Google Nexus 6P review roundup: The best Nexus yet

Never heard of Huawei? Well, that may change with Google’s new high-end Nexus 6P smartphone.

The China-based manufacturer of the Nexus 6P is on the rise and is now ranked as the No.3 global smartphone supplier behind Samsung and Apple, respectively, according to market researcher IDC’s most recent data. The 6P, a collaboration with Google, is Huawei’s first major product in the U.S.

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The 5.7-inch Nexus 6P, the first all-metal Nexus phone, is meant to compete head on with the iPhone 6s Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Specs include a 2,560x1,440 pixel AMOLED display, a Qualcomm octa-core (8 core) processor, 32GB of storage (base model), 3GB of RAM, a fingerprint reader, 12.3-megapixel (4K video) camera, USB-C (for fast charging), Android 6.0, and a thickness/weight of 7.3mm/178 grams, respectively.  (The 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus is 7.3mm inches/192 grams by comparison.)  Pricing starts at $499.

Below is a survey of reviews of the phone that has just started shipping:

TechRadar: 4.5 stars. The Nexus 6P “nearly” keeps up with Apple and Samsung's large phones. The USB-C “may be ahead of its time,” it’s one of the first phones to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor – on the back of the phone – is on par with Apple's Touch ID, according to TechRadar. Negatives include an unattractive rear camera bulge and no optical image stabilization. That said, “Google's super-sized phone for 2015 is thinner, lighter, stronger and easier to hold, making it a true step up from the Nexus 6 in every way imaginable.”

CNET: 4 stars. The “best-ever” Nexus has a “solid camera [and] an accurate fingerprint reader.” It also boasts good speakers and “its lower cost makes it a good top-tier value buy.” The 6P is compatible with most major carriers – another upside. Weaknesses include being “boxy and top-heavy,” no wireless charging, and a “generic” design that’s good but not stellar. Another thing to be aware of: while USB-C is where things are headed, it’s not widely supported yet.

The Guardian: 5 stars. The 6P “feels” well built and comfortable in the hand.  The 5.7-inch AMOLED screen is colorful and bright “but not quite as vibrant as Samsung’s highly saturated AMOLED screens on the Galaxy S6 series.” It also has excellent front-facing speakers. The 6P uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor v2.1, which addresses overheating issues with previous versions of the chip, according to the Guardian. (Other reviews also brought this up.) While the 6P can get warm, “performance was consistently good.”  Battery life is “good but not excellent.”  Overall, the Nexus 6P “is the best phablet available at the moment.”

ComputerWorld: The Nexus 6P is comparable in size to Samsung's Galaxy Note 5. Its height does make it a “touch too tall” for holding comfortably at times and one-handed use can be a challenge.  On the upside, ComputerWorld points out that the Nexus 6P is basically the same size as the iPhone 6s Plus but has a larger display. Other pros include “superb camera quality,” good battery life, and value (price).

The Verge: “This is a Nexus phone, and it's also a premium phone. It's nice to finally be able to say that,” according to The Verge’s review. The review addresses issues associated with past Nexus phones in the context that the 6P appears to finally overcome them. “The history of Nexus phones is a history of great, clean software paired to hardware that is usually flawed in some fundamental way.” But the Nexus 6P has “none of those flaws,” The Verge said.  The review also says the “bulge” on the back – to accommodate the camera – is a non-issue.  "Don't sweat the bulge: it gives the 6P a visual identity and doesn't hurt anything.”  The Verge liked the camera’s 12-megapixel Sony sensor too, calling the camera “great.” Battery life is good too, lasting a whole day.  Addressing the 6P’s shortcomings, The Verge has a problem with the location of the fingerprint reader on the back of the phone. “You can't use it when the phone is set on a table, for example.”

Android Central: It’s all about the camera. While previous Nexus phones have had “acceptable” cameras, the Nexus 6P delivers pictures “that live up to the hype machine,” the review said.  Android Central adds that the 6P’s camera should be ranked up there with the best cameras on phones like the LG G4, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, and iPhone 6 Plus. Video capture was top-notch too. The microphone is good at dealing with background noise and the stabilization software is adept at keeping camera shake to a minimum. The upshot: “This is by far the best camera on a Nexus phone, ever, and stands up against the best from the competition,” the review said.