Why The Nexus 6P Won’t Wobble

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Google officially unveiled the Nexus 6P, the successor to its somewhat underwhelming Nexus 6 phone today. The company designed the phone in partnership with Huawei and after today’s event, we had a chance to catch up with Jeff Hoefer, the industrial design manager in charge of the Nexus 6P design. Hoefer joined Google in February after almost nine years at Apple.

nexus-8“This is an evolution,” he said. “What we did is we looked at what happened with [the Nexus 6] and what happened with 5 the previous year. What we did with the 5X is an evolutionary change. With 6, what I wanted to do is something a little bit more polarizing and very different in the market.”

Hoefer was especially proud of the phone’s metal body. “It’s very sculpted,” he said. “I’ve never seen a phone that has sculpted aluminum like that. That’s very hard to produce. We really pushed our vendors to do a good job with that.”

It’s a very clean, elemental look.
— Nexus 6P designer Jeff Hoefer

The most iconic feature of the phone, though, is the black strip that slightly protrudes from the back. It holds the camera, flash and laser sensor.

“For me, the black strip is the portal to bringing the digital world into your phone. I wanted something that would have some mystery to it,” he argued. “Notice we don’t have an actual camera lens — like a sapphire lens. The sculpted glass is something that’s very unique.”

He also pointed out that the strip allows the phone to sit on the table without wobbling. “I didn’t want to have a bump on it. When you put this on the table, it actually lies flat.” The Nexus 6 wobbled and spun, he pointed out and also noted that the NFC antenna is in the strip. “When you have an aluminum body, you don’t want to have a lot of holes in it,” Hoefer said. “It’s a very clean, elemental look.”