Google Nexus 6P Review
Interface and Functionality
There’s more to love with Android 6.0.
If you haven’t done so already, go and check out our full in-depth review about the sweetest and smartest Android version to date – Android 6.0 Marshmallow. You’ll be put up to speed regarding what’s new, different, and exciting about this latest release. In this review, however, we’ll focus on a few things that directly relate to the Nexus 6P’s experience, which is identical to its Nexus 5X sibling.
The Material Design vibe that debuted with Lollipop is here to stay, and it hasn't been changed a bit. This is not a bad thing or an issue in our book, mind you - we still think that this refreshing design language is one of the best things that could have happened to Android. This means that you still get a host of card-based UI elements, paired with colorful icons, and predominantly white menus.
One of the more notable additions to the OS is the revamped app drawer. Gone are the horizontally-scrollable cards that were present in Lollipop! Marshmallow comes with a stock launcher that displays the installed apps in a neat vertical window, which is not comprising separate cards (the same applies to the widgets pane as well). As usual, it sorts the apps in an alphabetical order, yet some of the apps you use the most will appear at the top of the drawer page, providing you with easy access. There's also a nifty search bar at the very top of the app drawer that allows you to manually search for an app.
Another area in which Android 6.0 Marshmallow has received a visual update of sorts is the lock screen. In Lollipop, you had a dialer and camera shortcuts, but the new variation of the OS has ditched the former for a Google Now voice search shortcut. That's pretty understandable considering that Marshmallow puts emphasis on the improved pro-active and contextually-aware Google Now. Still, we miss the dialer shortcut a bit.
This is not everything that's changed within Marshmallow, of course – we have a surplus of minor other changes that aim to make the user experience more coherent. Some of the more notable ones that we will highlight are the revamped Apps menu, a new Do Not Disturb toggle in the quick settings pane (which allows you to easily configure it straight from the notifications panel), as well as a revamped stock Phone app.
Taking a bite out of Motorola’s playbook, the Nexus 5X, along with Nexus 6 and 6P, provides us with useful information upon picking up the phone – or whenever notifications arrived. The time, date, and any relevant notifications are briefly displayed on the screen, offering us quick access to them without having the need to turn on the phone completely. Not only that, but it’s meant to reduce power consumption as well.
Now on Tap
The changes that Google Now has scored are rather significant. The star of the show is Now on Tap, a proactive and contextually-aware functionality for Google Now. You enable it by holding the home button of your device and once you do so, the feature will "scan" the screen for places, people, movies, song names, others, and provide you with relevant actions. Sounds a bit dull on paper, but it's actually pretty exciting in real life, we promise!
Quick camera access
Indeed, the camera can be accessed through the lock screen, but now there’s an even faster way of launching it. From a standby state (with the screen off), we can simply double press on the power button to launch the camera – ensuring that we’re never too late to capture a moment. While this isn’t a particularly new feature, as many other phones offer something similar, we’re nevertheless grateful to have it on board.
A case for stock Android
Universally acclaimed, there are several reasons why so many enthusiasts prefer stock Android over the handful of custom experiences out there. It’s simple, direct, and offers the latest and greatest core features of the platform – like having support for multiple users, screen pinning, always-on Google Now activation, and much more. And it’s not preloaded with the unbearable set of bloatware that generally accompanies some customized experiences, compounded by carrier models with even more junk added on.
We certainly can see the attraction of stock Android, giving us the control of how we want to use the phone. Redundancy can mitigate an experience’s worth to a user, which is a problem with some of these custom Android skins that throw nearly everything but the kitchen sink at us. Hence why stock Android is so direct, and purposeful with its content. What’s really great about this Nexus phone is that, just like its Nexus brethren, it’s going to get those wonderful and important software updates faster.
The Phone app has seen some small tweaks with the tab indicators — instead of text, those have been reverted to icons. Moving over to the call log section, it looks different as well, coughing up individual borders for each call interaction. And finally, the settings menu of the Phone app has also been re-organized, with more options available at a first glance instead of buried within submenus.
