Nexus 6P review: This is the way Android phones should be

Look out Samsung and LG. The best premium Android phone on the market is Google's own.

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Credit: Adam Patrick Murray
At a Glance
  • Google Nexus 6P

    Greenbot Rating
    MSRP $500.00
    View
    on Amazon

    With its stellar camera performance and premium build, the Nexus 6P is the best device Google's ever commissioned.

I am in love with a Nexus phone.

This is not an exaggeration. I wasn’t crazy about the Nexus 6P when I first laid hands on it, but now I’m totally and completely enamored.

I didn’t think it was possible for Google to make a Nexus phone that could excite me. Frankly, I’ve never been that interested in Nexus devices because they were always missing some particularly important feature that Samsung, HTC, or LG did better—or they weren’t compatible with Verizon’s network.

Android has undergone serious evolution in the last year. It’s no longer quite the open-source minefield it used to be. Google’s worked hard to ensure there’s a somewhat consistent experience across devices, and those who don’t abide have started to feel the wrath of the community. We’re seeing drastic changes on the horizon, including the fact that Google now has its very own, bona-fide flagship device that can compete with the hottest phones from other manufacturers.

The best-looking Nexus ever

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If it’s a premium Nexus devices you’re looking for, this is it. 

The “P” in Nexus 6P stands for “premium,” which perfectly sums up the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. Its aluminum frame looks fancy, but not flashy, like a well-groomed George Clooney in a sportcoat. I also like that it’s something you can wield as a woman and still feel stylish. I maintain that Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge is a more attractive phone overall, but I’m pleased the bar has been raised. Cheap, plastic phones are no longer allowed, especially if you’re charging $500 for it.

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The Nexus 6P isn’t too big, despite its 5.7-inch screen size. 

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It’s pretty thin, too, though at the expense of no wireless charging. Google said it left out that feature to keep the phone slim.

There are lots of little things to love about the Nexus 6P. There are small, thin plastic antenna strips in either corner of the device, and a tiny LED notification light in the upper left-hand corner. There are stereo speakers that are loud and well amplified, and music sounds so good piped through them. There’s also a Nano SIM slot on the left-hand side of the chassis, and a volume rocker and power button on the right that’s placed low enough so you don't have to stretch to press them.

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The fingerprint reader on the Nexus 6P uses Nexus Imprint, which is Marshmallow’s fingerprint API.

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The fingerprint reader is super-fast and easy to use. 

The fingerprint reader on the back of the Nexus 6P is incredibly responsive. After logging in my fingerprint, it took a mere second to unlock the phone and shoot straight to the Home screen with the touch of my index finger. Not everyone’s a fan of the fingerprint reader's rear location, but it feels more natural to use than if it were placed on the front of the device, like on the Galaxy S6. That will create some issues for those who like to use their phone while it’s laying on the table, however. You’ll have to turn the phone on from the power button on the side and then input your passcode or pattern unlock to get past the Lock screen.

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The Nexus 6P is phablet sized, though not overwhelmingly so like last year’s Nexus 6.

There’s also the matter of size. The Nexus 6P isn’t exactly compact. It’s a 5.7-inch device, which puts it into “phablet” territory. It’s not as overwhelming to carry as last year’s Nexus 6, but it’s still pretty big. It doesn’t fit in most of my jacket pockets (women’s clothing manufacturers don’t give us pants pockets anymore) and it’s a bit dense. These weren’t issues for me, however, as I found the Nexus 6P to be comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. If it’s a smaller phone you’re after, that’s what the Nexus 5X is for.

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That backside bulge on the Nexus 6P ain’t no thang.

As I mentioned in my hands-on, the backside bulge on the Nexus 6P is not as much of an issue as the mockups and leaked images had previously made it out to be. That little strip that houses the camera hardware makes the backside look more like a thin point-and-shoot than a smartphone. Users do care what the backside looks like because that’s what everyone else will see when they look at your hands, and this backside looks just as polished as any other flagship's.

A Samsung-made display

The screen on the Nexus 6P is a 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440 AMOLED display, which the Nexus team has already confirmed is a Samsung display panel—the same one used in its marquee phones this year.

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The Nexus 6P alongside the Galaxy Note 5.

This is simply the best display I’ve ever seen on a Nexus device. It is just as bright and beautiful as the Galaxy Note 5’s, along with the same sort-of saturated color profiles and ability to go totally dim in the dead of night. You can also see the Nexus 6P’s display out in broad daylight with the brightness turned all the way up, but make sure to do that before you leave the house.

But is it fast? Keep reading for full performance benchmarks.

At a Glance
  • Greenbot Rating
    MSRP $500.00
    View
    on Amazon

    With its stellar camera performance and premium build, the Nexus 6P is the best device Google's ever commissioned.

    Pros

    • Best low-light performance of any Nexus camera
    • Bright, beautiful AMOLED display you can see outside and at night without hurting your eyes

    Cons

    • No OIS for the rear-facing camera
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