Software UI

In terms of software the 6P is able to sport the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow, courtesy of course of being a Nexus device. There’s not terribly much to say about the OS that hasn’t been said already by Brandon’s analysis in the review of the Nexus 5X. This is due to the fact that all Nexus devices come equipped with the same software experience, but also due to the fact that Android 6.0 offers very little front-facing changes.


I’ll openly admit that I’m not too much of a fan of the stock Android experience: Over the years Google’s stock Android has always been praised as the “pure” experience and how Android should be. I find this a bit unfortunate as I find there’s a lot of usability flaws in the stock. It’s the simple things that most other OEM skins add that I find the most lacking in stock Android, examples being the lack of an auto-brightness toggle in the quick settings or even having a brightness slider directly available in the notification shade itself which reduces the motions to get to the settings.

My biggest gripe however are the navigation buttons and Google’s lack of an option to reorder them. While I understand the design decision and logic behind having a back button on the left, it makes no sense in terms of usability for the majority of people that are right-handed. The back button is by far Android’s most used navigation button, so I found the Nexus 6P’s larger size to exacerbate the issue as I need to always change grip or stretch my thumb to able to reach it properly. Still having this huge ergonomics issue after this many years is basically inexcusable – the notion that it’s more intuitive to have it on the left is a poor rationale as “unintuitive” use-methods can be learned and taught, but my thumb stopped growing a long time ago and I imagine so did everybody else’s. Virtually all OEMs recognize this issue and either come by default with reversed navigation buttons or by at least offering the option to rearrange them. Here’s hoping that Google listens and adds this as a stock option for future Android releases, similarly how they did for many other past features that were pioneered by third-party vendors.

Ambient display is a great feature that takes advantage of the 6P's AMOLED screen. Every time you pick up the device it will show you a minimalistic greyed out view of your current notifications without having to press any buttons. The detection is a bit finicky and sometimes goes off too easily as I often saw ambient display trigger itself while the device was just laying steadily on my table, and also sometimes when you do want it to go off when you pick up the device it might decide not to. However when it does work it works well, and it also enables you to directly unlock the phone from there. I do wish the display period had been configurable as sometimes where you have a lot of notifications the screen will go back off before you can read all of them.

Other than some of the aforementioned annoyances, the stock Android experience is a good one. In terms of performance, there were some concerns that I’ll reiterate in the PCMark writing sub-test but otherwise the device is fluid as you’d expect it to be. I may be biased when saying this but I just don’t think stock Android is an “exciting” experience or a platform where we see lots of innovation. I’m aware that there are groups who vehemently adhere to Google’s design decisions, but for me personally it just doesn’t do it as it comes with too many daily usability regressions.

NAND Performance

In terms of NAND storage, the Nexus 6P uses a Samsung eMMC module. In fact, this is the same “BGND3R” variant as found in this year’s HTC One M9. For testing I also ran the NAND benchmarks on an unencrypted data partition to be able to analyze Android’s full disk encryption overhead that is now obligatory for all new devices shipping with 6.0 Marshmallow.

Internal NAND - Sequential Read Internal NAND - Sequential Write

As we can see the unencrypted numbers perform as expected and within range of the HTC One M9’s performance. The encrypted numbers which come as default with the device are the more concerning ones as we see a decrease in read performance of up to 84% and write performance decreases by 43%.

The Nexus 6P uses software decryption, accelerated by ARMv8 cryptography instructions. Google claims that this method is actually faster than using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon built-in SoC dedicated hardware crypto unit, which points out to a possible severe lack of performance and readiness on the part Qualcomm's SoC. We were curious to determine if this was solely an issue for Qualcomm and re-did some encrypted and unencrypted runs on the Note 5 and found that the overhead of encryption on that platform is very minimal, pointing out to that the degradation seems to be limited to Qualcomm's SoCs. It would be interesting to see if the Snapdragon 820 will be able to offer improvements in this regard.

In the end, the Nexus 6P’s out-of-the-box performance on the encrypted data partition seems very lackluster and it may affect application speed. One has to remember that it’s only the data partition that is encrypted, as we see no degradation on the internal or system partitions as they remain unencrypted.

WiFi Performance

The Nexus 6P comes naturally with 802.11ac WiFi in 2x2 MIMO configuration, all powered by Broadcomm's BCM4358 WiFi SoC. This is the same chipset found in other devices such as the Galaxy S6, so hopefully performance will be similar.

WiFi Performance - UDP

And indeed we see excellent WiFi performance from the 6P as we reach up to an average of 467Mbps, up there among one of the fastest WiFi implementations in today's smartphones.

Introduction & Design System & CPU Performance
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  • Ethos Evoss - Sunday, December 20, 2015 - link

    it is done on purpose to slag on the phone unfortunately ..
  • Ethos Evoss - Sunday, December 20, 2015 - link
  • Ethos Evoss - Sunday, December 20, 2015 - link
  • ACE76 - Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - link

    The S6 is honestly a bad phone...Samsung is certainly getting better but their software implementation is still horrible...HTC is by far the best at doing a custom Android setup while Motorola and Sony are best at keeping things close to stock Android....Samsung, for some odd reason, still thinks it has a better grasp at how to customize Android when it's clear customers want a closer to stock experience...they've also chose not to be developer friendly at all, which is terrible.
  • R. Hunt - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Lol, the S6 a bad phone...

    Also, speak for yourself. I don't want the stock experience at all.
  • Anustart - Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - link

    Lol @ 6s not selling well. Don't be a dummy.
  • Speedfriend - Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - link

    Kantar Worldpanel reporting that sales volumes for the three onths ending October were down 25% on last year in the US. And not only that, the 6s was 24% of slaes, whereas the 6 was 33% of sales for the same period last year.

    So yes, the 6s is not selling as well as the 6 did and well below expectations. Dummy
  • V900 - Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - link

    We have no reason to believe that Anustart is a dummy.

    You however, display the intellectual capacity and reasoning of a full blown idiot.

    You use Kantar Worldpanel figures August-October to claim that The iPhone 6s doesnt sell well?

    Hate to crush your hopes, but the 6s was released on the 25th of September, which means that it was only for sale around a third of that entire quarter. The iPhone 6 however, came out on the 19th of September, and therefore had almost a week more to sell in, which makes your assertion very dubious.

    Especially since the 6s beat the iPhone 6 sales figures on the 1st weekend of availability.
  • Speedfriend - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Both the 6 and 6s were available to pre-order from the 12th of September, hence were on sale for the same amount of time. In fact if you look at the Kantar data, it is clear that the slowdown has happened in October and not September anyway.

    The 6s beat the 6 on the first weekend of availbilty becuase it was launched in China unlike the 6 which had only been luanched in China on 17 October 2014.

    You may notice as well I was referring to US data.

    Who is the full blown idiot now. Maybe learn to read and do some research.
  • fanofanand - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    V900 got SERVED. Sorry just watched a marathon of South Park episodes.....but seriously folks should be a little slower to insult others, all too often you look the fool.

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