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When I reviewed the Nexus 6 last year, I said it was a good design but not stunning.
Frankly speaking, I do not like plastic in premium and flagship devices (unless it feels deceptively premium which is rare). Metal construction feels most premium followed by the glass-cladded designs.
Google and Huawei in their Nexus 6P smartphone have given us a metal construction design this time.
I was excited when I heard that and after receiving a generally positive press for this device, I was keen to try this phone and write my personal review and feedback about its build-quality, feel and look.
As a passionate design-lover and having HTC One M9 as my current favourite on design front, will Nexus 6P be able to take the top spot in my list?
After using the Graphite version for nearly two months now, I am ready to share my Nexus 6P design review with you. I will individually review its front, back, sides and finally, the overall feel of the device. I hope you find it useful in making your opinion about this smartphone.
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Don’t make any mistake, it is a big phone with large 5.7 inch AMOLED screen.
In my definition, it falls under the “phablet” category (>5.5 inch screen).
Add on top it a pair of front facing stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the screen. We end up with a bold and big front however, Huawei has kept an impressive look and feel of the device when viewed from the front.
It has a slab-style rectangular form but well-rounded corners add subtle feel to it.
The front facing camera and proximity sensor at the top-bezel are standard features which are very comparable to any other high-end devices.
The only minor gripe is the dust-collection in speaker grills. I have seen this issue in a few devices where front facing speakers are used. HTC’s speaker grills used in M8 and M9 are perhaps the best ones which do not have this issue.
Overall, a nice front view which is big, bold, flat and smart.
I want to split the back of the Nexus 6P into three main parts.
1The first one is the ugly-looking camera strip on the top. Frankly speaking, I didn’t like it at all. It seems like a misfit in the overall design.
The slightly raised (humped) black glass strip houses two main visible parts, the back camera and the dual LED flash. I don’t know what else is happening behind this strip but I am sure that there is more under the hood that necessitated to introduce this strip.
I am not hesitant to say that this strip kills the overall elegance of the device.
Sorry Google and Huawei, this strip should have been avoided. It gathers minute dust particles at the perimeter or interface with the metal body. Simply speaking, it is a misfit.2Then comes the metal part. Most of the back is made of metal (anodised Aluminium). The only two parts at the back which are not metal are phone-wide glass strip on the top (as mentioned above) and another phone-wide plastic strip at the bottom which is approximately 1 cm thick.
The metal feels premium although it still attracts finger marks. The Graphite colour version which I am using presents this problem however it is manageable and not too bad. In this metal part, we have a microphone at the top, a round fingerprint scanner further down and finally, Nexus and Huawei logos under the fingerprint scanner.
Overall, a practical and clean design with gentle curves on the edges.3The third part is the plastic strip at the bottom which is roughly 1 cm thick and spans the phone body from edge to edge. Again, I am assuming there is something behind which needs better transmittance through plastic as compared to metal. Although there is only a little colour difference between metal and plastic parts but from design perspective, it lessens the overall premium feel of the device.
6P’s side frame is the same metal as the back. There is a very thin chamfered edge between the back and the sides which add to the overall design feel. It is relatively shiny and on deep observation, looks pleasant.
The right side has a volume rocker and textured power button. Both buttons are responsive, feel sturdy and look beautiful.
The top frame has a standard 3.5mm audio jack which I quite liked. I believe that it is the most convenient location for a headphone jack to be attached to a smartphone. There are two thin plastic strips in the top frame as well which I assume are for transmitting signals more efficiently.
The left hand side frame has a flush-finished and eject-able sim card tray. There is a very slight colour difference which helps to differentiate it from the rest of the body colour.
At the bottom, there is a relatively newer Type-C USB port which sits centrally. Again there are two plastic strips on either sides for signals efficiency.
In summary, I quite liked the practical and cleverly-thought design of buttons and controls on the side frame of the device.
It is a big phone, don’t forget that.
You need to have a natural affinity and likeness to use big screens and big phones to like this flagship. Although at 7.3 mm thickness, Huawei has done a good job to keep it slim and sleek, it still is a big phone with overall dimensions of 159.3 x 77.8 mm.
At 178 grams, it is not the lightest of the phones either. It’s metal and it’s big, so you are bound to have some weight to manage but overall dimensions and design do not make it feel too bulky and too heavy.
I have big hands and I like big phones so personally I don’t mind the size of it. However, if you have small hands or you have not tried phablets before, I would suggest you to jump in to your local mobile phones store and try one of these on display if you can.
It is a good design and Huawei has done well to introduce all-metal (mostly) unibody construction in this flagship but when it comes to elegance, finesse and wow-factor, it leaves more to desire. The glass and plastic strips at the back on top and bottom do play their part to reduce the overall elegance of the device.
In conclusion, it is a good design and well-acceptable for many Android lovers. However, for design critics like me, there is more to be done to go past the likes of HTC One M9 (M10 now announced as well) and Sony Xperia Z5.
“I will give it a 7 out of 10 (feels good) on overall design.”
Have you either tried or owned the Nexus 6P and have your views to share with us?
Do you think that having a metal-design is a step in the right direction or do you prefer glass or plastic construction in your flagship device?