Nexus 6 Review – The Biggest And Best Nexus Yet, But With The Same Small Problems

Google’s Nexus lineup has been around for a while as a debut for the latest version of Android, and with great phones and tablets every year, the Nexus line has earned it’s many fans. However each Nexus to date has had at least one major flaw. Whether it be the build quality, bad battery life, or the camera (many times…), no Nexus has been perfect yet. But we’ve been able to overlook that because they didn’t need to be perfect. They were either meant for developers, or priced so low we didn’t care. This year though, Google went for a different approach. Not only did they include the latest specs and top notch Motorola build quality, but they made it a true flagship with flagship pricing to match. Was it the best road to take? I’ve been able to use the Nexus 6 for the past few weeks thanks to my friends over at AT&T and these are my thoughts on Google’s whale of a smartphone.

Specs



  • 5.96” Inch 2560×1440 AMOLED Display

  • Snapdragon 805 Processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB/64GB Internal Storage (Non-Expandable)
  • 3,220 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
  • Built In Qi Wireless Charging
  • 13MP Rear Camera
  • 2MP Front Camera

Hardware & Design

The Nexus 6 has a lot in common with the 2014 Moto X, and it’s not hard to see. The phone is basically a huge version of the 2014 Moto X. We’ll talk size in a minute, but first let’s talk about how the phone’s design actually does in real life. the curved back and metal accents on the Nexus 6 give it a very premium feel and I really love how it feels in the hand. The cool touch of the metal frame in the morning is just something you miss on plastic phones. The back of the phone looks great, but if you get the blue version, is a huge fingerprint magnet. The front is black no matter what with two front facing speaker flanking each side. The glass panel is also rounded at the edges which is great when swiping into menus which is a great touch. The phone feels good in my hand, even though it technically doesn’t fit.

Size

So let’s talk about the elephant, or should I say whale, in the room. The Nexus 6 is just huge. With a 5.96” inch display, there’s no way it can’t be. The phone is just huge. Compared to the Moto X, or just about any other Android phone the Nexus 6 looks like a giant. Even other phablets like the Galaxy Note 4 are completely concealed by the Nexus 6’s gigantic body. Now don’t get me wrong, I like big phones, but the Nexus 6 feels like it’s really pushing the barrier of phone and tablet. Phones just cannot get bigger than this. If they do, we’ll all have to accept the fact that we’re holding tablet’s up to our ears.

That said, the phone doesn’t feel as big as it is. When you hear 6” inch screen, you think immediately (don’t deny it) that the phone is too big. However thanks to some insanely thin bezels, the Nexus 6 makes that size manageable.

So is it too big? That’s up to your opinion. Everyone has hands that are different sizes. Some people will think it’s like holding a TV, but others will think that it feels just right. Personally, I think it’s pushing it. My ideal size is still the LG G3, but the Nexus 6 is at a size where I wouldn’t mind owning it.

Software

Every Nexus is more than just a new device from Google, it’s a showcase for the latest version of Android. This time we’ve got Android 5.0 Lollipop. This is one of the biggest ever overhauls to Android in it’s history and it is by far the most beautiful. Lollipop brings too many enhancements to talk about in a single article, so I’ll only focus on a few. First, let’s talk about Material Design.

Material Design is Google’s new design standard and I’ll get it out of the way, it’s gorgeous. Material Design brings smooth, 60fps animations, wonderful transitions and beautiful new app designs. The color palette, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is wonderful to me. I love the way the OS uses color and I think that Google really nailed this.

