Video review: Google's Nexus 6P sets new low price for top-tier Android 6.0 smartphones

Google's new Android 6.0-powered Nexus 6P, built from top-tier components and materials, impresses at a $500 price.

Google Nexus 6P review Android 6.0
Credit: Google

Like an ancient fable that conveys a gem of truth, each fall Google's Nexus introductions illustrate the company's direction with Android hardware. Similarly, at its developer conferences this summer, Google illustrated Android's software direction. The Nexus 6P was purpose-built to demonstrate smartphone hardware that showcased the best of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

What gem of Android truth can be learned from the Nexus 6P introduction?

  1. Consumers should be able to buy first-tier flagship smartphones with the best materials and components for $500.
  2. First-tier and mid-priced Android smartphones can produce great photography with sophisticated cameras that were once limited to the most expensive iPhone and Android phones.

Here is a hands-on video review that will introduce the Nexus 6P hardware, co-designed with Huawei.

The rear view of the Nexus 6P reveals two new features: a new camera and a fingerprint reader. The very thin Nexus 6P, which equals the sleekness of the iPhone 6s and widens at the top to accommodate new camera sensors and lenses. The lightning-fast fingerprint reader located on the back of the Nexus 6P is accurate. During a week of testing, the Nexus 6P rejected a fingerprint unlock only once on the first try, and never on the second.

Examining the exterior reveals a symmetrical data and power USB Type-C port. Because Type C connectors produce less impedance, the new connector enables the Nexus 6P to draw more power and charge faster, delivering 80% of a full charge in just 20 minutes. In the near term, Nexus 6P owners won't be able to borrow a cable from a friend or coworker. An affordable solution can be found on Amazon, where Type-C cables are priced modestly.

The Nexus 6P helps users avoid the angst of a run-down battery with more than Type-C USB. A non-removable 3450mAh battery powers the Nexus 6P through more than a day. Doze Mode, an Android Marshamllow feature, applies machine learning to motion detection and time-of-day app usage to predict the best times to put the Nexus 6P into sleep mode to save power. Doze Mode regulates battery-draining apps from accessing services like LTE and GPS. The payoff is two to three times the battery standby time.

Big phones and phablets are great for reading but hard to handle with just one hand. The 5.7-inch screen size makes the Nexus 6P narrower than its Nexus 6 predecessor, and at just three inches it makes it easier to manage with one hand. With a uni-body construction milled from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, the phone has a solid and expensive feel.

From the front, the Nexus 6P has a bright and crisp 1440x2560-pixel, 518 ppi AMOLED screen that tops the iPhone 6s's 326 ppi screen and iPhone 6s Plus's 401 ppi screen. Stereo speakers, located on the top and bottom, deliver good-quality sound for video or music sharing; a high-end headset delivers better immersive sound, though. There are two microphones on the front, with a matched microphone on the rear for noise cancellation. A front-facing, 8-megapixel with 1.4 μm pixel selfie cam will take HD video at 30fps. Unlike the iPhone 6s line, the Nexus 6P doesn't have front-facing flash. Making a return that will delight long-term Android users is an unobtrusive notification light that gently notifies the user of a messaging event.

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit Octa-core processor, clocked at 2.0 GHz with an Adreno 430 GPU, the Nexus 6P boasts high performance and power efficiency. A roomy 3 GB of LPDDR4 RAM speeds performance. Storage options are 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. 

The integrated Snapdragon processor includes a modem that supports LTE CAT 6 with speeds up to 300 Mbps downstream and 50 Mbps upstream. The Snapdragon could support even faster CAT 9, but it's not implemented perhaps because users couldn't afford a data plan with 450 Mbps downstream and 75 Mbps upstream speeds. Neither CAT 6 nor CAT 9 is widely implemented by carriers, but CAT 6 performance provides a lot of headroom to future-proof the phone's network performance.

The Snapdragon chip's 802.11ac Wi-Fi support can boost applications, like fast, low-latency streaming. The dual-band 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz reduce network contention in noisy urban environments that have many routers and devices. 802.11ac supports speeds up to 500 Mbps that will be useful to consumers much sooner than the LTE CAT 6 as more apps implement HD and 4K HD.

Those looking for a powerful flagship smartphone with a great camera built with the top components and materials will want a Nexus 6P. Smartphones with high-quality cameras with near-SLR quality have been built before, but not at the Nexus 6P's $500 entry price. Nexus phones are a good choice because this category of Android phones get regular software updates directly from Google.

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