Nexus 5X and 6P deep-dive review: Google’s dynamic duo

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google launches Nexus 5X and 6P devices in Australia.

If you have an Android smartphone with a fingerprint scanner running Google’s latest-and-greatest OS update, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can now authenticate purchases in the Google Play store with just a press of your thumb, as first spotted by Android Police.

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. The smartphone, which was available for pre-orders on Flipkart and in major retail stores from October 13, will be shipped to India in batches starting first week of November. The 5X follows up Google’s extremely successful Nexus 5 from 2013, and features a 5.2-inch full-HD display, fingerprint reader, Android Marshmallow and a 12.3-megapixel camera with “best-in-class” lowlight camera shots.

In recent years Google seemed to resign Nexus phones to obscurity, labeling them as mere reference devices to inspire app developers and phone makers. Google has partnered with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for their flagship Nexus 6P this year, which also goes on next Tuesday, starting at $899 for the 32GB model and $999 for the 64GB model. Earlier this month, we took a sneak peek at the latest Google Play redesign, which started rolling out last week and brings with it said fingerprint authentication for purchases. Sanjeev, Vice President Sales, Huawei & Honor India – Consumer Business Group, said, “Our supply chain is working on priority to fulfill the demand.

But to take advantage of the new feature, Android users will have to go into Google Play settings and manually enable it under “User Controls.” Simply check the Fingerprint Authentication box, and you’re good to go. We are working closely with Flipkart and our retail partners on the availability of Nexus 6P for fans.” The flagship will be available at Rs 39,999 (32GB) and Rs 42,999 (64 GB) with two colors Aluminum (Silver) and Graphite (Black) in India. The device features the same 12.3-megapixel camera and fingerprint reader as the 5X, but packs a 5.7-inch quad-HD screen and a faster processor to get things done quicker.

Google was also keen to show off its new operating system, Android Marshmallow, which will be launching on the two devices, with others such as the LG G4 receiving the update next month. 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.

For example, someone could send you a message asking how long you will be and by holding the home button it will bring up Google Now and show you an estimated arrival time of where you’re going. 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. With Google pushing both devices through carriers heavily for the first time and at a cheaper price point to the iPhone, it’ll be interesting to see whether Google can finally shake up a very Apple dominated Australian mobile market.

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. 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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