Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Nexus 6P’

6
Oct

Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P first look


Google has now taken the wraps off the Pixel XL, leaving behind the Nexus family in favor of a new direction that sees Google more directly compete against Samsung and Apple in the smartphone hardware game. The new Pixel XL brings a lot to the table, but how does it compare to its predecessor?

Let’s take a look as we put the the Pixel XL up against the Huawei-built Nexus 6P in this quick comparison.

Aesthetically speaking, the Pixel XL and Nexus 6P have little in common in common, other than perhaps the use of metallic unibody designs and the circular fingerprint scanner found on the rear.

The Google Pixel XL offers up a unibody metal design that features a unique area of glass of the rear that starts around the fingerprint reader and stretches to the top. A subtle “G” can be found at the bottom, with no oversized logos or markings in sight. The front of the phone is completely devoid of buttons, with just a single speaker at the top middle, a sensor below, and the front-facing camera found to the left. Below the display is a pretty sizable chin, where honestly we would have liked to have seen a secondary speaker.

thumb google pixel and pixel xl hands on aaSee also: Google Pixel and Pixel XL hands on34

Turning to the Nexus 6P, the Nexus is a bit larger and heavier than the Pixel XL, but it is a bit slimmer for what it is worth. Just like the Pixel, the phone is a unibody metallic device, but instead of the partially glass back, the 6P instead offers a unique camera “wedge.” Otherwise, the back is pretty plain with simple Nexus branding and a circular fingerprint scanner in the middle. One area that the Nexus 6P stands triumphantly over the Pixel is the front-side, thanks to its dual speaker configuration.

At the end of the day, both phones take an otherwise ordinary metallic design and add a little extra flair. With the 6P, it’s the camera bump. With the Pixel, it’s a half-glass backing. We suspect the Pixel’s design will be met with split reception, similar to the 6P before it, but really it comes down to personal preference as to which design is more appealing.

google pixel xl vs nexus 6p quick look aa-4

Both the Pixel XL and Nexus 6P offer QHD AMOLED displays, though this time around Google has shrunk the size down to 5.5-inches from the 5.7-inch size of the 6P. The smaller size means the Pixel XL will have slightly higher PPI, but overall you’re looking at pretty similar viewing experiences with all the characteristics you’d expect from an AMOLED panel.

google pixel xl vs nexus 6p quick look aa-3

Performance favors the newer phone, which is expected. The Pixel XL features the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, paired with 4GB RAM. Of course, the Nexus 6P is no slouch with its Snapdragon 810 and 3GB RAM, either. Though the processing package isn’t the latest or greatest anymore, it is more than capable of providing a great Android experience.

If you’re looking for plenty of storage options, the Pixel XL will probably disappoint a little, as your choices are between either 32GB or 128GB. In contrast, the 6P offered 32, 64, and 128GB configurations. Neither phone offers expandable memory, but that’s pretty much expected from Google. It is worth noting that the Pixel XL does include free unlimited storage of videos and pictures at full resolution.

Battery life will likely be fairly similar between these two phones, with both offering 3450mAh battery configurations. Both phones also feature quick charging and USB type-C. Whether the Snapdragon 821 offers any noticeable battery optimizations over the Snapdragon 810 remains unseen, but we’ll be sure to put the phone through its paces once we get our review unit.

google pixel and pixel xl first look hands on together aa-6

The Nexus 6P completely raised the bar on what to expect from the Nexus family in terms of camera performance. Offering less megapixels in favor of larger ones, the 6P offered a 12MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture that prioritized low light performance. The end result was a pretty solid camera overall.

google pixel and pixel xl first look hands on aa-42See also: Shootout: How good is the new Pixel XL camera?50

A similar story plays out with the Pixel XL, which features a 12.MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture and 1.55 μm sized pixels. On paper, this is a very similar configuration to the 6P. While we won’t be able to definitively say how the cameras compare until we’ve done a full review, it is worth noting that DxOmark has rated the Pixel XL with an 89 — beating out the Nexus 6P, Galaxy S7, and the iPhone 7 and receiving the highest mark from the company to date.

google pixel xl vs nexus 6p quick look aa-5

Like the Nexus 6P, at the heart of the Pixel XL is a stock Android experience. That said, Google has been less shy about adding on special features this time around. Out of the box the Pixel XL features Android 7.1 Nougat with the new Pixel launcher preloaded. Swiping up from the dock brings up the app drawer and circles are more the motif for this launcher. Another Google G is in plain view at the top, opening up a familiar Google Now search bar.

But the real star of the show is Google Assistant, now baked right into the OS. Previously found within the Allo application, the latest iteration offers a greatly improved experience over what you’d find with Google Now. Asking it contextual questions yields clear, accurate answers. For example, I asked Assistant to play me wrestler TJ Perkins’ entrance from WWE. Once I said the request, Youtube appeared and played the video in question.

The fast, fluid stock experience is alive and well on the Nexus 6P as well, with Android 7.0 Nougat currently being the latest version on offer. While the experience is largely identical, Pixel Launcher and the baked in Google Assistant are not part of the formula here. While it’s possible these new features will come to the Nexus family in some form down the road, for now these special extras remain something you’ll only be able to experience with a Pixel.

google pixel xl vs nexus 6p quick look aa-6

In many ways, the Pixel XL and Nexus 6P share a lot of the same DNA, despite offering different looks and different overall approaches. After all, they both run mostly stock Android software and have been built with Google’s influence. Still, the Pixel represents a big leap forward with Google not just influencing the software and hardware, but instead fully controlling it.

Pricing is another area where the two phones greatly differ. While the Nexus 6P could be had for just $399, the Google Pixel XL’s premium specs and features start at $769. It remains a matter of debate whether the Pixel XL offers enough improvements to justify that price hike, but it’s clear that Google wants to send a very different message with the Pixel family than it did with the Nexus line before it.

google pixel and pixel xl first look hands on aa-42See also: Google Pixel & Pixel XL vs the competition101

The Pixel XL is an evolution of the Nexus formula, a device where Google doesn’t just control the software experience, but has equal power over the hardware. For Google fans looking for a phone built from the ground up with Google’s intentions and full blessing, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Advertisements
23
Sep

Google opens Daydream VR platform to developers


From its debut at Google I/O, Daydream seemed like a much more ambitious smartphone-based VR software platform than the earlier Cardboard system. The countdown clock for the former’s public release began after a Bloomberg article back in August hinted at its imminent launch. While we’re still waiting for the first Daydream phones to come out in fall, Google’s VR SDK version 1.0 supporting it has officially left beta and is available to download on their developer site.

