Google’s cheapest Nexus phone is easy to fix, too

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Expect your $50 Google Play credit to arrive about a day after your new Nexus.

Those who got in early with a Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X order from the Google Store were promised a $50 Google Play gift card — but it’s a tad confusing when it doesn’t come in the box with the phone.

One of the things that tends to set Google Nexus phones apart from other smartphones is just how easy it is to modify the software running on the phones. While things have gotten a little more complicated with the introduction of new security features for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, it is already possible to unlock the bootloader, install a custom recovery, and root the Google Nexus 5X. You can redeem the $50 of credit directly from the email with a link, but also note that the email contains a regular Google Play code that can actually be applied to any Google account. You’ll need to flash the phone with a modified boot image, which could keep your phone from being able to install over-the-air updates int he future.

So if you’d like to spread the love a bit and give the $50 as a gift to someone, just send them that one-time use code and have them add it to their account through Google Play (just click “Redeem” in the sidebar). That’s a problem if the port ever fails, since you’ll have to replace the entire motherboard—at that point it’s probably easier to get a new phone. Another notable exception to the 5X’s modularity is the fused display assembly (the outer glass and the LCD are one unit), which is typical for many smartphones. The impact on you at home: Although many people never look past the case of their phone, a device that is relatively easy to repair is a good thing to consider. Knowing that a component replacement requires just a few snaps of a back cover and a screw or two will make those inevitable moments of hardware failure easier to handle.

Frankly, I’ve never been that interested in Nexus devices because they were always missing some particularly important feature that Samsung, HTC, or LG did better—or they weren’t compatible with Verizon’s network. Google’s worked hard to ensure there’s a somewhat consistent experience across devices, and those who don’t abide have started to feel the wrath of the community. We’re seeing drastic changes on the horizon, including the fact that Google now has its very own, bona-fide flagship device that can compete with the hottest phones from other manufacturers.

There’s also a Nano SIM slot on the left-hand side of the chassis, and a volume rocker and power button on the right that’s placed low enough so you don’t have to stretch to press them. Not everyone’s a fan of the fingerprint reader’s rear location, but it feels more natural to use than if it were placed on the front of the device, like on the Galaxy S6.

As I mentioned in my hands-on, the backside bulge on the Nexus 6P is not as much of an issue as the mockups and leaked images had previously made it out to be. Users do care what the backside looks like because that’s what everyone else will see when they look at your hands, and this backside looks just as polished as any other flagship’s.

It is just as bright and beautiful as the Galaxy Note 5’s, along with the same sort-of saturated color profiles and ability to go totally dim in the dead of night. You can also see the Nexus 6P’s display out in broad daylight with the brightness turned all the way up, but make sure to do that before you leave the house. I’m curious to see how Android 6.0 performs on the new Nexus devices throughout the next few months, though it’ll likely fare better just because there isn’t bloatware and a heavily modified interface to contend with like on Samsung and LG’s devices. In our PCMark battery tests, the 6P’s 3450 mAh battery lasted six hours and 22 minutes—about an hour less than the Note 5’s 3000 mAh battery pack. However, this particular sensor differs in that it features 1.55 micron pixels, which are about four times the size of normal pixels in other camera sensors.

Check out these pumpkins, for instance: These pumpkins came out blurry because, as I quickly snapped them in low light, the long exposure allowed my shaky hands to move phone a little while the shutter was open. I like Google’s philosophy behind this, though I would have liked to see a manual mode of sorts to set up a long exposure for nighttime shots, for instance.

At least there’s a burst mode, which you can use to make instant GIFs, which are way easier to share with friends than the iPhone’s silly and proprietary Live Photos. I’m actually more of an OEM sympathizer, and if you’ve followed along with my reviews in the past, you’ve read how I’ve advocated for why skinned Android is sometimes better than stock. Also, bear in mind that Google has promised to update its Nexus devices more regularly with security updates and support them with software updates for at least two years, whereas some manufacturers are still figuring out their update plans. I’m not typically a Nexus person and I’ve always looked to other manufacturers to pave the way for the Android ecosystem, but Google’s at the tip of the spear now and I’m glad to see it. This amazing phone is also good news for Huawei, which is still looking to make its grand entrance into the U.S. smartphone market with a flagship device.

If this Nexus takes off, that’ll be a big win for the Chinese-based company, and it can leverage this good will to entice Android enthusiasts toward a Huawei phone next time around.

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