Nexus 6P Review: Last of the Nexus Line

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The Nexus 6P is still as good as most flagship phones and a little easier on your pockets. If you’re wondering whether it’s still worth your time and money, the answer might surprise you.

It’s the device that Nexus enthusiasts have been waiting for and the Nexus phone for everyday people.

The Nexus 6P noticeably better than its predecessor, the Nexus 6, in every way imaginable. It’s faster, smaller,  lighter and has a much better camera. It’s also almost as good as its successor, the Pixel (XL).

nexus-6p-front

The Nexus 6P’s design is understated, minimal, and a little generic. Its design cues are vaguely reminiscent of other flagship phones: metal unibody, curved backed, and rounded corners.

The 6P is wide enough to house a 5.7-inch display, taller than most phones, yet manages to feel surprisingly thin. You’ll need all the help you can get to keep a tight grip as a result of the smooth unibody.

The display, two speakers and 8MP front camera create a seamless black front that boldly contrasts with the 6P’s anodized aluminum color options.

A headphone jack, sim card slot and USB Type-C charging port sit flush within the 6P’s frame. Only the power button and volume rocker break the seamless feel of the 6P’s sides.


The back is dominated by a slight hump at the top that holds a 12.3MP back camera with a noise-cancelling mic just below it. The hump is more subtle than it appears in images and gives the Nexus 6P a signature of sorts.

nexus-imprint-smallIf it bothers you, look no further than Carved for a beautiful case. Their cases hide the hump, provide a little protection and add some much needed styling to the 6P.

Slightly above center is a fingerprint reader (Nexus Imprint).

Nexus Imprint is just a fancy name for the 6P’s fingerprint reader. You can use it to unlock your phone or apps, and pay for stuff via Play Store or Android Pay. It only takes a second to recognize your finger, but there is a small pause just before the magic happens. Imprint is reportedly capable of learning over time to speed up this process, but that hasn’t been my experience.

My only real gripe with Nexus Imprint is that it’s not on the front of the 6P. Yes, I’m one of those people.

nexus-6p-front

The Nexus 6P has a stunning 5.7″, AMOLED, 1440 x 2560 resolution display and loud dual speakers.

The display is big, rich with colors, deep blacks, and HD clarity. It reaches pleasing brightness levels, though not always bright enough to comfortably see in direct sunlight.

The 6P’s dual speakers beat 90% of speakers on most phones. They’re loud without distortion. Highs and mids sound good, but lows could be improved. Speakerphone calls sound clear and loud even at the lowest settings.

It’s a shame you won’t sound as good as the 6P’s speakers to other callers.

Poor mic audio quality on the 6P is a big problem. On calls, people consistently have a hard time hearing me. I’m often told I sound muffled or far away. Sometimes, no one hears anything I’m saying. It’s a frustrating experience.

Because of this, I don’t recommend the 6P to anyone that is looking for an actual phone.

android-nougat

The Nexus 6P is one of the first phones to run Android 7.0, Nougat (Review). It’s the latest version of Android and getting this update immediately is a Nexus perk.

Since this is a Google phone, it also runs a “stock” version of Android. Stock Android is Android made in Google’s image. Some call it a “pure” Android experience because there are no custom skins, carrier apps or gimmicky features.

android-nougat-notification-bundle-smallAndroid Nougat comes with features like Split-screen mode, Quick Reply, Quick Settings, Split-Screen Mode and Data Saver.

Some of these features already exist in competitor phones (split-screen). Independent developers have created an endless supply of apps that mimic Quick Switch. They’ve also tackled notifications, albeit not the way Nougat does with bundled notifications.

These features are baked-in rather than added-on in Nougat.

nexus-6p-performanceQualcomm’s Snapdragon™ 810 processor isn’t the latest or fastest mobile processor, but that doesn’t stop the 6P from feeling like a powerhouse with 3GBs of RAM to spare.

It doesn’t miss a beat when using Quick Switch or Split-screen mode to go between apps. Apps open immediately when tapped. Transitions, animations and scrolling feel smooth and snappy. Graphic intense games like Dead Trigger 2 play without a stutter and look great on the AMOLED display.

Best of all, flexing the 6P’s muscles won’t cause it to drastically heat up in your hands.

Nexus 6P Battery

The 6P can power through a solid workday before needing to recharge. I can squeeze a little over 13 hours of battery life from the Nexus 6P’s 3450mAh battery, with 4 hours of SOT and heavy usage (social media, photo editing, web browsing, calls and texts).

The 6P uses a USB Type-C charger, which is touted for having faster charging and data transfer speeds than microUSB. The charging cords are reversible and some can be used to charge other USB Type-C devices.

It’s handy to keep around for quick battery boosts. Rapid charging the 6P’s battery to 50% takes ~30 minutes, while a full charge takes up to an hour and a half.

Nexus 6P Camera

Double pressing the 6P’s power button will quickly launch Google Camera.

It’s very basic. Normal, burst mode, panorama, photosphere and lens blur are the only shooting options. There’s only a normal and slow motion video recording mode.

Then there is HDR+. It performs magic in the background to make images look great in low or uneven lighting conditions. It’s optional, but I recommend turning it on for all photos for to give a little boost to every shot. HDR+ will create minor shutter lag on the 6P’s cameras, but the quality of the shot is worth a second delay.

The 6P’s cameras take high quality images in most lighting conditions when using Google Camera’s HDR+ technology. Both front and back cameras are great at handling exposure and quickly focus on subjects.

Colors in images are vivid without looking unnatural or cartoonish. Details look sharp and defined. Using HDR+, images with high contrasting areas (bright building, dark shadows) retain visibility on both sides.

I don’t make a lot of videos, but I love to use slow motion video capture on the 6P. The quality and gorgeous effects make for neat videos to show off the camera’s beauty to friends and family.

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Starting at $500 (32GB), the Nexus 6P is cheaper than most flagship phones and just as powerful.

Great cameras, high performance, dual speakers, a vivid display and spacious storage options make it worthy of consideration. Google will also supply it with updates until 2017. I’m sure the awesome developers at XDA will help extend that into 2018 if possible due to the sheer awesomeness of this phone!

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Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on SheGeeks.net.