Last yearís Nexus 6 gained a lot of flack from me and Andrew for its high $749 price tag. Up until then, the previous couple of Nexii phones offered tremendous bang for relatively speaking little bucks. Expensive phones are fine if theyíre best-in-class products but while the Nexus 6 is a nice phone, there were better choices available.
Hereís the follow up, the Nexus 6p from Huawei.
Compared to the 6, the 6p receives a minor price cut; the 32GB model starts $699. It gains a rear-mounted fingerprint reader but loses the optical image stabilization.
Is the 6p a worthy contender? Letís check it out.
vs Nexus 6:
The first thing I noticed about the 6p is that last yearís 6 has a much more coherent design. The 6p looks like a mishmash of different designs and has a back only a mother could love.
Looking past that, the 6p does offer quite a bit more across the board. The processor is faster, the display is much better, you also get a kickass camera along with a bigger battery and the convenience of a fingerprint reader.
All for a device that costs $50 CAN less than what last yearís debuted at. More bang for your buck is always a good thing.
While you get a faster processor, the display is the real story here. Itís brighter, has better viewing angles and better colour. Last yearís 6 looks dirty and in comparison.
The processor feels faster than benchmarks indicate. The camera app in particular starts noticeably faster on the 6p.
Speaking of the camera, while the 6p lacks the 6ís optical image stabilization it runs circles around the 6ís camera in terms of image quality and low light performance. It always felt like Motorola tried to save a few bucks with the 6ís camera and then tried to cover it up with image stabilization. The 6pís camera feels like a top-of-the-line sensor.
Both have pretty amazing stereo speakers. The 6p appears to utilize very strong stereo widening techniques to simulate surround sound. Normally Iím not a fan of too much sound processing but when it comes to built-in speakers Iím not expecting audiophile quality. Iím more concerned that have as much bass as possible and are as loud as possible and sound reasonably accurate.
This is where the 6p speakers shine. That said, if the music youíre listening too already sounds really processed then you might not like the result. Iíve also found that stereo widening usually results in less low-down bass and in the case of the 6p this is the case. The 6 has slightly meatier bass but 9/10 people are going to prefer the 6p over the 6ís speakers.
Then thereís the fingerprint reader, once you get used to the convenience of a reader itís hard to go back to pin codes or unlock patterns. You can just unlock the screen as youíre reaching for it.
While the back may have quite an appearance deficit but itís quite a big upgrade over the 6.
vs Nexus 5x:
For a few hundred less you can pick up the 5x. The front is almost identical to the 6p - I have a hard time telling them apart. The key is to look at the speaker grills in front. The LGís have HTC-style drilled holes while Huawei doesnít.
So they have the same processor, same rear camera while the 5x has a smaller, lower resolution display along with a correspondingly smaller battery.
The 5x may be more wallet friendly but youíre getting quite a bit less phone too.
First off, the 6pís screen is a considerable upgrade. Iím not talking about the 6pís 2560x1440 resolution vs the 5xís 1920x1080. To my eyes theyíre just as sharp as each other so donít read anything into this useless spec.
Rather the 6p has a top notch SuperAMOLED display (as opposed to the NExus 6ís not-that-great SuperAMOLED) while the 5x has not-quite-flagship level IPS LCD. It has decent colour but itís blacks arenít very good plus there is some unevenness on the right near the top.
The 2 rear-facing cameras are identical but the front facing camera on the 5x is noticeably worse.
The 6pís speakers are much louder, you get 2 of them (only one at a time on the 5x) plus they sound much better on the 6p.
Neither phone is exactly a looker. Theyíre both extremely generic and unmemorable in front though I do prefer the 5xís speaker holes vs the 6pís speaker Ďpillsí in front.
The 6p and its metal body feels much nicer than the 5xís plastic body. While the 5xís sibling, the LG G4 also has a plastic body, the 5xís feels much cheaper.
