Nexus 6P review

Google's second-generation phablet is here

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Our Verdict

Google's Nexus 6P is easier to hold and easier on your wallet, compared to the Nexus 6 from a year ago. New features, like a fingerprint sensor, reversible USB-C port and a better camera, are the selling points for this all-metal Android phablet.

For

  • Nice-to-hold phablet
  • Great specs for the price
  • Latest version of Android
  • Front-facing stereo speakers

Against

  • Ugly rear camera bulge
  • No optical image stabilization
  • No wireless charging
  • Specs just shy of competitors

The Nexus 6P is Google's current flagship Android phablet, but with a 5.7-inch display and cheaper price it won't stretch your hand or your wallet quite as far as its predecessor, the Nexus 6.

The 'P' in the Nexus 6P's name stands for 'Premium', thanks to its all-metal unibody design that's meant to rival the aluminum iPhone 6S Plus and glass-and-metal infused Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. It's the bigger and more sophisticated-looking version of the plastic-coated Nexus 5X.

However, the P could've stood for ... a lot of things: 'Plus', since it requires two hands to operate the phone properly, or 'Palmable', as it's still way easier to clutch in one hand than the 6-inch Nexus 6.

It could also have easily stood for 'Photos', considering the Nexus 6P camera benefits from a 12.3-megapixel (MP) sensor that does a better job than many other cameras in low light; 'Power', as the device uses USB-C for fast charging; or 'Performance', given the top-of-the-line specs and inclusion of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Finally, the 'P' should be popular among bargain hunters for its 'Price'. When it launched the 6P had a starting price of US$499 (£449, AU$899) for the 32GB model, making it less expensive than the Google Nexus 6, which went for US$650 (£500, AU$870).

If you fancy a bit more space the 64GB version will set you back US$549 (£499, around AU$999), while the 128GB comes in at US$649 (£579, around AU$1099).

Since launch though, prices have come down slightly, and you can now pick up a 32GB SIM-free Nexus 6P for around £430 in the UK if you're willing to shop around.

All of that said, there seems to be an endless number of 5.3- and 5.7-inch phones vying for the same phablet audience: iPhone 6S Plus, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Moto X Style.

While the Nexus 6P price is down, the specs have been upped just enough to make this a cost-effective Android contender for our best phones list.

Design

Huawei built the Nexus 6P to be different to any other Google-commissioned phone. Its metal design is undoubtedly a step up from the plastic Nexus 5X, and every previous Nexus.

Although relatively flat around the back with barely tapered edges, it feels comfortable in one hand, yet it still takes two hands to operate it properly. This is, after all, a phone with a 5.7-inch display.

Google Nexus 6P review

Its dimensions are 159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3mm, making it just one tenth of a millimeter taller than the Nexus 6, but notably narrower and thinner than its predecessors measurements of 159.3 x 83 x 10.1mm. My overly stretched-out, phone-wielding hands appreciate this change.

It went on a much-needed diet to become palmable, weighing in at 178g compared to 184g a year prior, despite Huawei raising the bar on the Nexus 6P specs.

Clearly, it was hard to fit everything in. The 12.3MP camera creates an unsightly-looking rear bulge with a black strip, but this eyesore is a fair trade-off given the better low light photos.

Google Nexus 6P review

Everything else has a luxurious look to it. There's a riveted power button with a unique texture, and a smooth volume rocker, on the right side of the frame. There's little chance of mixing up these buttons in the dark.

Since arriving on the scene though, we've seen a flurry of new flagship phones sporting similarly impressive premium bodies including the Huawei P9, HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 - all of which are also easier to grasp with a hand. Of course, their screens are also smaller, so you'll need to decide how big you want to go.

There's also no chance that I'll ever put the charging cable in the wrong way. A reversible USB-C port sits on the bottom of the frame, replacing micro USB for faster charging.

While a 3.5mm headphone jack rests at the top, I dig the front-facing stereo speakers enough to use them. Too many Androids put the speakers on the back, which makes no sense at all.

Google Nexus 6P review

There's no off-beat color here, in a year when the Nexus 5X has a minty-looking Ice Blue color and the iPhone 6S debuted a popular rose gold option.

The Nexus 6P colors keep it simple with Aluminium (gray), Graphite (black) and Frost (white), although at CES 2016 manufacturer Huawei launched the gold variant of the 6P.

Want to customize or protect it? Google has already rolled out multiple cases. I tried out the microfiber 6P case and the very rubber 5X case, and prefer the microfiber option hands down. A leather folio case and elastomer are also options in the Google Store.