If you want to get your app out on launch day, you’ll want to apply for the Daydream Access Program: It seems Google is carefully controlling what will be available when the platform goes live. The VR SDK supports both the Cardboard API and the more complex Daydream one, which includes the platform’s proprietary controller. Google partnered with Unity and Unreal to get native integration, with all the binaries and plugins available through their developer blog post.

But how, you ask, will prospective programmers be able to tinker with their apps before “Daydream-ready” phones are released in the next few months? The only one approved to handle the SDK is the Nexus 6P, but it’s not a perfect fix. Expect the device to run very hot and “thermally throttle CPU and GPU performance after a short period of use, depending on workload,” according to Google’s developer kit setup.

Source: Google VR developers blog

14
May

HTC 10 vs Nexus 6P


Buy the Nexus 6P
Buy the HTC 10

In the current smartphone landscape, metal is the way to go for a device to be considered “premium,” and pretty much every flagship incorporates metal into their designs, be it in the form of metal frames and glass or plastic backings, or with full metal constructions. However, as the company would gladly remind you, HTC was the first to this party, starting with the One M7, and with continuing refinements and improvements to the overall package, what we get with their latest high-end offering is the greatest and most complete HTC smartphone yet.

  • HTC 10 review
  • Nexus 6P review

On the other hand, Google, along with various hardware manufacturers, initially had a difficult time defining what the Nexus program should be. After the budget-friendly Nexus 5, the Nexus 6 was Google’s first attempt at bringing a truly high-end smartphone to the market, but that unfortunately meant that the key factor of affordability went by the wayside. However, 2015 is when Google seems to have got it right, with consumers given two devices to choose from. For those with budgetary concerns, the Nexus 5X is the way to go, and with the metal-clad Nexus 6P, manufactured by Huawei, Google finally has on offer a truly compelling flagship that can stand tall against its competition.

HTC’s newest, and arguably greatest, offering goes up against the best Nexus device yet, as we take an in-depth look at the HTC 10 vs Nexus 6P!

Buy the Nexus 6P
Buy the HTC 10

Design

Before getting started, I have to mention that my personal Nexus 6P has been skinned to have a wooden look on the back, but for this comparison, we will take into consideration the device as it is out of the box. Metal is the name of the game with both smartphones, as they take metal to different places in their design.

nexus 6p

The Nexus 6P without a skin

The Nexus 6P employs a full metal unibody construction with a glass bump area at the top on the back that houses the camera setup, and this has certainly been a polarizing design element. Some consider it a fashionable choice, others consider it an ugly one. Ultimately, we do think that it looks quite good and is a nice touch that makes it stand out from the competition.

With a 5.7-inch display, the Nexus 6P is understandably taller, wider, and also heavier, than the HTC 10, but Huawei has done a great job with keeping the overall footprint compact enough to allow for manageable one-handed usability. The Nexus 6P is also symmetrical up front, with speakers above and below the display for a dual front-facing speaker setup, something that is unfortunately no longer available with the HTC flagship.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (3 of 16)

The HTC 10 brings some subtle changes to a design language that we’ve already loved with previous generations. While there is still a certain familiarity when looking at the back of the phone, HTC has added a bit of girth all the way around the edges. The chamfered edges allow for a silhouetted effect that is subtle but looks great, and does enough to differentiate the HTC 10 from its predecessors.

The HTC 10 is a little wider than it should be, but because of its smaller size overall, this device certainly offers the better handling experience when compared to the Nexus 6P. However, in both cases, the metal does make both smartphones quite slippery, which can take some getting used, and you are likely better off using a case that allows for more grip to keep this beautifully designed smartphones in pristine condition.

Display

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (14 of 16)

The HTC 10 comes with a 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 565 ppi. This display adheres to the HTSC standard, and does so while providing impressive saturation and overall performance. HTC claims that the screen has low latency when it comes to your touch and what happens on the screen, and while this may not be something that is easily noticeable, it’s still a positive with regards to the performance of the phone.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (6 of 16)

The Nexus 6P is not behind at all when it comes to the display, featuring a 5.7-inch AMOLED screen, also with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 518 ppi. With an AMOLED display, you are going to get the expected deep, inky blacks and much higher saturation. However, in this comparison, there isn’t as much of a discrepancy between the two. Media consumption and gaming can be more enjoyable on the larger screen that is available with the Nexus 6P, but when it comes to the general viewing experience, both displays do an excellent job.

Performance

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (7 of 16)

Performance is another area where you will not see a lot of difference between the two smartphones, given that the Nexus 6P was launched in the latter half of 2015, but the HTC 10 does see the benefits of being a newer release. The Nexus 6P comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, clocked at 2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, while the HTC 10 is powered by the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, clocked at 2.15 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (5 of 16)

The HTC 10 is obviously going to be faster, but there isn’t that much of a difference when it comes to real world performance, with the additional gig of RAM that the HTC flagship packs being the only real differentiator. That’s not to say that the Nexus 6P will get overwhelmed easily even if you have a number of apps running in the background simultaneously, but for those of you who are spec hungry, 4 GB of RAM is what you will need. The overall performance is fantastic with both smartphones, helped along by the streamlined software experiences that is available with these smartphones, but more so in the case of the Nexus 6P, that is running stock Android.

