Image source: AndroidGuys.com

Marshmallow Crossover

After using iPhone for eight years, I embark the Android Diet, reviewing the Huawei Nexus 6P


2015 was quite a strange and exciting year in tech. Governments pretended to know about technology when confronting security and privacy issues (and failed miserably), Back to the Future made a comeback as hover boards exploded in the second half of the year (literally!), and Huawei ruled the Android marketplace with the Google-designed Nexus 6P. At the beginning of the year, if you had told me that Huawei would make the best Android smartphone of 2015, I would have thought you were crazy, and called you out on Twitter for such a statement. Alas, there is no arguing that the Nexus 6P is the love-child of the strange relationship technology encountered this year.

Being a lifelong iOS user, I never thought I’d see the day that I would become a part of the Android faithful. However, after the release of Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and widespread attention brought to 2015’s new Nexus devices, I became intrigued until I received a challenge: Make the Marshmallow crossover for a week, using the iPhone solely for photography/video purposes. I jumped on board, documenting and reviewing the Nexus 6P every step of the way.

HOWEVER… for the anxious reader who wants the immediate review, I’ll post that first, followed by my daily experiences with this device. Enjoy!

Hardware:

Anyone who picks up this phone will immediately notice the loose grip from the aluminum chassis and the the beautiful 2K AMOLED display, which produces deep, rich black color. The front-facing speakers on the Nexus eliminated the need for me to cup my hands at the bottom of the phone while watching videos or sharing a song with my friends (yes, I have friends). Under heavy user, the processor overheats and needs a few minutes to cool off, otherwise battery and system performance will suffer. USB Type-C and rapid charging give this phone an edge over the iPhone 6s, which can take as long as 3 hours to charge. The Nexus Imprint fingerprint scanner is just as quick as Apple’s second generation Touch ID and, despite being located on the back of the device, is located in an area that is both natural and unobtrusive to the user.

Software:

Android 6.0 is fluid, with major performance enhancements, including privacy controls and battery efficiency. However, the iPhone 6S Plus’ battery life still outperforms the Nexus 6P’s. Typing on the keyboard just feels different compared to the iPhone but, is an enjoyable experience once you get used to it. Both cameras are great and take beautiful photos; however, the lack of OIS is disappointing, especially considering this is a premium handset in 2015. Adding cards for Android Pay was rather simple and the ease of use rivals that of Apple Pay.

Networking:

Given that this phone is an unlocked GSM handset, users are able to pop in their GSM-compatable sim card, power on the device, and have network connectivity. I experienced LTE and VPN issues during my first hours with the handset (which was pretty annoying) but the issues seemed to resolve themselves within 5 hours. Although I stuck to Cricket’s cellular network (which is AT&T’s pre-paid subsidiary) during this challenge, I often wondered how Google’s Project Fi would have faired as I traveled across the great state of Texas.

Overall:

Surprisingly, I did not miss my iPhone as much as I thought I would. I love the Nexus 6P and highly recommend it for anyone who wants the pure Android experience and is willing to shell out more money for a higher end phone. Of course, mid-range phones, like the Moto X Pure and the Nexus 5X, are great, more affordable alternatives with the same stock Android Marshmallow operating system. For anyone transitioning from iPhone to Android or simply upgrading, this is the phone to go for. This phone is slipery and users with butter fingers will suffer as I did on my second day with the phone. If you decide to invest in this phone, you must definitely invest in a case as well.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is not a major facelift rather, a major under-the-hood improvement, just as iOS 9 was to iOS 8. Critics pick at the new security and privacy features, which have long distinguished Android from iOS; however in our smartphone-nerd culture, this is a major win for any consumer, especially in the Post-Snowden era. Some of the things I missed were the exceptional battery life that I was familiar with on iOS, Optical Image Stabalization (OIS) for video recording, 15 iOS app updates released during this 7-day period, and Apple’s encrypted iMessaging service but, I sat contempt with Google Hangouts & standard SMS.

This phone comes with 90 days of Google Play Music, which also covers the YouTube Red service. This is a phone that is the gold standard for Android phones today, and propells us into what may be a very intresting year in tech; but who knows. 2016 may see the rise of a new Android leader, perhaps another underdog (HTC), but we’ll have to wait for the 2016 tech year to kick off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Navada on January 6!


Day 1:

After setting up my Nexus 6P, privacy became an immediate concern. The Android operating system has long been known for its privacy and security flaws but version 6.0 is said to give the user more control over their privacy.

