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Nexus 6 review

evan kypreos

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  • Android 5.0 Lollipop 25
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  • Android Lollipop
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  • Nexus 6 sample shot
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Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Pros

  • Giant screen
  • Well made
  • Great front-facing stereo speakers

Cons

  • Awkward to hold – it's huge
  • Slow camera focusing
  • No longer competitively priced

Key Features

  • 5.96-inch QHD display
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization; 4K video support; Dual LED flash
  • 2-megapixel front camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 2.7GHz and 3GB RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB onboard storage (no microSD slot)
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Price: £499.00

Check out Google's latest flagship: Nexus 5X review

What is the Nexus 6?

Google has decided to shift its Nexus range from mid-range to high-end. It started with the Nexus 9, a tablet built in conjunction with HTC, but the results were mixed. The strategy's now been applied to its phones, starting with the Motorola-made Nexus 6.

It’s not hard to figure out that it’s made by Motorola, either. The Nexus 6 is just like a Moto X that’s hit a teenage growth spurt – it looks and feels a little awkward and gawky. Individually and on paper all the elements that bring it together – design, screen, camera, battery life, performance – are strong. But there are flaws to each that make the Nexus 6 miss the mark and fail to hit the heights reached by its competitors.

Watch our Nexus 6 video review

SEE ALSO: Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

Nexus 6 – Design

There’s no getting away from it, the Nexus 6 is massive. Wider than an iPhone 6 Plus and taller than a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, this is a giant among giants. And that means the Nexus 6 is a tricky phone to handle.

Is the Nexus 6 too big? That’s the key question. The curved matte–plastic back rests well in your palm, but you can't stop your other hand coming to the rescue when trying to handle this beast. Your brain keeps telling you to get both your mitts involved.

Some people will have the same issue with other, slightly smaller, phones. But Apple and Samsung offer some one-handed use assistance, whether through software or just by virtue of being that little bit slimmer and thinner.

They don't look that different, but the Nexus 6 (centre) is just that bit bigger than rival phablets

It’s not just the Nexus 6’s width that causes issues. The bottom screen bezel is less than 1cm thick. You won’t often hear us complaining about thin bezels, but getting to the soft keys at the bottom of the screen means you really need to stretch to reach them. This becomes even more of an issue if you’re left-handed.

All the physical buttons are located on the right-hand side of Nexus 6, within easy reach of your right-hand thumb. If you’re a lefty, though, you’ll need to stretch your index finger around the phone – and to do that you’ll need to hold it higher up. This makes it near impossible for your left thumb to get to the soft keys without juggling the phone down. It’s a tricky manoeuvre, only helped by the phone’s decent grippiness.

OK, so we’ve established that the Nexus 6 isn’t for one-handed use unless you have particularly meaty paws, but what about the rest of the design?

The Nexus 6 bucks the trend of previous Nexus phones. This is a high-end device aimed at taking on the might of Samsung and Apple, not a low-cost mid-range Android. While last year’s Nexus 5 and its predecessor, the Nexus 4, offered fantastic value, they came with limitations. Battery life, design and camera were compromised to keep costs (and therefore price) down. Plastic was the order of the day. Not so for the Nexus 6.

The 5-inch Nexus 5 looks like a toy next to the giant Nexus 6

From the front the Nexus 6 is a handsome slab of glass with raised front-facing stereo speakers – one above, one below the screen. The gaps in the speaker lead to lint and fluff getting stuck in them, but that’s nothing a quick blow or sliver of paper can’t sort out. Still our minor OCD leads us to keep cleaning them out.

The Nexus 6 still uses plastic to cover the back, but it’s hard plastic, not the soft-touch type of the Nexus 5. It feels thick and sturdy, much better than the thin, plastic, removable back covers on some phones. A metal frame runs all the way around the Nexus 6, punctuated only by the Nano SIM card tray, 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro USB port and eight thin pieces of plastic dotted around the edge. These let the phone signal out, but also add to the phone’s looks without making it too fussy.

The Nexus 6 is a well-made phone, better looking than the LG G3 and on par with the similarly metal-edged Galaxy Note 4. Only the metal unibody iPhone 6 Plus feels like a more premium product, but then that’s a lot more slippery without a case on.

Some other design elements are less successful. The Nexus logo on the rear is more than a little bling, particularly when coupled with the silver Motorola logo just above it. To make matters worse, the 13-megapixel camera comes surrounded by a naff clear plastic ring that also covers the dual-LED flashes. It’s nowhere near as elegant as the metallic ring around the HTC-built Nexus 9’s camera.

Regardless of a few suspect design decisions, the 6-inch Nexus 6 is well built and good looking. It’s just a little too large to handle.

While there have been reports that the Nexus 6 is waterproof, there’s been no confirmation by the manufacturer and it has no official IP rating. We recommend keeping it well away from the wet stuff. If you want a phone that you can use with impunity on the beach or pool then look towards the Sony Xperia Z3, Galaxy S5 or HTC Desire EYE instead.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Prem Desai

December 20, 2014, 1:07 pm

I think Google have missed a trick here. Whilst I sure they done their research and there is a market for phones this big, it's still a niche market.

