Nexus 6P Review: Google’s Best Android Hardware and Software, Together

2014 and 2015 have been tough years for Samsung (SSNLF), which has seen its lead in smartphone sales eroding, taking profits with them. The new Nexus 6P is going to give the company nightmares.

Nexus 6P review

The reality is, the Nexus 6P from Alphabet’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Google division — and built by China’s Huawei, now the world’s third largest smartphone vendor — is going to be giving a lot of Android smartphone manufacturers a headache.

It may even pull off what has seemed to be the impossible task of putting a dent in Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone sales.

The Nexus 6P is that good. And to make things even more interesting for Apple, Samsung and everyone else who prices their flagship phablets at a premium (usually in the $749 range), the Google Nexus 6P starts at $499.

Want to learn more about what will undoubtedly be one of the hottest smartphones of the year? Read our Nexus 6P review for all the details.

Nexus 6P Review: Huawei Nails the Hardware

First impressions mean a lot to smartphone shoppers, and Google seems to get that. Its Nexus 6P hardware partner, Huawei, has produced a smartphone that is a visual knockout.

Nexus 6P review, Huawei design

Like Apple, Google went with anodized aluminum for the body. Fit and finish is impeccable, and despite the fact that the Nexus 6P has a larger display than the iPhone 6S Plus (5.7-inches versus 5.5-inches), the two are virtually identical in size, including the same 0.29-inch thickness.

Dual-front-facing speakers accompany that AMOLED cinematic display, making the Google Nexus 6P something you might actually enjoy watching a streaming movie on.

The latest Qualcomm (QCOM) flagship CPU — the octa-core Snapdragon 810 — along with 3GB of RAM ensures everything hums, including demanding applications like mobile gaming.

The fingerprint sensor is even faster than the Touch ID sensor on Apple’s latest iPhones. And speaking of the iPhone, while Apple still offers just 16GB of storage on the base model $749 iPhone 6S Plus, the entry level $499 Google Nexus 6P has a much more realistic 32GB.

Nexus 6P Review: Killer Camera, Android Marshmallow

One of the primary ways smartphone owners use their devices is to snap photos.

Nexus 6P is a premium smartphone

Manufacturers know that, and there’s been a race to provide the best smartphone for photography, something that Apple’s iPhones had become very well known for.

However, despite that fact that Apple significantly upgraded the image sensors in the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, the Google Nexus 6P has made bigger gains. In fact, during a DxOMark shootout between flagship smartphones, the Nexus 6P took third place — out of 36 entrants — well ahead of any iPhone, and a dramatic improvement over last year’s Nexus 6 (which placed 14th).

So, the Nexus 6P looks good, feels good, takes excellent photos, and it’s priced well below most of the competition.

Its other key advantage is that “Nexus” label, which means it gets the latest version of Android, with regular updates and no bloatware or skins installed over top. In this case, that means Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Google’s most popular apps (including Maps, Gmail, Chrome and YouTube) pre-installed.

Nexus 6P Review: Specs

  • 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display (518 pixels per inch) with Gorilla Glass 4
Google Nexus 6P specs

  • Qualcomm octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 810 CPU @ 2.0 GHz, 3GB RAM
  • 32GB, 64GB or 128GB storage
  • Primary camera 12.3 MP with 1.55 um pixels, f/2.0 aperture, IR laser-assisted autofocus and 4K video
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi with MIMO, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Dual front-facing speakers, 3 microphones with noise cancellation
  • 3450 mAh Battery with USB-C charger
  • Anodized aluminum with diamond-cut edges, available in Aluminum, Graphite or Frost
  • 6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29-inches, weighs 6.28 oz
  • Runs Android 6.0
  • MSRP starting at $499 (32 GB version)

Nexus 6P Review:  Conclusion

Wired offered probably the most succinct evaluation of any Nexus 6P review with this statement:

Nexus 6P review, conclusion

“There is absolutely no reason not to buy this phone. None. Zero. The Nexus 6P is the closest thing there’s ever been to a perfect Android device.”

Huawei has done a fantastic job with designing elegant, premium hardware, while Android Marshmallow — free from manufacturer skins and add-ons — provides the best Android experience possible.

Throw in a camera that blows away most of the competition, and the affordable $499 price tag, and it’s tough to say no to this smartphone.

Trying to lure iPhone buyers to Android is always a difficult proposition. Besting the iPhone at photos (one of its traditional strongpoints), offering design and build that feels every bit as premium as current iPhones, and banishing any Android bloatware helps. So does that price tag.

There’s still a feeling than iOS apps tend to be more polished than Android versions, and the iPhone is also perceived as more secure.

But, if any Android smartphone had a chance at winning over some converts from the iPhone camp, the Google Nexus 6P is it. Meanwhile, it could be a very long fall and winter for competitors such as Samsung, HTC and LG (LPL) who not only have the Nexus 6P to worry about, they’ve now seen what China’s Huawei is capable of building, and that’s not good news.

As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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