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Google Nexus 6P review: A clean premium Android device

The Google Nexus 6P is uncluttered, stylish and powerful.

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Quick Verdict
The Nexus 6P is most appealing if you’re a hardcore Android fan, simply because it’s running the latest version of Android and will do so for the expected life of the device. It’s also a solid option if you want a phone that skips the bloatware that infests so many other premium handsets.

Strengths

  • Solid performance
  • OS updates
  • Good battery life
  • Stylish design
  • Great fingerprint scanner
  • Good camera

Could be better

  • Vanilla Android is vanilla
  • USB-C charging is tricky
  • No expandable storage

In the Android space, Google’s Nexus phones have long had their particular niche carved out. They’re not the most expensive Android handsets you can buy, but they’re usually very good value for the asking price. The appeal of a pure Android device with no clutter and the latest version of Android delivered direct from Google itself is also a big plus.

Google doesn’t make its own hardware. Instead, it partners with various manufacturers to produce Nexus-branded devices. This year’s Nexus phones are the Nexus 5X, produced by LG, and the Nexus 6P, which is a Huawei device. The larger model's outright pricing runs at $899 (32GB), $999 (64GB) and $1,099 (128GB), with general availability in Australia on 3 November 2015.

Here are the basic specifications of the Nexus 6P:

Nexus 6P
Screen size5.7 inches
Storage32GB, 64GB or 128GB
Weight178g
ProcessorSnapdragon 810 64-bit
Rear camera12.3MP
Front camera8MP
Battery3450mAh
Resolution2560 x 1440
Display density518ppi

Upsides: Why you’d want the Nexus 6P

  • Solid performance. The Nexus 6P’s combination of a Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM gives it plenty of performance upside. To give that some practical numbers, using Geekbench 3’s tests, the Nexus 6P scored a very healthy 1251/4597 in the single-core and dual-core tests respectively. Here’s how that compares to a range of current handsets.
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single-Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi-Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
  • OS updates. Fragmentation of the Android operating system is a real pain, but Google’s Nexus handsets dodge that problem by being the first to receive system updates. The other positive aspect is that the Nexus runs on absolutely plain vanilla Android, which means there’s no vendor bloatware getting in the way of tinkerers. Even if you don’t want to change a thing, having the latest optimised Android experience means the device is fast and easy to use.The Nexus 6P has a premium aluminium finish.
  • Good battery life. Running a 5.7-inch display with 2560 x 1440 resolution can be quite power-sapping, but the Nexus 6P’s 3450mAh battery is a good performer. In ad-hoc testing, we were easily able to get a full day’s performance out of the Nexus 6P, and two days is entirely feasible with careful management.In more controlled testing, using Geekbench’s Battery Test routine with the screen dimmed, the Nexus 6P managed 6:39:20 before shutting down for an overall battery score of 3754. Here’s how that compares to other popular handsets put to the same test.
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754

    The Nexus 6P supports rapid charging through its USB-C charger. While that’s rapidly becoming a common feature for premium handsets, it’s still impressive to grab a couple of extra hours of useful battery life from only a few minutes of charging.

  • Stylish design. This is somewhat subjective, but what sets the Nexus 6P apart – especially from the Nexus 5X – is that where previous Nexus handsets tended to be styled in bland plastic, the aluminium body of the Nexus 6P gives it the premium look that you’d expect at this price point.
  • Great fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phone has its own little recessed groove, so it’s easy to find. Response is ridiculously fast for unlocking, as is enrolling new fingerprints. One word of caution: It’s entirely feasible, as we discovered in our testing, to inadvertently unlock the Nexus 6P by pulling it out of your pocket if your enrolled finger brushes over the sensor along the way.
  • Good camera. The cameras of previous Nexus devices have never been worth shouting about, but that has changed. The Nexus 6P shoots clear and sharp stills and videos, with fast unlocking direct to the camera via a double tap of the power button. DXO rated the Nexus 6P amongst the very best smartphone cameras available right now, and our own testing backs that up.

Downsides: Why you might not want the Nexus 6P

  • Vanilla Android is vanilla. Bloatware is annoying, but the flipside of no preinstalled apps is no freebies. Some comparable handsets, especially Samsung ones, often have free apps or service subscriptions bundled.
    The Nexus 6P fingerprint scanner is located on the rear of the phone, but it's easy to find with your finger, and fast to respond.

    The Nexus 6P's fingerprint scanner is located on the rear of the phone, but it's easy to find with your finger and fast to respond.

  • USB-C charging is tricky. It’s always tough being an early adopter. Just as early Lightning-equipped iPhone users struggled with chargers, the Nexus 6P’s use of USB-C as its charging port means that your existing USB chargers won’t work with the Nexus 6P unless you invest in a secondary USB-C to USB-A type cable.
  • No expandable storage. This is common across a lot of metal-body handsets this year, although HTC’s One M9 has shown that it’s possible to add microSD storage to this kind of design.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

The Nexus 6P is most appealing if you’re a hardcore Android fan, simply because it’s running the latest version of Android and will do so for the expected life of the device. It’s also a solid option if you want a phone that skips the bloatware that infests so many other premium handsets.

Nexus6P_Front

Android especially is awash with premium devices that compare well with the Nexus 6P, including Samsung’s range of larger-screened devices, such as the Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 Edge+, although they will typically cost you a little more than the Nexus 6P. LG’s G4 handset is priced at a similar level to that of the Nexus 6P, and it also has a great camera on board. On the wider smartphone front, there’s always Apple’s large-screened iPhone 6S Plus.

Where can I get it?

The Nexus 6P is no longer available on contract in Australia.

If you’re keen to see how the Nexus 6P stacks up against other handsets, use our comprehensive comparison tool, which can also tell you whether you'll be better off with a contract deal or an outright buy.

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