Functionally, the core basics are well intact with the Google Calendar app, as it integrates with Google’s ecosystem seamlessly. Visually, there are some subtle changes, but for the most part, it retains the principles of Material Design. In addition, we can choose what view that suits our liking – whether it be a daily, weekly, or monthly one. Enhancing the experience comes from leveraging Marshmallow’s new ‘Now on tap’ feature, whereby it scans an appointment and populates relevant information back to us. For example, it’ll offer useful actions to appointments that are attached with specific destinations or addresses.
As for the rest of the core set of organizer apps, such as the Calculator and Clock, there’s honestly not much that’s different from what we’ve exposed to previously. At the core of it all, they function in the same manor – while sporting very subtle changes to their appearances. The Calculator’s functionality, for example, has been slightly expanded.
Gone is the email app that in previous years populated our other accounts, while Google’s own Gmail app handled, well, our Gmail account all by itself. There’s not even a placeholder for an icon as well, where it notified us in the past that the Gmail app is now the only option for checking email.
We have no complaints with that decision, since it’s logically arranged so that accounts can be viewing separately – or in just one universal inbox. Beyond that, it leverages the same set of functionality we get from using Gmail on a traditional desktop PC, so it’s well-endowed to handle even the most demanding of email users.
Jotting down messages using the stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow keyboard is just as effortless as it was before, mainly because it’s responsive, logically arranged, and offers us access to many of the numbers and punctuations from within the main layout by performing long presses on specific buttons. Now, if individual tapping isn’t your forte, then you can always resort to using its gesture typing for a more seamless process. And if you prefer going all voice, there’s the option too by just pressing on the corresponding icon just above the keyboard.
Processor and Memory
Speed and finesse, that’s the way of the Snapdragon 810.
Being the better spec’d between the two new Nexus phones, the Nexus 6P is graced with Qualcomm’s best at the moment – a 2.0 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 SoC based on 64-bit architecture. Essentially, this configuration is comprised out of four Cortex-A53 and four Cortex-A57 cores, all of which are clocked in at 2.0 GHz. Accompanying it, we have 3GB of LPDD4 RAM and the Adreno 430 GPU, a total package that delivers incredible speed and finesse in everything we do. From the trivial, to the complex, the Nexus 6P is in the same category of high-powered phones we’ve come to absorb so much.
The Adreno 430, specifically, is designed to deliver up to 30% faster graphics performance and 100% faster GPU compute performance, while reducing power consumption by up to 20%, as compared to its predecessor, the Adreno 420 GPU. Its benchmark scores solidify its position as being a formidable smartphone for all sorts of operations – including graphics processing, where its Quad-HD resolution doesn’t seem to be too much of a setback for its performance.
Starting off with a base storage capacity of 32GB, it’s a good position considering how 4K video capture can eat up things relatively quickly. However, Google seems cognizant in anticipating the kind of space that power users demand by offering 64GB and 128GB models as well. These two options definitely help considering that there’s no expansion here. Pricing starts at $499 for the 32 GB variant, goes past $549 for 64 GB, and then ends up at $649 for the 128 GB one.
Internet and Connectivity
Even with the introduction of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, there’s no significant changes to the way we experience surfing the web using Google’s Chrome browser – so it works in the same capacity we’re used to on other phones. Generally speaking, there’s not much separating its experience form the Nexus 5X. On the surface, it undoubtedly gets the job accomplished, but it’s only different in the way that we have more real-estate to enjoy web sites in their entirety.
The Nexus 6P supports the following LTE bands: B1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/25/26/29. With its Qualcomm modem, the smartphone is compatible with carrier networks worldwide, providing for a hassle-free transition if you’re the global trotter type. Those customers who call Sprint or Verizon home, they’ll be pleased to know that the Nexus 6P has support for CDMA bands 0, 1, and 10 – so they’re not left in the dust with this latest Nexus.
And finally, it’s accompanied with the usual array of connectivity features we’d expect to find in a modern, well-respected smartphone. They consist of aGPS with GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC.