Nexus 6 P
What does it mean to be a nexus phone? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts? A bang for your buck champion? It should be easy but it is a hard thing to explain the nexus brand. Nexus phones have meant a lot of different things to people over the years. Even Google’s own vision has shifted a little after each year. Each time trying to adjust, trying to find the perfect vision and never quite getting there. Knowing that you can’t please all the people all of the time, Google decided to have two phones this year, two visions of perfection. We are going to look at the phone marked with a P, the Nexus 6P.
The one trait that has remained the same about nexus phones; they push the limits. They try to take what is current and improve it. They take new technology and implement it. Has Google succeeded with this year’s vision? Let’s review a few key areas and find out.
Look and Feel
The first thing that I actually noticed about this phone was how thin it felt in my hand; then I notice how good it felt, sturdy and well built. That something that told my fingers “this phone needs to have some thickness to it” faded after using it for a while. The phone does have some heft (178g) and I like that. Huawei has made a solid phone for Google and that is a feeling that has not faded.
The speakers are on the front, the only place for speakers in my opinion, and they blend in very well with the front fascia. The antenna lines on the four corners works well and I have even started to like the camera visor. Early leaks on the internet made the visor look as if it protruded out like an ugly growth. Even now pictures don’t do it justice. In the hand and in person the visor looks to be part of the phone, a natural extension. The power and volume rocker are located on the right hand side. They sit just above half way to allow some single handed use. The SIM card slot can be found on the left side. Look to the back for a fingerprint sensor. Perfect placement! I would like to see the volume and power back there as well. LG really has something with their “Buttons on the back” phone design. I hope more companies take inspiration from their design. Overall this makes for a very elegant phone and I would like to stop there but I can’t.
On the bottom portion of the back side of the phone is a plastic cover. The plastic cover is there for antenna signals access and covers a few screws used to keep this thing together. The plastic cover really hurts the phones look. There is a lot of effort to match the plastic and aluminum but plastic is plastic and aluminum is aluminum. You can’t hide that. Most people will put a case over their phone and that will moot the point but I still find this to be a hard pill to swallow. 80% of the phone is beautiful; the plastic cover is the other 20%.
At 5.7 inches this is a big and beautiful display. The colours really pop and this is to be expected from an AMOLED screen. If there is too much colour for your eyes to handle you do have a built in option. You can use the sRGB colour mode found in the developer settings if you want the screen to pop a little less. The colours tend to be more true to life with the sRGB enabled. I have used both settings and I have to admit that I prefer the default settings. The popping colours look really great when playing any game. It made the experience come alive, even if it looks to bold to be real. The only fault I have with the display is the blue/purple haze that washes over the screen when viewing it on an angle. This is most evident when you have a complete white background. The coloured background of various apps and games can make this effect nonexistent. Just make sure that you are viewing straight on when opening gmail.
Viewing angles aside, this phone seems to be made for Netflix. The visuals come in clear and crisp with the 518 PPI (pixels per inch) screen and the speakers are great. This combines to produce a fantastic multimedia experience. Five minutes into any show or movie and you are hooked. You will forget that you are watching this on a phone and just enjoy the entertainment.
The speakers were so good that I had to compare them with an HTC phone and their Boom Sound speakers. I assumed the sound would have been closer but you can definitely perceive better sound emanating from the HTC. I am not an Audiophile but even my dull ears noticed the depth of sound that came from One M9. Both are great, both are loud, but HTC had a richer and fuller sound. I hope that more OEMs bring front facing speakers to their designs; it really makes a world of difference to the multimedia experience.
Under the Hood
For those that like specs, the Nexus 6P does not disappoint. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 v2.1 is the chipset that powers this unit. This Octa-core setup is split in two with a Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57 64-bit setup, mated to an Adreno 430 GPU. Memory comes in at 3 GB of DDR4 RAM and your choice or 32, 64 or 128 Gigabytes of storage.
Does that translate to a fast phone? Yep it sure does! This phone is like a big block V8 with Android 6.0 Marshmallow at the wheel. It handled almost anything that I could throw at it. Even jumping from Clash of Clans to Star Wars Commander and back again, was handled thoroughly. Marshmallow many not have come with a change in design language but it put a lot of grease in the gears. Everything is silky smooth. The phone did get a little warm under heavy use but not noticeably warmer than any phone I have played with in the past. The only thing that made the phone hiccup or stutter was the camera. It was an odd thing for me; I tried to replicate the stutter but could not get a consistent result. Sometime is just wanted to be a little slow getting in or out of the camera app. Thankfully this was the exception and not the rule. Speaking of the camera…….
