How we'd change the Nexus 6P

Nexus 6P
Nexus 6P (Image credit: Android Central)

Each Nexus phone garners extra attention as if they're Google's chosen platform for development, and a bastion of light for the Android enthusiasts among us. For some, the Nexus 6P is just yet another phone ... but for many of us, it comes with higher expectations, no matter the fact that it's less expensive than the top-end phones out there.

Just about everyone at Android Central has been using a Nexus 6P since it was launched, bouncing back and forth as work duties bring in fresh phones to try, and with this wealth of time spent with the phone we have a few ideas for how we'd change it to make it just right for us. Read on.

Phil Nickinson

Nexus 6P

Every time I go back on the Nexus 6P, I ask myself why I ever left. Part of that's just the job, of course. I don't have the luxury of using just one phone. But I do have the luxury of having the Nexus 6P to go back to.

When I pick back up the Nexus 6P, I ask myself why I left.

There really are just a couple things that cause me to not mind putting it back down. One is the size. It's just bigger than I want it to be. I love using it, but I often hate carrying it around.

The other is the camera. I don't use third-party camera apps because I'm lazy. But the speed at which the Nexus 6P camera launches is, to put it mildly, not great. Once it does fire up it's a perfectly acceptable camera. But that lag? Not so acceptable.

One thing that absolutely keeps me coming back, however, is that Nexus phones are the only phones I've used that have never had an issue connecting to Android Auto. So there's that.

Jerry Hildenbrand

Nexus 6P

I've been using the Nexus 6P every day since it launched. I had briefly considered switching to the Galaxy S7 edge for my "daily driver" because it's a really good phone, but then I stopped drinking and put that idea to bed. There's really no reason for me to switch, because nothing else works as well for me.

For me, there's really no reason to switch away.

I don't have kids running around and my dogs are old and don't do things that are worth taking pictures of any more, so I'm not concerned with the camera taking 500 milliseconds longer than some other phone to load, but it'd be nice if they fixed it for the folks who do care. I used to wish it was smaller, then I gave up because nobody is going to make a phone the size I want (that's worth using, anyway) until tiny phones become the hot ticket like they used to be.

Really, the only change I want to see is one that isn't ever going to happen, and that's a better audio package. I want great music through my headphones without having to carry a separate thing around to make that happen.

I'll probably switch phones when the next Nexus comes around, and hopefully it will be as good to me as the Nexus 6P has been.

Andrew Martonik

Nexus 6P

For me, the Nexus 6P is the best overall Nexus phone to date. It's a simple, well-made, no-frills kind of a phone, which is just what I expect when I pick up a Nexus. It's all about the software and experience, really, and the hardware mostly gets out of the way. It doesn't have a funky design or crazy features, it's just a great phone, and that's why I appreciate and use it. It's still a little big for my taste (especially its height), but I can see why that makes it appealing for many — and for as much as I enjoy the idea of using the Nexus 5X, it's usually the 6P that I come back to when I want a Nexus experience. And what I think many of us forget is how much cheaper it is than many flagships, coming in at just $499.

It isn't perfect, but I still love using the Nexus 6P.

Now of course the Nexus 6P isn't all perfect, as you'll see throughout this article in our various responses. Despite a large battery the Nexus 6P doesn't exactly have the best battery life out there — and it's especially disappointing when I'm hitting it hard or traveling. And although the camera can do some really impressive things, it's often baffling how slow it is to capture and process photos ... and that's before you set it alongside an amazingly fast camera like the Galaxy S7. The screen is just so-so as well, which isn't anything new for a Nexus but is a bit disappointing considering how great the rest of the hardware is.

Yup, just like any other phone the Nexus 6P does have shortcomings, and depending on how you weigh those it may not be the phone for you. But I still enjoy picking it up regularly despite those few issues, and when I do I'm reminded of how great it is. It's the phone I use to experience Project Fi, as well as Android N right now, and that puts it in an exclusive group.

Alex Dobie

Android N

The arrival of the Android N beta — and more recently, the Android N beta actually becoming usable as a daily driver — have really tempted me to go back to the Nexus 6P full-time. Having not really used it for any length of time since I persevered with it throughout January, I'm once again feeling the pull of Nexus. And on N, the 6P is faster and better than ever.

