When Google launched the Nexus 6, it wasn’t the upgrade Nexus 5 owners were looking for. The 5.96in screen made the Motorola-built phone too big and heavy. In 2015, Google has decided to adopt Apple’s strategy and launch two phones, hopefully appealing to a wider audience. There’s the Nexus 5X – the true successor to the Nexus 5, and the Nexus 6P. We’ve spent some time with the Huawei-made phone, and here’s our Nexus 6P hands-on review.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Nexus 6P will be available in Aluminium (silver), Graphite (black) and Frost (white). It will have 32-, 64- or 128GB of storage.
You can buy one from Google’s online store, with pre-orders starting today in the UK. Prices start at £449/$750 and orders will start shipping in late October.The 64GB model costs £499/$750 and 128GB £579/$870.
With this you get a 90-day trial of Play Music and you’ll get some credit for Google Play.
Of course, you’ll also be able to get a 6P on contract. As UK operators announce prices and tariffs, we’ll bring you details.
FEATURES AND DESIGN
The Nexus 6P is the first all-metal Nexus flagship smartphone. It’s made of CNC-machined “aeronautical-grade aluminium” which Google says is “really nice”. In the hand, it feels lighter than you anticipate for a big phone (it’s pretty much the same size as an iPhone 6S Plus), and as we had expected from Huawei, build quality is top notch.
It has a 5.7in AMOLED screen that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 4 which is fitted flush into the aluminium frame. It’s slim and sleek for a big phone – some might call it a phablet – and looks like a premium device.
The screen – as you’d expect of a premium Android flagship – has a quad-HD resolution of 2560×1440. It’s by no means the first to have this resolution, but it looks gorgeous, with eye-popping colours and detail. Viewing angles, of course, are very wide and contrast is fabulous.
Around the back – just as you’ll find with other Huawei phones such as the Mate 7 – is a fingerprint scanner, called Nexus Imprint. This will come in handy for Google Pay, although there’s no confirmed launch date for the service in the UK. You can register five fingers and there’s no need to wake the phone before using it.
Your index finger almost falls naturally onto the sensor when you pick up the phone – it’s something we think we’d quickly adjust for – and when your print is recognised, the screen comes on automatically.
The Nexus 6P is powered by a Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octacore processor (as also used in the OnePlus 2). It has Adreno 430 graphics and is backed by 3GB of RAM.
At the front are stereo speakers and there are three mics – two on the front and one on the rear. Even in the loud demo session, the speakers managed to punch above the drone when we tried out Asphalt 8, which ran perfectly smoothly.
There’s a non-removable 3450mAh battery and USB Type-C for faster charging and quicker data-transfer rates. We’ll have to run our usual battery life tests when we can spend longer with the 6P.
The 12.3Mp Sony sensor is the best ever put into a Nexus phone, according to Google. It may not have the highest resolution, but anyone that knows anything about cameras will know that larger pixels – bigger receptors – capture more light and therefor more accurately capture colours.
This should help indoor photography in particular, where there’s much less light. The pixels are 1.55 microns in size – compared to 1.22 in the iPhone 6S Plus, for example.
You also get slo-mo video, at 240fps, and you can select the section of video to slow down in the Google Photos app. A burst mode shoots at 30fps and you can then choose your favourite later.
It’s hard to judge a camera’s quality by snapping away and merely reviewing the photos on the phone’s screen, but it appeared to handle the low light conditions pretty well with minimal visible noise and decent focus. We’ll reserve final judgement for when we can compare photos on a much larger screen with other flagship phones.
Out of the box, the 6P will have Marshmallow – Android 6.0. With it comes several new features. Now on Tap will be added shortly in an update, but will allow you to get context-sensitive information ‘cards’ by holding the home button. That might not sound all that different from Google Now in Lollipop, but one other difference is that it will work within apps, offering information relevant to that app.
In many other ways, Marshmallow looks very similar to Lollipop with minor tweaks here and there.
If you’re a fan of big-screen phones, the 6P is certainly going to appeal. It’s cheaper than the Galaxy S6, but it also suffers from a lack of expandable storage. That means you’ll have to pay more if you can’t manage with 32GB of storage.
Until we can properly test out the cameras, and benchmark it for performance, we can’t come to any conclusions, but it looks promising.
- 5.7in 2560×1440-pixel Quad HD capacitive touchscreen
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa-core processor at 2.0GHz
- 32/64/128GB storage
- 3GB RAM
- Android Marshmallow 6.0
- 12.3MP main camera, dual-LED flash, support for 4K video at 30fps
- 8MP secondary camera
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with 2×2 MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Wireless charging
It’s too early to come to a firm conclusion about the Nexus 6P. We still need to run our full set of benchmarks and tests. We’ll update this preview as soon as we can.