When I first read about DxO Labs giving the Nexus 6p a place beside the Galaxy s6 I was impressed. The new Samsung combination of hardware and software has walked away with all the prices this year. Even Apple and Microsoft (Nokia) fanboys have been forced to admit that it is the best Camera of 2015. The new iPhone 6s may change that but early reviews don’t give me that impression. Either way the 6P had something to prove.
Does it live up to the hype? In my opinion, no. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good camera. I would even say great comparing it to other nexus phones but I personally do not think it can hang with the Galaxy s6 camera. Over all the pictures come out rather nice, but there is a tendency to overexpose the whites. It reminds me of the large megapixel camera HTC was pushing. Both cameras are great in low light but both tend to overexpose or wash out bright whites. This may be an effect of larger pixels. The pixels size for the 6P is 1.55 microns which really isn’t that large considering the HTC’s were 2 microns across each length. It has the ability to record 4k video but the results are not always great. Too much motion with the camera or the subjects and things get pixelated, fast. It also suffers under poor lighting conditions compared to the 1080p videos.
That is the bad news and the good news is……. there is lots of good news. The camera has an eloquent and simply designed interface. Some have said that it is too simple but I disagree. Most people want to just point and shoot. If you are a shutterbug you already have a dSLR camera for adjusting exposure and ISO, etc. If you really want to have the dSLR experience with a smartphone you could always download and app and have your fun. Personally I really like the simple design, it make it easy.
The 8 megapixel front facing camera is a dream. The photos are nice and crisp with great low light performance. The camera will focus quickly and keep the colour very true to life. It is really one of the best selfie cameras that I have used. It does not have the “beautification” mode that some cameras sport, but I find that a blessing. I would rather have my ugly mug look crisp and clear than that waxy makeup image that comes from “beautification” mode.
The 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor is for your rear facing photos and even though it does occasionally overexpose like I mentioned earlier, it is still a great camera. It is generally quick to launch, fast to focus and the colour representation is pretty good. The AMOLED screen can throw you off a little but set it to sRGB or put you picture on your monitor to show your true colours shining through. With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field.
With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field. Notice the focus on the background and then the for ground.
The indoor or low light performance is better than most but still tends to pixelate when there are not enough photons buzzing around. Optical Image Stabilization would have helped out in this area and could have taken this camera from very good to great.
The video quality is better than most but I recommend sticking to the 1080p resolution settings. 4K sound awesome but the results are for from superior. It is acceptable for basic scenes with little motion but the camera seems to handle 1080p much cleaner when pushed to the limits. Try chasing your kids around with the video on you will see lots of pixilation at 4k. With most TVs and monitor still pushing 1080 I don’t see the need for the 4k video at this time. I just wish Google would have done it better if they were going to offer it. Even with the nitpicking it is a great camera and great phone.
When I started to write the conclusion, I was looking at value for your dollar along with what it means to be a Nexus phone. I am going to leave price off to the side for now and discuss it in a follow up article. So, that leaves us with the question of what is means to be a nexus phone. Does this phone push the limits? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts?
What I know is the Nexus 6P is the best you can get from Google today. Does it push limits? Camera and Battery have never been so good with Nexus phone but others have pushed their limits further. Is it a cutting edge flagship? Yes, it can run with the flagship crowd but it is part of the pack, not the leader. Is it meant for developers and enthusiasts? Despite the e-fuse that will let everyone know this phone’s bootloader has been unlocked, I would say yes. There are already all kinds of support for this device in the libraries of XDA. That will only grow over time.
So Google has succeeded? Yes! This is the best Nexus phone to date, as it should be, it the newest. Is it a perfect phone? No, but it comes close and for the money it may be the best value for your dollar. This is a phone that you can recommend to anyone, the power users or the casual Facebook viewer will both enjoy this phone. I comes close to being all things to all people.
Until next time
Well it may be the best value for your dollar unless you are Italian. Why am I picking on the Italians? Well I am not but come back to view my next post and find out who is.