I used to be an Apple iPhone fan. They were expensive but I felt the phones were great looking, worked flawlessly, and Apple’s iOS seemed smoother and more refined. When standing in the cell phone store, looking at all the top-tier offerings between Android and Apple, I always felt that Apple phones were just slightly better, smoother, and more reliable than their Android counterparts. Same price, slightly better phones. Apple it is then.
Over the years I watched the Android ecosystem get better. The phone manufacturers were making better looking phones and the Android ecosystem seemed to work out their bugs and refine their platform. So, back in late 2016, while standing in the local cell phone store and shopping the top-tier phones, all priced about the same, I felt that Apple had lost their edge above the rest or more accurately, I felt that Android phones gained the ground needed to really compete with Apple’s phones. Looking for a change I decided that an Android phone would be my next purchase. But, which phone?
I am a sucker for efficiency. Smooth, clean, lean and mean. It’s why I use Linux over windows (yes, I don’t even capitalize it). I frustrates me to no end when my computer operating system has to ask me several times if I really want to delete a file. “Are you sure?” Yes. “Are you really sure?” Yes. “OK, we’ll put it in the Trash for you in case you made a mistake.” Damn. Right-click on the Trash and choose “Empty Trash”. “Are you sure?” YES!
Almost every Android phone manufacturer feels compelled to take the stock Android operating system and “customize” it to their liking. The result ends up much like windows. They add extra applications that replicate the stock Android apps that work fine on their own. Why? They add their own fat UI code over the top of Android’s stock UI thinking that it’s easier or better looking or more appealing in some way. They add extra applications they think their users will like and add them to the core operating system image so they cannot be deleted, only “hidden”. All this extra bloat simply slows down the system, wastes precious storage space, and gets in my way of doing the things I want my phone to do. So, Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, Sony, and the like are all off the table for me. I wanted a stock Android experience and in December of 2016, that meant Huawei’s Nexus 6p.
The Huawei Nexus 6p was Google’s flagship phone released in September 2015. It was a large phone (phablet) and sported a great camera, wonderful display, plenty of storage space (up to 128GB) and decent battery life. It has an 8-core (4 high performance cores, 4 lower performance cores) CPU and came with stock Android version 6 “Marshmellow”. In December of 2016, the Nexus 6p was discontinued in favor of Google’s new Pixel phones which meant I could pick up a Nexus 6p for a decent price! I found a new 128GB unit on NewEgg.com for $500.00 and took delivery of it on December 20th. 2016. Merry Christmas to me!
I loved this phone. It was bright and powerful, with a big display (good for my eyes), plenty of storage, good battery life, and felt solid in my hand. I had a few complaints though. The audio output was not loud enough to properly drive my high-end headphones. A headphone amplifier like the Objective 2 Headphone Amplifier fixed that for me. The new USB C charge port meant I had to replace several phone charge cords I already owned, a fun game phone manufacturers like Apple like to play every once in a while. But, overall I loved the phone.
On December 27th, 2017, at about 1:30 pm, my beloved Nexus 6p shut down on it’s own and rebooted back up. I noticed only because of the flash of the white “Google” display on boot. Once it got to the point it should have shown the log in screen, it rebooted again, on it’s own. This kept up, endlessly and I never got to the log in screen. A quick search on the internet told me everything I needed to know – my Nexus 6p had developed a hardware failure known as a “Bootloop”. This means that the phone continually reboots itself until the battery has depleted. You never get to the point where you can log in and use the phone. It just simply reboots endlessly. Now, I have a phone I cannot use. A very expensive paperweight.
So, why is this? What happened? Well apparently, this is a hardware failure in the phone’s main Snapdragon 810 CPU! An XDA Developer / Member named “XCnathan32” found the failure and developed a workaround that will allow the phone to actually boot and run! There is a trade-off though. The fix is to disable the 4 high performance cores in the CPU and run the phone strictly off the 4 lower performance cores. Still, it’s better than a paperweight (bricked) phone. It’s not a fix that most people would be able to do though. You really have to be a computer geek with a good understanding of the internal workings of operating systems, phones, Android developer tools, custom ROM images, and the like. You also have to be lucky enough to have your bootlooped Nexus 6p phone unlocked before the bootloop started or else you will not be able to flash these custom ROM images to the phone in the first place. There is a way to get the phone to boot long enough to unlock the phone so you can flash a custom ROM image on it. The trick is to heat the phone up hot enough that the CPU will automatically shut down the high performance cores due to overheating and actually boot. What a mess! I would guess this stuff is above and beyond what most people would be able to accomplish on their own. Still, if you have a Nexus 6p and it is in a bootlooped state and you feel like you want to tackle the issue head on, check out this forum thread to try and get your phone back up and running somewhat.
So now what? Well, some people have reported that they were successful in getting a replacement or a fix under warranty. Some have reported that Google replaced their phones with new Pixel phones. I purchased mine from New Egg. It came with a 1-year warranty and I’m 7 days over that warranty. Nothing for me. There are several people out there with useless, bootlooped Nexus 6p phones and cannot get it fixed or replaced because they are out of warranty. Still, to have a very expensive phone only last just over a year is simply unacceptable. Google seems to have washed their hands of the issue stating that this is a hardware issue, not an Android issue, and I agree with that. In my opinion it is Huawei that should be replacing these phones as they are the manufacturer. As well, what does this say about Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs? Why are they not responsible for this?
Since Huawei, Google, and Qualcomm have not taken responsibility for this obvious hardware failure like they should, a class-action lawsuit has been filed on our behalf. You can check this out and add you name to the list if you like. I have!