Huawei Nexus 6P Review - Still The Finest Android Phone Today!

Year after year, the Nexus line by Google is the most anticipated device by pure Android fans. It's specifically designed to give everyone the most optimized / clean Android experience, timely system updates and the best of what Google has to offer. Gladly, they've been successful in doing that as they're getting a lot of interest from the casual users who predominantly prefers a mainstream smartphone.
Huawei Nexus 6P review - android at its finest
Huawei Nexus 6P review - android at its finest

However, I'm one of those few individuals who criticize the Nexus project every release as I'm always craving for more. Why? While I'm a fan, I believe that flagship Google phone should be the best phone in the world. Yes, they're fast, updates all the time and has most of the new innovations in the tech world. However, it should tout the total package and experience. Nexuses of the past have that sickness in falling short in terms of not putting top notch premium design, cameras and audio.

Enter Huawei's Nexus 6P that was first announced last October of 2015, the next generation Nexus device built from the combined efforts of Huawei's hardware expertise and Google's top notch optimization.

Is this finally, the answer to our criticisms of the Nexuses before? Is it still one of the best phones in the world even if we're nearing the halfway mark of 2016? Let's all find out in this casual Huawei Nexus 6P review.

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by Huawei Philippines for an honest review

Huawei Nexus 6P Specs

Display: 5.7 Inch WQHD AMOLED 2560 x 1440 w/ Gorilla Glass 4 protection and oleophobic coating at 515 ppi
CPU: 2.0 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa core processor
GPU: Adreno 430
RAM: 3 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Back Camera: 12.3 MP f/2.0 Sony Exmor IMX377 w/ 1.55µm pixel size, laser AF, dual tone LED flash and 4K video recording
Selfie Camera: 8 MP f/2.4 Sony Exmor IMX179 w/ 1.4 µm pixel size
Battery: 3,450 mAh w/ fast charging
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3G, HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, GPS, A GPS, GLONASS
Others: Dual Front-facing speakers, Nexus Imprint
Dimensions: 159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
Weight: 178 g
Price: 29,990 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

The original Nexus 6P package comes with a box, but like we said earlier we just borrowed this for testing so we just got the important accessories inside.
Inclusions that I got
Inclusions that I got

It comes with USB Type C wall charger / adapter with ultra fast charging support rated at 3A, 1x long USB Type C to Type C charging cables, 1x short regular USB to USB Type C data / charging cables.

Unfortunately, there won't be any free in ear monitors / earphones with mic on the package to live with.

Build Quality / Design

Nexus 6P look at the back
Nexus 6P look at the back

Like what we stated above, one of our major criticism from the Nexus phones of the past is it doesn't feel as premium like the way it should be. Gladly, Google made the right decision to partner with Huawei.
Top view showing antenna lines and 3.5 mm port
Top view showing antenna lines and 3.5 mm port
View below showing the USB Type C port
Single nano SIM tray at the left
Single nano SIM tray at the left
Shows the phone looks mostly slim at 7.3 mm even with the slight hump
Volume rocker and textured power button at the right
Volume rocker and textured power button at the right

Even on first look, you can tell that most of the elements found on a high end Huawei device is there. It's made out of high quality anodized full metal unibody with chamfered edges and has visible lines of antennas on top and button part of the phone. On top the glass is protected with the toughest Gorilla Glass 4 by Corning that avoids scratches and breakings easily. It also has an oleophobic coating that prevents the screen from fingerprint smudges to make your phone look neat most of the time. 

Going with the design, this is the sleekest looking Nexus yet and one of the most aesthetically beautiful phones today. It may not have the flare of a device with curved screens, but it doesn't need one to standout. The 6P also looks pretty slim and doesn't have large black bezels on the screen making its width equal most modern 5.5 inch phone. It's just a little taller than most phones due to its dual loud speaker setup 

In terms of ergonomics, it did great for a large phone but could be better. It's nice to see proper ports / mic /speaker placements and the always easy to locate fingerprint sensor at the back part of thr phone with noise cancelling mic on top.

The power button and volume rocker placement by Huawei was all well thought off as it won't give you a hard time in locating it. As a matter of fact, even if you don't see the buttons, they added a different texture to the power button to help you easily differentiate it from the volume rocker. Pretty clever. On the left side of the phone, you'll see the an eject-able thru pin single SIM card slot.

Going to the back, you'll find a slight camera hump on the glassy camera part, which could be prone to scratches. Fortunately, that's the only thing we can nitpick with this phone as everything looks grand generally.

