The Google Nexus 6P is upon us. Spiritual successor to Motorola’s Nexus 6 from last year, it’s Chinese manufacturer Huawei which has taken the reigns on the new metal-clad phablet. As the first Nexus product co-developed by Google and Huawei, has this USA-China partnership been able to produce a world-beating handset? Find out in our hands-on Nexus 6P review.
Google Nexus 6P release date and price
The Nexus 6P release date is set for late October, but the device is available for pre-order right now in black, white and silver, with the gold variation currently a Japan exclusive. The Nexus 6P price is set at US$499 for the 32 GB version, US$549 for 64 GB version and US$649 for the 128 GB version and they can all be purchased from the Google Play Store.
Google Nexus 6P design and build quality
The Nexus 6P’s premium build quality is immediately clear. The sleek, diamond-cut, metal body isn’t revolutionary, but it’s as appealing on the 6P as any other device. The most noticeably "original" feature of the 6P is the protruding horizontal “visor” on the rear which encases the camera sensor and flash.
It’s an unorthodox design, but seems like a reasonable alternative to a protruding camera lens – the smartphone is always stable while lying on its back.
It comes as something of a disappointment that the Nexus 6P does not look quite as modern at the front as from behind. The unusually wide bezels above and below the display make the device larger than seems necessary. Whether this is due to the inclusion of stereo speakers, located at the top and bottom of the device, is unclear but it’s unsightly on an otherwise premium device.
Nevertheless the 6P is a joy to hold. Though it isn’t suited to fleeting one-handed use – it’s just too big – two-handed operation is very comfortable and there is no fear of covering the rear camera sensor.
At the bottom of the rear of the Nexus 6P is a discreet plastic cut-out which aids call reception and manages to avoid spoiling the high-quality metal housing.
The Nexus 6P is undoubtedly Google’s highest quality smartphone, and those looking for an understated, sophisticated product could find what they are looking for with the 6P.
Google Nexus 6P display
The crisp Nexus 6P display comes in at 5.7-inches and houses QHD resolution (2,560 x 1,440). It certainly isn’t small, but it has shrunk from the 6-inch Nexus 6, which I think was a wise decision. It’s easier to hold, it fits better in the pocket, and though the screen is smaller, it hasn’t lost any of its quality.
The Nexus 6P shines with vibrant colors and sharp details, protected by Corning’s latest screen protection technology – Gorilla Glass 4. Though I prefer the 6P display size to that of the Nexus 6, the handset still feels too big, at least for my relatively small hands.
It’s something which is a matter of personal preference. Fans of big phones like the Galaxy Note will likely appreciate the larger size, but those who prefer something more like the Nexus 5 may find it difficult to get used to.
Google Nexus 6P performance
Looking at the technical specifications of the Nexus 6P, solid performance is expected. From the processor, to the operating system, to memory, Google’s 2015 phablet suggests a fast and smooth experience, even if doesn’t have the same market advantage that the Nexus 6 had (the Nexus 6 and the Note 4 were the only phones with the Snapdragon 805 at the time of release).
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 powers the Nexus 6P, the same processor which has been the source of overheating problems in a number of phones this year. But as we have seen in the Sony Xperia Z5, these issues seem to have finally been addressed.
In my short time with the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, there didn’t seem to be a noticeable performance difference between them, despite that the 5X comes with a slightly weaker processor and only 2 GB of RAM. A full performance test will have to wait until our final Nexus 6P review.
Google Nexus 6P camera
The Nexus 6P features the same camera tech as in the Nexus 5X: a 12.3 MP main camera with laser autofocus. However, the real highlight of the Nexus 6P camera comes in the form of its large pixels.
Google says that the larger pixels captured by the new camera are able to capture more light, meaning better quality photos in darker settings. This was also the basis for HTC’s Ultra Pixel camera tech introduced on the HTC One M7.
When combined with the reasonably large f / 2.0 aperture lens the result should be even brighter than what the iPhone 6s can produce, though in my short test I could not verify this. The Nexus 6P also houses Dual-LED Flash, for more natural skin tones, and can record videos in 4K.
My first impression is that Google might have produced not just a good Nexus camera, but perhaps a really great camera in its own right but we’ll have more on the camera in our final Nexus 6P review.
Google Nexus 6P battery
The Nexus devices don’t have a good history with battery life. The Nexus 6 was the first Nexus where things really improved with its 3,200 mAh battery. It’s not exactly huge for a 6-inch display, but it was certainly a leap from the 2,300 mAh of Nexus 5.
While current phablets rarely hold much more than 3,000 mAh (see the LG G4, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Xiaomi Mi Note Pro and others), Google has managed to fit an unexpectedly large 3,450 mAh battery pack in the 6P. This makes me very hopeful that the new Google phablet could have exemplary battery life.
It should come as no surprise that the battery is non-removable, as has been the case on Nexus devices since 2012. But for the first time there is a really compelling reason for this: that being the metal unibody. The Nexus 6P also supports Qualcomm Quick-Charge, said to be capable of injecting around seven hours of battery in just a ten minute charge.
Google Nexus 6P technical specifications
The Nexus 6P is undoubtedly Google’s best-looking smartphone to date. Though I wasn’t charmed by Nexus 5X, the larger Nexus leaves a lasting impression. It’s beautiful, slim, fast, has a large battery, and runs stock Android Marshmallow.
But before I begin shouting about the Nexus 6P as a potential candidate for the smartphone of the year, I must wait for an in-depth playtest. From my first impressions though, it seems like the Google and Huawei partnership may have produced something really special – if you have large hands.
What are your thoughts on the Nexus 6P? Let us know in the comments.