Nexus 6 – Epic Review

Nexus_6_01

Enter the Nexus 6, code name “Gargantua”. Okay, it was actually code named “Shamu” and for good reason. It’s big, it’s fat, and it’s powerful.

As usual, there was a lot of hype and confusion surrounding Google’s latest Nexus phone. For the better part of a year, reports/rumors of Google axing the Nexus line in favor of  the Android silver program, chapped many an asshole. Luckily, those were rumors were complete bullshit. The Nexus line is alive and well, and naturally, better than ever. But this is not the same old affordable, moderately specd, vanilla Android phone of years past. The Nexus phone has morphed into a top of the line, class leading, premium tier smartphone. With a premium price to match. Size comparisons aside, the biggest difference between the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 5 is the green. Is it worth the hefty $650-700 price tag, lets take a look.

Build Quality & Design Shit

First off, lets address the elephant in the room, literally. The Nexus 6 is a fucking behemoth.

It’s big, it’s wide, but its not all that bad. It is noticeably larger than the Note 4, but not so much larger that it will immediately turn perspective buyers away. It is just slightly taller (6.27″) and wider (3.27″) than the new iPhone 6 Plus piece of shit. But the actual screen size is a bit larger than both devices. To make up for its bulkiness, Moto has given you an extra .5″ of screen real estate vs the iPhone 6 Plus, and .3″ vs the Note 4. They have managed to squeeze a shit load of screen into this device.

Overall, the Nexus 6 is an attractive device. Much more premium feeling than the Nexus phones of years past. It feels great in the hand, especially if you happen to be a oversize human being/ogre type of person. You have probably heard of the comparisons to the Moto X (2nd Gen) and they are spot on, it is essentially a larger Moto X, that runs stock Android. The metal lip that encompass the outside edges of the phone is a nice touch. I don’t think metal is required to make it a “premium” device, but it is nice.

The back of the device is my favorite part of the design, but it may also my least favorite part of the design from a functionality perspective. The back proudly displays the Nexus insignia along with a non-traditional circular camera/flash layout that is quite attractive. I own the white version, I usually opt for the darker color, but I wasn’t a fan of the blue color they choose for the back and sides of the blue N6. I would have preferred a dark gray color, but people like color, so what ever. Some people like that champagne color everyone is coming out with, I am not one of those people, you may be, but you probably own an ugly ass phone.

The Nexus 6 camera ring

Here is what I dislike about the design. The Nexus 6 has a curved and tapered back. It has a uniform curve from side to side and it is thicker towards the top. This makes it almost impossible to use the phone while it is laying flat on a table. You need to pick it up unless it is on a stand. If you try to use the touchscreen while it is on a surface, the device will not stay still, because the back does not have enough contact with the surface of the table, there isn’t enough friction on smooth surfaces. This is certainly a fucking annoyance for anyone who wants to use their phone while its laying on their night stand at home, on a wireless charging pad, or their desk at work. Take a look at the video below for an example. There is not much you can do about it, unless you get a stand.

In the video, I am not trying to make the phone unstable, I am applying a normal amount of pressure, trying to navigate the home screens. Try it for yourself if you have a phone with a flat back. You wont have the same result.

I am not a huge fan of the non-symmetrical design of the front of the device. The screen does not sit centered within the the front of the device. There is a lot more bezel at the top of the phone than there is near the bottom. Most of you probably don’t give a shit, but it slightly bothers me, I have issues. This is only apparent when the screen is on, considering how most of the front is encompassed in a single piece of glass. Certainly not a deal breaker.

The Nexus 6 features a slightly asymmetrical design

As with the Nexus 5, the buttons on the N6 are very nice. The power button and volume rocker are stacked on the right side of the phone, power on top, volume below. I prefer a two sided button arrangement, but I can see the benefit of having all of the buttons on one side for such a large device. The power button has a textured surface that helps differentiate it from the volume rocker. The buttons have a nice tactile feel and require the right amount of force to activate, not too little, not too much. Considering the fact that Google and/or Moto decided to omit tap to wake functionality, even though the phone is fully capable is beyond me. I am sure there is a reason, but I don’t give a fuck, it should be there from the start. This is a feature I really enjoyed using with my OnePlus One, so I am very disappointed to see that it isn’t available at launch. Google could easily send out an OTA to enable this feature, but only time will tell if they actually do so. In the mean time, if you are comfortable with rooting your device (don’t be such a bitch), you can enable tap to wake via Play store app for just under $1, root is required.

