NEW YORK—There was a bit of mystery surrounding the smoky strip seen in leaked pictures on the upper rear of Google’s new Nexus phone. What was Google up to?
Now that the newly announced Google Nexus 6P is official, we know that the strip is called Visor. It’s basically a Gorilla Glass cover over the 6P’s camera sensors. Google also unveiled the 5X handset, which doesn’t have the Visor.
The aeronautical grade aluminum 6P is the first all metal Nexus and the first to run the latest flavor of Android known as Marshmallow. It is made by Huawei in China.
The phone felt substantial when I picked it up, and though it’s actually a bit lighter at 6.3 ounces than the Nexus 6 that it replaces as Google’s flagship, I initially thought otherwise. It has a 5.7-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display at 518 ppi that’s actually smaller than the 5.96-inch screen on its predecessor.
Google is taking preorders today on the devices, with phones slated to ship in late October. The 6P starts at $499 for an unlocked 32GB model that will work with any U.S. carrier. A step-up 64GB model fetches $549 and the 128GB version $649. That higher sum was the price of the Nexus 6 when it debuted a little under a year ago.
Google’s other new model, the 5X, has a lower resolution 5.2-inch screen and $379 starting price. It is made by LG.
On the surface it seems the cameras on both new phones have been bolstered, though how good they are remains to be seen. Rival Apple has set a high bar with the cameras on the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
The rear camera on both the 6P and 5X are 12-megapixel shooters. The front camera on the 6P has an 8MP sensor, on the 5X there’s a 5MP sensor.
Through its software, Google has tried to make the process of taking pictures simpler. The shutter button and other controls are more intuitive. You can swipe in the camera app to switch between the video and still cameras.
It’s worth pointing out that you can now use Google’s Chromecast devices, including the new round model that Google also announced today, to “cast” or share photos in the Google Photos app onto your big screen television.
Other items of note:
Through a low power processor Google refers to as the Android Sensor Hub, you’ll be able to see notifications just by nudging the phone.
The phones launch with the emerging USB Type C charger that is used in Google’s premium Chromebook Pixel, Apple’s MacBook laptop and other devices. And Google is promising super fast charging—up to 7 hours of juice after just 10 minutes of charging. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, as someone accustomed to using the Touch ID fingerprint reader on the front of the iPhone (and some Samsung devices) I suspect it might take awhile to get used to fingerprint reader on the new Nexus devices. That’s because they’re on the back of the phones, though still I found easily within reach. Google says it is more ergonomic this way.
Of course, as the first Nexus phones to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system, you’ll be able to check out the promising “Now On Tap” feature that is supposed to deliver Google Now results when you hold down the Home button based on what you’re looking at.
Google is also opening up its Project Fi wireless phone service to the 6P and 5X—previously you could only take advantage of the service on the Nexus 6. Service starts at $30 a month.
I look forward to testing the new phones once it gets closer to their availability.
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