2015 saw Google announcing not 1, but 2 new Nexus smartphones, the LG made Nexus 5X and the Huawei made Nexus 6P.
Huawei is the first Chinese company to produce a Nexus smartphone for Google and many wondered whether Huawei would be able to live up to the hype.
Huawei not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded it.
Featuring a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, the Nexus 6P is the larger of the 2 current Nexus smartphones.
It is also the first metal Nexus smartphone and boy does it look good.
You’ve most likely seen the pictures of the most striking feature of the Nexus 6P, the black band that stretches across the top rear of the device, housing the camera sensor and flash. In pictures it looks rather unflattering, some have even called it ugly, the pictures however do not do it justice. When seeing the device in person for the first time, the black band does not look as prominent as one would assume, in fact, it adds to the design character of the 6P actually helps you differentiate between the top and the bottom of the device just by touch.
Below the camera is the circular fingerprint scanner known as Nexus Imprint.
Huawei has been known to make one of the best, if not the best, fingerprint scanner on any Android smartphone and they’ve carried on this tradition with the 6P.
Setting up Nexus Imprint is pretty easy and straightforward, once you’ve set up a backup pin, all you need to do is hold down your finger until you feel a vibration, then you lift up your finger and lay it down on the scanner again – at a different angle this time. Continue doing so until the entire surface of your finger is scanned (the phone will tell you when it’s done).
Nexus Imprint not only adds an additional layer of security to your phone, it also allows you to use Android Pay at participating retailers in select countries (South Africa is not one of those countries at this stage).
Other than Nexus Imprint, the 6P comes bundled with stock android, in this case, Android Marshmallow. Unlike Android devices made by other companies, a Nexus device has no tweaked version of the Android OS on the device (namely Samsung with Touchwiz, Huawei with EMUI etc).
This means that you’re getting the very best of the Android operating system on your device. It also means that when software updates are rolled out you won’t have to wait months to get it.
The Nexus 6P is an impressive piece of hardware; in fact many reviews have rated the 6P as the best Nexus ever made and the Android phone of 2015.
While it is impressive, with its dual front facing speakers (which provide amazingly good sound for a smartphone), metal body, USB type C charging port (which can be a pain if you don’t have your USB-C cable with you and you need to charge your phone because your friend’s micro-USB cable is not going to fit your phone), it does have a few letdowns.
Nexus smartphones have notoriously disappointing cameras and while the 6P has vastly improved the camera, it’s not in the same league as the Galaxy S6, the LG G4 or even Huawei’s own Mate 8.
It’s a good everyday, on the go mobile snapper, but when compared to the best smartphone cameras of 2015, it doesn’t quite hold its own.
The 6P does not have a removable battery nor does it have expandable storage, so make sure that you have a great internet connection because you’re going to need to ensure that all of your content is backed up to your Google Drive.
Aside from those drawbacks, the Nexus 6P is a great device which showcases the best of Android M.
Google Now on Tap, one of the most talked about features of Android M, provides contextual information based on the screen you’re on by simply long pressing the home icon on your 6P. Google scans the page you have open and then brings up mini cards with more information about the topics on the page.
It’s a new feature that unfortunately doesn’t always work as well as it should, but I’m hoping that it’s a feature that Google will continue to work on and improve and not abandon further down the road.
Doze, is Google’s new battery saving software. While your phone is on but not being used, Google powers down all non-essential functions of your device, which then reduces battery drain. It works so well that when I left my phone on overnight, I woke up in the morning to see that my battery percentage had dropped by only 2 percent! And this was with an active internet connection.
Android sensor hub, is one of my favorite features. By simply nudging your phone, you can see notifications on your lock screen. This doesn’t sound like it’s new but the Android sensor hub displays these notifications without technically waking up your phone. Your notifications are displayed in black and white on the lock screen, which reduces the amount of energy needed to display them.
Nexus devices are more about the software than the hardware, they’re designed to showcase the full power of Android and in that regard the 6P does an outstanding job.
As we near MWC 2016, we’ll see smartphones with bigger batteries, better cameras and overall better hardware, but where the 6P will continue to dominate is the software and overall Android experience.
The Nexus 6P is available in white, black, silver and a new matte gold color (announced at CES 2016).
The Nexus 6P is currently available in South Africa through Orange (store.orange.com) or Cellucity.