To be honest, the worst thing about the 5x is that it was released around the same time as the 6p. If it had come out before or after the 6p we wouldnít be focusing so much on how much worse it is that itís larger brother.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
- 5.7Ē AMOLED display
- 3GB RAM
- 32/64/128GB of storage
- 12.3MP rear camera
- 8MP front camera
- stereo front facing speakers
- fingerprint reader
- 3450mAh battery
- LTE bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/30
- carrier aggregation: 2-(2,4,5,12,13,17,29), 4-(4,5,13,17,29), 41-41
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm
Previous Nexus device manufacturers include HTC, Samsung, Asus, LG and Motorola but the the follow up, the Nexus 6p is from Huawei.
Why Huawei? While Huawei does world-wide and is a big force in the Smartphone market, theyíre not known for their fancy phones here in North America. While they make solid phones, Iím guessing most of their customers donít even know theyíre using a Huawei phone. They appeal to that part of the market.
So, a Huawei Nexus phone is a boon for them because it gets their name out. It also and helps potential customers become more comfortable spend more than $200 or $300 on a Huawei phone.
That said, the design of the front of the 6p is pretty bland. It actually matches the 5x with some minor changes so Iím guessing Google mandated what they wanted the front of the phone to look like. They look so similar I sometimes have trouble telling them apart when Iím sorting through my pictures of each device.
Iím going to go out on a limb here but Iíve found that Google has never been known for their breath taking designs. Thatís why theyíre constantly changing their designs because theyíre not timeless.
Then from Huaweiís perspective the worst thing about the 6p is that itís not very Huawei-ish. Don't get me wrong, itís an amazing phone but at the same time itís very generic. It may sell well but it doesnít do too much to get their name out. I mean the Huawei logo is on the back in relatively small lettering.
The back and sides are one piece of metal. Itís quite nice. I like the chamfered finish on the corners of the sides. I donít see any gaps but at the same time I donít see any exposed screws so getting the 6p serviced may be an ordeal. Itís something to think about if you plan on keeping it for a few years as phone batteries in general begin to wear out after 2 or 3 years. Note that this problem affects many phones and isnít specific to the Nexus 6p.
Still, the 6p is probably going to be a fairly popular phone so getting it serviced will probably not be too hard.
I donít normally comment on how a phone looks but the back of the 6p is pretty homely looking. I joke that itís called the 6p because thatís how much Huawei paid for the backís design.
The area on the camera is an attempt at balancing out the design but yet the camera is in the corner (where I personally prefer it) while the bottom has is covered with a piece of plastic with a different finish on it.
Then again, in all seriousness though, who really cares what the back looks like. If itís ugly it just means itís a good candidate for a case. Just get a case with a Nintendo Gameboy or a Cassette tape on it and youíre golden.
Thereís a fingerprint reader on the back. Itís circular so you just place your finger on it to use it. You donít have to swipe. The idea is that your index finger is normally on the back of the phone when youíre picking it up so putting a reader there is the most logical choice.
Thatís the idea but for me I found it very inconvenient. First off, I tend to pick phones up by the bottom corner so my index finger is nowhere near the reader. I blame my use of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones for this since I turn the phones on by using the home buttons. I guess if youíre used to phones that lack this then the reader might be more intuitive.
Secondly, The home and volume buttons are in the way so when reach for the reader I tend to hit those buttons which sometimes causes unexpected results.
It makes me wish the buttons were either mounted higher up on the left side or if they were a bit stiffer.
Lastly, if youíre like me a tend to use their phone while itís lying flat then the rear mounted reader will be annoying because youíll need to pick it up to unlock it and then put it back down.
In terms of performance and accuracy itís comparable to my iPhone 6s Plus so itís excellent.
I do like how you can forgo the power button completely and just place your finger on the reader to turn it on and unlock it. I wish my Galaxies and iPhones did this.
There are are stereo speakers in front.
The headphone jack is located on top.
Note the USB Type-C connector at the bottom. Unlike MicroUSB, USB-C can be inserted either way. It can also handle enough power so that it can be used to charge a laptop. That means eventually youíll only need one type of cable for your laptop and your phone and tablet.
USB-C is a nice upgrade but in the short term it's a bit of a headache if you have a large investment in MicroUSB cables. First off if you like the convenience of having lots of cables around then youíll need to re-buy them. Since USB-C is still fairly new, chances are youíll need to pay more for them than you did your MicroUSB cables.
The 6p comes with 2 USB-C cables, one has a regular sized USB connector on one end while the other has 2 USB-C connectors on both ends.