Hardware

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (4 of 16)

As is the case with any current generation flagship smartphone, both devices come with fingerprint scanners, but with different implementations. In the case of the Nexus 6P, the scanner is found on the back, placed ideally to be within easy reach of an index finger, and can be used to quickly wake and unlock the phone in one go. The fingerprint scanner of the HTC 10 is found up front, embedded into the capacitive home key, and is as fast and accurate as the sensor of the Nexus 6P.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (10 of 16)

32 GB and 64 GB are the built-in storage options available with the HTC 10, and you do get expandable storage via microSD card for up to an additional 200 GB. On other hand, the Nexus 6P also adds a 128 GB version, but with no expandable storage available, users are dependent on getting one of the larger storage options, and paying the associated premium, to cover their needs. Both devices come with a standard suite of connectivity options, but with the larger focus on audio, the HTC 10 also adds Air Play support.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (2 of 16)

Speaking of audio, the Nexus 6P comes with a feature that was originally one of the biggest selling points of previous HTC flagships, but is no longer available with the HTC 10 – dual front-facing speakers. With the HTC 10, you now get one speaker above the display, that is coupled with a woofer at the bottom. This does mean that the lows and mids are better, but it certainly doesn’t get as loud as the dual front-facing setup of the Nexus 6P.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (8 of 16)

However, it’s when you plug headphones in to the HTC 10 that BoomSound earns its name. BoomSound here is Dolby enhancements, along with audio profiles that can be created by answering a few questions, or by actually going through different frequencies, using more advanced tutorials. Once everything is set up, audio sounds amazing with the HTC 10. A 24-bit DAC provides even clearer audio and a wider sound stage with good headphones, and an amp allows for the loudness that other smartphones can’t really provide, which includes the Nexus 6P.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (12 of 16)

The larger 3,450 mAh battery of the Nexus 6P allows for more longevity when compared to the 3,000 mAh unit of the HTC 10, with the former providing up to two full days of use, especially if you stretch it out using the Doze feature that is built into Android 6.0 Marshmallow. With the HTC 10, the battery life can be pushed to about a day and a half, and getting a full day of use with more than average usage isn’t going to be an issue with either smartphone. Both smartphones come with USB Type-C ports, USB 2.0 in the case of the Nexus 6P, and USB 3.1 with the HTC 10, as well as fast charging capabilities.

Camera

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (16 of 16)

The Nexus 6P comes with a 12 MP rear camera with a 1.55µm pixel size, and a f/2.0 aperture, OIS, and laser auto focus system. The spec sheet of the HTC 10 is mostly identical, save for the f/1.8 aperture.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (11 of 16)

Simplicity is the main focus when it comes to the respective camera applications, with HTC further streamlining the camera app to make it easier to use. Of course, it doesn’t get any simpler than the Google camera app available with the Nexus 6P, which doesn’t come with a lot of modes, but also lacks a Pro mode, which is something that is available with the HTC 10, allowing for granular control over various settings.

HTC 10 camera samples

Optical image stabilization is also available with the front-facing camera of the HTC 10, which is a first for any smartphone. This means that you will get better looking selfies in lower-light conditions, but the availability of OIS also allows for better video capture when using the front-facing camera. It doesn’t make a particularly significant difference, but it is something that is noticeable when comparing video captures side by side, and is a subtle and small change that HTC does deserve recognition for.

Nexus 6P camera samples

The HTC 10 did receive a few software updates to improve the performance of the camera, and we will go in-depth with these changes in an upcoming feature focus. With both of these cameras being quite similar, it is a toss up between them in terms of image quality. You will see a brighter exposure in the shots taken with the Nexus 6P, with the HTC 10 dialing it back with the updates. In low-light conditions is where you will see a noticeable difference, with the HTC 10 opting for a warmer color temperature. However, with both cameras, you do sometimes end of up with grainy and noisy photos in poor lighting conditions.

The HTC 10 also has its advantage when it comes to sound, with the ability to record hi-res audio regardless of whether you are using the front or back camera. However, this does mean that processing the videos requires some tinkering, as we found that the .mkv files that the HTC 10 creates have to be tinkered with before they are recognized by most video editing software.

Software

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (15 of 16)

On the software side of things, both smartphones are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. HTC Sense isn’t drastically different from stock Android, especially when compared to the Samsung and LG smartphones out there. In this case, some differences are seen, since I am using the Android N beta version on the Nexus 6P,  which is one of the advantages of the Nexus line.

Any Android purist will know exactly what to expect from stock Android, with the new features including Doze and Google Now on Tap, which allows for easy Google searches regardless of where you are in the phone. A lot of users enjoy stock Android because of how simple it keeps things, with functionality being the priority. HTC Sense doesn’t add a whole lot to the formula either, which is one of the best parts about it.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (9 of 16)

Sense is far more utilitarian when compared to TouchWiz or the LG UX, and aside from BlinkFeed, everything is quite familiar. There aren’t many extra features, and there are no longer any app redundancies either. For example, if you have Google Photos, you don’t get the HTC Gallery, and if you use the HTC Messages app, you are not going to have Google Messenger. HTC Sense uses a dark theme of sorts which is easier on the eyes, but there is a Themes engine available if you are looking to change the look. Overall, function is definitely king no matter which of these versions of Android you use. So, while we do love stock Android, you won’t find yourself looking to replace HTC Sense out of the box with a third-party launcher.

Specs comparison

Display 5.2-inch Super LCD5 display
Quad HD resolution, 565 ppi
5.7-inch AMOLED display
Quad HD resolution, 518 ppi
Processor 2.15 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Adreno 530 GPU
2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
RAM 4 GB 3 GB
Storage 32/64 GB
expandable via microSD up to 200 GB
32/64/128 GB
not exapndable
Camera 12 MP rear camera, f/1.8 aperture, 1.55µm pixel size, OIS, laser autofocus
5 MP front-facing camera, f/1.8 aperture, OIS
12 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, 1.55µm pixel size, OIS, laser autofocus
8 MP front-facing camera
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 connector
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 connector
Battery 3,000 mAh
non removable
3,450 mAh
non removable
Software Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
HTC Sense UI
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Dimensions 145.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm
161 grams
159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
178 grams

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The HTC 10 is available for the premium monthly installment rate with the various network carriers, but can also be picked up unlocked, priced at $699. On the other hand, the Nexus 6P is currently available for the far more affordable $399, which is a great prospect, given that you are able to get a solid high-end flagship for a lower price, while providing a lot of the same features.

htc 10 vs nexus 6p aa (1 of 16)

So there you have it for this closer look at the HTC 10 vs Nexus 6P! These two smartphones actually have quite a bit in common, and if you are in the market for a metal clad device, it doesn’t get better than these two. The Nexus 6P is a steal at its current price point however, but the HTC 10 has a couple of compelling features that make it stand out, with the main one being the audio experience it provides. The HTC 10 camera has also seen some improvements following a few software updates, and these changes are something we will explore further in an upcoming feature focus.

