Google Nexus 6P review: Huawei's made a multimedia machine

Fantastic for all multimedia, though a bit too big for everyday phone calls

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Huawei Nexus 6P
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  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent 5.7-inch AMOLED display
  • Nexus imprint
  • Powerful innards
  • USB-C support
  • Front firing stereo speakers
  • Long lasting battery

Cons

  • Tall form factor
  • Camera struggles in high contrast situations
  • No expandable storage

Would you buy this?

The Nexus 6P is what happens when you cross a smartphone with a tablet. It is a large, well built ‘phablet’ born from a collaboration between Huawei and Google.

The two have pulled out all the stops to make it attractive. Aluminium accounts for most of its body, chamfered edges fire streaks of light and it is a slim 7mm. The efforts source appeal for a smartphone its size; it nudges 16 centimetres tall.

One reason why the Nexus 6P stands so tall is because of its 5.7-inch display. The other concerns its front-firing stereo speakers. Both are high performing and work well to create an immersive multimedia experience, but there’s a sense the 6P is more of a tablet than it should be.

The smartphone is best used in landscape orientation, when games are being played and movies are being watched. Ample bezel makes it possible for it to be held in its widescreen mode without accidentally touching the screen. The screen itself sits among the best in the market; a 1440p AMOLED display with a 518 pixel-per-inch density.

This year Google focussed on improving the cameras on its Nexus range. The Huawei Nexus 6P has a 12.3MP primary camera capable of recording 4K video. The camera performs well in low-light situations, thanks to large 1.55 micron pixels and an f/2.0 aperture. Photos taken during the daytime are equally impressive.

Notice how the detail in the background has been washed out
Notice how the detail in the background has been washed out
Taken with the primary camera of the Google Nexus 6P
Taken with the primary camera of the Google Nexus 6P

There are select scenarios that flummox the camera. The smartphone struggles to find a balanced level of contrast as detail in the background is either washed out or that of the foreground is blackened. Nor does the camera focus quickly in spite of it working with an IR laser. Getting the best results require a manual touch.

Several improvements have been introduced on the Nexus 6P, as well as its sibling, the LG Nexus 5X. An indentation on its back doubles as a finger scanner. “Nexus imprint’, as called by Google, registers fingers quickly, scans them accurately and continues to get better over time. Using the finger scanner not only protects the data on the smartphone, but it works so well that it will be the unlock method of choice.

The 6P is among the first smartphones to support USB-C, a reversible standard that facilitates faster data transfers and rapid smartphone charging. It’s also the first phablet to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and because no tweaks are made to the stock software, it’ll receive updates only days after Google pushes them out.

Inside is a second generation Snapdragon 810 chipset loaded with two quad-core CPUs, one operating at 2.0GHz and another at 1.5GHz. Shared with an Adreno 430 GPU and the processor is 3GB of RAM, while internal storage is limited to 32GB/64GB/128GB as the Nexus smartphone fails to support microSD cards.

This hardware cocktail is among the most powerful and proves ideal for all usage scenarios, including heavy gaming. Real Boxing, a game with a storage footprint of 361MB, played back smoothly with few frames being dropped, all the while music was being streamed over Spotify. In 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, a test measuring CPU and GPU performance, the Nexus 6P was awarded a score of 26,252, placing it just behind Apple’s iPhone 6s and Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact, but ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and the LG Nexus 5X.

Optus and Vodafone offer the Nexus 6P on postpaid contracts in Australia. The smartphone can theoretically support Cat6 download speeds of 300Mbps. Armed with an Optus SIM card in our North Sydney office, the Nexus 6P achieved a top download speed of 69.1Mbps and upload speeds of 8.3Mbps. Downloading a 1-gigabyte file at this speed would take 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Integrated into the aluminium body is a 3450 milliamp-hour battery. It is a large battery and it served the monolithic smartphone well. We used the Nexus 6P over a week. Even our shortest result on record outlasted a day at 28-and-a-half hours. Our longest result on record was 39 hours — both of which are excellent results.

Phablets the size of the Nexus 6P are designed for heavy multimedia users. The people who buy this smartphone will spend more time watching videos, playing games and surfing the web than they will be making phone calls. It has the screen and the speakers and the power to make all of these tasks immersive. This is not a smartphone for everyone, but for a few, it will be a phone they can relish.

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