Google Nexus 6P Review: An instant favorite

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Best Buy may start selling the Nexus 6P in the US.

If you’ve so far held off in purchasing Google’s excellent Nexus 6P, the company is now doing pretty much everything it can to make you hit the “buy” button.

A few months after releasing the flagship Nexus 6P and the much awaited revision of the beloved Nexus 5, i.e. the Nexus 5X in India, Google has made a few accessories available on the store. It was Google’s first attempt, with the help of Motorola, at a phablet-class device, and although it had some excellent qualities, it just wasn’t as awesome as the Nexus 5 from the previous year.

The massive 6-inch display made the handset a bit unwieldly and uncomfortable for the average user, and both the camera and battery life weren’t anything special. So for 2015’s successor, the company enlisted Huawei to build a new Nexus in a slightly more manageable body, but with all the necessary high-end features that allow it to compete with the best phones on the market today.

Off brand Type C to Type A cables have come under heavy criticism by a particular Google Engineer, who has taken to Amazon to review each USB Type C cable available. Rumours are rife that Google may introduce the golden Nexus 6P variant at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2016 along with Huawei’s Honor X announcement, states 9to5google. Many custom skins aren’t as obnoxious as they were in the early days of Android, but there are undeniable advantages to getting a device running the cleanest, fastest and most secure version of Android you can get.

So, if you invested in a phone with the USB-C connector and were struggling to find good cables in India, buying them at the Google Store seems like the best bet for now. Like many of Huawei’s other high-end devices, the Nexus 6P comes with a beautiful metal unibody chassis, complemented by tough Gorilla Glass on the front.

The choice of excellent materials gives the phone an attractive, premium look that feels great in your hand, which is in stark contrast to the plastic-body Nexus 5X from LG. The handset is reasonably ergonomic, though as the matte metal back panel is somewhat slippery, you’ll need to keep a firm grip on the handset during use. There’s a decent amount of bezel above and below the display that makes the handset quite tall, especially considering there are no hardware navigation buttons. It’s placed pretty much exactly where my index finger falls when holding the device, allowing me to very easily unlock the handset using the sensor.

On the right side is the power and volume buttons located reasonably close together, although I never found myself accidentally hitting the wrong one, and the tactile feedback from all three buttons is decent. As the display uses AMOLED technology, we’re also looking at a PenTile subpixel matrix, although it’s not noticeable due to the density of the display. The difference between this resolution and a similar 1080p panel isn’t significant, but a keen eye will be able to spot the upgrade in font clarity in particular. As for display quality, the 6P’s AMOLED panel is one of the best in terms of accuracy at its default settings, easily beating the oversaturated Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5.

The most common issue I faced was that the display was way too bright when viewing under artificial lights at night, so clearly some tweaking is needed here. This mode actually undersaturates the display by a decent margin, which makes images look pretty dull, and although accuracy is closer to Nexus 5X/iPhone 6s levels, I wouldn’t recommend switching the mode on for regular use. Interestingly, this is the first smartphone I’ve reviewed that has the Snapdragon 810 paired with a 1440p display, with basically every other device (like the HTC One M9 and Sony Xperia Z5) opting for a 1080p display instead. There is no expandable storage, though, so it’s a good idea to get a large capacity model if you want to store a lot of apps, photos, videos or music. I got the 32 GB model to review, which had 25 GB available to use, and I found that fine for the apps and other content I wanted to store on the device.

It is around 13% slower in GPU benchmarks than the Xperia Z5 due to more aggressive throttling, which drops down to 46% slower when factoring in the jump from a 1080p to 1440p display. These non-Nexus large-screened devices don’t include Google’s latest battery-saving features in Android either, which will likely have a minor impact on battery life, especially in standby. However, it consistently outperforms the smaller and less powerful Nexus 5X, and crushes the similarly-sized Moto X Style, which are two good signs for this larger flagship device. Without any manufacturer skins applied, the software is clean, visually appealing and responsive, and it fits in perfectly with Android’s design guidelines. Security patches will also be delivered first to Nexus devices, keeping the 6P as secure as possible in a world with more and more Android exploits discovered every month.

Like the 5X, though, is a lack of optical image stabilization, which doesn’t have a significant impact for still imagery, but isn’t great when recording 4K video. It doesn’t quite have the same level of quality as the OIS-equipped Samsung Galaxy S6, but I was still extremely impressed by how good the 6P’s camera could be. The app isn’t particularly quick to capture an image, and the HDR+ mode, while excellent in the quality it delivers, takes a long time to process images. It’s not perfect, and the sRGB mode doesn’t do a great job of improving things, but the slight oversaturation you get from this display is well balanced by great color temperature, contrast, and viewing angles.

Throttling is an issue, which is no surprise for a Snapdragon 810 handset, though not to the extent where it should make a significant difference through general app usage or in moderate-performance games. The one aspect of the performance that does need addressing is NAND, where mandatory encryption causes read and write speed decreases compared to its rivals.

I like the idea of NAND encryption, and I understand why Google has implemented it, but the performance hit at this stage in smartphone hardware isn’t great. The large screen combined with a power hungry SoC seems to have negated most of the gains from the larger-than-average battery, though I don’t think battery life should be an issue for most users.

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