Iím not sure if the metal body is to blame but wireless charging - a feature previously championed by Nexus phones is missing from the 6p. Does this mean that wireless charging in general is doomed?
I personally own a wireless charging pad which I never use. I have a few problems with wireless charging:
First off, if I need to charge itís usually because my battery is nearly depleted. If thatís the case itís typically because Iíve been using my phone a lot - either Iíve been gaming or surfing the web a lot. When that happens I want to continue to use my phone. If Iím stuck with wireless charging itís a bit harder to keep using my phone whereas if I have a cable I just attach it and keep going.
Secondly, I charge my phones on my night stand. I usually wait till the lights are off to plug my devices in. To me itís easier to attach a cable than it is to find the sweet spot on a wireless charger.
Thirdly, using a wireless charger means you need to make space for it. Between my phones, my glasses, alarm clock, and a bunch of other stuff I just donít have room for this on my nightstand.
I donít think wireless charging is going anywhere but it still needs a few more generations before it will gain wider acceptance.
Once Iíve unlocked the 6p itís a very easy phone to use. You donít get any of the usability issues you get on many higher-end Samsung phones. Thereís just enough bezels on the side to give you something to hold onto without having to resort to putting part of your hand on the screen.
The top and bottom are a bit taller than most phones but the stereo speakers are worth the extra space they take up.
More importantly, the 6p is much easier to hold than the Nexus 6 which is just a bit too wide.
Youíd get a top-notch 5.7Ē 2560x1440 AMOLED display. Itís an excellent display. Color looks good and viewing angles are excellent. You also get inky blacks.
The only problem is that it turns blue when you view it off-angle though the problem isnít as pronounced as it is on the Note 5/GS6 Edge+
Itís very sharp and the super high resolution means the pentile pattern isnít noticeable when youíre viewing solid colors.
If I were to describe Googleís Nexus line up one of the first thing that comes to mind are Ďlousyí cameras. Either they came with cameras that were worse than competitors and or came with horrible camera software.
Anyways, the 6p fixes both these problems.
Google has revamped the camera software on the 6p. Itís much better than the one you get on the 6 (even after you upgrade it to Marshmallow).
Itís focuses quickly with excellent shot-to-shot speeds.
Image quality has to be seen to be believed. Colour and white balance are accurate. Noise is really well controlled. It either has the best camera sensor when it comes to low light or it has the best and smartest noise reduction software.
I love how you can quickly start the camera by double tapping the power button. I wonder if Google ďborrowedĒ this idea from the Samsung GS6 (double tap the home button) and I hope that Apple ďborrowsĒ this idea ASAP.
More importantly, itís a good camera in the real world when youíre doing stuff like chasing your kids around. You whip it out, double tap the power button, snap and youíre done.
Alas, while the 6p has a top-notch sensor, it lacks optical image stabilization which is a bit puzzling since its last 2 predecessors along with many competitors have this feature.
Still the Nexus 6p is able to take great pics indoors despite the lack of stabilization. However, I canít say the same thing about video.
While video in general looks pretty good, the lack of OIS means it has to rely heavily on digital stabilization which isnít the same thing. Video can get a little blurry as the 6p tries to compensate for shake. Things get especially shaky if youíre walking around.
The weirdest thing about the 6pís video is that it doesnít capture any detail in dark areas..
Included is Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If youíre into Android and software updates then Googleís Nexus phones are the ones to get. The 6pís great, great grandfather, the Nexus 4 received updates from Google for closet to 3 years.
More importantly, Nexus devices are usually the first to receive updates. You donít usually need to wait for your device manufacturer to wait while they re-skin Android and give you your update a week before the next one comes out.
To me, the most noticeable upgrade to 6.0 is built-in fingerprint reader support. Iíve been using readers since the iPhone 5s and once youíve used one itís hard to go back to pin codes, passwords and unlocking patterns. I used to use pin codes religiously but now I find them a nuisance and canít be bothered.
A small change I noticed is that the 6p will tell you how fast it's charging (regular or fast charging) along with time remaining to full charge. Itís nice to know how fast itís going when youíre using a new charger youíre not familiar with.
By default, the 6p will only charge when you connect it to a computer. So if you want to transfer files youíll need to go in and change it to MTP mode manually.