Next, let’s talk about some features. Stock Android is pretty bare bones, only delivering what it thinks you actually need. Now with a giant screen, most OEMs pack in some extras like the ability to run multiple apps at once and floating windows, but the Nexus 6 doesn’t. It does this with the benefit of pure speed, which the Nexus 6 definitely has. As far as features go we have new lock screen notifications which are a much more valuable addition then I expected at first. Over time I grew to like the look and functionality of lock screen notifications and when using phones that don’t have Lollipop, I feel like it’s missing something. Another feature on the lock screen that I loved was Smart Lock. This feature gives users the ability to turn off their passwords, pins, and patterns by choosing a location or trusted Bluetooth device. For instance, when I’m at home or when my Moto 360 is connected to the Nexus 6, I don’t have security on my phone. However when those two conditions aren’t present, there is a pattern lock. This feature is more useful than one might think and it’s something that I can’t get enough of.

Lollipop really is the most impressive version of Android Google has released so far. It runs well on the Nexus 6 and I really enjoy it. Sure it has it’s bugs and downsides, but the Nexus 6 combined with Android Lollipop is a winning combo in my book.

Display

The Nexus 6 has a 5.96” inch Quad-HD AMOLED display. To keep it short, this is a good display, but far from a great one. The display display great, vivid colors and pitch black blacks, and all at a 2560×1440 resolution. Text looks crisp and the display gets just bright enough for outdoor use. However when the display gets dim, things aren’t too great. The display started to give a pink tint the dimmer it gets and it’s really noticeable. Some units are better than others, but it seems like this is a problem across the board. Overall it’s a good display. Viewing angles are good and contrast is also great. Good display, yes. Best display, far from it. That honor still goes to the Galaxy Note 4.

Camera

The Nexus 6 has a 13MP camera and it’s, well, pretty good. Not great, but it’s good. It takes great shots under good lighting, but suffers when you either zoom in or remove some light. Below is a small gallery of some shots I took with the Nexus 6.

Performance

The spec package is one of the best seen on a phone in 2014, and it’ll easily carry the phone through 2015 and probably beyond. The Snapdragon 805 paired with 3GB of RAM has more than enough power to get the phone through the most intense games and multi-task like a beast. The only slowdowns I really experienced were due to Lollipop bugs. These can of course be fixed in future updates. Well over 90% of the time, this phone absolutely screams. Every animation and every transition go through at 60fps just like Google intended. This phone is designed to run Android Lollipop and it does that with flying colors.

Speakers

The Nexus 6 has not one, but two front facing stereo speakers flanking the top and bottom of the display. These aren’t the best speakers in the world, but just because there are two and both are on the front, they are already a hundred times better than most smartphone speakers on the market right now. They won’t beat the HTC One M8, but they are pretty sweet.

Battery Life

The Nexus 6 has a 3,220 mAh battery inside. The battery is non-removable which is a bit of a downside, but it makes up for it with built in Qi wireless charging. The battery on the Nexus usually gets me through a day, but that’s about it. Heavy use got me from 7AM to 9PM, moderate use until about 11PM with 15-20% remaining, and light use could get through even longer. The battery certainly isn’t great, but it’s acceptable. Motorola adds a Turbo Charger in the box which allows you to charge the phone at much faster speeds. This certainly did work, just not as well as the name implies. It definitely did it’s job though because if I had a heavy day on the phone at work and knew I was going back out, a 15-20 min charge was more than enough to get me through the rest of the night.

Final Thoughts

The Nexus 6 is Google’s latest flagship. It runs the last software and is overall, a great phone. But that’s the key part, phone. This isn’t a phablet, at least not in my opinion. It’s just a really, really big phone.

For $649, you can snag the 32GB version of the Nexus 6 in Midnight Blue or Cloud White. An additional $50 doubles the storage. The Nexus 6 isn’t overpriced, but it feels that way because of the Nexus phones of times past. The Nexus 6 is compatible at just about every carrier under the sun, but in the US it’s sold either unlocked or on contract at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint (and soon Verizon). Is it worth it? If you want a big phone with a super smooth software experience and the latest updates direct from Google, yes!

Buy The Nexus 6:

  • Nice review Ben. I agree with your points generally. The price is a big one for me. For many Nexus lovers, this has come as a bit of a shock….