Every year Google releases a Nexus device in partnership with different manufacturing partners — from original partner HTC with the Nexus One in 2010 to last year’s model, the Nexus 6, made by Motorola. During these releases, Google has either done one of two things with their Nexus devices. Either they’ve made a top of the line Android device running their latest software as a technical showcase to present Android in the best light they can and inspire their manufacturing partners to push the limits of what Android is for, or they’ve created a budget-friendly device aimed at putting Android in the hands of more users that might not be able to afford the latest and greatest features with their higher price tags. So this year when Google announced their latest Nexus device, it came as an interesting twist. They essentially did both.
For my review of the Nexus 5X click here, but in this article, let’s discuss how they did with their top of line Nexus, the Nexus 6P.
The P in Nexus 6P stands for premium apparently and I have to admit, it’s definitely feels ahead in that department compared to the older Nexus devices thanks in no small part to the all metal body. Huawei, the manufacturer for this Nexus model, has clad the device in aluminum which may not be the strongest of metals as demonstrated by my friend Zack over at JerryRigEverything but trying to purposely bend the device in half aside, it’s lends a much needed premium feel at least to the 6P.
Premium Display to Match
The body isn’t the only thing that’s been “premiumed”, the screen is also one of the nicest to ever show up on a Nexus handset. With a seriously bright 2.5K resolution, it’s up there with the top tier of smartphone screens period.
Add to the two front facing stereo speakers that are properly loud, I mean I put them up against a bluetooth speaker I had and while on the higher end they got a bit more tinny sounding than the actual speaker it kept up in terms of volume so it’s a pretty decent option for sharing videos with those around you without having to cup the bottom of the phone and ask everyone to shut up.
Fingerprint Scanner Around Back
The phone also follows suit with the latest flagship devices and incorporates a fingerprint scanner, albeit in the more unusual back of the device.
While the back of the device might seem a bit odd, I actually ended up getting used to it pretty quickly, so much so that I, like MKBHD, got used to taking the phone out of my pocket in such a way that my finger was already on the scanner and it was unlocked by the time it got out of my pocket. Which brings me to another point about the fingerprint scanner, it’s remarkably fast.
Out of curiosity, I even put it up against the iPhone 6’s scanner and it’s even noticeably faster than that.
Android without the Bloat
Besides the hardware, the software is another major benefit of all Nexus devices and this one isn’t excluded. With a Nexus phone, you get unadulterated and un-bloated Android so that means no carrier fluff added on top and because of that, instant updates from Google. Unlike the carriers that add a UI to their Android releases, there is no development that needs to be done to get the UI to work on the new version of Android when it gets released — the prime reason why it takes manufacturers so long to update their devices.
Camera with Larger Pixels
Another seemingly small feature that I find incredibly useful is the double tapping of the power button to bring up the camera, which I find super helpful for taking quick shots with the phone.
Which brings us to the camera. I was excited when I heard Google announce the new Nexus 6P’s camera capabilities. With a 12.3MP camera that has larger pixels that are 1.55 microns in size and that allows better low-light photography.
I even managed to take some pics in a restaurant without the flash and just tapping auto enhance in the photos app brought them to pretty decent quality.
Not only is the device unlocked, so you can pop in any carrier’s SIM and it’ll work, but it also works with Google’s own network called Project Fi that promises easy trade off between WiFi and Cellular as well as simpler pricing plans. You can find more info on it here.
Nitpicking the Device
While it is a great phone, there are a few things to note in the cons column.
For example, and this is more of a subjective thing, but the styling isn’t amazing. It says premium with the materials but not as much with the overall design, I mean giant Nexus words on the back just scream we need to better brand the Nexus name so let’s make it huge on the phone so people ask about it.
Not a Compact Device
Speaking of large, the phone itself would never be described as compact. Now, I personally like larger phones so it doesn’t bother me but I’m sure the sheer size of it isn’t for everyone in the same way people think the iPhone 6 Plus is a new mini iPad. And since I’m a victim to current design trends myself, the phone does cause an issue when sitting down in my skinny jeans.
And finally, there’s the battery life. It’s great compared to most phones on the market actually which is nice but it still doesn’t last me an entire day without having to plug it in. Thankfully for the quick charging when I do find an outlet to commandeer I only need it for 20 minutes or so before I can move on to my next situation like a electric vampire feeding off the mains.
Overall though, it’s hard to put down this phone and since I myself am not a huge fan of the custom UI’s that manufacturers put on their Android devices, it tends to slow things down, and generally just annoy me regardless of the minor features it adds. The Nexus devices gives me a big thing I want in the first place —less software gumming up the premium hardware.
Not only that, but it does all of this for a couple hundred dollars less than the equivalent flagship device from another manufacturer. If you don’t mind the design, size, etc. you’re looking at other flagship Android devices and perhaps you’re more the function over style type of person then you should add the 6P to your list of options as it’s hard to find a phone that checks as many boxes as the Nexus 6P.