Monday, November 9, 2015

Nexus 6P: The Best Big Phone You Can Buy

Oh, the haters. 

The haters wouldn't be so annoying if so many of them didn't work for the biased valley press. There's this collection of clueless douchebags pretending to be writers with zero actual technical background that do nothing but bash everything that isn't Apple. And when you are biased, it's so easy to ignore actual reality, and to find fault with anything that isn't Apple while ignoring every shortcoming of Apple's tired HTC clones running their shitty Android copy. Because of this, I coined a term:

BTAI (Better Than Apple Index)
Definition: How much better than Apple a product has to be before the biased douchebags in the valley will just admit it's a better product.
Typically this is around 60 percent. 

Examples: The Second Gen Nexus 7 was easily 70 percent better than the iPad Mini, so the valley just admitted it. The Nexus 10 was only 50 percent better than the iPad at the time, so the shills pretended the iPad was better, and concocted bullshit nonsense to justify negative reviews. 

The Nexus 6P is about 50 percent better than the iPhone 6S Plus at.. everything. 

So you can expect the valley shills to do the usual. And it has already started. 

1) Find something that is/was clearly wrong with the iPhone, and pretend it is also wrong with the Google product.

We've seen this with security. There are armies of paid shill reporters claiming android has horrible security despite Android being easily 8 times more secure than iOS.

We've also seen this with the recent "bend" videos from some clueless moron on YouTube. Bending that NOBODY can seem to reproduce. We've watched him weaken the phone with a lighter and by breaking the glass to still struggle to bend this brute of a phone, then fabricate a second bend test that again, nobody else can seem to replicate. And of course, you see him kissing Apple's ass when he reviews their products. Just another shill. 

And it's telling. It's telling that Apple has to cheat and use douchebags that manufacture flaws to maintain their market position. That they have to use the same tactics that negative politicians employ.

2) Exaggerate the importance of missing features.

This one comes in so many forms. The main one being, Apple will pick some completely pointless feature to add to a device (since they are completely out of new ideas) and add it. This time it was their copy of Android's "force touch". Something that has been in the Android kernel unused... forever. Because it's stupid. Adding complexity does not simplify things. iOS was already 20-30 percent less efficient to use because of how braindead the interface is. Why make it take even longer by adding a hold and wait function? Just incredibly poor design. But I've actually read reviews from people pretending to be intelligent, unbiased reviewers claiming that this being missing is an automatic loss for any phone. 

That, or the "Apple double standard". For years I'd suffer eyeroll exhaustion reading reviews from folks like CNet that would actually slam an Android phone for not having removable storage, or a removable battery, yet praise the iPhone in the same paragraph despite it having the exact same "flaws". And you will still find reviews on this phone saying the exact same thing. In 2015. No shit.

I've also seen the Nexus 6P slammed for not having OIS. Now, you won't see them slam the iPhone 6S for this being missing, despite it actually mattering on the iPhone 6S seeing that it doesn't have anything to compensate for it. The Nexus 6P has very huge (1.55 Micron) light gathering pixels. Does this make it as good as having hardware image stabilization? No. Is it good enough? Of course. The only time I wished I had really good OIS was when taking 4K video. You do notice it not being there. But any other time, it's a whole lot of not even thinking about it. 

3) Downplay the significance of actually innovative features. 

Google Now On Tap is awesome. And what I've learned is that it learns the more you use it. It gets better and better. Just like Google Now has. I can't imagine not having Google Now cards on a phone now. I imagine Now On Tap will be the same way in a few months. It's the kind of feature you can expect others to copy, badly. Think Siri or Apple Music or Cortana or Apple Maps or WatchOS. 

4) Pretend Apple is being copied. 

You can actually find reviewers claiming the 6P is an iPhone clone. I'm not making that up. Google it. Or the use of a fingerprint reader (something Motorola did years before Apple copied them) was somehow copied from Apple. This practice is so common, because of how clueless the typical valley journalist is, that you can actually find stories accusing HTC of copying Apple's HTC One copy, or Asus copying Apple's Asus Zenwatch copy. 

So what's the truth Scott?

Is the iPhone bad? No.

I actually own an iPhone 6S Plus. It's not by any means a bad phone. It's just, yanno, an iPhone. Not anything particularly special to someone used to higher quality phones. It's like asking someone how good the crowbar in their trunk is that they use to change tires.
"Um, it's a crowbar"
or how good their toaster is.
"Um, it toasts bread"
In short, it's just not very special. It's a lot of copied features from Google and Samsung, not always done great, but usually well enough. Mediocre screen tech showing it's age. Huge bezels that make it look cartoonish, and cheap. Way too heavy and big compared to higher quality devices from better makers. But it's not bad. It's just not nearly as good as most current Android flagships. It's also not the phone I'm reviewing.
(I'm banned from reviewing Apple products, so I don't)

Does the Nexus 6P Bend? Sure. If you want it bad enough.

We know that the iPhone 6 Plus started deforming right around 41 pounds of pressure thanks to proving it. We know the iPhone 6S Plus bends at around 100 pounds now, which is a huge improvement. We know the Nexus 6P bends at around 90 pounds thanks to a brave soul that risked his phone to do the test right. In practical terms this means your 6P won't be bending in your pocket like some iPhones do. It's designed better than the phones that bend. 

With All That Out Of The Way.....

I have hated big phones forever. I tried REAL HARD to love the Oneplus One. And I mean, for the time it was a really great phone. It honestly still is if everything you want is there. But it just didn't completely capture my heart. This phone did though. This is the first big phone that I honestly love.