Killing off the 5 was probably not the best move as customers who want smaller phones (most of them) will look elsewhere.

AHYL88

December 20, 2014, 9:13 pm

Technically and on paper, the Nexus 6 is a better phone than the Nexus 5. But what made the Nexus 5 and 4 such big hits when they were released was they were good value compared to other stuff released back then (and even today to some extent!). And they are very manageable to handle; the 6 is neither, as listed in the cons. Too big for its own good and miles more expensive than its predecessor, which is still very decent, a lot easier to handle and can be had for around half the price (if you look around carefully). I'm sure the 6 will still sell well anyway, but it's very hard to ignore the glaring issue of its far higher pricing compared to the 5. I just wish companies would break away from this obsession they have of making phones more powerful AND bigger.

Laggia

December 21, 2014, 5:37 pm

Yeah but the downside with the 1520 is that it's a Windows Phone - which while a relatively good OS, but compared to iOS or Android, is just not up to snuff.

Jimmy Borch

December 23, 2014, 1:31 pm

I got the Nexus 6. Honestly, I dont understand your scoring system. The Iphone6 plus got 9/10 stars and the Nexus6 got 7/10 stars. Why the difference?. The Iphone6 plus is harder (for me anyway) to hold than the Nexus 6, but in the iphone review this deducts only 1 star - the Nexus 6 is described as "This makes it near impossible to use one-handed for any length of time or during a jostly commuteRead more athttp://www.trustedreviews.co......". Well depends on the size of your hands (not a problem for me), but that is also true for the iphone... For the nexus you complain about the price... but in my country I got the Nexus 6 with 64 GB, for LESS than what I can get an Iphone6 plus with 16 GB. What I really like about the nexus is the new android version (which of course can not be compared to IOS, as they are very different systems- matter of taste), but also the quick-charge and especially the wireless charging is great. The screensize combined with the wireless charging makes it the BEST sat-nav replacement for my car ever! As my card bluetooth is a trusted pairing device, I dont have to fiddle with the login-screen when I'm driving. For commuting this is by far the best phone I ever had. People who complain about the price - I just dont get it. YES, the price has gone up compared to earlier nexus phones, but it IS a premium device. The price for the Nexus 6 64GB version is the same as the Note 4 32GB version (in my country anyway). So the question is, do you want an s-pen, fingerprint-scanner og samsungs software? or do you want wireless charging, turbo-charge, uhd display, stock-android (lollipop) and dobbel the storage for the same price? for me the answer is easy - YES - I dont need a s-pen or fingerprint scanner - but the charging options are very welcome, and so is the newest version of android. I really dont see how the Nexus 6 can get 7 stars, when Note 4 & Iphone 6 plus get 9/10. Yes there are trade-offs, but that door goes both ways. I think, you got so used to the Nexus brand not being a premium brand, that you compare appels and oranges when you look at the price. It should be compared to Note 4 64GB and Iphone 6 plus 64GB (good luck finding that ;-), but at least compare it with the 32GB versions instead). Did I mention the wireless charging? ;-), when my workday is over, I got 90-96% battery left, because every time I put down my phone, it is charing at the QI stand on my desk or in the car.

Alex Louderback

December 27, 2014, 5:55 pm

Where are you getting 90%? A quick google search told me that WP Store has 300,000 apps as of August. Android has over 1 million. Simple math tells me that WP has more like 30% the apps of Android, js... While WP is a great ecosystem, MUCH better than iOS, it's just not on par with Android... Tell me when you guys get snapchat, and maybe I'll take WP seriously

adrianeds

January 1, 2015, 9:05 pm

This website is totally an iphone club, as the Apple logo can do no wrong, I sympathise totally with you. Although my phone is a Sony Xperia Z3, I totally agree with you, this review stinks to high heaven, & this phone is mega period.

Michael Hall

January 2, 2015, 6:05 am

The idea that the Windows Phone app store is anywhere near good enough is wrong. Sure, it's got the big names, but it's the small little apps which you use every so often you miss.

babaibhat

January 2, 2015, 5:55 pm

Most of the Windows Phone apps are kinda lame - compared to iOS or Android apps.

For example, Facebook app.. Have you ever compared the app in iOS or Android ?? Most of the features are missing.. For e.g. they have just added the photo comment in windows app recently :(

I own both Android & Windows Phone and I'm pretty disappointed with apps in Windows Phone. and yes I got the Denim update on my Lumia.

Michael Hall

January 5, 2015, 5:22 am

An example for you: All of my friends are now addicted to a game called "Crossy Road". I could get it on my Nexus 6 no problem and they could get it on their iOS devices no problem. One friend, however, has a Windows Phone and is missing out on all the fun.
Another example: Snapchat.

Roger Wicki

June 1, 2015, 10:07 am

You compare phones by stats but you miss to consider for a recommendation that some people just do not want the Samsung crap preinstalled for example... I got my Nexus 6 last week and (apart from the size) I already feel really comfortable with it.

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