Buy the Nexus 6P
Buy the HTC 10

10
Feb

[Deal] Best Buy is knocking $50 off the Nexus 6P in Matte Gold, throwing in an extra $25 gift card


nexus_6p_gold_front_back_lineupLooking to save some cash on a Nexus 6P? Best Buy is offering a solid $50 discount on the Matte Gold variant of the device, bringing the 32 GB down to $449 and the 64 GB down to $499. That’s about as good of a deal that we ever see on the 6P, especially in its newest color.

In case that cash discount wasn’t quite enough for you, though, Best Buy is also tossing in a $25 gift card that you can use on anything else the electronics retailer sells. While that gift card doesn’t put any cash back in your pocket, it does make this the best deal we’ve seen on the 6P yet, all things considered.

Hit the link below to place an order.

source: Best Buy

Come comment on this article: [Deal] Best Buy is knocking $50 off the Nexus 6P in Matte Gold, throwing in an extra $25 gift card

7
Feb

Nexus 6P International Giveaway!


Welcome to the Sunday Giveaway, the place where we giveaway a new Android phone or tablet each and every Sunday!

A big congratulations to last week’s winners of the Nuu Mobile X4 Giveaway: Edwin B. (Bosnia), Shareece B. (USA), Henry P. (UK), Damir (Kyrgyzstan), Michael C. (USA).

This week we are giving away the highly sought after Nexus 6P.

nexus 6p review 2 aa (1 of 30)

Enter giveaway

Nexus 6P International Giveaway!
https://js.gleam.io/e.js
More Giveaways

Winners Gallery
Sunday Giveaway Winner's Gallery!
Winners Gallery on Google+

Terms & Conditions

  • The giveaway is an international giveaway (Except when we can not ship to your Country.)
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • You must be age of majority in your Country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties, import taxes that you may incur.
  • Only 1 entry per person, do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.
7
Feb

The 100% full wood Nexus 6P skin by Toast


I am not a huge fan of using cases for my smartphones because they add too much bulk. There is definitely a purpose to them if you’re the type who is rough on your smartphone. But if you are gentle on your devices you should strongly consider getting a skin. I have a really unique skin made by Toast on my Nexus 6P and it is pretty freaking amazing.

DSC00369

About Toast

Toast is a relatively new company getting its start in 2012 by a man named Matias Brecher which I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at CES 2016. My first impression was a good one. Similar to other people I know who own their own businesses, I could tell he took great pride and passion in his work. He was standing at the CES booth and actually applying real wood Toast skins to people’s personal phones.

Matias Brecher - "Papa Toast" at CES

Matias Brecher – “Papa Toast” at CES

In the 15 minutes I was at the booth, I did get a chance to speak with Matias and even though he was tired from being on the CES floor for three days straight, he took the time to tell me about his company. He even told me he was the one who designed and cut my custom AG skin.

Toast got its name by the process in which the designers engrave and cut with a laser that burns in a very precise manner. So Matias named his company after toast which also burns.

Toast is a true U.S. based company which does all of its business in Portland, OR. In just three quick years, they have already grown to a company of 10 where they handle every step of the skin creation process. They are very good people. Toast takes part in the 1% for the Planet program in which a minimum of 1% of Toast’s net proceeds are donated to help save the earth. It’s a rarity for such a new company to have a social conscience, but it does and I am happy to support a company like Toast.

“We are a small company dedicated to quality products and quality of life: for you, for us, and for our planet.”

 

Real wood skin made in the U.S.A.

Toast makes a wide variety of skins – mobile devices, tablets, gaming consoles and even custom skins out of real genuine wood. I happen to have the grey Nexus 6P which has an all metal body. And if you’ve owned an all metal device before you understand that metal can be easy to scratch. If you’re like me and are tired of having the same old look in a smartphone with most of them being black, white or gold, skins can offer a superior level of customization without adding bulk.

2I have been a fan of the “wood” look but only a few devices employed the look. Leave it to Toast to fill that gap with real wood skins that can be applied to almost any smartphone. My Nexus 6P skin is made from Walnut with an Ebony inlay for the camera and custom laser etched AG in the center of the skin. I also have the optional Walnut front cover which rounds out skin.

Every single detail is covered when it comes to the Toast skin. The cutouts are perfect for the buttons, cameras, and sensors. The wood itself is about a millimeter thick which a sticky backing which means it is very delicate until it is actually applied to the phone. Since it does add thickness, the SIM slot, power and volume buttons are slightly recessed when the main skin is applied. But Toast provides perfectly cut out wood inserts for that too.

Every detail is well thought out and Toast even provides an alcohol swab to clean your device to make sure the skin gets proper adhesion.

 


http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push();

DSC00342

Installation

I am not a huge fan of applying skins because they can sometimes be painful, but not the Toast skin. The laser that does the cutting is perfect and I say that without exaggeration. Once you line up the rear microphone hole, found below the Nexus 6P camera, and align the buttons all you have to do is push down and it fits perfectly.

DSC00351

Once the main section is in place, I dropped in the Ebony AG insert as well as the camera insert. It was as simple as removing the protective covering over the glue and fitting it into the skin like a jigsaw puzzle. Following those, I then put the inserts in for the SIM card, power button and volume rocker. I was a little skeptical of the tight fit and was worried they would get stuck, but was pleasantly surprised when my buttons worked without issue. And then all I had to do was apply the front Walnut screen cover and I was done. The whole process took less than five minutes.

DSC00356

Results

The skin fit perfect. It gives my 6P a unique look that I have not seen before on another phone. It definitely adds grip to what otherwise is a slippery Nexus 6P, and it is 100% made in the U.S.A. and supports charity at the same time. It even smells a little like burned wood. Rather than talk up the results I am just going to provide some sweet pictures. Words can’t do it justice.

DSC00366 DSC00367 DSC00368 DSC00370 DSC00371 DSC00374

DSC00378

Summary

Of all of the skins I have tried, the Toast all wood skin is by far my favorite. It was super easy to apply, has a unique look and is made by a company with values that I adore. The skins start at just $34 and can work their way up to $50+ if you want custom designs and graphics. I highly recommend checking out Toast skins if you’re up for a new look. You will not be disappointed.

Learn more at Toastmade.com

IMG_20160108_113940 IMG_20160108_114043 IMG_20160108_114053

 

 

 

The post The 100% full wood Nexus 6P skin by Toast appeared first on AndroidGuys.

