Nexus 6 review

Google and Motorola team up to take on the iPhone 6 Plus

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For

  • Fantastic screen
  • Powerful components
  • Fast chargin

Against

  • Will prove too big for some
  • Battery life isn't amazing
  • Did we mention the size?

If you're one of those people who thinks smartphones are already a bit big, well, you might want to sit down, given what’s on offer here. Phones don't get much larger than the Nexus 6, and with a screen size of 6-inches, this is a device that really blurs the lines between tablet and smartphone.

The Nexus 6 is certainly big, but it's also bold. Large size smartphones, known by some and muttered through gritted teeth by others as 'phablets' are nothing new, with Samsung making the craze go mainstream way back with the Galaxy Note and now Apple has got in on the act with the iPhone 6 Plus.

The big phone made a similarly-sized splash, shaking up the phablet market. But Google's didn’t sit back and do nothing, teaming up with Motorola to create the Nexus 6 and take on the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Size matters

The biggest feature – in all senses of the word – of the Nexus 6 is its humongous 6-inch screen. For many people this will make or break the appeal of Google's latest handset. If you like using your smartphone one handed then - unless you have fingers longer than E.T’s - you’re going to struggle with the Nexus 6.

This isn't a phone that you're going to be able to easily slip in your trouser pocket either. Believe us when we say, this is a huge phone and it won't be for everyone. Google and Motorola may have taken a risky course by going for such a divisive design, but it works.
The design of the Nexus 6 plays to the screen's strengths, pushing the display as the centre of attention. That means there are no physical buttons and very little in the way of surrounding material – the screen really is edge-to-edge.

This makes the Nexus 6 look fantastic while keeping the body size as small as possible. The height and width of the Nexus 6 are 159.3mm x 83.0mm, which isn't too much larger than the iPhone 6 Plus's 158.1mm x 77.8mm dimensions. Not too shabby considering the Phone 6 Plus' screen is smaller at 5.5-inches

Image quality

But what good is a huge screen if it's worse looking than a bear with a backwards face? Thankfully the Nexus 6's AMOLED screen is absolutely stunning, with a bright and vibrant image quality and a fantastic 1440x2560 resolution.

Known as quad HD, this resolution blows 1080p displays out of the water, and means that even stretched to the larger screen visuals are pin sharp, plus it’s the perfect aspect ratio for watching widescreen films and TV series.

Big and beefy

A smartphone with such a big screen and incredibly high resolution needs some pretty beefy hardware to keep things ticking along. Google and Motorola have obviously taken care in picking top-of-the-range components to fit inside the Nexus 6's roomy body, ensuring that this super size handset positively zips along when in use.

You've got a 2.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor with an Adreno 420 GPU for phenomenal graphics capabilities, backed up with 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.

This should be plenty for many people and makes a mockery of the paltry 16GB that Apple has seen fit to put in its cheapest iPhone 6 Plus. However there's no microSD slot which means if you're rapidly running out of space on the Nexus 6, you might find you'll need to do a bit of digital spring cleaning.

The big screen isn't the only reason why Google appears to be so keen to pack the Nexus 6 full of powerful components.

The Nexus 6 is one of the first devices to ship with Google's newest mobile operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop.

This means the handset is an ambassador for the latest Android, and Google wants it to perform perfectly. It's paid off, as Android 5.0 looks great on the big screen and runs slickly and smoothly.

Movie and music magic

With the huge screen, high resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio, you'd expect the Nexus 6 to excel at videos, and you'd be right.

Because of the aspect ratio there are no annoying black bars above and below videos – widescreen movies are instead shown full screen.

The resolution brings a new sharpness to even high definition footage and the front facing dual speakers manage to keep up with even the most hectic film soundtracks.

These speakers also do a very good job of playing music, and the fact that they are front facing means you can flick through your collection whilst enjoying the full force of your tunes.

The brilliant screen and high specifications of the Nexus 6 also makes it an awesome gaming machine. Mobile games like Asphalt 8: Airborne have never looked better than on the Nexus 6's screen.

Crucially the fantastic media playing capabilities of the Nexus 6 makes it a legitimate alternative to tablets, so if you want a device that can be a smartphone and a tablet, you'll love the Nexus 6.

Battery lifestyle

Before we get to the power, let us just tell you about one brilliant feature: the days of scrabbling around looking for a wire to charge up your phone could soon be at an end thanks to the Nexus 6's wireless charging feature.

This lets you simply place the Nexus 6 on a Qi wireless charger mat and get insta-juice. It's an incredibly convenient process that really takes the hassle out of charging the handset, and once you've tried it, you'll want to banish wires from your life forever. Yes, it’s not a new thing (it’s been here for a few years on the Nexii) but it’s still an awesome trick that’s it hard to stop using.

If you do need to use a wire to charge the Nexus 6 like a caveman, then the sting is removed by the inclusion of a Turbo Charger. This is a bigger than normal plug that can pump 6 hours of battery life into the Nexus in only 15 minutes.

On top of that, the Nexus 6 is excellent at using that juice. This is thanks to the huge 3220mAh capacity battery that dwarfs the ones found in the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note 4.

This means that when using the Nexus 6 for browsing the web, watching movies, playing the odd game and making phone calls, it was able to keep going without needing a charge for one and a half days.

Considering the size of (and amount of pixels packed into) the screen, this is pretty good, and on par with the Note 4. It also far surpasses the iPhone 6 Plus, which barely manages a single day.

There are also a number of power saving features built into Android 5.0 Lollipop which can help you eke out a few more hours when away from a power socket. These extra hours can prove extremely helpful.

Snap happy

The Nexus 6's camera has also seen a huge improvement over the Nexus 5 thanks to a new Sony IMX214 CMOS sensor, a wider f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation.

The sensor is an impressive sounding 13-megapixels, and in practise lives up to its potential offering stunning photos with life-like colours. It's not quite up to the Galaxy Note 4's quality thanks to Samsung's voodoo in the photo technology department, but images are still very impressive.

Where the Nexus 6's camera does have the Note 4's snapper beat is in the fast autofocus which makes whipping out the Nexus 6 and taking snaps quick and easy - plus it can trundle out a little bit of 4K too, if you’ve got the space (and requisite TV) to save and view the footage.
If you're a fan of taking selfies then you'll find lots to love about the Nexus 6's front facing 2 megapixel camera which is able to take some pretty tasty shots, though it does struggle a bit in low light environments.

Verdict

So has Google's and Motorola's risky phablet gamble paid off? Yes it has, with the Nexus 6 proving to be an amazing device that comes with some of the latest smartphone and tablet features, a truly remarkable screen and excellent performance.
It's genuinely good enough that even if you are wary of super-sized smartphones you may want to put aside your concerns and give it a try.

At £499 it's certainly not cheap, but considering that it is still a fair bit less expensive than the iPhone 6 Plus, plus the fact that it can double as both a tablet and a smartphone, then the Nexus 6 actually ends up being an incredibly desirable phone at a very respectable price. We know. We're surprised too.

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