One of the Best Smartphones of the Year

Having now used the Nexus 6P for quite some time, it’s easily become one of my favorite Android devices, and one of the best smartphones you can buy today.

The size of the Nexus 6P doesn’t lend itself to everyone, but if you’re after something with a large, beautiful AMOLED display, this phone is a great choice. The handset is constructed from premium materials on the front and back, with the metal shell in particular delivering an excellent look and feel. The slight camera hump adds a bit of interest to the back panel, and although it isn’t the most attractive element of the design, Huawei has made up for it through the rest of the sleek exterior.

Like the Nexus 5X, the 6P comes equipped with an extremely fast and accurate fingerprint sensor on the rear panel. Even though the 6P is a large device, the sensor is placed in the perfect location for regular use, and its speed makes it the easiest way to secure your device. The 6P also comes with a reversible USB-C port, and while there’s no microSD card slot, storage options up to 128 GB provide plenty of internal space.

The 5.7-inch 1440p AMOLED panel on the front of the Nexus 6P is very attractive, and comes with better calibration out-of-the-box than many other AMOLED devices, including Samsung’s Galaxy line. It’s not perfect, and the sRGB mode doesn’t do a great job of improving things, but the slight oversaturation you get from this display is well balanced by great color temperature, contrast, and viewing angles. If there was any major knock on this display, it would be brightness, with the panel falling below average in this regard.

Performance from the Snapdragon 810 SoC inside the Nexus 6P, paired with the aforementioned 1440p display, is generally pretty good. The device is slightly faster to use throughout apps and the OS than the Nexus 5X; a difference that is noticeable from time to time. Throttling is an issue, which is no surprise for a Snapdragon 810 handset, though not to the extent where it should make a significant difference through general app usage or in moderate-performance games.

The one aspect of the performance that does need addressing is NAND, where mandatory encryption causes read and write speed decreases compared to its rivals. This affects app loading and multi-tasking, and the difference is definitely noticeable when placed against the blistering iPhone 6s. I like the idea of NAND encryption, and I understand why Google has implemented it, but the performance hit at this stage in smartphone hardware isn’t great.

On a more positive note, the Nexus 6P’s camera is excellent, and should serve users well over the next couple of years. The combination of large pixels with a wide lens lends itself well to photography in most conditions, even without OIS helping out. The camera’s HDR+ mode is superb, and features like 4K video, 240fps slow motion, and a good selfie camera help improve the package. Unfortunately, the camera app itself isn’t excellent, and a lack of a manual mode is disappointing: this is definitely something Google should look at improving through a software update.

Speaking of software, the Nexus 6P easily beats its competitors through up-to-date software, fast updates, and a stock appearance. Android 6.0 is fluid to use and its design is more attractive than OEM skins, plus the latest crop of features such as Now on Tap and the new permission system improve the OS relative to previous versions. Simply put, if you want the best Android experience, get a Nexus device.

The Nexus 6P's battery life isn't particularly outstanding, falling in the middle of our performance charts. The large screen combined with a power hungry SoC seems to have negated most of the gains from the larger-than-average battery, though I don't think battery life should be an issue for most users.

The Nexus 6P is a premium handset, it will cost you at least $100 more than the Nexus 5X, however its combination of price and value makes it easy to recommend. The entry-level 32 GB model will set you back just $499, which is currently $130 less than the similar Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and over $300 cheaper than the iPhone 6s Plus. The Moto X Style, another recent 5.7-inch handset running stock Android, is $50 cheaper than the Nexus 6P, but I would recommend spending the extra cash to get the better device.

So if you’re after an Android device with all the latest hardware, a great camera, a large display, stock Android with fast updates, and a high-quality design, you shouldn’t look much further than the Nexus 6P. It’s one of the best smartphones of the year.

95
TechSpot
score

Pros: Beautiful metal design with a fast fingerprint scanner. Excellent camera hardware. Great display and system performance. Stock Android with guaranteed fast updates. Good value for money.

Cons: NAND performance is mediocre. The large size won’t suit everyone.