Note: This phone don't have an LED notification, but fortunately, it displays on your screen

Display Quality

Vivid and vibrant screen of Nexus 6P
Vivid and vibrant screen of Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P uses a 5.7 inch screen with a whopping QHD resolution at 2560 x 1440 resolution. As a result, you'll get exceptional display quality that's definitely sharper than your average FHD screen. Being an AMOLED panel, colors are much pronounced here as they're more vivid, vibrant, has deeper blacks and better contrast. Viewing angles are excellent and has above average brightness level that's good enough for outdoor use.
10 points of multitouch
10 points of multitouch

While it may not have the color accuracy of an IPS screen, I find this friendlier to the eyes with less strains even after long hours of use. I would just like it to have a color temperature adjuster in the settings to suit your preference.

Anyway, there's not much that you can complain about the screen as it's definitely one of the finest out there.

Audio Quality

A Nexus phone with good speaker implementation is a dream and they managed to make that a reality here. Huawei ensured that this device will have not just one but two loud sounding front firing speakers.

Going to its quality, it's going to impress for a smartphone. It's one of the loudest we've heard that should compliment the phone's huge screen when watching movies or videos on the go.

For music listening, it's far from being audiophile centric, but it's acceptable enough. You'll get noticeable punch in the lows department (even if sub-bass is almost non-existent), the vocal region was a little more pronounced with good detail / clarity and the highs has a lot of sparkle that can get too peaky in some tracks. Then of course, due to it's dual speaker in front setup, you'll get better instrumental separation and wider soundstage.

Testing it thru headphones, I have high hopes with this phone as every other high-end phone comes with pretty high-end DAC. However, they failed to indicate the exact type of Qualcomm DAC they used here. Anyway, as long as it sounds good we're good.

Moving forward to its quality, we noticed that this is probably the warmest sounding Huawei phone yet with good sweetness and fun U shaped sound signature. It's very easy to love for a phone, the lows were well extended that has good speed even if it's a little recessed, the mids did okay for both male and female voices plus other parts of the spectrum and the highs were evident all over that extend nicely too.

Sound layering and separation is hear-able as long you're using a HiFi pair of headphones, but we find the soundstage not as wide as I wanted. It's good enough to give you an in your front semi hall like feel, but it's not 3D enough. On my last criticism, micro details aren't that pronounced compared with other phones with dedicated HiFi AMP and DAC.

Anyway, we're glad to say that it can play up to 192 KHz / 24 Bit FLAC formats and has loud driving power should be good enough for not that picky listeners on the go.

Recording tunes or making call is fun with this handset as it has a 3 microphone setup found on top, bottom and back. It's even good enough to record concerts that makes instrument separation distinguishable. Of course, there's still some noise, but for a phone it's forgiveable. San the Lumia 930 of the past, this has one of the best microphones around.

Battery Life

Over 8 hours of work battery life
Over 8 hours of work battery life

Being a Nexus phone, there's a lot of hope that this phone will do well in the battery life department. However, given it's loaded specs that includes a large QHD screen and Snapdragon 810 chip, it would be understandable if this phone would just have an "okay" battery life.

Fortunately, Google's mastery in battery efficiency reigns supreme with the 6P, it was unexpectedly able to last for more than a day of my casual usage that includes social media, taking photos and browsing the net with either WiFi or LTE on. When stressed test with the use of PC Mark, it was able to get a little over 8 hours of work battery life performance.

Charging time is also extremely fast as I only need 1 hour and 30 mins to fully load its battery using the 3A USB Type C wall charger. On USB Charging, you'll need at least 3 hours even if you're using a 2A wall charger.

That's impressive for a phone that only has 3,450 mAh of battery with that type of loaded configuration.

Camera

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Coming from the Huawei G8 and Honor 6 Plus as my main smartphone cameras for months now, I have high hopes when most are saying that the Nexus 6P has the best cameras on Nexus phone yet that rivals even the very best today.

It features a 12.3 MP f/2.0 Sony Exmor IMX377 w/ 1.55µm pixel size, laser AF, dual tone LED flash and 4K video recording. In front there's also a large 8 MP f/2.4 Sony Exmor IMX179 w/ 1.4 µm pixel size. Given those specs, it is expected that those cameras can produce sharp images with very good lowlight capability especially with the rear camera.

Quality-wise, the rear using the rear camera of this phone is pure joy. Shots looks sharp, crisp and vibrant most of the time. It also has very good exposure levels and close to natural looking on both normal and HDR+ mode.

With my time with it, I prefer to use the HDR+ mode most of the time as it takes livelier photos with better highlights of details most of the time. There's slight overexposure, but it's the type that I can live with that works perfectly for instant Instagram of Facebook uploads.

In lowlight, this is the best I've seen yet on a smartphone. Amazingly, shots has plenty of details and this can definitely see in the dark.