There is finally a built-in file manager which is hidden in the storage & USB option in settings. Youíll have to scroll down to find it.
Some other changes which I had to look up include improved power management when youíre not using the phone.
The 6p runs Qualcommís Snapdragon 810 SoC. Earlier this year it gained a bad rep for running too hot in the HTC One M9. Indeed while it should be a jump from last yearís 805 and 801 SoC, in the M9 it wasnít much faster due to throttling. It could run faster in short spurts but then it would get too hot so it would have to slow itself down to give itself a chance to cool off.
Anyways, the 6p does get warm but it never gets hot. More importantly, compared to the M9, the 6p scores better and is better able to sustain its performance even after repeated benchmarking. Is it because the 810 in the 6p is made with a more mature process so it doesnít heat up as much? Or is it just because the M9 is smaller (smaller phones heat up faster).
In absolute terms, while itís faster than the One M9, it's still a step behind the SoC in the Samsung GS6/GS6 Edge/GS6 Edge+/Note 5.
However PC Mark shows that the 6 is actually faster.
Anyways, while the benchmarks are iffy, I find that the Nexus 6p is consistently half a step quicker than the Nexus 6.
Games usually launch about 10% faster on the 6p plus it usually finishes drawing webpages first.
The important thing to take away is that the 810 is able to handle the 6pís QuadHD display and still give you flagship performance.
As a Phone:
Maximum earpiece volume is average, as is the speakerphone. Incoming audio is very clean without sounding unnatural.
RF performance is average.
You get a large 3450mAh battery. Starting with this review Iím starting to test out battery life.
Iím big on real world testing. As such, Iím setting each device to 50% brightness with auto-brightness turned on - just like they are when first turn them on. Next I run the Netflix app and play something (Daredevil) while the device is connected to my 5GB 802.11AC network. I put each device in the corner of one of the desks in my office (itís relatively bright in here) and leave some space around it. I also left an active SIM in each device.
I let Netflix play for an hour and then record how much the battery has drained. Next I extrapolated the drain into how long it would take to drain the battery from 100% down to 0 for easier readability.
The test is real enough that Iím satisfied.
The 6p lost about 12% during the hour while last yearís 6 lost 18%. In case youíre wondering, both are running Android 6.0 (marshmallow) and are running the latest version of Netflix available from Google Play at the time of this writing.
Not a bad showing. In future reviews Iíll have other phones to compare with. Iím also thinking of choosing a different show as the first episode of Daredevil is pretty dark (brightness wise) which may unfairly favor AMOLED displays which consume less power when the screen is dark.
The top and bottom speakers provide front-facing stereo. They really come into their own when youíre watching movies or listening to music in landscape mode. Itís wide enough to provide noticeable channel separation when youíre holding it close by in landscape mode.
Theyíre very powerful and have excellent sound quality.
Itís so powerful that the 6p actually shakes!
I donít know this for a fact but my ears tell me there is some strong processing to provide some simulated surround sound. I donít normally dig this sort of thing but on a pair of front facing speakers itís actually a good thing.
The speakers get lost in the specs but I think theyíre actually one of the 6pís best points.
I guess itís a given that each version of Nexus gets better than the last but in the case of the 6p itís a much bigger leap over its predecessor than its previous versions have been.
On paper itís not all that different but the 6p really improves on the previous one in almost all areas.
The screen resolution is unchanged but it looks better. The speakers are improved, the battery is bigger and you can get it with more storage.
However the biggest upgrade is the camera. Previous Nexus phones have never had great cameras plus they were usually crippled with Googleís awful camera software. The 6pís camera is such a leap forward it makes me completely re-think my opinions of Nexus phones.
Really, aside from the inconveniently placed fingerprint reader, missing optical image stabilization and the lack of removable storage/battery the 6p doesnít have any major weaknesses. If youíre looking for an Android phone then the 6p is a must buy. The "P" could stand for perfection.
4.5 Howies out of 5.
- Slick metal body
- Incredible speakers
- Still photos are amazing
- Not as wide as the 6
- Fingerprint reader
- Back has a severe appearance deficit
- No optical image stabilization results in shaky recordings
- No details in dark areas of recordings
- Location of fingerprint reader