6
Feb

Here are the videos you don’t want to miss this week – February 6, 2016


huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (10 of 23)

It hasn’t been all too busy in the Android world this week, but our video team has been hard at work to bring you some wonderful Android-related coverage.

This was a very comparison-heavy week. Josh just published his big Huawei Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P comparison, Lanh compared the honor 5X, OnePlus X and Nexus 5X, and Gary did a great job at comparing all of the fast charging standards out there. That’s not all though – Bailey got a chance to review the new BLU Vivo XL, Gary took an in-depth look at what’s inside the Kirin 950 processor, and Joe rounded up the best Android apps of the week.

Alright, I’m done talking your ear off. Without any more delay, here are the videos you don’t want to miss this week.

Comparisons

Huawei Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P

The Huawei Mate 8 and the Nexus 6P are two of the manufacturer’s best smartphones to date. But how do they compare against one another? Be sure to check out Josh’s full comparison of the Mate 8 and Nexus 6P.

honor 5X vs Nexus 5X vs OnePlus X

The new honor 5X and OnePlus X are both available for under $250, but how do they compare with this year’s inexpensive Nexus device? Join Lanh as he compares the honor 5X, OnePlus X and the Nexus 5X.

Fast charging standards compared

With so many fast charging standards out there (Qualcomm Quick Charge, OPPO VOOC, MediaTek PumpExpress+, Motorola TurboPower), how can you tell which one is the best? Gary compares all of these standards and tries to figure out which fast charging method is the best out there.

BLU Vivo XL review

We don’t normally see AMOLED displays, full 4G LTE coverage and full day battery life on sub-$150 smartphones, but that’s not the case for the BLU Vivo XL. Of course, a smartphone that’s this inexpensive doesn’t come without its flaws, but is the low price point enough to make it a good value? Check out Bailey’s full review of the BLU Vivo XL.

An in-depth look at the Cortex-A72 and Mali T880

One of the key CPU core designs for 2016 is the Cortex-A72, which can be found in the Kirin 950. The question is, how well does it perform? Gary explains everything you need to know in his informative video attached above and written portion below.

Android Apps Weekly

Spotify gets video, Final Fantasy IX gameplay, VR for all! – you don’t want to miss the latest episode of Joe’s Android Apps Weekly show.

6
Feb

Huawei Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P


 

Starting with the Mate 7 in 2014, Huawei proved to the world that it had the skills and resources necessary to craft a truly premium device that easily competed with more established players in the space. Since then, Huawei has continued to raise up the bar, and made history last year as the first Chinese manufacturer to partner with Google for a Nexus device.

With the Nexus 6P, Huawei merges its exceptional hardware skills with Google’s lighter, snappier stock software, and the end result is a handset that is hailed by many as the best flagship currently on the market. But what about Huawei’s Mate series? Despite the huge shadow cast by the Nexus 6P, the Mate 8 is a massive leap forward for Huawei once again, further refining the design of the Mate 7 while also offering exceptional flagship-level performance.

So how does the Huawei Mate 8 compare to the Huawei-made Nexus 6P? We find out as two of Huawei’s best creations go head to head in this detailed Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P comparison.

Design

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (4 of 6)

Even at first glance, it’s pretty obvious these two flagships are related. Premium materials are par for the course regardless of which device you get, and the metallic design language looks great on both. They feel great in the hands too, despite some very minor slippage due to the materials used. Of course, there’s also some distinct differences that help set Huawei’s latest flagships apart.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (16 of 23)

The Huawei Mate 8′ design language is a direct evolution of the Mate 7, as well as the Mate S. With the Mate 8 you get a symmetrical design that might feel a bit too familiar when coming from the Mate 7, though its rounded camera and fingerprint scanner help give a more modernized look. The speaker has also moved from the rear to the bottom this time around. On the front you get a display that has relatively small bezels and on-screen keys, as well the front facing camera, the usual sensors, and the Huawei logo towards the bottom.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (13 of 23)

On the other hand, the Nexus 6P manages to stand out from both its predecessor, the Nexus 6, and its Mate brethren. The prominent Nexus logo on the back is right below the rear-mounted fingerprint reader, and the large black bar up top houses the camera and its accessories. The Nexus 6P also has some unique additions including front-facing speakers and a Type-C USB port, features you won’t find with the Mate 8.

While both phones handle pretty well for devices of their size, neither are exactly perfect for one-handed use, though it can certainly be done. Dimensions do differ a bit with the two, with the Mate 8 being a bit wider due to the 6-inch display, while the Nexus 6P is taller, thanks to its front facing speakers. Ultimately though, we’re looking at two phones that are reasonably similar in terms of size and weight, despite differences in screen size.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (2 of 6)

Which is better? The answer to that is a very personal one and, even among our team, the answer varied wildly. Some of us certainly prefer the Nexus 6P, whereas others have expressed a preference for the Mate 8. Regardless, Both designs demonstrate the very best of Huawei, delivering solid build quality across the board.

Display

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (10 of 23)

For those that are spec hungry, the decision here is an easy one. The QHD AMOLED display on the Nexus 6P is certainly the better performer here when compared to the 1080p IPS display found on the Mate 8. For those that prefer larger screen real estate, however, it is worth keeping in mind that the Mate 8’s 6-inch screen is the larger of the two. Of course, it is up for debate how much of a difference that extra .3-inches really makes.

The Nexus 6P isn’t just at an advantage in resolution, but AMOLED itself is often the prefered choice for many. AMOLED displays tend to offer a better experience for those that are looking for deep blacks, vibrant, vivid, and saturated colors, as well as tons of brightness for comfortable viewing in broad daylight. The Nexus 6P also offers ambient display technology, which utilizes the AMOLED screen to bring us notification cards at a glance.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (8 of 23)

As for the Huawei Mate 8, the 1080p IPS display might not have the advantages found with the Nexus 6P, but don’t let this fool you, the display is no slouch. For starters, the Mate 8’s JDI-NEO display technology helps make up for some of the shortfall from not having QHD resolution. Overall, the Mate 8 likely has the best 6-inch 1080p on the market, and you’ll find that gaming and media is quite enjoyable here, despite its perceived disadvantages.

If you want that higher res and extra bit of color depth, the Nexus 6P will provide it for you, but for the general user that isn’t a display or spec nut, you’ll probably find little real difference in day to day use.