So Why Scott? Why This Big Phone? What Changed?

Things are only as good as their intended purpose. My intended purpose for this phone was to use it for media consumption, and games. So because of how good it feels in your hand, the amazing speakers, and the battery life, it has been phenomenal for that intended purpose. 

*It perfectly fits the Viewmaster VR headset. I've been giggling myself silly playing with the new YouTube VR stuff. 

*My Harbinger (clicky) addiction has never been worse. 

*Music sounds amazing on the speakers or headphones (works great with the Xiaomi ones I adore).

*Movies and TV and Anime look amazing on Plex or Netflix or Crunchyroll. 

*Even books are a joy to read on this screen. I LOVE this screen. 

*It's even great for Remote Desktop Connections. Twice now out and about I was easily able to RDP into my work network (Project Fi is fantastic in DC) and fix issues on production servers. Like it was nothing. 

And if you do somehow manage to suck the battery dry in 5-6 hours (I have) you can be back up to full ridiculously fast because of the fast charging. 

Simply put, it does all the things I want it to do VERY well.
And that's all you need to love something. 

Everything else is just gravy.

I could give a shit about fingerprint readers (I use an Android Wear device to keep my phone unlocked because it's easier and smarter), but for the folks that care, it's there. And it's really really good. Back to back tests against the iPhone 6S Plus show it's faster, and more accurate. Not by any huge margin mind you. They are both pretty great. That being said, sensor placement is much better on the Nexus 6P. I'm really glad I use an Otterbox case with my iPhone 6S Plus because twice now, despite my huge paws, I've dropped the boat anchor while trying to activate the fingerprint reader one handed. You won't have this problem with the better designed Nexus 6P. 

Yes, the camera is outstanding (They actually put a real DSLR sensor in a phone). Better than anything Apple has ever put out there, and nipping at Samsung and Sony's heels. But it's not hard to find a decent camera these days. Hell, I'm taking the pictures for this review with my prior Xiaomi Mi 4. It's doing a great job in very bad light. Camera quality is becoming a lot of benchmark masturbation. We are rapidly approaching the "who cares anymore?" threshold with mobile camera quality. 

Yes, Project Fi is outstanding. The caveat being, T-Mobile and Sprint must also be outstanding in your area. They happen to be the first and second best carriers in DC at the moment for speed and quality. It alone could be the "killer feature" that would make you pick the 6P over some lesser phone, but not for me. T-Mobile was fine. I'm on WiFi 90 percent of the time. 

And yes, Google Now On Tap is amazing (to me, now). But if it wasn't there? I'd still love this phone. This is just the best gravy to come out of Android Marshmallow. And like most things Google, it's the thing you don't even have to buy this particular phone to enjoy. 

The most important thing to me is that they somehow managed to make a huge phone that doesn't feel cumbersome to use, doesn't feel heavy as shit like the bigger iPhone does, and doesn't want to slip out of your hands like MANY phones do. They really nailed the design, feel, software, hardware, and utility while blending it all together at an outstanding pricepoint. The fact that it's also a value is what makes this the best big phone you can buy

So What Do You Hate, Scott?

The biggest fear for me and this phone was that the finish would be easily scratched. Normally you get to play a game of "pick one" with phones. Either they feel good in your hands and grip well but aren't durable, or they slip out of your hands easily and don't scratch easily and feel bad in your hand. The Nexus 6P feels good in your hands, and LOOKS like it might scratch easily. For my part, I carried the phone without a case for 3 days and did my typical use. I noticed no superficial scratches. So the finish "seems" good enough, but that's not good enough for me. That means using a shitty TPU case, or (what I'm doing) getting a DBrand skin. Hopefully that shows up today. I kinda got spoiled by the Xiaomi Mi 4. A phone with zero design shortcomings because of the Stainless Steel construction, and seemingly shatterproof screen. I never felt I needed a case with it, and it still looks factory new as I write this. I'd love to see other makers copy Xiaomi's Mi 4 build quality.

And that's it. That's the only thing I truly dislike, and it's hardly unique to the Nexus 6P. I see other makers upping their game. Apple has caught up to the rest of the industry and stopped using shit-grade aluminum to save money. Motorola is taking their already amazing build quality and adding screens that don't explode (like Xiaomi did). I hope it's a trend that continues. 

Final Thoughts

Your big phone is a failure NOW if:

1) It doesn't have front facing stereo speakers
2) It doesn't have outstanding battery life
3) It doesn't feel good in your hand
4) It doesn't have modern bezels

Too many top tier makers get those things right now for there to be any excuse. And thanks to Google raising the bar:

Your Future Big Phone Won't Be As Good As The Nexus 6P If:

1) It doesn't have enhanced network reliability
2) It doesn't have a DSLR level camera sensor
3) It doesn't have a smartly positioned fingerprint reader

It might still be a good phone, but not Nexus 6P good. 

In any typical market, when one person does all the marketing, and somebody else tries to compete with sheer quality, the poorer quality product becomes the dominant player. We see this in TV, movies, soft drinks, beers, music, cars, religions, and politics. The best of something doesn't always win the hearts and minds. But Android is so much better than the alternatives, that it simply walked away with the market, and forced competitors to create cults to even stay in business. Don't be a cult member. Laugh at that Scientologist or Birther or Climate Change Denier or Apple Zealot. Don't be one. 


Signing off,
It has been fun. : )