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Hands on: Nexus 6P

Google released the Nexus 6 in 2014, it split public opinion; although the Motorola-designed handset was fast and good-looking, its sheer size put a size-able proportion of potential customers off. The search giant took note scaled things back and, late in 2015, gave us the Nexus 6P.

The result is a Nexus flagship far more worthy of the name. It’s lighter and slimmer than the outgoing model, and this is thanks in the main to its smaller, more manageable 5.7in display.

Google’s flagship smartphone is no longer as much of an outlier as it once was, and it can once again be considered alongside the biggest names in the smartphone business.

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Along with the change in tack, size wise, comes a change in manufacturer, with Motorola making way for Chinese technology giant Huawei. Huawei has gone from strength to strength in recent times in terms of its design prowess, culminating in the excellent Huawei Watch and a clutch of excellent smartphones. That experience is immediately evident in the design of the Nexus 6P.

I love how the Nexus 6P looks. The Nexus 6P has had an all-metal chassis and it’s a truly handsome piece of hardware. The exposed chamfered edges catch the light attractively, and the flattened, yet softly curved rear, doesn’t rock annoyingly when you lay it flat on a table. The black strip at the rear of the phone looks nice in the metal, adding an element of originality and character that’s so sorely lacking in many other smartphones.

More importantly, perhaps, it feels less clumsy in the hand and far less bulky in the pocket than the monstrous Nexus 6. It turns out that shaving 4.2mm off the width, 2.8mm from the thickness and 6g from the weight makes a huge difference to the overall feel. Don’t get it twisted, it’s still a big phone, but in a world increasingly more accepting of large-screened smartphones, it strikes a fine compromise.

The screen has Gorilla Glass 4 to protect it from the twin scourges of keys in pockets and you butter-fingered that drop gadgets. The two front-facing speakers deliver audio without getting muffled by your hands gripping the sides, and on the bottom edge you’ll find one of the new USB Type-C ports. Type-C ports are going to become increasingly common and we see them as being standard across all smartphones in the future. And there are very good reasons for that. Type-C ports are far more robust than their Micro-USB equivalents, and since the connection is reversible, the days of fumbling around trying to find the right way to plug in your charging cable without breaking the port or the cable will be a thing of the past.

3USB Type-C is also more capable from a technical standpoint: it can carry data at a faster rate and much more power, promising faster charging, potentially. Courtesy of the magic of USB Type-C, it’s even possible to reverse the power flow and use your phone to charge other devices.

 

For now, though, you’ll be cursing Google’s choice every time you’re caught out without the right cable. I’m also baffled by the decision to only include a stubby USB-A to Type-C acheter sildenafil 100mg neuraxpharm converter cable in the box, alongside a longer Type-C to Type-C cable. With so few Type-C-equipped laptops around right now, surely it would have been better to supply a USB Type-C to USB A cable instead?

Still, that’s probably only one of two missteps Huawei has made with the Nexus 6P, because the rest of it is fabulous. The screen, for starters, is great. It’s of the AMOLED type, meaning contrast is excellent and the colours are fabulously vibrant. What’s great here, though, is how balanced the colours look. AMOLED displays have a tendency to look oversaturated – much more so than IPS screens, the likes of which you’ll find on Apple’s iPhone 6s. Not so with the Nexus 6P.

5The screen has a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 that delivers a super-high pixel density of 518ppi, and is a match for every big-screen smartphone on the market currently when it comes to pixel count. The only phone better than it is the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. Inside, the 6P has a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa-core processor, 3GB RAM and a big 3,450mAh battery to keep the show on the road. It’s fully stacked, in other words, and there’s very little you’ll be able to throw at it that will slow it down. It’s responsive and smooth, and doesn’t even get particularly hot when you throw a heavy workload at it.

In the benchmarks, the Snapdragon processor delivered the sort of results that I expected – a touch behind the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, and ahead of the Nexus 5X. What I wasn’t counting on was such excellent battery life. I’d rank the Nexus 6P among the best smartphones I’ve used in a while when it comes to moderate to heavy use, and that’s doubly impressive given how powerful the thing is. Although not quite as rapid as the Nexus 5X, the 6P was able to completely charge from 0% in around an hour and a half using the charger supplied in the box.

The only negative, in terms of the core specifications, is that the 6P has no microSD expansion slot, so make sure you choose wisely from the 32GB, 64GB and 128GB on offer when you buy, because there will no going back once you’ve taken the plunge.

The good news continues with the 6P’s camera, you get a resolution of 12.3-megapixels, laser autofocus, an aperture of f/2 and large light-gathering 1.55μm pixels. There’s no optical image stabilisation, but video can be recorded at resolutions of up to 4K and 30fps. It’s simply fantastic, capable of producing stunning results in good light as well as bad, and it’s one of those cameras. I took some snaps with it during a recent trip to

Naples as you will see below.

The only criticism I have surround the lack of optical image stabilisation, so recorded videos can look shaky if you’re not careful to hold the phone still, and that the camera software itself is rather basic, offering little to no control over advanced parameters such as ISO sensitivity and shutter speed. On the plus side the front-facing camera is a step up with an impressive 8 megapixels in resolution. If Huawei had managed to widen the angle of the lens, it would be the perfect selfie camera. As it is, it can be a bit of a struggle snapping group shots.

With a price tag starting at £449 for the 32GB model (up to £579 for the 128GB version), it is hard to argue with the package that Google and Huawei have put together here. The Nexus 6P is a stylish, speedy phone with a pair of superb cameras, great software, impressive battery life and a big, sharp, colourful display. Its closest rival is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, and although it isn’t as good looking as that handset, in every other respect, it matches it pound-for-pound. Plus it costs around £100 less.

In short, the Nexus 6P delivers more bang per buck than any other smartphone currently on the market and I like it. If you’re looking for a handset with a big screen, at a price that won’t make a huge hole in your bank balance, this is the way to go.

Reviewed by

Michael Sikala

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