China's Huawei teams up with Google for the 'most premium' Nexus smartphone yet, featuring fingerprint scanner and new camera

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2015, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2018, 5:01pm

Google and Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies jointly introduced the Nexus 6P, a smartphone featuring Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google’s latest operating system for mobile devices, in San Francisco on Tuesday (local time).

The device also features a new fingerprint scanner, Nexus camera and and improved version of Google's Now on Tap personal assistant, the companies said in a joint statement.

READ MORE: China's Huawei takes aim at Apple, Samsung with new Mate S phone as it targets sales of 100 million smartphones a year

On the same day, the US search giant rolled out the 5.2-inch Nexus 5X, an upgrade of its Nexus 5 with long-term partner LG, as a more affordable sub-flagship device, according to media reports.

But the 6P sets a new precedent for Google as it has created an equal partnership with fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, which is responsible for the hardware.

WATCH: The Verge reviews newly released Google Nexus 6P

A third party will take care of manufacturing in China, said Huawei, which became the world’s third-biggest smartphone company by sales last month, according to research firm Gartner, following Samsung and Apple.   

Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer hailed the new partnership, describing the 6P as “our most premium phone yet” and Marshmellow as “our highest-performing OS ever”. 

It takes aim at the top end of the market, comes hot on the heels of the newly released iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and is available for pre-order as of this week.

Crafted from aeronautical-grade anodised aluminium with diamond chamfers encircling its edges, the 6P has a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display (2560 x 1440 and 518ppi) and Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor.

Its 8-megapixel front facing camera features Google’s HDR+ technology, equipping the phone with one of the best cameras in the market for taking selfies, the companies said.

READ MORE: Smartphone brands Xiaomi, Huawei lead China market as cheap domestic models overtake Samsung, Apple

The 6P is can also record 4K video, including those shot at a high frame rate in slow motion, as the Type-C fast charger that is included provides up to seven hours’ battery life from a 10-minute charge.

It is faster and more secure when used in conjunction with Nexus Imprint, a fingerprint reader positioned on the back of the device. One touch turns the device on and unlocks the apps.

For users in the US, Imprint will also work with Android Pay for quick and easy purchases at thousands of locations nationwide.

“Huawei is very excited to collaborate with Google and deliver a premium Nexus experience for the global market,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group. 

“We value the way consumers embrace mobile technology in all parts of their lives and we have created a smartphone with great design, performance and seamless integration of (Marshmallow).”

The model comes in a choice of 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options in either aluminium, graphite (black) or frost (white).

It was available for pre-order in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan via Google Store from Tuesday at a price of US$499 (32GB), US$549 (64GB) and US$649 (128GB). 

The equivalent price range in Hong Kong is HK$4,688 to HK$5,688.

Its release comes just days after the launch of the latest iPhones, which feature Force Touch technology and a popular new Live Photos function that records the moments just before and after an image is taken, including sound.

The 6S went on sale last Friday in the US, China, the UK and nine other countries. It can be had for as little as US$200 in some markets with a commitment to a two-year wireless contract.

The Nexus 6P may not have been quite as highly anticipated, but once the news broke reviewers were eager to see whether Huawei, known for its cheaper models in the Chinese market, could rise to the challenge.

Early this month, it released its latest flagship Mate S phone with a 5.5-inch display, a 13-megapixel rear camera and fingerprint security.

Google partnered with Korean technology giant LG on the Nexus 5 but the model suffered negative reviews when customers complained about frequent glitches, giving the 6P some repair work to do in terms of restoring the brand’s credentials.