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Enter the Nexus 6P Review (Now with video)

What if I told you that a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer kidnapped the lead designer of a well known American electronics manufacturer and was told to design a flagship level smartphone for the world’s leading search giant? Yeah, I wouldn’t buy it either, but I am very pleased at what Huawei has managed to come up with in the Nexus 6P.

For the uninitiated, the Nexus 6P is the latest phone coming out of the line of phones that Google makes with certain hardware manufacturers to show off what a flagship phone should look like. This year, Google couldn’t make up its mind in who to partner with so they chose LG for a repeat of 2013’s Nexus 5, better known as the Nexus 5X, and Huawei for the more premium Nexus 6P. As I stated, the latter has a more premium look, feel and price than the former which appealed more to those who were looking for “flagship on a budget”.

Both phones were announced in late September among other devices. When I laid my eyes on the Nexus 6P, however, I just fell in love. I knew I just had to have it, but it seemed like it was almost never meant to be.

Because the phone starts out at $450 for the 32GB version, it made it a little difficult for me to acquire the device outright. I thought I might be saved when I learned that Google Fi was going to allow order one and pay on it with installments with them. This turned out to be true if you were new to Fi and needed a device to go with it. Seeing as that I already was a part of Fi, I lucked out there.

As a last ditch effort, I turned to Huawei themselves. They were the only people allowing me to lease out the phone without any strings attached.  This did come at a cost, however. Because I went with them, there is no way I can get Nexus Protect which is Google’s phone insurance. I do feel this may change over time as Fi users weren’t covered at all until recently. Also, it took Huawei forever to actually ship me a device. After ordering my 128GB charcoal model on November 2, I finally got a phone after Thanksgiving. However, to my surprise, I found it wasn’t mine. So, this review is of the aluminum (no consequence, kinda like the color) 64GB (no consequence yet, hope I don’t run out of space) model while still waiting for mine to arrive.

The Good

As I have stated before, the Nexus 6P is a beautifully crafted device. I almost feel like I’m talking about an iOS device about its aluminum body, chamfered edges and overall thinness. Its really a surprise to me coming from my first Nexus phone in the Nexus 6 which was mostly plastic and too big for its own good. Before I bought a case for the phone, I’d often catch myself just staring at it because I’ve never owned a piece of tech that actually looked this good.

Right now, the phone performs quite well. Apparently Google and Huawei were able to get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 working as it should. I have played some games on the device, and while it gets hot as expected, it doesn’t get hot to the touch as I would expect with the metal body.

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Speaking of touch, we finally get the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner on Nexus devices. This also means we now have fingerprint reading included with the base Android OS called Nexus Imprint. When coming up with the outline for the review, it was working decently for me mainly because I was using it when I was too lazy to press a button then swipe up. It wasn’t until I was ready to use the feature along with Android Pay did I realize that I didn’t set it up properly. In a rush to get Nexus Imprint set up, I failed to read that the sensor would need different angles of my finger in order to get a more accurate read. This is needed as you won’t be hitting the same part of your finger every time you tap on it and its even more apparent when you are trying to quickly pay for things during the Christmas shopping season.

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Last, and maybe least, would be the inclusion of USB Type C.  The only good thing that I can see coming from this is the fact that I don’t have to guess how to plug in my phone. I would sing praises about Google’s version of quick charging, but more problems arose around that, too.

Cons

As you can see, there have been some issues and I’m kinda glad I didn’t rush to right this article immediately after opening the phone.  In the month I was planning (read: too lazy to write) this article, I actually discovered a few things about the phone that I’m not particularly happy about.

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One thing I did notice almost right away is the fact that this phone does have what I would like to call an “iPhone problem”. My Nexus 6 and most other Android phones have screens that take advantage of most of the phone’s real estate. The Nexus 6P seems to leave a lot of room above and below the screen similar to an iPhone. Now, I could very well say this could also be the “Moto 360 problem” of needing some place to put sensors so we’ll take away screen, but it does make the phone a bit taller because of it. I guess we have to choose between having a tall and thin phone or a short and stocky one.

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I hope that those who are looking at this phone are willing to pick it up through Google either from the store or from Fi (granted there are 3rd party protection plans available from SquareTrade among others). I say this because they premium feel will come with a premium headache if its not protected properly. The aluminum allows for the phone to slip right out of your hand if you’re not careful.

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For any Nexus 5X owners who are reading this, you may want to stop now for a I sense there will be a huge sigh as I complain about the USB Type A to Type C cable that was included with the Nexus 6P (for those who don’t know, the Nexus 5X doesn’t come with one). My complain is that the cable is only about a foot long and is really good for nothing. I’ve since bought longer cables using recommendations from Benson Leung on Amazon, but it hasn’t been cheap due to only a handful of devices currently using the standard.

Issues Not Specifically Related to the Phone

Okay, so now that I’ve finished digging into issues specifically related to the phone, I guess I could give a micro review to Marshmallow now that its running on the hardware that’s been made to best show off its features.

One issue that has come up and has been corroborated by many others are the myriad of Bluetooth issues since the update came out. My issue specifically has, at first, been the choppy audio I was receiving during the first minutes of minutes of playback of any audio, be it music or podcast. However, as time marched on, a bigger issue reared its ugly head. Now, I’m being plagued with lost audio over Bluetooth as if the connection was lost. When you go to check the connection, both the phone and car state that the phone is still paired even though audio is coming out through the phone. The only “fix” is to turn off the phone’s Bluetooth radio and turn it back on for a re-sync.  I have not verified if its only my car’s stereo system that has the issue (don’t have that many Bluetooth speakers) or that phone calls are affected as well (not that many people call me or want me to call them).

Conclusion

For all the issues that may be plaguing the device, most of it where personal gripes that I have with the phone that could be fixed if you are willing to put a little more money into with cables, cases and insurance. Other issues, are mere software fixes that Google are (hopefully) working on, but I guess we’ll see about that.

If you aren’t in the edge case that I am and really want a premium Android handset and maybe have a few bucks to spend, I say its worth it to get the Nexus 6P. Huawei did an amazing job with designing the device and it has all the physical qualities of what I expect a Nexus device to have. It doesn’t feel like some nerd’s dream device, but a phone that could go toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung (and actually did in camera reviews).

I’m quite pleased with the device. All I need is for Huawei to send me mine…

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