LAST YEAR WITNESSED two tech giants take starkly opposing approaches for their latest smartphones. Google chose the Nexus 6P, a 5.5in phablet, as its headline release, while Apple led with the more conventionally sized iPhone 6S.
We’ve tried and reviewed both, and we know them both to be excellent. And yet they present potential buyers with an unusual conundrum: which to choose, when they are at once broadly as good as each other but so different in design?
To figure this out, we’ve pitched the iPhone 6S and Nexus 6P in a head-to-head test encompassing all the criteria, from display quality to battery life, that we’d cover in a straightforward review.
Obviously, there is a huge size difference. The iPhone 6S measures 138x67xx7.1mm, while the Nexus 6P comes in at 159x78x7.3mm. To the credit of manufacturer Huawei, however, that extra thickness with the Nexus 6P is practically negligible, and to get such a tall and wide handset down to that level of slimness is, for want of a better phrase, no small feat.
Still, the iPhone 6S is a lot lighter at 143g compared with the Nexus 6P’s 178g. Again, that’s not half bad for a phablet but it’s less pocket-friendly nonetheless.
Both devices are equipped with circular fingerprint sensors, located on the front of the iPhone 6S, where it doubles as the Home button, and high up on the back of the Nexus 6P, the thinking evidently being that the former is unlocked with a thumb while the latter is unlocked with an index finger. Both are equally well-paced in ergonomic terms, although the increased size of the Nexus 6P’s sensor does make it slightly easier to use.
The iPhone 6S continues Apple’s use of a proprietary Lightning connector, whereas the Nexus 6P is fitted with a USB Type-C port. These are similar in certain ways, particularly in the double-sided design that allows the cables to be inserted either way up, but we’d give the edge to USB-C owing to its open nature and compatibility with the Nexus 6P’s fast-charging mains adapter.
We’re not as keen on the Nexus 6P’s hump, though. This chunky protrusion sticks out of the back panel for no discernible reason, unless Huawei intentionally aimed to make the top half a little heavier and awkward-looking. We much prefer how the iPhone 6S’ camera barely pokes outward, even if it’s not fully flush with the bodywork.
Speaking of which, both devices have a somewhat similar feel as they share aluminium construction. Only the iPhone 6S has a true unibody, but the Nexus 6P is just as sturdy and comfortable to hold.
This round, then, is ultimately a dead heat. The slimline simplicity of the iPhone 6S works very much in its favour, but the Nexus 6P manages to avoid feeling chunky or cheap while featuring the handy extras we’d expect on a top-end smartphone.
Next: Display and operating system
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