This was a great year for smartphones as companies brought us their best products. There were TONS of choices this year! As tech heads had a lot fun playing around with all types of phones, but only a few really stood out to me. I bought into some of the #Hype, but snapped back into reality. Fortunately, this year some companies stepped up big time, which will cause the market to improve even more. Making 2016 very promising.
For the most part we are good on hardware. But it’s been the software experience that has led me to what I believe is my favorite smartphone. For a few years now it was safe to say that my favorite devices at the end of each year was the given model Note series. After using other phones during the year I always wanted to go back to a Note phone. Even after using the newer Galaxy S6 I wanted to back to the Note 4. But this year a game changer happened, Huawei brought us a new Nexus that Google could proudly boast!
If you haven’t noticed, Google has been advertising a whole lot more this time around and I think it’s because we finally have a Nexus worth promoting. Granted, there are some people who loved the LG Nexus 5 and Motorola Nexus 6, but speaking from a non-fanboy perspective, those phones just were not as good as most flagships during those release years. Today’s market wants a great camera and performance experience. That’s what Huawei has for us in the Nexus 6P, my personal favorite smartphone of 2015.
Even this week I posted on social media that I swapped back to using the Note 5 to use as my personal daily driver. But that only lasted for two days! I am back on the Nexus 6P! Simply put, I enjoy using the Nexus 6P the most. There is nothing wrong with the Note 5, but I picked up my 6P and just had to go back. Mind that I use two devices throughout the day, one for personal and the other for Bane Tech.
Side note – Two the reasons I switched back to the Note 5 was because one, I am currently doing a ROM series, which causes me to wipe the device every time I install a custom ROM. This forces me to reload apps, accounts, etc. But the biggest pain is having to reset my smartwatch. Android Wear does not have a way to pair with another phone without resetting the watch. The other reason I tried to use the Note 5 as my daily driver is because I plan to sell the Note 5 to offset the cost of buying the Galaxy S7 when it comes out. So I wanted to spend a little more time with the Note 5 before giving it up. Make sense?
The Nexus 6P is a breath of fresh to the hardcore Android community. We finally have a Nexus device that stands out and delivers a fantastic smartphone! For the first time other companies must compete with a Nexus device.
My review of the Nexus 6P
Build Quality – There is just something special about having an all metal material on a phone. It adds a premium element and instills confidence in a consumer that they invested in something worth buying. Even though I really enjoyed using Note devices (in reference to models prior to the Note 5) I always had the thought in the back of my mind that I spend too much money on plastic.
The materials are great on the Nexus 6P, but the design is what adds to the user experience. Once you have used a device with front facing speakers you will never want the speakers placed elsewhere. It just makes sense to have the speakers on the front. Especially if you watch a lot of videos on your phone. The sound needs to come at you and not away from you.
I also appreciate the power and volume controls being placed on the same side and midway down the side. This helps with one-handed use.
Software – The Nexus 6P looks great, but sometimes it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? The Nexus 6P has what I need to get the best experience from a smartphone.
- Android v6.0 (Marshmallow)
- Quad-Core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-Core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57 Processor
- Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 81
- Adreno 430 Graphics
- Internal Memory: 32/64/12bGB, 3GB RAM (I have the 64GB model)
Android 6.0 is such an underrated update of the Android system! Yes, Lollipop was a great overall, but Marshmallow is like icing on the cake! Honestly, the one feature that makes Marshmallow so great is Android Doze. Pair Doze with the Nexus 6P’s 3,450mAh battery and you get a phone with great battery life. Something we desperately needed! I was quite nervous about how the trend of bad battery life was going this year. Especially coming from the Galaxy S6 and LG G4. Samsung seemed to have fixed the problem in the Note 5, but I had not gotten this good of battery life from a phone in a long time.
Android Marshmallow is also just smooth and crispy. Performance wise the 6P does better than the Note 5. Speaking of performance and software let say this. In my opinion the Nexus 6P is a device you must root and customize to make a great experience. I am using Android Marshallow, but as a custom ROM. I am a features kind of guy. Simple features though. For example, when pressing the power button on stock Android you only get an option to turn off the phone, with a custom ROM you get choices like reboot, reboot options, and more. Samsung and other OEMs have this option. The only way to get these options on a Nexus 6P is to root and install mods/ROMs. Hopefully in the near future Google will start to include simply features that make the user experience easier.
The Camera -Before I get into how well the camera performs, this is actually a good Segway to continue to talk about software. The camera app isn’t good enough for video. So I again have to make the software experience better by installing more software (an app) to bring it up to par comparing to something like the Note 5. The Note 5 has the best camera in 2015. Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus 6P camera is good, but not as good as the Note 5.
If the Nexus 6P had OIS and a better camera app, it would make the Nexus 6P the best phone of the year. I never knew how much of a difference OIS made until I compared video footage with the Nexus 6P and Moto X Pure Edition.
As you can see from the video the Nexus 6P was quite shaky. If you plan to record video using the Nexus 6P make sure you have some sort of stabilizer like a tripod or handheld stabilizer. The audio sounds good, but the shakiness is pretty rough.
Additionally, there are some improvements needed in the camera app while shooting video. Believe it or not I have used my Note 5 for many videos on my channel. The Note 5 has a great camera app. There are pro features and all, but it’s the simple things like touch to focus that wins me over. Yes, you can touch to focus on the 6P, but the focus doesn’t stick. If it detects any movement, it will take the focus off of where you want it to stay focused on. If you notice when you have auto-focus on the final product will have this bouncing effect when it tries to focus. Tap to focus eliminates the bouncing effect.
My gripes about the camera might not be a deal breaker for some, but these are elements that I look for out of a camera experience. Mind that I am able to adapt and find ways to improve things, but in my opinion, these same elements are what needs to be fine tuned in the software. Something Samsung has done well and is a model for other companies to take notice of.
The camera app for video I am using is Better Camera (fitting name, right?). The UI isn’t that great, but it gets the job done (tap to focus).
Final Thoughts – The Nexus 6P fits my desires I want out of a smartphone. The price is right. I am able to afford to get the 64GB model and still costs less than the Note 5 and other flagships. It’s rocking a 5.7″ screen that looks great. Photos and video turn out looks nice. And the user experience is snappy. I don’t find myself necessarily wanting to use something else. Granted, I am addicted to phones and even after using one of the best phones for just a month’s time I want to find something else to use.
I’ve been using the Nexus 6P since launch day and have no regrets from purchasing this phone. Unlike the Galaxy S6, LG G4, and Nexus 6; I couldn’t wait to find another phone to use.
How I differentiate between what the best phone and favorite devices is, for example, I think the Note 5 is the best smartphone this year. But the Nexus 6P is my favorite device to use. Favorite = for me is what I enjoy using and want to use the most. Something to consider when reading/watching reviews and such. At times I think the two get mixed up.
The Nexus 6P is a GREAT phone! It’s a VERY close call when naming the Note 5 or Nexus 6P as the best device. What I can say about the Nexus 6P is that it is my favorite phone of 2015, Huawei took the market by surprise, and makes 2016 look very promising!
Congratulations Huawei for being the most improved smartphone company of the year, shaking up the industry, and providing us with a wonderful phone. Keep up the great work and I am looking forward to what you bring us in 2016!
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