Google's Nexus 6P boasts improved camera, metal body

At a press event today, Google unveiled the next-generation of Nexus phones—the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. The 6P, made by Huawei, is the more premium of the two handsets. Google says the 6P is supposed to present Android 6.0 Marshmallow as the company intends it to be experienced.

The 6P is built with an all-metal body housing a 5.7", 2560x1440 AMOLED screen. Google is especially proud of this phone's high screen-to-bezel ratio, which it says makes the 6P feel like a smaller device.

A beefed-up fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, called "Nexus Imprint," is billed as the first fingerprint sensor in an Android device to offer full access to the fingerprint recognition features in Android 6.0. The company says the Imprint sensor offers sub-600-ms response times, and Google intends to continually improve its recognition of fingerprints over time.

The camera in the 6P is especially interesting. Google says it started building the camera around a 12.3MP Sony sensor with big 1.55-micron pixels (for reference, the widely lauded 12MP iPhone 6S camera uses 1.22-micron pixels). Those big photosites let the phone collect more light, which means faster shutter speeds and better low-light performance. Google is so confident in the light-gathering power of this camera sensor that it has foregone optical image stabilization for the 6P.

A USB Type-C port provides power and data connectivity, while Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 SoC powers the device along with 3GB of RAM and a 3,450-mAh battery.

Another internal feature the company was happy to talk about was the Android Sensor Hub, a dedicated co-processor that runs certain Android algorithms related to sensors and Google Now. By offloading these processes to the Sensor Hub, the 6P should enjoy improved battery life.

Along with the privileged access to OS and security updates that Nexus devices usually get, Google bundles a free 90-day subscription to Google Play Music and a $50 Play credit with these phones. Buyers will also have the option to purchase Nexus Protect, an AppleCare-like program that offers an additional year of warranty coverage for hardware failures and two years of accidental damage protection. It's an $89 add-on for the 6P.

The Nexus 6P will be available for pre-order from the Google Store today in the USA, the UK, Ireland, and Japan. Availability in other countries will come later. The 6P starts at $499 for the 32GB model and ranges up to $649 for the 128GB model. Huawei finishes the 6P in white, silver, and black.

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