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Google Nexus 6 review: size is in the eye of the beholder

Loie Favre
8

Each time a new smartphone is presented, I’m usually on the edge of my seat. Ever since the Galaxy Nexus appeared on the scene, I’ve been a zealous Nexus user, however the Nexus 6, upon its announcement along side the Nexus 9, was welcomed by my raised eyebrow rather than joy. My skepticism was even bigger than the Nexus 6 itself, and I started my review with a bout of mixed feelings. Find out in my Nexus 6 review whether my worries were justified or unfounded.

nexus 6 teaser review
© ANDROIDPIT
4 ★★★★

Rating

Good👍
  • Very well crafted
  • Stereo speakers
  • Camera
  • Battery
Bad👎
  • Problems with the wireless Nexus charging dock
  • Comparatively dark display, with a slight pink hue at the lowest brightness

Design & Build Quality

First, I must be honest, I was let down when the Nexus 6 was presented. Why? Because it simply looks like an oversized Moto X (2014) and I was hoping to see it come out blazing with its own Nexus design. But the disappointment soon dissipated, because the truth is I like the Moto X design. My first Android smartphone was a Motorola Milestone and I’ve been waiting for years for Motorola to finally make a Nexus phone. My wishes have finally been granted in 2014 and the wait was worth it. The Nexus 6 is a well crafted phone, it feels great to hold, and has an elegant yet sporty design thanks to the slightly rounded back and the width decreases from top to bottom.

Nexus 6 hands on ANDROIDPIT side
The back side in convex and gets thinner near the bottom, which makes it lie comfortably in the hand. / © ANDROIDPIT

That being said, we musn’t forget that the Nexus 6 is extremely large. Even the Galaxy Note 4 could easily be hidden behind it. The phone is definitely not great for people with small hands, and even I had to get used to it with my larger hands and longer digits. Easy tasks like reading my news feeds and emails could be done with one hand, but everything required two. This should be clear to all those who are considering buying the Nexus 6, but I was actually quite surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to its large size. Compared to the new arrival, the Nexus 5 appeared almost measly.

nexus 6 vs nexus 5 comparison front02 ANDROIDPIT
In this picture, it's quite apparent how much bigger the Nexus 6 is compared to the Nexus 5.. / © ANDROIDPIT

My second point of criticism: the raised stereo speakers unfortunately provide enough spaces for dust particles and dirt, and I felt that my fingers didn’t really slide that ergonomically over the display, as was the case with the Nexus 5. There was always a bit of resistance. To be more precise about this problem is difficult, but when using both devices simultaneously, the difference was definitely there. This issue, though small, couldn’t be left untold, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say that swiping on the Nexus 6 keyboard didn’t work problem free either. On the plus side, the Nexus 6 is more resistant to fingerprints, unlike the Nexus 5 where this was a real pesky problem.

Nexus 6 hands on ANDROIDPIT 4
The backside with the reputed font: the letters don't peel off either. / © ANDROIDPIT

Also, the Nexus letters on the back side didn’t peel off. I’ve encountered a few pictures on the internet of peeled off letters, which was also rumored of the Nexus 5. When reviewing the Nexus 6, I wasn’t even able to force this, as I tried rubbing them off myself to no avail.

Display

Google and Motorola planted a 6-inch AMOLED display with QHD resolution on the Nexus 6, which results in 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and a pixel density of 493 ppi. Individual pixels could only be distinguished with a magnifying glass and even then they are hard to make out. The text is razor sharp, colors vibrant, but not oversaturated. I was able to observe two things in my review of the display: first off, the maximum brightness is darker on the Nexus 6 than other smartphones. When placing the Nexus 5 next to the Nexus 6, with both displays at 100% brightness, the predecessor was clearly brighter. That being said, I don’t have an issue reading the screen outdoors. I also usually use the automatic mode for brightness. The Nexus 6 is therefore not something that really bothered me or had a negative impact in any way. The same goes for the lower brightness: any whites on the screen had a slight pink hue, though quite minimal. Even this didn’t bother me too much. But putting it into perspective is important: other manufacturers don’t have this problem which is why I need to deduct a point from the overall tally for fairness sake.

