The launch of the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X in Australia is imminent, we’ve been lucky enough to get hands-on with both phones, with Google supplying review units. We’ve spent three days with them now and though we’re not quite ready to unveil our reviews, we’ve got some first impressions.
Be sure to read the Nexus 5X first impressions as well.
Hardware and design
The Hauwei built Nexus 6P is a first for Google with the Chinese company backing up years of building their knowledge of building aluminium unibody handsets to the point where we have the Nexus 6P.
The aluminium body is solid, well built and feels comfortable in the hand. The rear has a slight texture to it and it feels a lot better in the hand than last years ‘plastic fantastic’ Nexus 6. The phone has a slight curve on the back as it approaches the sides and those sides are now squared off making it easier to hold. It’s a little more unweildy than other phones with smaller screens, but if you’re (like millions of other people) into that, then you’ll be good to go.
The much maligned ‘Bump’ or ‘visor’ as Google is calling it, which we all saw in the leaked pictures is nowhere near as bad as it looked in those pics. In fact it actually looks pretty good and it means when lying flat on the desk there’s no rocking motion.
The front facing speakers are pretty decent, framing that QuadHD resolution AMOLED Display and my goodness, what a display. The colours are bright and vibrant and the blacks are as dark as night. There is one drawback on the screen, it isn’t the same ‘zero-gap’ display that I’ve been used to on previous Nexus displays like the LG Nexus 4/5, that said, I can live (and live well) with it.
The phone is so smoothly fast it’s not funny. There’s no lag, the scrolling is 1:1 with your finger motion, it’s down to the Snapdragon 810 (v2.1) and no, for the record it doesn’t get hot – even when I was installing apps when I booted it up for the first time it didn’t get hotter than any other phone I’ve used. The addition of 3GB of DDR4 RAM was a good decision because multi-tasking runs really nicely.
Ok, I`ll say it: I love it. It’s fast (that double tap power to launch is great), and the quality is great. In full sunlight the phone captures some stunning images.
There is one caveat to the fast camera: HDR+, it’s slow, really slow. If you want a good pic and have the time, turning on HDR+ is a must as the resulting pics are lovely, but if you need a quick capture (say your rambunctious 2-year old who’s running around at the park) turn it off and it’s still going to give a pretty damn good job.
The decision to leave Optical Image Stabilisation off was a pretty big one, but the electronic stabilisation and the larger pixel size seems to be doing a bang up job when it comes to low-light photography. We’ll be doing some comparisons to the Galaxy S6 camera in the review, but it seems to be pretty good.
There’s a couple of camera options included with the Nexus 6P that the Nexus 5X doesn’t get, which make me lean towards using it as my daily driver when my personal unit arrives. First and foremost: Quick Burst, it’s a cool feature that lets you hit up to 30 frames just by holding down the shutter button, and either choose the best shot or create an animated gif from it – it’s Awesome.
Secondly is the ultra slow motion video capture. While the Nexus 5X is limited to 120 fps, the Nexus 6P hits up 240 fps and in certain circumstances it’s a pretty good way to record something.
Holy hell this is fast. I’ve used the Huawei phones with fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy phones (both this years and last years Note 4 Edge) and the Oppo phones and seen the Xperia Z5 compact; They’re all good, but this is fast, really fast.
The positioning on the rear is such a good one that it’s surprising that every other manufacturer hasn’t adopted this. I’ve almost forgotten what a lock screen looks like. I pull the phone out of my pocket with my finger naturally sitting on the sensor. There is the downfall that if I`m sitting at my desk at work I’d have to pick it up to unlock it with the sensor, but luckily Google thought of that and there’s some options.
Firstly if you have Lollipop and above you can setup a range of Smart Lock functions: Bluetooth paired devices (like your Android Wear watch), or you can set it to unlock while you’re at work. It’s pretty simple really.
There’s one caveat to the fingerprint sensor, that not many services use it. LastPass is the notable exception and it’s fantastic, but I can’t wait for some of the other apps, or even websites I use to start using it so I can stop with the passwords. Hopefully app developers like Paypal, or even my bank start making use of the Android 6.0 fingerprint API that’s now available.
There’s always questions over the battery life on a phone, it’s definitely a personal thing as to how you use your phone and I use my phone a lot. Podcasts, Web surfing, GMail (3 accounts constantly syncing), Social Media, Instant Messaging and of course the occasional video.
Over three days, I’ve been seeing an average of about 12 hours of battery use – which includes 3 hours of screen on time.
The results I’ve been seeing have been while I’ve been galavanting around town, so the phone hasn’t had a chance to take advantage of Doze mode, which Google says could improve battery life by up to 30%, I look forward to seeing how it goes sitting on a desk for a while.
If your day is longer than 12 hours, then you can always get a quick top up using the Fast Charger that’s included in the box. The Nexus doesn’t support Qualcomm Quick Charge, but Fast Charge is essentially the same deal. The Charger supports 3.1A 15W and Google says just 10 minutes of charging gives you up to 4 hours – I’ve pretty much found that.
I`m going to continue using the phone as hard as I would any other over the next week or so and we’ll see how it goes.
Marshmallow is a big deal. It’s the second generation of the new visual design that Lollipop introduced and we’re now so familiar with Material Design that it’s now comfortable. What Google did with Marshmallow though is they smoothed out a lot of the bumps that people have been experiencing with Lollipop and even the 5.1 update that rolled out, Marshmallow is smooth and I’ve yet to encounter any bugs – a bonus for any brand new operating system.
Now On Tap is the headline feature for Android 6.0, to be honest I haven’t actually used it too much. I generally forget that it exists, but the couple of times I’ve purposefully gone to use it, it’s worked REALLY well. It’s been impressive. As a parent of a 4 year old, I don’t often make plans with my wife or friends over text, but you can bet your life I’m eager to try.
There’s one place I love what Google has done with Marshmallow, that’s the volume controls. When you hit volume down, there’s now a pop-up with a drop down menu that gives you access to volume sliders for Notifications, Media, and Alarms. If you keep pressing volume down you even get a completely silent option that’s only interrupted by alarms – Google, I love it.
Even notifications on Marshmallow are better. Peek is much better implementation of Heads Up Notifications that came in Lollipop. You can swipe them up without completely dismissing them, meaning you can still attend to an alert later rather than having to dismiss it, and possibly forgetting it later, rather than having to interrupt whatever you’re doing.
There’s still a lot of things I`m looking at on the phone, but quite frankly if you’ve pre-ordered a Nexus 6P you’re going to be happy. The phone is a large form factor device so you’re going to need to take that into account if you’re coming from a ‘smaller’ sized phone.
The battery is decent, we’ve finally got a good Nexus camera that you won’t be embarrassed to share pics from and the phone is fast – plus you’ll be able to order a Nexus phone with 128GB of storage