When Google announced two Nexus phones last month – the 5X and the 6P – the consensus among the pundits was that the former was the “affordable” option (it was about a fourth less expensive) while the latter was the “real” flagship. And there was good reason for this line of thought – the Nexus 6P (made by Huawei, LG made the 5X), while still showcasing Android and coming packed with some seriously good hardware, signals a departure from the design ethos that we have associated with the Nexus series of devices so far, and ventures into the terrain of the premium.
Of one thing let there be no doubt – the Nexus 6P is a big and heavy phone. It is actually exactly as long as its predecessor, the Motorola-built Nexus 6, which had been criticised for being too big – 159.3mm – even though it has a smaller 5.7 inch display, as compared to the 5.96 one on the Nexus 6. To give you a sense of just how big that is – the iPhone 6s Plus (which we definitely consider bulky – read our review) is 158.2 mm long, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (which has a display of a similar size as the 6P) is a mere 153.2 mm long.
What, however, is likely to save the Nexus 6P from being branded as unwieldy is the fact that its other proportions are much smaller than the Nexus 6 – it is 77.8 mm wide as compared to the 83 mm of the Nexus 6, and an impressively slim 7.3 mm thick, as compared to the 10.1 mm of the Nexus 6. Incidentally, in terms of width and thickness the 6P is almost identical to the iPhone 6s Plus, which is a microscopic 0.1 mm wider but is as thin. The Galaxy Note 5 continues to hold the title for the most compact large screen smartphone we have used – it is a mere 76.1 mm wide and 7.6 mm thin. And yes, the Nexus 6P is heavy – it tips the scales at 178 grammes, which is more than the 171 grammes of the Note 5, but is still lesser than the 192 grammes of the iPhone 6s Plus and the 184 grammes of its own predecessor, the Nexus 6.
The 6P also comes with a whole new design ethic. This is not very visible from the front, which is as in most devices these days, all about the 5.7 inch quad HD AMOLED display, although the two front facing speakers above and below it might attract the attention of those who have complained about the sound quality on previous Nexus devices. But flip it around and you will realise that this is a Nexus designed like none other, and certainly has the most eye-catching design since the gorgeous Nexus 4.
The device is a mainly metal affair – “aeronautical grade anodized aluminum” as Google describes it in a wonderfully alliterative way. Yes, we know that fears are being expressed about its being breakable under extreme stress but speaking for ourselves, we found it to be an extremely solid proposition, albeit a bit on the larger side. Those who have seen the very sleek Honor 7 might draw some similarities between its design and that of the Nexus 6P (especially the metallic silver grey back and chamfered edges) but what makes the Nexus 6P really stand out from the crowd is the jet black panel on the top of the back which holds the much talked about 12.3-megapixel camera with the true tone dual LED flash. Whether you like it or not depends on your taste – we thought it rather natty. Below this is the spherical fingerprint scanner, followed by the “Nexus” brand name in large letters, although the decision to print rather than engrave the name detracts slightly from its premium feel.
Which incidentally, is what the Nexus 6P does feel. Yes, it does pack in the hardware you would expect from a Nexus device – quad HD display, Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB/64 GB versions, Wi-Fi, 4G, GPS, 12.3-megapixel rear and 8.0-megapixel front camera, fingerprint sensor, sensors galore, and yes a USB Type-C port. And yes, it does promise the latest version of Android (it comes with Android 6.0 – Marshmallow – out of the box). But then that has been the case with Nexus devices since the range began. What makes the 6P different is that it is perhaps the first device since the Nexus 4 to try and score in the looks department.
And to a large extent, it succeeds. No, we would not call it as well designed as the Nexus 5, which for us remains the last word in marrying hefty hardware with a compact frame. Neither would we call it as attractive as the glass and metal combinations served up by the Galaxy 6 and Note 5, but yes, this is a phone that stands out from the crowd. We would have preferred something smaller and easier to handle with one hand (heck, the size of the Nexus 5X with the design and hardware of the Nexus 6P would have been inch perfect), but yes, there’s no doubting that the Nexus 6P is perhaps the first Nexus in a few years that will turn heads with its design and will also be easy to spot in a crowd (thanks to that camera unit!).
So yes, it definitely is a looker. Does it do enough to justify the Rs 39,990 price tag? Stay tuned for our review to find out.