Software and Performance

Android 5.0 lillipop

The Nexus 6 is the first smartphone to ship with Google’s long awaited, and heavily overhauled Android 5.0 Lollipop. This latest iteration of Google’s mobile OS is probably their best ever. It’s extremely colorful and dynamic. When I say heavily overhauled, I mean fucking everything. The changes are not so drastic that it will confuse Android users that are upgrading, the same basic structure is still there, but everything looks different. Visually, Lollipop is the biggest change/upgrade in Android’s history. It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and it’s fucking badass. A shit load of fun to use. There are a bunch of new software tweaks and customization’s that make Android that much more user friendly. A few notable UI improvements include active display, new interruption settings, multi-user support (no longer just on tablets), security settings such as smart lock (trusted places such as work or home), encryption, easily restoring apps and settings when setting the device up for the first time. Among many others that make this the best version of Android yet. We will go into more detail on the OS specifically in our upcoming Android 5.0 Lollipop review.

As far as performance goes, the Nexus 6 is quite beastly.

Usually lacking behind the competition, the Nexus series has often times underwhelmed in the performance category. Not so much with the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 boasts the bad ass 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 processor, easily capable of handling just about anything you can throw at it. The UI is quick and snappy, a fucking pleasure to use, although I did notice the occasional slowdown when swiping right to access the Google now page. Gaming performance is obviously top notch, as of this writing, you probably aren’t going to get anything better from a phone. Apps open quickly and there is more than enough RAM (3GB) to cover just about anyone’s needs.

Display

The AMOLED display on the Nexus 6 is quite stunning. At 493 ppi (pixels per inch) text is extremely crisp. HD photos and porn videos look equally amazing. Contrast is as good as you are going to get. Not to mention saturated colors and deep, dark blacks.

As I mentioned earlier, the display is huge. At 5.96″, the display pushes the limits of what I would consider to be one handed capable. One handed is use is very difficult. I don’t have the largest hands in the world, but I can operate a 5.5″ OnePlus One with one hand pretty comfortably. The Nexus 6 is just too fucking wide. You will probably be risking some drops if you ever need to operate your device with one hand. But if you’re the type that does a lot of media consumption on your phone (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) you may want that big ass screen. But, I think I have found my personal limit.

The Nexus 6 is very wide, making for difficult one handed use.

I already expressed my disgust with Moto/Google’s inability to include tap to wake as a standard feature, but they did kind of make up for it. Moto’s active display, the same active display you will find on both variants of the Moto X, has made its way onto the Nexus 6. Active display will display your notifications without the need to turn on the device. Active display will briefly turn on and display your notification, as soon as you get the notification. It also does a very good job at recognizing when you take the phone out of you pocket, or pick the device up from a surface. Once an event is triggered, active display will turn on, and show you the time, and any notifications. You can then unlock your device with out the need for the power button. However, active display is far from perfect. I have noticed several times where active display turns on for no reason. I am assuming this is due to changes in the amount of light the sensor is receiving. But not really that big of a deal.

Camera

The 13 MP camera on the Nexus 6 is pretty standard fare for a flagship phone. The mega pixel count may not be all that high comared to the competition, but the Nexus 6 is capable of taking some good looking photos, in well lit conditions. It’s nothing spectacular, but slightly better than average. The Nexus camera app is also nothing really new, it is basically the exact same camera app from the Google Play store, and the Nexus 5. Luckily, the Nexus 6 features OIS, which does help steady the picture/video if you had a few too many beers the night before.

The Nexus 6 also features a pretty decent video camera as well. It is capable of recording UHD/4K video out of the box. Make sure you get the 64 GB model if you plan on shooting 4K video. UHD video takes up a shit ton of storage space, about 300 MB/min. Also, make sure to grab a 4k TV while your’e at it, otherwise, you will not get to enjoy that ultra HD video you just shot of your shit head, jerk of a cat.

