How has the current Google flagship phone fared?
It’s been three months since we started using Huawei’s Nexus 6P. It was supposed to be a short two-week review stint, but for some reason Huawei allowed us to use their Google collab device for much longer. Not that we’re complaining – it’s the best Nexus smartphone to come out of the program to date, and we’ve been loving every minute with it. But that’s not to say the phone is perfect – in the three months that we’ve been using the 6P we’ve seen a couple of annoying things with it, and before we pack it in plastic and hand it back to Huawei, let us tell you what we think of it three months on.
USB Type-C is a blessing and a curse
The Nexus 6P is one of the phones nowadays that has the new, reversible Type-C plug. There’s a lot of benefits to using this particular plug, especially if you’re getting a fairly top-of-the-line notebook or are not a fan of waiting for your phone to charge since chargers that come with phones armed with the new standard have quick charging capabilities baked in. Since it’s reversible, you’ll never have to fumble with it again when you’re plugging it to a compatible charger or plug.
The bad thing about it is that if you lose that Type-C cable, you’re in a world of hurt. Our review unit only came with the fast charger and a cable that had the Type-C connectors on both ends. We know that the retail packaging actually comes with that cable and one that has a traditional USB male jack and a Type-C connector at the opposite end. Anyway, there will be times when you wished the phone didn’t have a Type-C connector, because if you forget to bring that cable with you, you’re pretty much out of luck if you want to either transfer files or charge your phone after a particularly long day. And if you manage to wreck that Type-C cable? You’re especially screwed – because the Type-C connector is more complex to make than the regular USB cables that phones ship with, getting a reliable one (that won’t brick your phone) is a Herculean effort in itself.
No OIS kills it for video taking
While we have no gripe with the overall video quality from the Nexus 6P’s rear camera, it’s not what you’d call a video-friendly phone. The lack of OIS in the camera module really is apparent the moment you try to take video with the thing – we actually had to bin a few video logs we did overseas because the lack of the OIS killed the momentum of the videos we were taking. Speaking of the camera..
Google’s default camera app is terribad
The Nexus 6P’s camera is wonderful, and is only slightly behind the camera experience of Samsung’s S6 and Note 5 in terms of performance. While it’s not the highest resolution camera around, it’s perfectly capable of producing good photos even in challenging shooting conditions if you do your part.
The biggest problem is with the default camera app. Since the phone is part of the Nexus program, it’s preloaded with Google’s default camera application for taking photos. And it sucks. Big time. While we’re not a fan of Huawei’s Emotion UI overlay, at least that particular software enhancement gave us the option for manual controls (which the phone is capable of with a third party app).
Nothing comes close to it in terms of quickness and smoothness in Marshmallow
There’s a reason why we kept coming back to the Nexus 6P even though we had a ton of other phones to play with – it’s because of how smooth Android Marshmallow was on it. Seriously, we’re a fan of the pure Android experience, and there’s nothing purer than using a Nexus smartphone. With monthly security updates from Google themselves (the Feb update just dropped for our phone) it’s one of the most secure Android smartphones out in the market right now too.
The phone is also pretty fast, and while many not so nice things have been said about Snapdragon 810, once it’s tamed, it’s one of the fastest processors currently out in the market. It absolutely just flies through the games in our Android library without any issues at all.
It’s still one of the prettiest phones you can buy
While phones from Nexus program highlighted the very best that Android could offer, they weren’t beautiful phones. They weren’t ugly – just pedestrian looking devices, meant to be loved by hardcore Android fans.
That all changed with the Nexus 6P. Like we said in our original review, the Nexus 6P is the first truly beautiful smartphone to be produced for the program, which is important, because ultimately sales of a device hinges on how awesome it looks. And the Nexus 6P is indeed quite the looker, especially in gold. Huawei’s managed to build quite a reputation when it comes to building full metal smartphones, and the Nexus 6P is proof of that mastery over metal.