Due to the 6.0.1 update, configuration issues, and two-step authentication on all of my internet accounts, porting everything over from iOS took longer than I thought. The heavy usage, combined with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor (which has been known for heating issues) heated up the phone to the point where I thought it would explode. Instead, it ran down the battery within 6 hours.

Network issues were present during this time, as I could not get the phone to connect to the Cricket’s LTE network. As an unlocked GSM device, you should (in theory) be able to plug in your sim card while the phone is powered off, then power on the device and, it should connect to the cellular network. 4G LTE did not turn on until thirty minutes before the phone died. Alongside the LTE issues were VPN issues, as it refused to connected to any servers, while on Wi-Fi as well as the cellular network, however this issue resolved itself once the device established a connection to the LTE network. Now, it is only fair to mention that the network issues may have been a result of background configurations, and did not hinder me from accessing the Cricket/AT&T cellular network, and the phone was using HSDPA for data.

Once the phone was up and running properly, I quickly realized that I loved the look and feel of Android 6.0, and everything was rather snappy. The Nexus Imprint, which is device’s fingerprint scanner for unlocking and authorizing payments, works faster than the Touch ID sensor in the iPhone 5s & iPhone 6. Adding cards for Android Pay was rather simple, and rapidly charging the phone with the USB Type-C cable was a pleasant delight.

Day 2:

“ALARM! How do I shut you off”?!

4:30. The struggle was real as I tried to shut off the phone’s alarm and wake up for the gym. Coming from iOS, this is not an easy task, as pressing any of the hardware buttons has no effect on silencing the alarm.

7:00. Just got to work but as I was getting out of the car, I forgot how slippery this phone was… until it plunged 3 feet, head-first, into the ground, then resting on its back. Aside from some nicks along the chamfered edges and lower aluminum casing, there is no major damage to any glass surface or the phone itself.

7:45. Maybe I should check Facebook. Wait — Facebook’s ‘Paper’ application is not on Android. How do I use the native app?!

8:00. There’s either an algorithm antenna issue on this device or the iPhone just sucks at maintaining cell signal because I have service with this phone in areas that I don’t with the iPhone. This makes me I wonder how the experience with the Nexus 6P would be on Project Fi.

19:20. Nike Run… lets do this! Hands… hold onto the phone! With Google Fit and the device’s location services tracking my every step, I’m surprised the phone’s battery is lasting this long.

22:00. I keep trying to use Force Touch/3D Touch. This is funny and embarrassing.

23:00. 15% battery. Low battery mode. Hey! There’s an auto configuration mode for this. Take that, Apple!

Day 3:

8:30. Today is the day! I’m leaving to San Antonio this evening and it will be a 12-hour bus ride. I hope this poor phone survives.

13:00. This cloudy day deserves a time lapse video. However, I found the lack of OIS disturbing in such a premium handset. Swipe for the keyboard is amazing and, even though it’s on iOS and I’ve used it before, the lag on iOS is obtrusive, where it’s fluid on Android.

16:00. 75% battery. Leaving to San Antonio in an hour. Must charge device (just in case). Rapid charging… ready, go!

20:30. Still using my earpods as headphone for the Nexus, I wish I had full functionality of the iOS controls, or if Huawei shipped headphones with the device… that would have been nice too ^.^

22:07. Unlike an IPS display, the whites on an AMOLED display are so bright. I miss my iPhone’s display #SadFace

23:30. Okay, it’s 11:30pm. It’s dark in the bus. I’m in the middle of Texas in the middle of the night, and the white color from the phone is so bright that it hurts my eyes.

Day 4:

Trying out Android Pay in Downtown San Antonio. Photo credit: William “Drew” Jacobo.

• 5:30. Arrived in San Antonio, had to charge my phone once on the bus. Time to grab breakfast! Whataburger, anyone?

9:15 Walking around San Antonio for hours, got to the hotel. Google maps and my Nexus did not falter. Didn’t sleep on the bus; I need a nap.

14:30. Need sustenance. Walgreens, here I come. Google Maps: guide the way!

• 15:07. Android Pay: just as simple, convent, and awesome as Apple Pay!

• 16:16. I’ve accepted that my privacy is at great stake with Android. Why not turn on Okay Google?

Nexus 6P Image: Kylo Ren and me outside Alamo Plaza. Photo credit: William “Drew” Jacobo.

• 17:45. I’m feeling some fine dining. “Okay Google. Give me directions to Sushi Zushi.”

