We live in a world where there are more options than ever as it pertains to mobile phones. New players have come onto the field and budget phones have exploded options. We’re far beyond just Samsung and Apple and that’s such a good thing. But, with so much choice, it can be a bit overwhelming to someone who doesn’t follow the space closely.
I love writing about and playing with phones. My family and friends know this so I tend to be the person they come to for suggestions on new hardware (and technical support!). There’s nothing more that I love than helping out anyone who comes to me for advice. Whether that’s someone I’ve known my entire life or someone I’ve never met before, I like to be the expert.
More often than not, one of the most common questions I get is the “which phone should I consider?” kind. Lately, I’ve found myself recommending the same phone over and over again: The Nexus 6P. Why? I’ll tell you.
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Not All Phones Are Created Equal
Not all phones are created equally and not everyone has the same needs. I try to find the perfect balance of price and features for whomever I may be helping at the time. The biggest reason (and there are many) I tend to recommend the Nexus 6P is the ratio of price to performance.
The concept of value is highly subjective but we’ll still touch on it. You can pay top dollar for a phone that absolutely crushes any task you can throw at it. True. You can buy a budget phone for half of the price of a flagship, and still perform most tasks, albeit a little slower. Also true.
In both scenarios, you may find a decent price for the desire performance. The Nexus 6P happens to be priced somewhere in between flagships and budget phones, yet performs better than almost all smartphones. This, in my opinion, gives it the best price for performance of any phone on the market.
The Nexus 6P has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM. Until the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 come out next month their rumored hardware configurations, this is the most powerful chip from one of the biggest chip makers in the world. It’s about as much as you’ll find on the market.
Although the Snapdragon 810 faced its share of less-than-stellar publicity at launch, it seems that problems have been tamed and the processor has turned out to be quite solid. The chipset and memory configuration are a very respectable tandem. I have no doubt that in 2-3 years we’ll still see a lot of people still using the Nexus 6P. Much like there are plenty of people still using the original Nexus 5 (2013), it’s plenty of bang for the Average Joe buck.
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Software is one area where Nexus phones simply can’t be beat. No Android phones receive software updates longer than Nexus devices. Even when Google decides to stop supporting a phone with updates to the newest version of Android, a community of dedicated developers put together their release and offer it to the public free of charge.
Not only can you expect at least two years of software updates for Nexus phones, but you can expect timely software updates as well. Even if you don’t care about the newest user experience tweaks or added features, you likely care about security.
Recently, Google started pushing monthly security updates to patch holes in Android (and give us new emojis!). Phone makers like Samsung and LG have put forth admirable efforts to keep up with the security updates, but it’s typically only going to select models. For example, I got the February security update on my Nexus 6P in the first week of the month. With other brands you run the risk that it may take a few more weeks — or get skipped entirely.
Google makes Nexus phones as reference devices to point the industry where it wants it to go. It’s a statement of what hardware is going to be supported, as well as the software capabilities that are important. Google makes it a priority to keep its phone’s software running as fast as possible while supporting as many features as they can. It’s the perfect mix of bleeding edge technology and stability. You won’t find this level of software support in any other line of phones, no matter the price.
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I don’t necessarily need to convince people how good the Nexus 6P’s hardware is, I just have to remind them from time to time. Aeronautical grade anodized aluminum, USB Type-C port, fingerprint sensor, QHD screen, excellent camera? All of these add up to one of the most attractive, and well built phones on the market. Forget price. It’s a total package phone.
The smooth, curved back leads you from the glass camera and sensor bar at the top, down to a round fingerprint sensor. Also helping the cause is that the fingerprint sensor is one of the fastest and most accurate on the market.
Following the design further down the back we run across a subtle but present “nexus” logo above Huawei’s own branding. Nothing feels out of place or is presented in a way that distracts your eye or comes across as obnoxious. It’s a thing of beauty.
The front of the phone is just as simple and inviting as the back. To me, the front-facing speakers should be talked about more and used as a selling point. Strangely, there’s so much to talk about with the Nexus 6P that the speakers often get overlooked.
Watching media and having the audio come directly at you instead of blasting in the opposite direction or out the sides is the way it’s supposed be. It just feels right. Once you have front-facing speakers, you may never want to go back to a phone that has anything else.
Moving along, the speakers flank one of the best displays on a phone, ever. I am constantly reminded as to how good the panel on the Nexus 6P is. The colors are gorgeous and engaging. It gets bright enough to see in sunlight and dark enough to read in bed. It is power efficient (for a QHD panel), and has enough pixels packed in that you’ll never be able to pick one out. Whether it’s text, moving images, or bright game graphics, I’m in love with the screen.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just how good the camera is. While there others on the market that could make a case for taking better pictures, the Nexus 6P has one of the best cameras around. Not only that, but it’s probably $150 less than those phones with higher-end camera.
The camera app is solid, if unspectacular, but there are plenty of third party apps out there that will unlock more of the potential of the Nexus 6P’s camera. Low light pictures are simply awesome. There can be a bit of a delay when you’re using HDR+, but it’s worth it. The pictures come out looking fantastic in even dimly lit areas. Even turning HDR+ off will still supply you with good pictures taken by one of the fastest shutters around.
All of this hardware is held together by an aluminum body that will withstand drops. Moreover, it genuinely feels like one of the best in-hand experiences I’ve ever held. There may be better feeling phones on the market, but this feels premium in every sense of the word. It certainly goes above and beyond what some expected for a Nexus phone, and it’s anything but budget.
None of the aforementioned stuff matters if the battery is awful. If you can’t actually use the phone, what good is it? Luckily, between new software features in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and the huge battery inside, battery life is stellar.
I use my phone a lot — easily more than five hours a day. And, while I can get the phone down to about 10% each night, I never end up outright draining it. I use my phone for things like reading Reddit, watching YouTube, streaming music, and staying in contact with my friends and family. I don’t carry a battery pack with me anymore because there’s simply no reason to. Even if we’re out doing touristy things and using navigation and taking lots of pictures, the phone is so efficient that I never have issues getting through the day.
This is where the power of quick charging comes in. The Nexus 6P has a USB Type-C port that supports some of the fastest charging around. Plugging it in while I go to take a shower before dinner will easily get me through the rest of the night, even if it’s close to dead.
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These are just some of the reasons that come to mind as to why the Nexus 6P is the best phone out there right now. I didn’t even touch on Google’s excellent customer support, or the fact that the Nexus 6P is unlocked with support for any GSM network. Also, hackers and modders will definitely appreciate the simplicity in the root access.
The Nexus 6P certainly isn’t perfect. There isn’t a MicroSD Card slot, there’s no removable battery, and it can be a pain replacing all your cables with the new USB Type C cables. But, what the Nexus 6P does represent is the best phone you can buy right now. There is no combination of specs, build quality, and long term support for the money.
I recommend the Nexus 6P to all of my friends and family, and to you too.