It's great to get a look at Android N, but there are still some big flaws.

But then I'm reminded why I moved away from it earlier this year in favor of some of Samsung's recent devices. The camera's still painfully slow. (Although if you can live with a slow camera, it can absolutely go toe-to-toe with the GS7 in low light.) The screen, though not at all bad, has aged particularly badly next to the very best of 2016's high-end phones. And most of all, it's just too big.

Now, there are big phones, and there are big phones. What make the 6P too large to be manageable, for me, is the bulk around the screen. I've quite happily used the Galaxy S6 edge plus — another 5.7-inch phone, but one that's smaller, lighter and significantly easier on the pocket. I like big phones, but you need to be smart about what you build around that enormous display. I'd opt for a smaller handset overall, even if it meant having to drop down to a 5.5-inch panel.

And Google needs to address the one outstanding software area in which stock Android is just bad — and that's the speed of the camera. Part of that stems from Nexus phones' over-reliance on HDR+, but as a regular user I don't care about that. I just know that my GS7's taken a dozen or so shots before my 6P's finished processing its first.

Russell Holly

Nexus 6P

I pop my SIM card into the Nexus 6P any time I know I'm going out in the evening with friends. The battery is reliable enough that I know it'll get me through a late night, and the sensor used in this camera combined with Google's HDR+ tech is still the best I've used for capturing a low light still shot.

The Nexus 6P is just too big for me.

My only real complaint about the Nexus 6P is the only reason I put it down and picked up a Galaxy S7 — it's too damn big for me. I love the way it looks, and the Nexus 6P has always felt nice and solid with just the right amount of heft to it. But I don't like using this phone with one hand, and that's generally how I prefer to use phones.

Software has come a LONG way for the Nexus line, but the 6P also started out pretty great which is a nice breath of fresh air compared to previous Nexus releases. The camera is a little on the sluggish side when compared to the top of the line from other phone makers, but the fingerprint sensor is still the best I've used and the display is what you expect from something that doesn't have a Samsung logo on it. I've recently switched over to the N Developer Preview, but even before that the software continued to hold up against time.

Despite it not being my personal preference, I wouldn't ask for a smaller Nexus 6P. Rather, not with existing technology. This phone wouldn't do well with a sacrifice on battery life, so I'm cool with saying I'm the thing that needs to change in this situation.

Daniel Bader

Nexus 6P

Tall. So tall.

The Nexus 6P is a great phone. Certainly the best Nexus ever, and one of the best Androids ever. But it's really tall, and that makes me less likely to pick it up and use it as a daily driver over, say, a Galaxy S7 edge.

Aside from the size, there isn't much I can complain about.

That said, I used the crap out of the phone when it was released late last year, and loved its incredible performance and surprisingly good camera. Unlike previous Nexus devices running brand new versions of Android, Marshmallow arrived pretty stable for me, and my 6P never experienced the growing pains of its 5X counterpart. Now that it's running Android N's latest beta, I'm back using it full-time, and I am even more impressed with the damn thing: it just flies through anything I throw at it, though I still wish its camera was slightly faster. After months with the Galaxy S7 edge, nothing comes close. Except in low light, which — be it Sony's sensor magic, Google's HDR+ prowess, or Huawei's manufacturing chops — it absolutely excels at.

The 6P is a showcase for Google's latest software, sure, but in a way it's equally an opportunity for Huawei to prove its worth to an entirely new audience. While I'm not a huge fan of the boxy, generic design, I am of the 6P's build quality, which is quintessential Huawei — metal, glass, and visible antenna lines.

Aside from the size, there really isn't much I can complain about when it comes to the Nexus 6P. If I'm picking nits, I'd get that price down a bit — it's $699 Canadian Dollars, which is, while lower than many flagships, still a lot of money in this market.

Your thoughts

Those are our thoughts on how we'd change the Nexus 6P, but we know lots of you have been using the phone for several months as well. If you've been using the latest high-end Nexus, we want to know how you'd change it if you had the chance! Let us know in the comments.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.