Being a phone that's equipped with laser autofocus, focus speed is indeed laser fast good enough to capture moving objects without much blur even if doesn't have OIS embedded. Shutter speed is also quite quick, but post processing using HDR+ is quite slow. For added nitpicking, there are also times that its rear camera fails in super close-up shots.

The Selfie Camera on the other hand looks like a rear camera from a flagship phone two years ago and that's great. It can also see well in the dark, have HDR+ modes and nice warm color tone with decently wide angle. Should good enough for most of your selfies, but it doesn't have a dedicated or screen flash.

In terms of software used, the Google Camera dons easy to understand and navigate setup. It has several modes like HDR+, Burst Shot, Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur and the newly implemented Slow Motion setting. I find the software quite okay, but I would love it to have other features like Spot Metering, Selfie Screen Flash and etc.

Video-wise, the 6P was heavily criticized for not having OIS that prevents shakiness and blurriness of videos. Fortunately, actual performance speaks a different story and its EIS is more than enough to stabilize the video. However, I prefer to use it in 1080p than 4K even if that has more details as it has a smoother overall feel. In front, the it can record up to 1080p decent quality videos.

So being a regular guy who doesn't want to carry big cameras, great cameras on a smartphone is a huge factor, I've been this as my main camera for more than a month now and I'm glad to say it delivered. True to it's word, this is the best Nexus Camera yet.


Rear Camera Samples

HDR+ mode outdoors
HDR+ mode outdoors showing very impressive details
Good restaurant indoor lighting
Good restaurant indoor lighting
Very detailed daylight shot with accurate colors
Very detailed daylight shot with accurate colors
Can produce dramatic shots good background blur
Can produce dramatic shots good background blur and bokeh if necessary
This is a dim light shot
This is a dim light shot
Normal and max zoom
Normal and max zoom
Panorama sample
Panorama sample
Evening shot using HDR+
Evening shot using HDR+
I filtered this one a little
I filtered this one a little
No flash and with flash
No flash and with flash

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie good indoor light
Selfie with Angel in good indoor lighting
Selfie dim light
Selfie dim light
Selfie low light
Selfie low light
Night selfie
Night selfie

Video Samples



Performance

Antutu and geekbench benchmark scores
Antutu and geekbench benchmark scores

Being a flagship phone means this has flagship specs as well. You'll get an improved 2.0 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa core processor that doesn't heat up that much and has better battery efficiency, Adreno 430 GPU to handle every casual to most heavy graphics requirements and ample 3 GB of RAM.

To be honest, I would like it better if Huawei and Google provided at least 4 GB RAM here, but being an extremely optimized Nexus phone. It feels a lot smoother than other devices that has 4 GB RAM. Performance is top notch as expected, it can run anything you throw at it, open as many apps without lag and move from an app to another easily. It rarely stutters and the v2.1 of 810 delivered the promise of not getting too hot even if you turn on your LTE and gaming at the same time.

Speaking of connectivity, everything that it has works fine here. There are no WiFi drops or bugs, SIM signal is strong, LTE is stable as long as you have good signal and its Bluetooth 4.2 works just fine. It's also nice that this has NFC (though I rarely use it) and Huawei's popular implementation of a fingerprint sensor at the back. Even if it doesn't have the nifty fingerprint sensor capabilities of other Huawei phones, this has one of the most accurate and fastest response we've seen. Lastly, it's good that you can enroll several fingers in here.
Default Android Marshmallow OS
Default Android Marshmallow OS

Moving to its stock vanilla Android 6.0.1 OS, it's a delight to use. It basically runs with no bloats, no non-sense and just pure good Google experience. It's very fluid and generally, most of you will love it. If you find other missing features, it's customization just like any other Android device.

Note: We noticed that when you can only power on and off this one without restart feature

Pros - Top notch performance, no bloats, premium style and build, vivid and sharp display, long battery life, fantastic cameras, great loud speakers, reversible USB Type C ports is very easy to use, very fast and accurate fingerprint sensor
Cons - Slight camera hump at the back, no wireless charging, no selfie flash, sounds decent but not on HiFi yet, lacks micro SD card slot, no dual SIM slot option


Verdict

Both Huawei and Google nailed it with the Nexus 6P as they were successful by producing the best Nexus so far as of this writing. With no exaggeration, the Huawei Nexus 6P is the finest and smoothest Android phone we've ever used that deserves our highest rating yet. Yes, nobody is perfect and there are still some few things to iron out, but this handset is on the right track to perfection.

If you have the cash right now, getting this is a no-brainer.

GIZ Rating: 4.85/5 Stars
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