Huawei Google Nexus 6P long-term review: With Android 7.0 Nougat just around the corner and new Nexus hardware from HTC rumoured to be launching alongside it we thought we’d reassess how the current top dog, the Nexus 6P operates nine months on from our original review.
The 6P launched alongside the LG-made Nexus 5X to herald the arrival of Android 6.0 Marshmallow and was also the first offering in the Nexus program made by Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Huawei.
It broke the established mould of the Nexus program with top-tier specs and premium design work with a notably higher cost relative to the price/performance balance of previous Nexus devices but also received favourable reviews across the board (including ours). So has it become a distinguished blue or more of a mouldy cheddar nine months on?
Huawei made a statement with the 6P, showing that the company could pull off premium whilst also creating a distinctive design that felt wholly Nexus. The decision to grace the phone with a finely milled and chamfered aluminium body has stood it in good stead as our device has been caseless and yet doesn’t appear to have a scratch on it.
The most polarising element of the phone’s design has to be the black glass camera surround along the phone’s back edge, which some users have reported is prone to cracking, but ours, still looks flawless despite being slid across and dropped onto, table tops time and again.
The knurled, textured hardware controls still retain plenty of feedback, the fingerprint sensor was never the fastest around, but still feels responsive, and the Type-C USB connection on the bottom, which was something of a rarity when the 6P launched, is now way more prevalent as is the accessory market and general support surrounding it.
Screen and multimedia
There’s no getting away from the fact that the 6P’s screen is massive. Our love for phablets appears to have peaked back in 2014, with most flagships now topping out at between 5 and 5.5-inches. However, for media junkies (and perhaps Pokémon GO players) the 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display on the 6P is still an excellent offering.
The likes of Samsung and LG have arguably released phones with better overall displays since the 6P launched last year, but it’s still a visual delight, with vibrant colours respectable viewing angles, good overall brightness, and only a little colour distortion. The fact that it’s one of only a handful of phones with dual front-facing speakers also adds to its appeal for those looking to enjoy crisp video or high-end games.
A benefit of owning one of the newest Nexus devices around is that it grants you access to the latest and greatest Android experiences when they launch, and if you want, ahead of launch.
Unsurprisingly, jumping to a beta build of Android does leave you open to glitches, crashes and bugs, but our 6P has proved exceptionally reliable, and now that it’s just been upgraded to the fifth and final developer preview of Android 7.0, it’s brimming with new features that have kept the experience fresh over the last few months.
One-handed mode is still a notable absentee on this particular phablet, but with Nougat’s new native split-screen multitasking, you can make better use of that expansive screen real estate by running two applications, one on top of the other.
The 6P now displays rich notifications in greyscale on the screen without having to wake the phone and the notifications drawer is now more streamlined and customisable than ever before too.
Huawei and Google didn’t just ensure that the 6P was a looker, it was, and still is a powerful phone too. The Snapdragon 810 is comparatively long in the tooth on paper, with Qualcomm’s new flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 820 already appearing in some of the latest handsets, but backed up by 3GB of DDR4 RAM and powering stock Android, the 6P still feels wholly competent.
We said that it was well equipped at launch to ensure fast, fluid performance for the full term of your 18 or 24-month contract and nine months in we haven’t noticed any major dip in usability. The reliable 3450mAh battery is still consistently offering up to a day and a half of use per charge and once we really stress test the improved Doze feature in Android 7.0, we’re sure it has the potential to last even longer.
With snaps and videos backing up to Google Photos and Spotify, Napster or Google Play Music on-hand to stream your favourite tunes, it’s only really high-end games or HD video files that’ll eat up your local storage, something we haven’t come close to filling, with most content getting offloaded to the cloud to counter the phone’s non-expandability.
Little’s changed concerning our feelings towards the 6P’s camera setup. The 12.3-megapixel primary camera and 8-megapixel front-facer are great all-round snappers, with a nice feature set dressed up in the clean interface of Google’s stock camera app.
There are obvious omissions that mean they lag behind the current competition, like a complete lack of OIS or any fun/creative capture tools, such as gesture-based shutter control or a beauty mode, but they get the job done most of the time and still produce clear, clean accurate shots in most shooting scenarios.
Nine months in and the Huawei-made Google Nexus 6P has only grown to become a more personal device, capable of flexing its multimedia muscles and keeping things fresh with the new functionality afforded to us by early access to Android 7.0 Nougat.
The benefits of owning a Nexus phone couldn’t be made any more apparent than with the 6P, which still packs plenty of brains, beauty, and brawn to be considered a great high-end smartphone, even if certain elements, like its cameras, have started to fall behind the top-tier competition.