Nexus 6 hands on ANDROIDPIT 9
Sharp colors: the Nexus 6 has a good display with only a few weaknesses. / © ANDROIDPIT

I also couldn’t reproduce the burn in problem some were reporting. While testing the Nexus 6, none of the symbols were burnt in, which leads me to conclude that the user or users in question were individual cases.

Special Features

Among the many Nexus 6 features, the Google phone supports Qi standard. This means that you can charge your phone wirelessly using a Qi charging dock. I actually own the official Qi Charger for the Nexus 5. Thanks to the built-in magnets, the Nexus 5 remains safe and sound on the charging dock and doesn’t budge when the phone vibrates when receiving notifications or calls. Unfortunately the same could not be said about the Nexus 6. Because of its convex backside, the Nexus 6 has issues laying on flat surfaces, and when it was placed in my loading dock and I received a message, it would slowly but surely turn to the left. This is also due to the fact that the magnetic docking function of the Nexus 5 is missing with the Nexus 6. It’s really a shame for me because I would need to buy a new docking station or charge my phone with a cable.

Nexus 6 hands on ANDROIDPIT diagonal
The aluminium frame gives the Nexus 6 a classy look. / © ANDROIDPIT

In regards to the cable, you get a Turbo Charger cable in the Nexus 6 box which Google promises will deliver 6 hours of battery life after a mere 15 minutes charge. I can confirm that this worked, though the Nexus 6 did get quite warm, but not hot enough to cause any alarm.

Another special feature of the Nexus 6 is the stereo speakers, which look great. They aren’t just loud, but also produce great sound quality, though of course only in the scope of smartphone speakers. Music should of course be listened to with headphones, even if the stereos are very powerful, just be considerate for those around you and to be able to fully appreciate the music, which is 100% better when plugged into your ears with headphones.

Software

The Nexus 6 runs on stock Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is Google’s vision of how Andorid should look and function, free of any manufacturer or other types of changes. Lollipop is the biggest update in the history of Android and brings many changes and improvement, though does present a few growing pains that we hope will be treated with future patches. For example, Chrome, the camera and other apps crashed here and there, which proves to be very annoying. Google will surely get this problem under control, either by updating its apps or sending out bug fixes for Android. And the good thing about the Nexus 6 is that it’s right at the front of the line, as it’s one of the first devices to get updates.

androidpit nexus 6 homescreen app drawer
The Nexus 6 comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, and the stock Android user interface. / © ANDROIDPIT

A new software feature which is for now exclusive to the Nexus 6, is called the Ambient Display, which shows notifications in a black and white mode as soon as they come in or the Nexus 6 is lifted up. In principle, this works like Moto Infos (previously called Active Display), on the Moto X. Google chose to include its own app and the feature is extremely practical (though it works better on the Moto X), since all you need to do is reach your hand towards the devices for the notification to appear on the screen. The Nexus 6 really needs to be lifted up and it’s almost faster to turn the screen on by pressing on the power button located on the right side. This, however, uses more battery.

Performance

The Nexus 6 ran smoothly as is the case with all Nexus devices. Apps started quickly, animations were smooth and silky, and games could be played in most cases without any jitters (which is a lot of fun on a 6-inch screen). Having said that, the QHD display takes a large toll on the hardware and this was noticeable now and again, especially with very demanding games, which didn’t run as smoothly on Full HD screens for example. Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus 6 performs very well and every QHD device in this first generation, like the LG G3 and the Galaxy Note 4, suffer from the same symptoms.

google nexus 6 antutu benchmark
Nexus 6 in the AnTuTu Benchmark test. / © ANDROIDPIT

Regarding force encryption on the Nexus 6, which can’t be deactivated without a complicated procedure: while testing the device, the encryption didn’t have a negative impact on the performance, nor did it slow down the phone.

