Nexus 6P: One Week Later
November 13, 2015 Kevin Trehan 0 Comments
Google’s Nexus program is a brilliant way for Google to show off the very best of their Android platform. Each year, they team up with different manufacturers to create phones and tablets to be the standard-setters when it comes to Android devices. The best part is that each Nexus phone has been considered to be the “Best Nexus Yet!” (although some would beg to differ when it comes to the 2014 Nexus 6). However, the “Nexus” line has typically been synonymous with “budget devices”. Google wanted to show that having a great Android experience didn’t have to mean selling a kidney and sacrificing your credit card to the smartphone gods. Sadly, this led to sacrifices in a few key areas.
This year, Google teamed up with two manufacturers to create two new Nexus phones: The 5X by LG and the 6P by Huawei. The 5X continues the budget mentality by offering smaller storage options and a slightly lower specs. Its bigger brother, on the other hand, introduces a new tier of phones: Premium hardware at a friendly price. The latter is what I have and I think it’s the perfect Android phone. Well, almost perfect.
Before I talk about the phone itself, I want to briefly touch on the device’s launch. It wasn’t good. I don’t think the launch of a Nexus phone has ever gone smoothly and the 6P launch was arguably the worst. If you preordered the phone back in late September, there’s a chance you still don’t have it. Although we don’t know the exact reason for the delays, there have been speculations that a bug in the ordering system caused phones to be shipped out of chronological order. Many people who have ordered their 6P within the last couple weeks are getting theirs before people who preordered.
I initially did preorder a 64GB Frost 6P. The phone was estimated to ship on November 2nd and be delivered between the 5th and the 9th. On November 2nd, I got in contact with customer service to see if they could provide some information about the status of my phone. The lady I spoke with mentioned that there was an issue during manufacturing and that Google was still waiting on the Frost phones to be delivered to them before they could ship them out. This was in addition to the possible bug in the ordering system that I mentioned earlier. The next day (November 3rd), I canceled the preorder and placed a new order for a 128GB Graphite 6P. It shipped within 24 hours (November 4th) and was delivered on the 5th. After getting the phone, I checked the Nexus 6P subreddit and found that many people who preordered the 128GB Graphite 6P hadn’t even had theirs ship yet.
I feel like I cheated, but I did what I had to do. My impatience got the better of me. I sadly had to forfeit the $50 Google Play credit preorder bonus by canceling my preorder, but it was a price I was willing to pay. Hopefully Google learns from this and improves next year’s Nexus launch.
Launch issues aside, the Nexus 6P is an amazing phone, especially for the price. Let’s do a quick rundown of the basic specs: It has a Snapdragon 810 processor, an Adreno 430 GPU, 3GB of RAM, a 5.7″ QHD (1440p) AMOLED display, and a 3,450 mAh battery (fully-detailed specs can be found on PhoneArena). At the $500 entry point, you get 32GB of storage. $550 gets you 64GB, and $650 gets you 128GB. I’m really happy that they don’t even offer a 16GB option, especially since the camera can shoot 4K video (but we’ll talk about the camera a bit later). When you consider the high-end specs and the materials this phone is made from, the 6P is a premium device that is priced incredibly reasonably. Compare that to the iPhone 6S Plus which costs $650 for the entry-level 16GB version, or the Galaxy Note 5 which is $700 for the 32GB version.
The price isn’t the only thing that’s appealing about the Nexus 6P.
This phone is beautiful. When the initial images of the 6P leaked a couple weeks before the official announcement, many people–myself included–were a bit concerned that it was going to be an ugly phone. Nobody was sure how far the camera hump was going to stick out and the visor was a bit of a shock. Not long after that, we got to see official images of the phone from multiple angles and it was instantly clear that this is one of the sexiest phones ever designed. It’s super thin and has flat sides so it’s really comfortable to hold. It’s nearly the exact same dimensions as the iPhone 6/6S Plus, but packs a bigger display AND dual front-facing speakers, thanks to thin bezels and no buttons on the front. Although the weight and the aluminum body make the device feel a tiny bit slippery, it is an absolute delight to use.
Another aspect of the Nexus 6P that is absolutely wonderful is the Fingerprint Sensor. It’s the circular dimple on the back below the camera visor. I think this the best place for a fingerprint sensor. It allows you to firmly grip the phone while using it. You don’t even need to wake the screen in order to use the sensor. Simply touching it will wake the screen and unlock the device. And it’s so fast, you don’t even see the lock screen! I normally keep my phone in my pocket, upside down, with the screen facing my leg. Because of the fingerprint sensor’s location, I can place my index finger on it as I’m pulling my phone out and it’s unlocked and ready to use by the time I bring the phone up to the normal operation position. The only drawback is that the sensor is inaccessible while the 6P is laying on a table with the screen up, but it can still be unlocked with your pin or pattern.
But there’s one more thing that’s worth mentioning about the 6P, and it’s something that previous Nexus devices have usually skimped on: The camera.
Inside that black visor lives a 12.3MP camera with a sensor made by Sony that was intended for use in high-quality point-and-shoot cameras. The sensor utilizes 1.55 micron pixels, which are huge when talking about camera sensors. This means that pictures turn out extra crispy not only in good lighting conditions, but poor ones as well! The laser-assisted auto focus allows focusing on objects in the scene very quickly and accurately. The Nexus 6P’s camera is currently the 3rd best mobile camera on DXOMark–a very reputable source for camera tests and reviews–and only 3 points away from the #1 spot. That’s very impressive.