• 17:55. Hey! Just ran into the #SaWookieWalk2015; pictures with Chewbaca, Kylo Ren, & Bobba Fett are greatly needed.

• 18:05. OMG! These low-light photos are beautiful!

• 18:17. Ran into an old friend from high school. Another dark photo is needed. Looks good!

• 18:52. Okay, continuing to Sushi Zushi.

• 19:05. Google Maps took me right to the doorstep! Thank you, Google!

• 23:00. I’m surprised the battery has lasted all day. This is not something I’d expect from Android.

Day 5:

Nexus 6P Image: Shipley Donuts was amazing! Photo credit: Matthew Montoya

• 8:05. Going to a donut shop for morning pastries; obviously need an Instagram pic!

• 10:05. Walked around downtown SA; snapped photos. Used Okay Google a few times

**I’ve realized that I love this phone so much that I’m trying to find more reasons to use it, resulting in faster battery loss and an overheating 810**

• K, CVS. Activate your NFC terminals already. I don’t carry a wallet anymore. That’s so 2014!

• 4 hours later and I’m at 72%. Charging at the hotel before I go out for the rest of the day

• 15:00. Went to the Alamo and whataya know? They accept Android Pay!

• The Purple store was closed; sent pics to mom. She could read the small writing on the signs. Great job, Nexus!

18:00. Went to the Tower of the Americas. Had to use the iPhone for most of the hemisphere images. OIS came in handy. Damn you, Nexus.

• Snapchatted like a mother f***** all evening. Came home at midnight with 27% battery remaining. Not bad. I’m in love with the nexus but I seriously can’t wait to go back to my iPhone

Day 6:

Nexus 6P Image: Texas A&M Centro de Artes Museum. Photo credit: Matthew Montoya.

• 10:45. Went to the Art Museum. Snapped a few photos. Got plenty of likes on Instagram 🙌
• 11:00. Early lunch at Subway! Good thing Android Pay worked because I didn’t bring my wallet.
• 17:45. Took a Riverwalk boat ride; got sh*t on by a bird. Phone was less than an inch away. These birds have good aim!
• 19:25. Dinner at Michelinos was heavy! Time to flush out out with Pedalyte. Ooo look! A CVS! Contactless payments not accepted. Well fu** you, CVS. Chip-and-pin not accepted either. Well fu** security altogether, I guess. Sh*t, why not?
• 21:00. There’s a sepecial presentation at the Cathridrial of San Fernando. Need to record a 21-minute video in 4K. Sorry, Nexus. Your lack of OIS is disturbing. Come here, iPhone!
• 21:45. Returned to the hotel with plenty of Android battery to spare.

Day 7

  • 5:45. I‘m heading back home to El Paso today. The bus leaves in an hour. Phone: charged! Baggage: packed! Time to call for a Lyft.
  • 5:47. Lyft has a nice Android app. Simple. Easy. Elegent. My ride is two minutes away!
  • 7:00. Discovered the bus has power outlets. Unfortunately, only the ones on the right side of the bus work… and I’m stationed on the left.
  • 8:41. The bathroom on the bus is backed up and the entire limosuine smells! Bus driver is cleaning it with Ammonia. Passengers are getting rid of the smell with weed! No complaints for the latter part. This definitely deserves a Tweet!
  • 10:09. Greyhound tweets me back concerned about the issues. Sorry Greyhound, but we’re in the middle of nowhere and I am not waiting on the side of the road for 4 hours while you send State Troopers and a replacement bus.
  • 14:45. Battery is running low; I need to ask someone on the right side of the bus if I can use their outlet.
Perdóname, señora. Por favor, ¿puedo cargar mi teléfono?
  • 15:30. Time zone change! Fell back an hour. Phone is fully charged. Spotify, play me some tunes!
  • 17:45. Back in El Paso! It’s so cold! Guess I’ll send for an Uber.
  • 17:47. The Uber app layout is just as nice on Android as it is on iOS. It’s pleasing to know a familiar interface.

San Antonio has been a wonderful experience and the Nexus 6P helped me capture almost every important moment of it! Had you told me a year ago that Huawei would make the best Android device in 2015 or, that I would love Android (and what it has to offer), I would have thought you were crazy and would never have stopped laughing. I’ve been a lifelong iPhone user and I never thought I’d see the say that I’d say this: I think I’ll keep using the Android phone a little longer. I certainly enjoy it as much as (if not more than) my iPhone.

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