Camera

We can finally breath a sigh of relief here since the camera on the Nexus 6 makes great pictures, being the same as the one that is built on the OnePlus One. Pictures taken in low light situations have very little noise and the amount of detail is satisfactory. Sometimes the camera needed a little longer to focus, and when making a snapshot, you might need to be prepared for fuzzy results. Otherwise, there is very little to complain about, though the advantages of the ring shaped Dual LED were not noticeable. Pictures taken with flash were no better or worse than other smartphones.

Nexus 6 hands on ANDROIDPIT camera closeup
The Nexus 6 camera with its dual LED ring. / © ANDROIDPIT

Take a look at our image gallery to see what type of results the Nexus 6 delivers.

Battery

Here’s another worry I had which was eradicated on further testing: the 3,220 mAh battery on the Nexus 6 is big and ensures that users have more than enough juice to get through the day. During my testing, I took countless pictures, watched videos, listened to music, checked my emails Twitter and Facebook accounts, and surfed the internet. After about 27 hours of use, the battery was down to 17% with a display on time of about 3 hours. The Nexus 6 isn’t as long lasting as the Sony Xperia Z3 however future owners won’t have to worry that the battery will be drained after just a half day of usage.

androidpit nexus 6 battery
Nexus 6 battery consumption: you can manually adjust the screen time on./ © ANDROIDPIT

Technical Specifications

Next to impressive Nexus 6 specs, its reception and voice quality get straight A’s as well. With my cell phone plan, I usually only get 2G or 3G when I’m down in the supermarket, but with the Nexus 6 I was able to get LTE. Reception was also a lot better at home too. Sometimes I would only get 1 bar on my Nexus 5, while I always had between two and three on the Nexus 6. Phone calls were crystal clear.

Price and availability

The Nexus 6 can be bought from the Google Play Store as well various online retailers. Looking now at Nexus 6 price, the 32 GB variant costs 649 USD, while the 64 GB version costs 699 USD. It's available in both Cloud White and Midnight Blue. In terms of Nexus 6 release date and availability, the Nexus 6 can be ordered now, but could take a few days or even weeks to arrive. You can also purchase the Nexus 6 from Motorola.com, though presently it is out of stock. Amazon USA also has it on for sale, though it might not have the lowest price.

amazon buy big
US

In the UK, pre-orders have already started on on Mobiles.co.uk, Clove and Carphone Warehouse, though shipping starts December 1st.

    • Type:
    • Phone
    • Model:
    • Sorry, not yet available!
    • Manufacturer:
    • Google
    • Dimensions:
    • 159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06 mm
    • Weight:
    • 184 g
    • Battery size:
    • 3220 mAh
    • Screen size:
    • 5.96 in
    • Display technology:
    • AMOLED
    • Screen:
    • 2560 x 1440 pixels (493 ppi)
    • Front camera:
    • 2 megapixels
    • Rear camera:
    • 13 megapixels
    • Flashlight:
    • Dual-LED
    • Android version:
    • 5.0 - Lollipop
    • User interface:
    • Stock Android
    • RAM:
    • 3 GB
    • Internal storage:
    • 32 GB
      64 GB
    • Removable storage:
    • Not available
    • Chipset:
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
    • Number of cores:
    • 4
    • Max. clock speed:
    • 2.7 GHz
    • Connectivity:
    • HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1

Final Verdict

Google and Motorola pushed the bar way up for future Nexus phones. The biggest points of critique for this series, namely the battery and camera, now belong in the past. It was a real pleasure to be able to use the Nexus 6. For those who love stock Android and don’t have a problem with the size of the device, will not be disappointed by Google’s newest smartphone. I got used to the size surprisingly fast, even though this was one of my worries before getting underway with the review. If you are looking for a smaller phone with similar hardware, check out the OnePlus One, which is very close to the stock Android user experience thanks to its CyanogenMod user interface, though it does officially still run Android 4.4.

What do you think of the Nexus 6? Could this be your next phone?

Translated from AndroidPIT Germany's Nico Heister.

Comments

Write new comment:
  • Paisan NYC 3 weeks ago Link

    I think you should remove the link to Amazon and replace it with a link to the Motorola site or Google Play store link selling it. The Amazon link is resellers charging $200USD and up more than retail.