The camera also features the ability to capture video in 4K resolution at 30FPS. Want slow motion video? The 6P is capable of that as well! It can record at 120FPS or 240FPS but is locked at 720p. The stock Google camera is very fast at capturing images and a has a neat burst feature that will capture images at 30FPS. The camera will then pick the single best frame (possibly very good for action shots) and will also give you the option to create an animated gif. There are tons of great features packed in a simple camera app!
The fingerprint sensor and the great camera are the stars of the show for this device. From a software standpoint, Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings a ton of much-needed improvements over Lollipop and the Nexus brand continues to prove that this is how Android is meant to be experienced.
Alas, no phone is perfect and a few drawbacks are inevitable.
My biggest disappointment with the Nexus 6P is the battery life. I’m a heavy phone user. I can typically average about 5-6 hours of Screen-On Time in any given day. My previous phone, the OnePlus One, had phenomenal battery life. It has a 3,100 mAh battery that powered a 1080p IPS LCD display and a Snapdragon 801 processor. In comparison, the 6P has a 3,450 mAh battery that has to run a 1440p AMOLED display and a Snapdragon 810. The extra pixels and processing power need a lot of juice, but the battery increase is fairly marginal.
My OnePlus One has most definitely spoiled me.
Thankfully, the Nexus has fast charging as a result of having a USB Type-C connection. There is a bit of confusion, though, when it comes to being able to use fast charging. It will only work when using a Type-C to Type-C cable, meaning that you need a USB adapter that has a Type-C connection. Also, the cable and adapter need to be rated for 5 Volts and 3 Amps (15 Watts). USB Type-A is only rated for 2.4 Amps, so fast charging won’t work if you use a Type-A to Type-C cable. All of this will be an issue for only a few years as the entire world transitions to Type-C. In the mean time, you can continue to use your existing USB adapters as long as you buy a few Type-A to Type-C cables so that you don’t have to rely on just the ones that come with the phone.
But, be warned. An engineer from Google, Benson Leung, has been testing several Type-A to Type-C cables and has found that many of them are not properly manufactured. It appears that some companies have wiring issues in their cable design that causes the cable to forcefully attempt to pull 3 Amps from the adapter. Since Type-A is only rated to carry 2.4 Amps, this can cause damage to your adapters, cables, and/or phones. Thankfully, Reddit user bmcclure937 has created a handy spreadsheet that tracks all of the cables that Leung has tested and tells you which ones to buy and which ones to avoid.
I also have a few concerns over the build of the Nexus 6P. Although the aluminum provides a very premium feel, I’m constantly worried about getting scratches and dents on my phone. I know I should be using a case on it, but I always hate adding extra bulk and hiding the beautiful device behind a cover. But I bit the bullet and ordered Spigen’s Thin Fit case, so added bulk should be very minimal.
One thing to note is that a few people on Reddit have reported that the glass visor on the rear of the 6P has spontaneously shattered. Extreme temperatures seem to the be the root of the cause, but there isn’t a clear indication if temperature is indeed the culprit. I’ll admit that I’m a little worried about this since Winter is on its way, but with the manufacturer warranty and my decision to purchase Nexus Protect I know that I’ll at least have some level of insurance in case something bad does happen.
Other than these issues, I do have a few nitpicks with various aspects of the phone. The AMOLED display is a bit oversaturated, making a couple colors somewhat painful to look at for too long. There also appears to be a slight pink-ish hue over everything that is particularly noticeable on white at low brightness. Hopefully these are things that Google can fix via a software update. I believe the 6P is using the same AMOLED panel that Samsung created for the Galaxy Note 5, and I don’t think the Note 5 suffers from these minor issues (please correct me if I’m wrong).
There also is a bit of a balancing issue between the two front-facing speakers. The top speaker is slightly louder than the bottom speaker. This is really only an issue when using the device in landscape mode because you can easily tell the volume difference in one ear. Hopefully this is also something that Google can fix with a simple software update.
I consider myself to be an Android enthusiast, so I may be a bit biased towards the Nexus brand and a pure, stock Android experience. However, even looking at it from an objective viewpoint, there’s very little to dislike about the Nexus 6P. It’s sleek, it’s sexy, it has great specs, and it provides the cleanest, fastest, and most up-to-date Android experience of any device. It also has USB Type-C, which is definitely the future of USB connections. It’s reversible, it’s much sturdier than Micro-USB, and provides fast charging capabilities (even charging with a Type-A to Type-C cable is incredibly quick).
Is the Nexus 6P the best Nexus device so far? Absolutely YES!
Is the Nexus 6P the best Android device so far? In my personal opinion, yes!
Is the Nexus 6P the best smartphone in the world? See previous answer.
Huawei has done a phenomenal job with designing the latest Nexus flagship and I’m really glad that I can hold one in my own hands. I’d recommend the 6P to anyone in a heartbeat. Google has finally taken charge with the Nexus brand and is telling the world, “This is how you make a mobile device. This is the way Android is meant to be experienced.”