Google Nexus 6P review: The best Android phone you can buy

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Nexus 6P And 5X Review: Five Years Later, Google’s Phones Finally Make Sense.

While the original Nexus One was ahead of its time, sold unlocked and online through Google’s website, its defiance of wireless carriers assured it a quick death. In recent years Google seemed to resign Nexus phones to obscurity, labeling them as mere reference devices to inspire app developers and phone makers. The extra weight isn’t a bad thing; when you’re tapping on the keyboard or pressing the bottom buttons, the resulting haptic feedback feels just right. Looking at the 5.7-inch 2560-by-1440 resolution display next to a 2014 iPhone 6 Plus, it doesn’t shine nearly as bright at maximum settings, but the text is crisp and the viewing angles are excellent.

The Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor and 3 GB of RAM are just short of the cutting edge, to the point that’s hard to notice any performance hindrances. In an effort to boost security and privacy, apps from the Google Play Store will now ask you to access parts of the phone—such as the microphone or your contacts—as needed, rather than burying you in a list of permissions when you first download them.

Improvements in battery efficiency allow the phone to sip less power when you haven’t used it for a while, and the battery overview screen now estimates at what time of the day you’ll run out of juice. The speed of fingerprint reading rivals that of the iPhone’s Touch ID, though it took me a solid week to get used to its location on the back of the phone. (I still miss being able to quickly unlock the phone while it’s resting on a table.) Being a Nexus phone, another major benefit is one that isn’t immediately noticeable: Software updates come straight from Google, rather than another phone maker or a wireless carrier, so Nexus phones tend to be first in line for both major upgrades and minor bug fixes.

Admittedly, Android’s distinguishing features are less pronounced than they once were, now that the iPhone supports notifications, extensions, and third-party keyboard support. And when you ask the phone for directions by voice, you get Google Maps, which continues to provide superior navigation compared to Apple Maps in my experience. With the Nexus program now in its fifth year and showing few signs of a market impact, tech observers have been wondering why Google has stuck with it.

The Verge’s Vlad Savov posits that Nexus phones are a sort of brand management, raising the bar for hardware makers while also appealing to Android’s most hardcore fans. The Nexus 5 rectified that issue, but didn’t support Verizon Wireless, the country’s largest carrier, and at $350 unlocked was still a stretch purchase as $200 subsidized handsets remained the norm. They’re much cheaper than a typical flagship, and you can take them to pretty much any wireless carrier in the United States and get a discount on wireless service. You still have to stomach the up-front price—the only way to pay in installments is with an invite to Google’s experimental Project Fi wireless service—but it saves money in the long run.

It took five years, a major shift in wireless service, and countless technological advances, but at last it feels like Nexus phones’ time has come.

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