    1
    • User picture
      Admin
      Loie Favre 2 weeks ago Link

      Thanks Paisan! We've added the links for all three sites as well as added disclaimer.

      1
  • Strawn_04 2 weeks ago Link

    Might want to add "XT1100" and "XT1103" into the "Model" field...

    1
  • Hmm - like it is 2 weeks ago Link

    What's up with all these rosey or flowery reviews of the Nexus 6? Is that in consideration for a gratis device from Google or Motorola?

    There's no mention or criticism on how Google effectively destroyed it's flagship Nexus line with terribly highly priced devices that only select few (namely early adopters and professional reviewers will actually own one).

    There's no mention in the article about the burn-in issues with the Nexus. There's no mention of the technical performance comparing the Nexus to other devices such as the Note 4 or iPhone 6+.

    The One Plus One camera is old technology first introduced back in late May 2014. That's 7 months ago!

    All in all, the vast majority of people who will stay with Android will either go for the Note 4 or Z3. The adventurists of course will wait for the One Plus Two and continue to be the Chinese manufacturer's lab rats with no support whatsoever from the manufacturer of One Plus One, unless you opt out paying shipping both ways to and from China when your device needs repair.

    I have to say that I am quite sickened with Google's mentality these days of throwing ideas, concepts against the wall like spaghetti and then seeing what sticks. They're lacking any real logic.

    This is truly Google's major shortfall.They think they know what's best and keep things within their own community without any one else's feedback. When was the last time you were able to reach Google on a support issue?

    Besides, it doesn't stop just there. look at their apps and how after every update something is either removed that users care about or things don't work right. Does Google even bother to listen to people? Nope. At least Apple does, although they may not do anything as a result, but at least the listen. And finally, let's not forget Android 5 and how poor the performance is with their older devices like Nexus 7 2012 and Nexus 7 2013.

    Many folks like me who have been devoted and loyal Android supporters for many years are finally moving away from Android, People like me have firmed up their position that Apple is in fact the way to go. Perhaps not the iPhone 6 (for me), maybe the iPhone 7 or 7S. Samsung will be hit first (they are already incurring financial losses), followed by Google. However, Google will simply move the money from one pot to another without even notifying their shareholders of the loss they're incurring by their stupid ideas. People thought Apple was shrouded in secrecy? Think again.

    0
    • JDroid 2 weeks ago Link

      All I heard was Blah, Blah, Blah...I am an Apple Fan Boy now.

      0
    • Royce Edwards 2 weeks ago Link

      I've owned a Nexus 7 2013 and was never disappointed by the performance. I ran Kitkat and did a firmware upgrade to lollipop , rather than waiting for the OTA to be available. Let's fact it, a clean install is always going to provide better performance, so I cannot say how the OTA would have affected me.

      I am very disappointed in Samsung. They simply have too many products and their flagship Galaxy S5 turned out to be little more than a refresh. I love the specs on the Nexus, but do see that they are having difficulty selling through carriers, which makes their premium price hard to swallow.

      The technology packed into the Nexus 6 will raise the bar for the next generation of Android manufacturers.

      0
  • Drum_4_Him 2 weeks ago Link

    I have had my 6 for a few days now and found that by default, the ambiant light detection is enabled. When i turned it off, the screen was able to get much brighter than before. Did you try this?

    0
  • Pam O. 2 weeks ago Link

    Love, love, love this phone! I thought it was going to be too big but I still went forward. I'm with Verizon and this is our first Real Nexus. Well I was wrong, you do adjust to the size rather quickly and then everything else seems so tiny.

    I have 2 tylt qi chargers and I have not had one moment of trouble with wireless charging. It turns off completely when fully charged and the phone NEVER gets hot. I have noticed no burnout and since I never turn the brightness down low, I don't experience this pink color. If you think the brightness overall is low, try the G3...it's much worse. I had to use that phone on 100 brightness while I'm at 75 or 80 percent on the N6. The turbo charger is awesome when needed and I'm so glad they included it.

    0