Google Nexus 6P Review
It’s spot on with its quality, but shots under low light captured with the flash appear more subdued than those of the Nexus 5X. Besides that, it’s pretty impressive.
The Nexus 6P features an "unprecedented" f/2.0 12.3MP Sony camera sensor on its rear panel. The component in question is, most likely, the Sony IMX377EQH5, which is a sensor originally made for camcorders. It comes with improved optics and super-sized 1.55 micron pixels — not as large as HTC's UltraPixel sensor (2 microns), but certainly larger than the 1.2 micron pixels in some current camera sensors. This should help it capture more light in dark shots, making pictures better exposed and less noisy.
In addition to 12MP (4:3) or 9MP (17:9) still images, the sensor is capable of producing 4K videos, along with impressive 240FPS slow-motion clips. The sensor can actually handle 4K and 2K video resolution recording at 60 frames per second, but Qualcomm's current chipsets, including the Snapdragon 810 used in the Nexus 5X, only go up to 30FPS.
The camera sensor is kept company by a laser autofocus system and dual-LED flash. The former will most certainly make for impressive auto-focus speed, while the latter will help the camera make the most out of situations where light is of insufficient quantity. On the front side, there's an 8MP camera with f/2.2 lens.
Turning our attention to the camera interface, powered by the Google Camera app, its appeal will mainly hinge on whether or not you like Google’s interpretation of what the shooting experience should be like. On a foundational level, it’s a simple and hassle-free experience that centers its focus on quickly snapping a shot on a moment’s notice – without being too distracted by other features. Speaking of features, it’s rather light with its package over what we get in other phones. It comes with Photo sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, and HDR+, which is nice for casual shooters, but for serious ones, it’s just missing additional modes to adhere to their needs.
In particular, many of today’s high profiled phones offer a diversified manual mode – where shooting parameters such as shutter speed, focus, ISO, and much more, can all be modified to our liking. Like we said, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for the obvious point of capturing a moment you’d like to remember, we suppose it gets the job done effectively – and without distraction too.
We’ll cut right to the chase, the Nexus 6P’s camera performance is nearly identical to that of the Nexus 5X, which should be no surprise considering they both have the same rear camera. The only thing different in our observations, though, relates to its dual-LED flash performance. In particular, it tends to cast a significantly warmer tone, giving colors more of an overblown appearance. At the same time, however, there’s noticeably more noise in the shot when the flash is used – whereas it’s minimized with the Nexus 5X. And that, folks, is basically the only thing different from its quality.
Some people will have reservations regarding its 12.3-megapixel sized snapshots, but in all fairness, there’s nothing to be concerned about – it takes some pretty good looking photos. If the iPhone 6s is an indication already, the Nexus 6P reaffirms the notion that a camera’s quality can’t be individually based on its megapixel count. Time after time, from outdoor scenes to indoor ones, the Nexus 6P establishes several, favorable results that make its camera so versatile to use.
The shots from Times Square in New York, in particular, show us that it’s quite capable at snapping sharp photos. While the overall shots look especially pleasing to the eye, where it’s accompanied with good details and bold colors, meticulously looking into the shots show us that there’s a hint of over-sharpening – causing finer details to become duller, while edges tend to be accentuated more. Under sunny conditions, the camera has a little bit of a tough time handling dynamic range. It’s not bad per se, but the blue sky contrasting the landscape scene tends to come out over-exposed.
Fortunately, the HDR+ mode fixes things quite a bit by adjusting the exposure throughout the scene to offer consistency. Therefore, shadows and highlights receive the proper amount of treatment to paint a picture that’s evenly exposed – without applying too much color saturation in the process, which sometimes gives photos that unworldly, artificial composition.
We’re also quite pleased by its performance indoors under artificial lighting, where conflicting light sources generally pose an issue for some phones. With the Nexus 6P, however, that’s hardly the case, proving that it’s very much adaptable. In the shots inside of a liquor and pet store, the camera does nicely to correct its white balance for the particular lighting condition – so that it casts colors that are on the warmer side. Again, we do see that there’s a challenge when it comes to dynamic range, as some of the labels on the bottles in the background are lost due to the over-exposure.
What’s pretty impressive, though, is how it manages to deliver acceptable results under low light as well! Yes, its favorable results can be attributed to its 1.55 micron pixels, where it’s able to catch in more light – producing images that are exposed properly, and with minimal detection of noise. Generally speaking, we’re very pleased with the outcome, even though fine details are dulled down tremendously. Obviously, it’s mostly noticeable if we’re to either crop an image or just zoom in, but the overall capture is pretty likable. The only area where the camera seems to be lacking is night time photography, where most shots tend to come out blurry.
Another improved thing about the Nexus 6P over the 5X, is that it offers a better front-facing 8-megapixel snapper – one that shines for its detail capture. The Nexus 5X is good in this regard too, but it’s only better here with the 6P. Every nook and cranny on our face is finely detailed, including wrinkles and individual strands of hair.
Likewise, its video capture quality is identical to the Nexus 5X, whereby it takes some better-than-average videos too – aided primarily by its 4K video capture. First and foremost, there’s plenty of detail going with its 4K capture. Secondly, it manages to produce bold colors that favor a slightly warmer tone. Thirdly, audio recording is spot on, resulting in voices that are bold and filled with fidelity.
Being the premium of the two Nexus phones, you’d think they’d fashion OIS into its arsenal, but they don’t. Therefore, it suffers from the same shaky movements that are evident with the Nexus 5X capture (made more profound with digital zooming). Adding to that, its focus adjustment with the 4K recording option is a bit sluggish at times. There are also some jello and rolling shutter effects going on at times, which might prove to be a bit distracting.
The sharp looking AMOLED screen combined with dual front-firing speakers make it suitable for watching videos.
Since we’re dealing with pure Android here, photos and videos are handled by the Google Photos app. If you use this on other Android phones, you’ll fit in quite easily here with the Nexus 6P, considering that it’s the same exact experience. Not only is the Google Photo app the vessel for viewing our stored content, but there are additional features and tools, such as cloud syncing and various editing tools, which extend the app’s usefulness beyond just being a generic hub.
The music player, not surprisingly at all, is handled by the Google Play Music app. By now, anyone using Android should be familiar with this player, seeing that it’s commonly pre-loaded on most Android devices. Knowing that, its layout and operation isn’t a surprise. Superficially, it’s tasked to play locally stored content, but if you happen to be an All-Access subscriber, you can stream songs that are included in Google’s catalog.
Speaking of audio quality out of its speaker, we’re happy to report that it’s better than the Nexus 5X’s output. Those dual front-firing speakers help to propel it to achieve a maximum output of 78.4 dB, besting the paltry 69.2 dB mark of the Nexus 5X, which makes it a substantial improvement. While volume is more than ample to echo in confined spaces, the actual quality is a bit on the lighter side – lacking serious bite when it comes to bass, favoring treble more so than anything. Even though we’re content by the quality of its speaker, it’s sadly lacking with its headphone jack, which achieves a disappointing power output of 0.34 V.
When it comes to watching videos, however, the experience is amplified by the combination of its dual front-firing speakers and generous sized display. The end result, of course, is one that’s ideal to capture our attention, especially when its performance is smooth and skip-free. Still, there’s no multi-tasking element that would enable us to do other things. Essentially, the focus here is just to watch the video, and to that degree, it gets the job done. We just wish it offered more.