Performance

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (6 of 23)

Despite being made by the same OEM, under the hood we find two very different SOC packages on offer.

For the Nexus 6P, we get the octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 backed by an Adreno 430 GPU and 3GB RAM. Even though the Snapdragon 810 has a somewhat mixed reputation, it performs exceptionally well here, helped along by the fact that the Nexus 6P is running stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

In the other corner, we find the Huawei Mate 8 rocking an in-house HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core CPU with 3GB RAM (or 4GB in select models), backed by the Mali-T880 GPU. Although HiSilicon Kirin chips might not enjoy the same brand recognition as Qualcomm or Exynos processors, rest assured that Huawei has proven itself more than capable of creating a great mobile SOC.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (21 of 23)

While both of these packages couldn’t be more different on paper, what they have in common is some of the best performance you’ll find in the mobile world. Speed is great on both of these handsets and no matter what we did with either, we haven’t been able to slow them down one bit. Gaming and media are going to be a blast with either one of these phones, and for those wondering about how the Mali graphics compare to the Adreno 430, we really didn’t see a big real world difference between the two.

Summing it up, the Nexus 6P’s familiar stock interface is exactly what you’d want from a Nexus device, and the Snapdragon 810 is more than capable of providing a high-end stock experience. The Mate 8 also moves along swimmingly, despite its more intensive UI.

Hardware

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (16 of 23)

In the past, the Nexus line has generally offered a more barebones experience when compared to OEM flagships. With the Nexus 6P however, this gap has been reduced significantly.

For starters, the current Nexus smartphones now feature fingerprint readers on the back. Given that both the Mate 8 and Nexus 6P are Huawei devices, it’s no surprise that both these fingerprint readers are some of the best in class, and are impressively fast and accurate. The position on the back makes the scanner very easy to use, since your index finger naturally rests around that spot when holding the device. These scanners provide a seamless, reliable, and fast way to unlock your phone, making them an indispensable tool.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (5 of 23)

32 GB and 64 GB are built-in storage options available with both, with the Nexus 6P also adding an 128 GB iteration, which power users will have to depend on, given the lack of microSD expansion. The Mate 8 does offer expandable storage, but it does require use of the second SIM slot, leaving it up to the users to make the choice between more storage or dual SIM capabilities. Also of note is the fact that which storage option you opt for with the Mate 8 also dictates what RAM the device packs, either 3 GB or 4 GB.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (12 of 23)

As far as the audio is concerned, the dual front-facing speaker setup of the Nexus 6P provides a great sound experience, which is unsurprisingly better than what is on offer with the bottom mounted speaker of the Mate 8. Granted, the latter does provide good body, but doesn’t get nearly as loud as the former, and is certainly a few steps back from the experience you get from the Nexus.

Both phones feature a standard suite of connectivity options, including NFC. The Mate 8 comes with every radio possible, allowing for the phone to be used pretty much anywhere in the world, and it’s great that you don’t have to worry about compatibility if you have to import the device. The Nexus 6P has seen a world wide release, and you can find versions that are compatible with every major carrier in the markets it has been released in.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (1 of 23)

Of course, the hardware aspect that everyone talks about when it comes to Huawei devices is power. On one hand, the Nexus 6P comes with a 3,450 mAh battery and Google adopting the new USB Type-C standard means that the battery can be charged very quickly. Granted, Type-C cords are harder to come by, and there will be some growing pains associated with getting used to something new, but that will change quickly as more and more OEMs make the switch.

On the other hand, the Mate 8 packs a larger 4,000 mAh battery, and EMUI does a very aggressive job of letting you know what apps are being power hogs, with you also having the option to blacklist these in the optimizer, to help get that little bit of extra juice. All things considered, the Mate 8 comfortably allows for 2 full days of battery life. Providing that extra bit of icing on the cake, the device also comes with fast charging capabilities of its own, giving you a full day’s worth of battery after charging it for just half an hour.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (18 of 23)

A day and a half of battery life is possible with the Nexus 6P, by taking advantages of features like Doze, and you can’t go wrong with either phone when it comes to power, but if you are a power user that really needs your phone to last the extra mile, the Mate 8 may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Camera

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (1 of 6)

On paper, you might assume that the Mate 8 has the Nexus 6P soundly beat when it comes to the camera, with the former featuring a 16 MP rear shooter with OIS, compared to the 12.3 MP primary camera of the Nexus 6P, with optical image stabilization unfortunately missing here. Of course, the on-paper specs never tell the full story. Before we dive into camera performance, let’s talk about the camera software.

Taking a look at the respective camera applications first, they couldn’t be more different. While the Nexus 6P camera app does come with different options and a few modes, simplicity is the order of the day here, with a “what you see is what you get” user interface, with the only mode prominently used here being Auto HDR. With the Mate 8, you get a lot more features and modes built in, including a manual mode that allows for a lot of granular control over key aspects, and it works really well to let you cater the shot to exactly how you like it.

Nexus 6P camera samples

As we get into actual camera samples, we do find a bit of discrepancy between the two. The Nexus 6P’s larger pixel sizes just barely make it that much better than the Mate 8 in brighter situations. There’s a bit more color depth in Nexus 6P photos, and when using HDR, it simply has a much better way of interpreting the scene than the Mate 8, which sometimes doesn’t look like it is doing much at all when HDR is enabled. While it is a tough call between the two when in ideal lighting conditions, things are a lot more clearer, quite literally, in dimly-lit situations. You get much darker and noisier photos with the Mate 8, and nowhere close to the same type of quality available with the Nexus 6P in these conditions.

Huawei Mate 8 camera samples

#gallery-1
margin: auto;

#gallery-1 .gallery-item
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 25%;

#gallery-1 img
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;

#gallery-1 .gallery-caption
margin-left: 0;

/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

It was a bit disheartening to see the Mate 8 provide a lackluster camera experience overall, especially when considering Huawei is capable of a good one, as seen with the also Huawei-manufactured Nexus 6P. As far as the camera is concerned, the Nexus 6P is certainly the better companion to have in your pocket.

