulfil the needs of a wider audience.
The Nexus 6P is a joint effort from Huawei and Google to make a premium Android smartphone with a Nexus badge (that’s what the ‘P’ in the name stand for). So have they succeeded in making such a device? Read on…
The Nexus 6P is a really pretty phone, it is well designed and the use of Aluminum in its construction makes it worthy of the premium tag. The phone is big and sports a 5.7 inch display and the dimensions of the phone are similar to the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. At 7.3 mm in thickness it is the slimmest Nexus device yet. To give you an idea of its thinness, the Nexus 6 that it replaces was huge and measured 10mm in girth. The phone has chamfered edges and the corners are rounded off making it comfortable to use and the thickness gives it that premium feel. The build quality is amazing and is among the best phones built under Rs. 40,000. This is the first time for Huawei to build a Nexus device and with the 6P they have hit the ball out of the park.
The phone sports a 5.7 inch AMOLED display with Quad HD resolution. The panel on the 6P is made by Samsung that has been worked on by Google engineers to get the best color balance. It, without a shade of doubt, is beautiful to look at and has punchy contrast. The big display is flanked by Stereo Speakers on either sides that are loud and crisp. The Nexus 6 also had front-facing stereo speakers and I’m glad Google decided to stick to the arrangement this time as well.
At the top there is a notification light and an 8 megapixel front facing camera which is the same sensor as rear camera on the Nexus 5. The sides of the phone are pretty much blank with all the buttons on the right of the device while the left only has the Nano SIM tray slot. The back has a black visor on top that breaks the monotony of the shiny aluminium back. The visor protrudes a little by maybe a millimeter and makes the phone look different. It houses a 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor, a dual tone LED flash and Laser Autofocus. Just below the camera is the fingerprint scanner that Google calls the Nexus Imprint. This is the first Google smartphone to house a fingerprint scanner along with the Nexus 5X.
The main feature of the fingerprint scanner is to provide additional security and convenience. Primarily, it would be used to unlock the phone, authorising Google Play purchases and payments using Android Pay. The payment system isn’t available in India yet so we couldn’t test that. The unlocking part is what the phone does flawlessly. Unlike other devices with the fingerprint scanner the Nexus 6P takes a fraction of the time to learn and register a new fingerprint. The scanner is quite accurate and takes less than a few milliseconds to read, recognize and unlock the phone.
All the quick response is powered by a Snapdragon 810 Octa Core processor that is clocked at 2.0 GHz. Google has used the revised (V 2.1) chipset in the phone which has been worked upon to keep the temperatures down. The chip shows no sign of overheating under load and the phone never felt hot to touch. It does get a little warm under heavy use but thanks to the aluminium unibody, heat dissipates quickly. The processing power gets a huge bumps thanks to the 3GB LPDDR4 RAM on board.
The bottom of the phone sports a Type C USB port which is again a first for a Nexus smartphone. The phone misses out on Wireless charging capability that the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5 had but the bundled fast charger more than makes up for it. The device was launched in 32GB and 64GB variants in India while Internationally there is a 128GB version on sale.
Nexus smartphones are known to run stock Android and the 6P runs on v6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. The UI is designed by Google and there is no bloatware present on the phone. The device is encrypted by default for security and gives the user the option to enable secure boot during the initial setup. Enabling this makes the phone ask for the PIN/Pattern before the device is booted ensuring the data on the device is completely safe. It does cause the device the boot a little slower when compared to secure boot turned off, but it is a worthy trade off.
Android Marshmallow has a lot of goodies on board with the highlights being Google Now on Tap and Android Doze. Google Now on Tap is directly available by pressing and holding the home button. This quickly makes Google Now scan the entire screen and fetch you details of everything it thinks you need. The software has been evolving slowly and the results have gotten better over time. The Doze feature in Android 6.0 is pretty dope; it suspends all the tasks and processor once it detects that the phone has been left idle for a very long time. It does that by actively monitoring accelerometer data and screen state, this might not look like a lot but the effect it has on the battery life is significant. There aren’t a whole lot of design changes when compared to Lollipop; it is still the clean Material Design look from last year.
Cameras on Nexus smartphones weren’t really something to talk about. Every Nexus phone ever made was never really well known for its camera. Google it seems to have taken this problem head on. The camera on the Nexus 6P is a 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor with a pixel size of 1.55 micron pixels. What that means is the sensor loves light, the bigger pixel size lets more light in resulting in a well lit image. Along with the camera sits the dual tone LED flash and a Laser Auto Focus that helps it focus faster.
The camera produces some brilliant images and is definitely up there with the best camera phones in this price range. The software has been tweaked as well and there are more modes available in the Google Camera app. Double clicking the power button quickly launches the camera and is really convenient to use. The camera now supports burst mode which lets you click multiple shots at one go. While still photography is amazing the camera does excellent video as well. There is support for 4K video and Slo Mo which can be done at 120FPS or 240FPS depending on what the user wishes to capture. The phone manages to click some brilliant shots even in low lighting conditions as a result of the bigger pixel size.
One omission would be Optical Image Stabilization which was present in the Nexus 5. Google claims that its isn’t really required for a sensor of this size as the 6P makes up for the lack of it with EIS. Electronic Image Stabilization tries to stabilize the video shot to deliver a smooth video output. While EIS does work, it still isn’t as polished as OIS when it comes to the end result. Regardless of the technology used, you won’t really be disappointed with the output that you get from the device.
All in all the rear camera is pretty impressive and possibly the best on a Nexus device yet. At the front the Nexus 6P has an 8 megapixel camera which is capable of clicking some brilliant selfies. Just like the rear camera, the one on the front does not disappoint. The front camera also supports HDR mode and can do video capture in 1080p resolution.
The Nexus 6P conceals a huge 3450 mAh battery under its unibody which is sealed shut and non user replaceable. The phone has impressive battery life and is a perfect combination of good software, big battery and fast charging. The optimizations in Marshmallow and the new Doze feature help reduce battery drain when the phone is idle. It lasts more than a day with ease, I’ve seen as high as 7 hours of Screen on Time while browsing the web.
We found only 2-3% of battery drain overnight over a span of 7 hours. The big battery has enough juice to keep the phone going despite the Quad HD Display and the powerful Snapdragon 810 chip. And just when you are low on battery the provided fast charger can charge the device up from 0 to a 100% in an hour and a half. The USB Type C port makes its easy to plug the charger in without worrying about putting it the wrong way. Looking at the flexibility of the new connector Google dropped wireless charging from this Nexus device.
The Nexus 6P is one of the best smartphones made this year and is definitely the best Nexus device yet. The smartphone has managed to capture the essence of Google’s Nexus program really well. Huawei as a manufacturer has come ahead and put their best foot forward. The powerful hardware ensures that it never runs out of breath. The camera does require a special mention here, both the cameras on the phone perform extremely well. For those still curious, the price of the Nexus 6P in India is Rs 39,999 for the 32GB version and Rs 42,999 for the 64GB. I agree that at 5.7 inches it is a little big but it helps it pack in a bigger battery that keep it running all day. If you are on the fence thinking about this phone, take the plunge. But if the big screen is keeping you away, you may want to consider the Nexus 5X which looks better than ever with the recent price drops.