Google’s flagship whale phone, “Shamu” as it was internally called, the Nexus 6 has been upon us for a couple months now. The release is at an odd time. This time of year there isn’t much in the way of new hardware. Come spring, though, it’s a mad race through summer and into the fall. That said, Google’s Nexus 6 marks a new journey for the Nexus program as it abandoned the mid-range(ish) hardware and affordable unlocked pricing for a more traditional method that involved hardware with more premium design and materials as well as playing nice with carriers and subsidies. It’s a great phone on paper no doubt. But is it right for you?
There’s no denying the size of the Nexus 6. It’s big. Huge, even. For everyone except those with larger hands, it’s going to be awkward to use one handed (if you even can at all) and require a more judicious, conscientious movements when shuffling your grip around. If you can manage to get past the size, the reward is pretty high.
The 5.96-inch 1440 x 2560 AMOLED display is nice, if not a tad over saturated and too warm. The Snapdragon 805 @ 2.7 GHz paired with an Adreno 420 GPU and 3 GB of RAM is certainly about as good as it currently gets. 32/64 GB of internal storage is spacious enough you shouldn’t have any problems, though the lack of SD card support is lamentable. Photo/video chops are seemingly better over the predecessor’s hardware as well thanks to a 13 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front facing cameras. Finally, just about every wireless radio one could want is supported, including the latest 802.11ac WiFi standard.
Battery size: 3,220 mAh.
Yes. By all accounts, the Nexus 6 is a flagship device including size.
Most mid to higher end phones in 2014 performed well enough that real world usage was mostly the same from device to device. The only place the nitty gritty details were ever noticed was in synthetic benchmarks. While it’s useful to use such things to get some sort of rating system across phones as a whole, they never really tell the whole story.
For us at least, the Nexus 6 is a flawed gem. It is the Nexus device many have been wanting for a long time (higher quality materials and faster parts) but it comes with one big (subjective, admittedly) drawback – size.
It may seem silly to focus on one feature so much. But after the glitter and honeymoon effect wear off, it’s something you have to deal with day in and day out. As we’ve used the Nexus 6 over the last week and a half, we’ve found ourselves enjoying it slightly less each day, and instead reaching for our Nexus 5. It’s simply easier to use and not as much of a chore.
The duality of it all is what really pulls at our heart strings. The underlying hardware is fantastic. Android has never felt faster. The Nexus 6 + Android 5.x Lollipop is the best combo Google has ever released. The camera is a step forward (though still trailing a number of 2014 flagships), battery life finally better than “abysmal” and speed can be had for days.
In the end, we find ourselves looking at the Nexus 6 and ultimately wishing for something else, either in the form of a Nexus 6 mini (and not a spec downgraded mini) or a revamped Nexus 5 v2.
In the end, the Nexus 6’s future with your will depend on one major thing — size — and whether or not you can adapt and live with it or not.
Previous Nexus devices have always suffered from, at best, awful battery life. One of the biggest reasons to root your Nexus device and install a custom ROM is to tweak the hell out of it to conserve every last electron in an effort to keep the phone alive and on. With the Nexus 6, we have to admit things are much improved. While you won’t be winning any records ala Sony and the Xperia Z3/v, the Nexus 6 is now finally usable. Combined with better battery life in general, Motorola and Google have designed the Nexus 6 with a quick charge feature that gets you from 0 back up to 100 in ~90 minutes, or if time is short, ~8 hours of additional runtime from just 15 minutes of charging — the best of both worlds.
Should you buy it
Here’s where it gets dicey. If you’re on a Nexus 5 currently, we’d be more inclined to say no, don’t upgrade. You see, the Nexus 5 was almost perfect. The sleek, soft-touch black casing fit nicely in the hand and looked awesome too boot. The hardware while not the newest or most efficient was (and still is with Lollipop) plenty fast. The only cons we could still harp on are battery life and camera performance.
If you’re on another device, then it becomes a lot more of a spec-to-spec comparison and some subjective reasoning at the end of the day. While you do get class leading specs and a Nexus device with pure Android, vs. other Android flagships, you lose some of the custom features such as HTC’s Sense UI or Samsung’s S-Pen features on their larger screened Note series. There’s also the removable battery/SD card camp that has been griping about the lack of the aforementioned features on Nexus devices for the last few years.
At the end of the day, we can’t say the Nexus 6 is a definitive “yes” purchase. That said, if you can get past the challenges of owning and using a phone this large, you won’t be sorry. It’s a true flagship device and awesome phone worth owning.
It's size is both it's biggest asset and worst flaw