Review: The Nexus 6P is the best Nexus phone I’ve used so far
With its Nexus devices, Google has always struggled to break into the big league. Not anymore; the Nexus 6P sits right up there when one looks at this year’s flagship releases.Updated: Nov 27, 2015 17:49 IST
The Nexus 6P is the bigger of the two Nexus devices launched by Google this year.
Google has partnered with Huawei to bring out the flagship smartphone and the Chinese maker, which has so far lacked the allure of the high-end segment, is pushing the envelope with the Nexus 6P.
The device is a successor to the Nexus 6 and the ‘P’ reportedly stands for ‘Premium’ — a name that fits the smartphone’s capabilities.
Design and display
The Nexus 6P is big enough to keep up with the trend of phablets but small enough to feel grippy in your hands. The thin body and rounded edges at the rear make the device manageable in your palm, but the finger occasionally finds it tough to reach all corners of the 5.7-inch screen.
The Nexus phones have brought many firsts this year and one of them is the Nexus 6P’s full-metal body. The device comes in three colours: Aluminium, Frost and Graphite, which is a smudge magnet. Go for Aluminium or Frost if you don’t want to repeatedly wipe smudges off your device.
The metal unibody, chamfered edges and crisp buttons make it a premium build worthy of the flagship title. The keys are placed on the right side and a textured surface makes the power button stand out.
On the rear, you see the remarkable Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor, but not before your eyes wonder why Huawei placed a hump on around its camera. The Gorilla Glass-covered band, popularly called the ‘visor’, makes the phone look a bit top-heavy. While the weight balance doesn’t seem to be off, the visor breaks the visual symmetry at the back. What’s good about the hump? Because it is spread across the breadth, the phone doesn’t wobble when kept on a flat surface.
The latest generation of the Samsung AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 4 brings a high level of colour saturation and great black levels. The phone has better viewing angles and depth than its predecessor, the Nexus 6.
The dual speakers on the front sound as good as they look — wholesome and and loud, making for a great multimedia and calling experience.
Also, full points to the design team for the Nexus logo painted in landscape on the rear of both Nexus phones this year.
One of the best new features on the phone is the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor. The scanner’s low-key design makes it look neat and elegant. Unless you have small hands, the index finger reaches the sensor comfortably. Unlike the Nexus 5X, the other Nexus device launched this year, there is no camera bulge close to the sensor to confuse you.
There is, however, one drawback — the sensor’s positioning at the back means you can’t access it when the phone is placed on a surface. But the niggle fades away as soon as you are introduced to the technological delight of the Nexus Imprint.
The fingerprint sensor is so fast and responsive, it sometimes takes you by surprise. There will be times when you won’t expect the Imprint reader to accept your poorly placed finger or a split-second tap, but it still will. Setting it up is equally swift. Google says the sensor constantly learns, making itself better and more suited to respond to your taps with time.
The Nexus Imprint can also be used with Android Pay and to purchase things from the Google Play, which will only simplify things for users in the future.
The camera — one of the most anticipated and critiqued features of any phone — in the Nexus 6P is pretty good. It has a 12MP Sony sensor and laser autofocus. The photos come out quite sharp and the colours are accurate.
The camera does over-expose sometimes and low-light images turn out to be spotty. This is where HDR+ comes in handy, taking care of blown out areas and images taken in poorly lit conditions. The mode is not really fast, but hey, you have to give the phone some time to process poor images.
The camera can also shoot 4K and slo-mo videos. The user can choose which part of the video to be taken in slo-mo, just like the iPhone camera.
Google has also put in a smart burst mode. The Nexus 6P turns the series of photos into GIFs by default.
Most of us like to keep it simple when it comes to cameras — point and shoot. The Nexus 6P is a good companion when it comes to getting good pictures in a simplified experience. While the HDR+ mode works great for well-lit conditions, it cancels the noise and makes sure your evening/night shots are smooth and crisp.
Software and performance
The Nexus 6P has a Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB RAM. There is a separate chip that tracks data like motion-tracking. The phone is quite fast and the Android Marshmallow is clean and refined. There is no lag or slowness even when graphics-heavy games are being run.
One of the integral features on the Android Marshmallow is ‘Now on Tap’. The feature gets activated when you hold down the home key while inside an app. Google assesses the contents of your screen and returns information relevant to the app. Getting movie timings, booking options, restaurant locations and reviews are a few examples.
The ‘Now on Tap’ feature needs be refined a lot more for better user experience but Google has taken a step in the right direction.
In the latest version of the Google operating system, you can also see all permissions given to apps and disable them accordingly. The phone asks for permissions even when it has to use Google apps to use your camera or other information. This move leaves more privacy control in the hands of the users. You can customise all permissions given to apps and live in peace about how much an app knows about you.
All in all, the Android 6.0 is a stable and user-friendly upgrade and backs the Nexus 6P’s hardware capabilities well.
On a full charge and moderate use, the battery easily lasts the day. The 3,450mAh battery means you don’t have to worry about getting through the day, even with heavy use. And Google’s new Doze feature is to thank for. The battery-saving feature stops all apps except approved ones whenever the screen is off. The Doze mode impressively increases the standby time of the device and the device hardly loses any juice when left alone overnight.
Complementing the efficient power scheme of the Nexus 6P is the quick-charge technology. A 10-15 minute charge through the USB Type-C port gives a battery level of around 40%.
The Type-C cord is reversible and can be used to charge the Nexus 5X or even draw power from it. The technology can be slightly annoying because the port is not yet widely used and connecting power banks to the phone requires a converter, but it definitely prepares the device for the future.
This phone has taken on flagships by other makers. And how! This is hands-down the best Nexus phone to ever come out of Google’s stable.
The improved camera, good battery life, impressive Nexus Imprint and a clean Android experience make it a desirable device. The interesting design can break the monotony brought in by dozens of similar-looking phablets in the market. The price of the device feels just right, too.
With its Nexus devices, Google has always struggled to break into the big league. Not anymore; the Nexus 6P sits right up there when one looks at this year’s flagship releases.
First Published: Nov 27, 2015 16:18 IST