Software

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (6 of 6)

Finally, we have software. This is one of those categories that will be really easy for a lot of people to pick between, because either you’re a stock Android purist or you actually enjoy all of the extra features that might come in an Android skin.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (9 of 23)

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is seen with both smartphones, so a number of the same features can be found, such as Google Now on Tap. That said, the stock Android experience is definitely far more streamlined, even if its simplicity is what sometimes turns some people off. You do get an app drawer here though, which is something that a lot of people gravitate to, and is unfortunately once again not a part of the EMUI experience.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (14 of 23)

Stock Android provides exactly what you need for a great mobile experience, without too many extras, but if extras are what you need, the Mate 8 might be worth a look. However, it has be to be said that while EMUI is not lacking in features, a great number of these additions aren’t particularly useful. Knuckle sense, for example, is a feature that you seemingly can’t trigger without sometimes practically punching the device, and really ends up being slower than if you would have just done things “the old fashioned way.” The dual window function is also fairly useless, given that there aren’t too many apps that can take advantage of it, with only eight apps offering support, many of which really don’t pair all that well together.

Of course, many of these extras can be ignored if they aren’t right for you. But let’s talk about what’s missing from EMUI: the app drawer. With no app drawer to be found, users are left dependent on folders to keep things organized and clutter free. This works for some, especially those coming from an iPhone, but it certainly goes against the traditional Android approach. It also needs to be pointed out that the multi-tasking menu, notification tray, and settings are all a good deal different than what you’d get with stock Android. Whether that’s better or worse is down to your own personal preferences.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (19 of 23)

That said, one area of software where Huawei truly shines is EMUI’s power consumption features, as these are the reason its battery can go the distance. Not only are there difference modes such as a ultra power saving mode that turns off everything but calling and texting, there’s also a smart mode, a performance mode, and a variety of tools that help you better regulate what apps are allowed to work in the background, and which aren’t.

For those that aren’t pleased with the out-of-box look and feel of EMUI, you’ll be happy to know that custom themes and plenty of settings options exist that can help you customize the experience to make things a little bit more to your liking. Ultimately though, we find ourselves installing third party launchers, just so we can bring a bit more of a traditional Android experience to the Mate 8.

Specs comparison

  Huawei Mate 8 Nexus 6P
Display 6-inch IPS LCD display
Full HD resolution, 368 ppi
5.7-inch AMOLED display
Quad HD resolution, 518 ppi
Processor 2.3 GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 950
Mali-T880MP4 GPU
2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
RAM 3/4 GB (depending on storage option) 3 GB
Storage 32/64 GB (also dictates amount of RAM)
expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB
32/64/128 GB
not expandable
Camera 16 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera
12.3 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, 1.55µm pixel size, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS + GLONASS
FM Radio
NFC
USB 2.0 (microUSB)
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
USB 2.0 (USB Type-C)
Battery 4,000 mAh 3,450 mAh
Software Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Dimensions 157.1 x 80.6 x 7.9 mm
185 grams
159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
178 grams

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The Nexus 6P is available unlocked through the Google Store and through select retailers globally, priced at $499 for the base model. On the other hand, the Huawei Mate 8 is not offered in North America, though it is avaliable in Europe and parts of Asia. For those interested in picking it up in the US, the good news is that the Mate 8’s variety of bands means it will play nicely with US LTE networks. You can find imported international models for around $600 on Amazon, alongside a number of other e-tailers.

huawei mate 8 vs nexus 6p aa (3 of 6)

 

There you have it for this comprehensive look at the Nexus 6P vs Huawei Mate 8! These are two of the best devices that Huawei has ever released. Both handsets provide a great experience underneath the hood, as well as great materials on the outside, and it really shows you just how much Huawei has matured over the years. In reality, neither choice is a bad one, as it really comes down to what you really need in a flagship.

The 6P provides stock Android experience that is very smooth, snappy, reliable, and offers a good battery experience. You also get front facing speakers and promise of quick updates that Google provides with its Nexus devices. But if power is what you need, there’s really no other device out there that can compete with the Mate 8. The Mate 8 also has a few advantages like dual-SIM functionality and microSD. On the downside, the Mate 8 lacks front facing speakers and offers a software experience that may not be for everyone.

Which handset best matches what you’re looking for in a flagship? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to Android Authority for more great comparisons, reviews, daily news, and so much more.


nexus 6p review 2 aa (15 of 30)See also: Nexus 6P review110

Buy Nexus 6p on Amazon
Buy Huawei Mate 8 on Amazon

Next:

4
Feb

Best Nexus 6P cases


nexus_6p_gold_front_back_lineup

Google lately declared its latest Nexus phone made with Huawei in collaboration. The newest android Marshmallow is featured by this strong phone and up to now, is one of not many smartphones to have that OS. Together with the proclamation of the Nexus 6P, arrived a number of cases to coordinate with the device, including flip cases and snap on covers.

Below is a list of some of the best cases that you can grab for your Nexus 6p today.

DGtle Anti-Scratch TPU Case

dgtle_anti-scratch_tpu_case_nexus_6p_clear

A basic lightweight and adaptable case produced using TPU, which makes it brilliant for protection against scratches and drops.

  • Colors: Clear, Black, Hot Pink, Purple, Mint, Black, X-Clear
  • Price: $7

[Amazon]

AceAbove Premium Leather Wallet Cover w/ Card Slots

aceabove_premium_leather_cover_nexus_6p

This flip case is produced using manufactured cowhide which has a closure that is magnetic. The case gives protection far better than normal cases against dust and other moisture, and it has pockets on the inside for storing money and cards.

  • Colors: Black/Red
  • Price: $16

[Amazon]

Moment Dextrad Dual Layer Armor Defender Case

moment_dextrad_nexus_6p_case_gold

On the off chance that you need to keep up the fresh-out-of-the-box look of your Nexus 6P within moderate cost, then this the case for you. Using two layers, made of polycarbonate and TPU, this case has all the exact cutouts to keep a nice fit and and protect the phone from drops at every angle.

  • Colors: Luxury Gold, Coral Gold, Silver, Green, Grey, Black
  • Price: $8

[Amazon]

LK Ultra Case

lk_ultra_case_black_nexus_6p

This is another one of the simpler cases, made from TPU and capable of resisting scratches and stains. And, despite being so slim, the case still absorbs shock when dropped and prevents the Nexus 6P from completely shattering.

  • Colors: Black, Clear, Hot Pink, Mint, Purple
  • Price: $8

[Amazon]

LK Wallet Case

lk_wallet_case_nexus_6p

This is a flawless wallet case with plentiful space to keep your stuff. It has a closure which is also magnetic and the maker even gives numerous color options. The main drawback with this case is the thin cowhide covering that’s rather easy to get wear down and, because there’s no dark option, get dirty.

