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Hands-on: Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are two good reasons to stay on stock Android

Florence Ion | Oct. 1, 2015
Google listened to all the feedback from the last few Nexus generations and produced two of the best Nexus phones ever.

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It's so thin and dense! Credit: Florence Ion

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The Nexus 6P's gorgeous metal corners. Credit: Florence Ion

The Nexus 6P is made of aluminum. It’s light enough for your pocket, but dense enough to throw at someone’s head and possibly inflict some harm. That’s how solid the 6P feels in the hand. Its beveled metal edges are pretty sweet, too, and although I’d hardly pit this device in a design contest against the Galaxy S6—or even the iPhone 6S—it’s nice to see Google offering a more premium product in its Nexus lineup.

Finally—a better Nexus camera

Admittedly, I only had a few minutes to snap photos here and there at the event, but that's all I needed to be convinced that Google took all the criticism of the camera quality in its Nexus lineup to heart. 

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The Nexus 6P took a surprisingly clear photo of Android Police's David Ruddock. Credit: Florence Ion

To recap, the Nexus 5X and 6P each feature a rear-facing, 12.3-megapixel camera sensor with a maximum aperture of f/2.0. I didn’t expect either of the Nexus phones to produce a photo that was clear in the lighting that we were in. Most smartphones struggle when there are recessed spotlights overhead, but the 6P performed just fine from the preview I saw on screen. I did notice that the shutter speed was just a tad slower on the 5X than the 6P, though I couldn’t pinpoint the issue.

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I managed to play around with the refocus feature on the Nexus 6P. It was a little weird to use at first, but I liked the effect. Credit: Florence Ion

Also, I’m still not a fan of the stock Android camera application: it’s way too barebones for me, and I don’t like that I have to swipe from either side to sift through options. I’d rather just tap a button to go into a clearly labeled settings menu to choose my camera mode, like I do on Samsung and LG’s camera apps.

Now on Tap

The Nexus phones were certainly the main attraction at Google's event, but I was particularly looking forward to seeing more of Now on Tap. I saw a demo at Google I/O, but seeing it work in person made me eager to see it hitting my device, along with Android Marshmallow.

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Now on Tap with an article brought up the wrong search terminology. CreditFlorence Ion

Now on Tap works across the entire operating system, but it’s particularly impressive when you’re using it inside a simple app like the Chrome browser. I navigated to an article on virtual reality and held down the Home button. Now on Tap popped up with a relevant keyword and apps that I could use to delve further into the subject. The end result was limited and not entirely correct, however: The original article is about "perfecting" virtual reality, sure, but I would have rather it looked up information on the virtual reality devices that have recently made headlines.

 

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