THE BEST NEXUS YET
Nexus 6P by Huawei
It's time to throw everything you thought you knew about Nexus phones out the window. For the first time, we're actually interested in a Nexus as a worthy piece of hardware. And that's discounting the warm, gooey bit at its core that is Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
With the Nexus 6P, Google and Huawei have finally made a Nexus phone that can truly be called premium. Build quality feels absolutely top-notch, and we'd put its all-aluminium body in the same league as Samsung's latest Galaxy line of phones. Rumors about spontaneous cracking of the camera window and an unflattering bend test notwithstanding, these so far remain unsubstantiated, and we really wouldn't worry too much about them.
The screen is an AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 518ppi. This puts it slightly behind phones with smaller displays like the Galaxy S6 (577ppi), but on par with the Galaxy Note5. In fact, the team behind the Nexus 6P confirmed that it uses the latest generation display panels from Samsung, so it might very well be the same as that used on the Note5.
As is typical of AMOLED screens, colors can appear a tad bit oversaturated, which should endear it to those who prefer vibrant, punchy colors. However, if you enable the sRGB color mode, the colors immediately become more muted but also more accurate, which is just the way we like it.
The front-facing stereo speakers are also a welcome feature, but while they were certainly loud enough, they were otherwise unremarkable.
One of the standout features on the Nexus 6P is its excellent fingerprint sensor, dubbed Nexus Imprint. The lack of a home button means that the sensor has been relocated to a nifty little depression on the back of the phone. You may need some time getting used to it if you're used to a home-button sensor, but you'll eventually find that the new placement is a cinch.
The sensor's performance was also just about flawless. In our time with the phone, it read and registered our prints in a heartbeat, regardless of the orientation. In fact, we found that we didn't even have to perfectly cover the sensor to get our print recognized.
Another key implementation is a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer (only USB 2.0 speeds, sorry). The reversible design is a welcome improvement over Micro-USB
for sure, and USB Type-C offers 15W of output, which can get the phone from zero to a full charge in about an hour and 40 minutes. However, USB Type-C devices aren't that common yet, which means that USB Type-C cables are still something of a rarity. So if you forget your cable, or if you lose it, you cannot just borrow one from anybody.
We also have to single out the camera, which stands out because it is the first on a Nexus phone to not be entirely outclassed by rival flagships. The 12.3MP rear camera comes with laser autofocus and a large 1.55μm pixels sensor to capture more light, and it also proved fairly adept at capturing closeup shots, better even than the built-in lens blur function. We preferred the camera with HDR+ mode off – pictures turned out better without it as its ability to properly balance light and shadow appeared wonky and inconsistent.
Overall, we were quite pleased with the camera as the level of detail was good and colors were accurate. However, we were disappointed with the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS) as the large size of the phone sometimes proved too much for our shaky hands.
In our battery tests, the 3,450mAh non-removable battery on the 6P unfortunately failed to keep up with the Galaxy Note5's smaller 3,000mAh battery. It lasted 704 minutes while looping video and streaming data, over three hours behind the Note5 (although it did outperform considerably smaller phones like the iPhone 6s). This was likely due to the Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor's inability to keep up with the more efficient Exynos 7420 processor.
Performance-wise, the Adreno 430 GPU on v2.1 of the Snapdragon 810 SoC edged ahead of the Mali T760 MP8 GPU on the latest Samsung phones in 3DMark, topped only by the new A9 processor in the iPhone 6s Plus. However, its strong gaming performance was not matched by its overall CPU, I/O, and GPU performance, where the 6P fell behind Samsung phones equipped with faster UFS 2.0 storage and the Exynos 7420 SoC.
But number-crunching aside, the Nexus 6P was overall very zippy and fast, with no perceivable slowdowns in dayto-day use. This is looking very much like the moment when Google truly transitions from software vendor to hardware competitor.