  • Colors: Mint, Hot Pink, Purple, Sky Blue
  • Price: $10

[Amazon]

Verus High Pro Shield Case

verus_high_pro_shield_case_nexus_6p

Verus’ High Pro Shield Case for the Nexus 6P is a solid and sturdy double-layered case. This spread gives better than average protection against drops and substantial impacts as it is made with a blend of TPU and polycarbonate layers.

  • Colors: Red, Electric Blue, Satin Silver, Shine Gold, Steel Silver
  • Price: $17

[Amazon]

Adopted Protective Case

adopted_protective_case_nexus_6p

If you want a simple case with no extras for your Nexus 6P, Adopted’s Protective case could definitely suit you perfectly. There might not be any extravagant attributes here, but you will have a strong case that can help safeguard your Nexus 6P from falls, scratches and scrapes. The prices are not on the cheapest range, but $20 is not an awful selling price at all.

  • Colors: Carbon, Clear Frost
  • Price: $20

[Google Store]

IVSO Hybrid Kickstand Case

ivso_case_blue_nexus_6p

We have as of now clarified how great double layered cases are and this case is the same. One other thing that makes this an awesome case is the cost offered making it best esteem for cash choice.

  • Colors: Blue, Black, Purple, Red
  • Price: $6

[Amazon]

KuGi Ultra-thin Case

kugi_small_nexus_6p_case

The most minimalistic case you’ll find is KuGi’s. It barely covers the sides of the Nexus 6P while leaving the top and bottom fully exposed.

  • Colors: Red, Black, Blue, Gold
  • Price: $8

[Amazon]

JUSUN Tough Rugged Case w/ Kickstand & Stylus

jusun_black_nexus_6p_case

Another multi-layered case particularly intended for the Nexus 6p, JUSUN’s offering is rugged and does everything you want. Aside from protecting your phone to the extreme, it has a kickstand for optimal viewing experiences and a stylus is included for when your fingers are a little tired from texting all day.

  • Colors: Black, Red, Blue, Purple
  • Price: $9

[Amazon]

Closing

Cases are not really necessary for the full functionality of a phone to be utilized, but there are people that usually have shaky hands or are naturally fond of maintaining the “brand new” nature of their devices. For such people, it is important to get one of these cases, even though this is not where the list stops as other companies are constantly producing theirs.

Come comment on this article: Best Nexus 6P cases

3
Feb

Android Marshmallow edges closer to “Pro Audio” with lower audio latency


chromecast audio review aa (6 of 7)

Despite a number of smartphone manufacturers offering improved audio hardware in their latest smartphones, Android’s software latency has historically been very poor, preventing many professional audio applications from making their way to the hugely popular mobile platform. However, the folks over at Superpowered have gone back to have a look at Android Marshmallow’s round trip audio latency and there appear to have been a number of improvements.

Before we go any further, round-trip audio latency is very important for real time applications, as users don’t want to have to contend with a noticeable delay when recording, editing or playing back content. Round-trip refers to the time it takes for audio to enter the system, be put into software for processing, and then put back out from a speaker or headphone jack. Human delay perception ends at under 20ms (milliseconds), so the latency of any real time system should be below this figure, with 10ms being the target that is perceived as instantaneous.

You won't be using Android for live music effects unless latency reaches less than 20ms.

Shutterstock You won’t be using Android for live music effects unless latency reaches less than 20ms.

Previous testing on Android KitKat and Lollipop devices revealed round-trip latency figures in the hundreds of milliseconds, resulting in a very noticeable delay and making the operating system useless for real-time applications. Even the best Android devices struggled to go lower than 40ms. However, Google has made some major improvements with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, allowing for figures in the sub-20ms range. The Nexus 6P clocks in at 18ms, while the Nexus 9 manages 15ms.

Google appears to have made two notable changes with Marshmallow: a smaller ring buffer size and a new professional audio flag feature. The buffer size has been chopped in half to 128 samples. A buffer stores a selection of samples before these are all sent off into the system together and a smaller buffer means that the whole system updates much more frequently. Buffers and batch processing are often more efficient than sample by sample transfers and processing, so there are trade-offs to find the ideal buffer size.

This smaller buffer saving halves the latency throughout the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) and AudioFlinger sections for both input and output paths, making a noticeable difference to the round-trip times. The graphics below show the audio paths and times recorded with the Nexus 9 tablet.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Audio Path Latency
Android 6.0 Marshmallow Audio Path Latency

Android Marshmallow (API 23) also introduces a new FEATURE_AUDIO_PRO flag for developers to look for to reduce the audio output buffer size for the lowest possible latency. A look through Google’s documentation states that devices using this flag must offer 20ms or less round-trip latency and should aim for 10ms. USB audio class devices are also supported through USB host mode, so low latency USB add-ons are now also a practical possibility.

As an added bonus, Android now also supports MIDI as part of the Professional Audio package. Although, this hasn’t been implemented into the native layer. This flag marks a major effort to differentiate Android devices that are capable of professional audio applications, and is a major improvement over the FEATURE_AUDIO_LOW_LATENCY flag from the Gingerbread days, which offers at best a 50ms round-trip.

If you’re interested, Superpowered offers a very detailed explanation of how this all breaks down, including a look at the slightly different latency results when using built-in and external hardware. Android still has a number of issues, but the situation is gradually improving for real-time professional audio.

Previously we have seen that Google’s Nexus devices have been the better performers when it comes to audio latency and this latest testing hasn’t yet shown if these improvements can and have been applied to other Marshmallow powered devices. Google states that only the Nexus 5X, 6P and 9 are “Pro Audio” Nexus devices, so there are probably some hardware requirements in addition to Marshmallow’s software improvements.


CS4272 Codec 24bitRelated: The great audio myth: why you don’t need that 32-bit DAC17

Samsung, which offers its own Audio SDK to tap into low latency audio, will be releasing a Samsung Professional Audio SDK 3.0 with its upcoming Galaxy S7 flagship smartphone, which will hopefully match these Nexus results. We will just have to wait and see if other manufacturers support these improved features. Still, there are promising signs that Android may eventually be useful as a real-time audio platform.

%d bloggers like this: