Google has made a habit of switching its Nexus partnerships, allowing only LG and Samsung to make consecutive devices in consecutive years. It’s returned to companies, as it did with LG in 2015 to build the Nexus 5X, but Mountain View has made it a priority in the last few years to consistently rotate hardware partners. Rumors are pointing heavily this year to HTC handling the 2016 Nexus, marking a return of the combination that delivered the first ever Nexus phone (2010’s Nexus One). There is also, however, a less prominent whisper that Huawei, which built the best Nexus phone ever with last year’s Nexus 6P, will get a second crack at Google’s most important product line.
Huawei was considered by many to be an odd choice when it was first announced it would handle the 2015 Nexus. But the company proved any doubters wrong with the 6P, and earned the chance to be in the running for 2016’s iteration. We won’t know for some time who officially has the contract to build the 6P and 5X successors, but there are multiple reasons Huawei should be given the chance.
Here are the top five:
The Nexus 6P is the best Nexus ever, and a large part of that is due to its impeccable build. Huawei did a phenomenal job with the 6P, its aluminum and glass construction feels fantastic in the hand and is pleasing to the eye. Even the glass visor housing the camera and numerous other important sensors, which was widely panned when leaks first surfaced, has fared incredibly well under close inspection. Many sites, Paste included, noted the visor protrudes far less and is overall a small concern in person than it appears in photos. If Google wants to continue to compete with the best smartphones on the market, and it’s hard to imagine the company backstepping after delivering a superb effort in 2015, it needs to pair with a company that can keep the hardware standard high.
Huawei has proven, whether in a flagship such as the 6P or a budget-conscious device like the Honor 5X, it knows how to build great hardware. No matter the size Mountain View chooses to make its 2016 Nexus, and rumors are pointing to the device (or pair of devices) coming in a hair smaller than last year’s phones, Huawei will be able to offer best-in-class hardware.
As the quest for thinner and thinner smartphones has continued, battery life has been the one statistic to suffer the consequence. Most premium handsets will last you a day or so, but need to be plugged in at the end of the night. Some, particularly larger devices like Samsung’s Note 5 or the battery-focused Droid line from Motorola, are better, even exceptional in certain cases. For the most part, though, despite smartphone technology continually advancing, your phone won’t make it a full 24 hours without needing a trip to the charging station.
Huawei certainly hasn’t figured out battery tech, but the company has shown a sincere focus on improving battery life in its product line. The 6P, boosted by Android 6.0’s Doze feature, has solid battery life, as does the Honor 5X and the Mate 8 packs an astonishing 4,000 mAh battery making it one of the best battery performers on the market. Google has always tried to use its Nexus line to nudge the smartphone market toward a better future, and the company would be smart to nudge it toward bigger batteries with its next iteration. Aside from, perhaps, Motorola, there is no better company to do that with than Huawei.
One of the more impressive aspects of the Nexus 6P was its $499 base price. Not a number to sneeze at but one decidedly lower than other phones in its weight class, namely the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy Note 5. Yet, despite being $150 cheaper than the iPhone (and for 32GB as opposed to 16GB), Huawei managed to deliver a handset just as premium in the 6P. Everything about last year’s flagship Nexus screams quality, even the camera which had been a sore spot in the line for years. Google has moved away from the Nexus’ original goal of providing high quality phones at a lower price somewhat, especially with the Nexus 6 in 2014 which originally sold for a steep $649, but if the company wants to keep that notion alive, Huawei is a stellar choice.
Not only did Huawei offer a fantastic phone at a great price with the 6P, but it has proven with the Honor 5X the ability to create noteworthy hardware at a bargain basement price. The Honor 5X rivals the OnePlus X in build quality, which we loved, and comes in $50 cheaper.
Flagship phones need to include a fingerprint scanner in 2016 to be serious players. Having taken flight after Apple introduced Touch ID with the iPhone 5s in 2013, fingerprint scanners are now considered essential hardware in most top-of-the-line phones. There are many quick scanners, most of them are even good enough, but the magic Huawei has produced with its scanners is something special. The Nexus 6P owns the fastest fingerprint scanner I’ve ever used, and it’s brethren Mate 8 and Honor 5X both contain ones just as quick. The follow-up Nexus to the 6P will likely include a fingerprint scanner, and though I don’t doubt another company could make one that lives up to the standard Huawei set, I’m hard pressed to deny my desire to see just how much better Huawei could make something already great.
For all its hardware accomplishments, there is an undeniable truth about Huawei’s software. Emotion UI is clunky, childish and, worst, a poor iOS clone. It detracts from the beautiful phones Huawei builds with a frustrating and unsightly experience. In stark contrast, the elegance and fluidity of stock Android Marshmallow on the Nexus 6P enhances the phone’s overall appeal and prowess. Google isn’t necessarily in the business of teaching a company how things are done, at least not overtly, but one can’t help to wonder what good design instincts might rub off on Huawei if the two were to collaborate a second year in a row.