Nexus 6P review

Google's second-generation phablet now runs Android Oreo

Nexus 6P review
Nexus 6P review

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Google and Huawei's Nexus 6P's refinements apply mostly to the hardware, but are also found in its software, with the Android Marshmallow operating system pre-loaded onto the phone.

It's an even smoother experience from boot up to battery drain with the update to Android Oreo, the last major update headed to Huawei's Nexus phone.

There are actually few obvious changes. It's mostly behind-the-scenes adjustments, like notification bubbles, picture-in-picture for select apps, and longer battery life when the phone is on standby and app permission tweaks.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow makes for a smarter version of Google's mobile operating system, and that's ingrained in its one noticeable, front-facing feature, Google Now on Tap.

Holding down on the on-screen home buttons brings up Google Now on Tap, which scans what you're currently reading, watching or hearing, and it tries to educate you on the topic.

Nexus 6P review

Reading about the new Star Wars movie poster in the news and holding down the home button instantly brought up a short description and series of links for both Star Wars and Lucasfilm.

They're in the form of icons, but lead to Star Wars-appropriate Google searches, Wikipedia entries, social media content and Google Play Store apps. It's a neat shortcut for more information on whatever you're currently looking at.

This works best in messaging apps, wherein someone references a show, actor or newsmaker you know nothing about. Google Now on Tap is a simple way to cross-reference the internet.

Everything else about Android Marshmallow is straightforward in that Nexus 6P is a phone with stock Android. It really contrasts with the two dozen worthless apps, say, Asus phones levy on you.

Nexus 6P review

It's filled with your favorite Google apps out-of-the-box instead: Gmail, Google Maps, Contacts, Drive, Calendar, Photos, Hangouts, YouTube, Photos and so on.

Pinned to the home screen are Google's camera, SMS Messenger and Play multimedia apps in a folder. Inside is Play Music, Play Movies & TV and Play Games.

The Google Play Store acts as your portal to downloading everything else, from Facebook and Instagram to LastPass and Pandora.

The last thing I'll touch on before getting into specific apps is the all-encompassing app drawer. Prepare your brain, since it now has you scroll up and down (no longer left to right). There's a handy recently used apps row at the very top to take away some of the pain.

Of course, this is still an unfinished build of Android Nougat. It's in beta and work perfectly, as smooth and as feature packed as has been running on my 6P. Some apps don't work just yet, so be prepared to want to revert back to Android Marshmallow if you'll miss them too much.

I haven't witnessed any battery improvements thanks to the improved Doze mode, but again the software is yet to be optimised so hopefully it will be more noticeable come the find build in a few weeks.


I've never been a big fan of messaging on Android, because so many of my contacts use different apps. Nothing ties them together, and the Nexus 6P software doesn't fix this.

It does, however, offer a clean and simple SMS app called Messenger (different from Facebook's identically named Messenger app). It's fast and lightweight.

Nexus 6P review

Google, of course, still packs in Hangouts, which was redesigned over the summer for both iOS and then Android. It's better, but can't really top Apple's iMessages way of doing things.

As I explained in my Nexus 5X review, text messages are isolated on my Nexus 6P when using the Messenger app, and Hangouts confuses people by integrating my work email or my Google Voice number.

Group messaging with a number of iPhone users is also a problem (this one problem isn't necessarily Google's fault). My messages go to the original messenger and no one else.

It's a shame, because Google has a fantastic keyboard by default, with finger swiping enabled on the frontend and a smarter autocorrect system in the backend.

Movies and music

The 5.7-inch display of the Nexus 6P is a better fit for watching HD movies in a 16:9 aspect ratio when compared to the old Nexus 5.

The screen size isn't as big as the 6-inch Nexus 6, but the color is more accurate. I don't find the hues to be overly saturated, though some people may find this to look washed out.

Nexus 6P review

Really, you can see the difference in side-by-side comparisons of actor's faces. Orange is the new tan, when I watched "Big" on the Nexus 6P compared to the Nexus 5X.

The latter doesn't have the artificial pop of the Nexus 6P and doesn't boast that quad HD display, but it's colors are more true to life. Nexus 6P, however, beats the 5X when it comes to sound quality.

Listening to music and movies is a bit one-sided on the Nexus 5X. The speaker for all media is located in the bottom of the phone, whereas the multimedia-friendly Nexus 6P has stereo speakers at the top and bottom.


The Nexus 6P can handle all of the game apps I throw at it, with no discernible slowdown or imperfections in the graphics and color. Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8: Airborne get along just fine.

Nexus 6P review

Slight variations between Nexus displays favor the Nexus 5X when it came to movies starring real people, but game apps I test look, oddly, a tad more muted in color on the 6P display.

Bezel has become a bad word among smartphones, but I find games in landscape mode easier to control, thanks to the slightly thicker bezel of the Nexus 6P (the same is true of the Nexus 5X).

Matt Swider