Network Connectivity 

If you live in the US, there is a high probability that the Nexus 6 is supported on your network. One way or another, the Nexus 6 is officially supported on all of the big 4 carriers in the US. They might not support the unlocked version, but each carrier has their own variant of the device, each may have slight software/bloatware differences.  If you purchase the unlocked version (highly recommended), from the Play store of Moto’s website, I am pretty sure you can port the phone to just about any carrier you choose. Use caution though, I am sure there are plenty of carriers that will not support the Nexus 6. But don’t take my word for it you lazy shit, do you own damn research and make sure it will work on your network before purchasing.

Call Quality 

Ah, my favorite section of the review.

Believe it or not, there are still people out there that still use this antiquated technology.

This is what makes the Nexus 6 a “smartphone”, rather than a 6 inch tablet. Here on T-mobile, calls work just fine. Earpiece and loud speaker volume are both adequate. An upcoming update to the Nexus 6 should include WiFi calling on some networks, definitely T-mobile, but I cannot confirm nor deny WiFi calling for other networks. But you can probably almost certainly not count on it if you are a Verizon customer. Fuck Verizon.

If you are picking up a Nexus 6 to make phone calls, you got a winner here.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Nexus 6, is without a doubt, a big fucking disappointment.

The Nexus line is well know for their underwhelming battery performance. Every iteration of the Nexus, one after another, has had mediocre if not disappointing battery life. The Nexus 6 has a fucking 3220 mAh battery! One of the largest capacities in its class, and I just barely get through a day of normal usage, with very little to no gaming. The N6 boasts almost 1000 mAH extra battery capacity over its younger sibling the Nexus 5. This should mean significantly better battery life, right? While battery life is better than the Nexus 5, it isn’t a whole hell of a lot better. I don’t scientific data to see that the battery struggles, trust me when I tell you, you would expect more from such a beefy battery. I cannot determine why the battery drains at such a rapid pace. I have a few ideas, but I cannot pin point exactly why. Is it the insanely large, high resolution screen? Software? Active display? What the fuck ever. Battery life should be better leagues better for a device that costs damn near double what it did last year.

I guess you could say that Moto makes up for its poor battery life by giving you the ability to turbo charge your device. They claim 6 hours of battery life in 15 minutes. I wont test that claim, so lets assume its kind of accurate. The Nexus 6 undoubtedly charges faster than most other Android devices, and that is great if you are near a fucking AC outlet. I’ll take “better” battery life over fast charging any fucking day. Better yet, I’ll take a combination of the two.

Another feature that helps make up for the Nexus 6 battery life woes is wireless charging. I was very happy to see this addition make it on to the Nexus 6. I haven’t had any issues wirelessly charging the device with any of my charging pads/stands yet.

That being said, the Nexus 6 will probably get the average user through the course of their day without the need for any extra juice, but if you are looking for class leading battery life, the Nexus 6 should not be your first choice.

Conclusion

Nexus 6 packaging

Google has decided to totally flip the script with the Nexus. They have gone from an every mans device, to the ultra premium tier. Sirloin steak to fillet mignon. Losing a lot of its broad appeal in the process. Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus 6 is still a very appealing device, certainly a device worthy of the Nexus name. But I feel as though too many compromises had to be made with the Nexus 6.

There are so many questions I wish I had answers for. Why go SO fucking big, and not include any phablet specific features like Samsung’s Note series? The Nexus 6 absolutely dwarfs the Nexus 5, but is essentially a big ass Nexus 5, or Moto X. Is that really what the vast majority of people want? Perhaps, but I am not one of them. Why cant we have decent fucking battery life? Why go premium? Is it so Google can have their own flagship to go head to head against Apple? I could go on and on. But I will stop there. You see where I am getting at.

After its all said and done, for $650-$700 you are still getting a hell of a smartphone that is priced at or below the competition. If you want one of the best smartphones on the market today, you could do a lot worse. Owning a Nexus devices certainly has its perks, such as timely updates, and an amazing developer community. But it ultimately comes down to choice. Choose wisely.