Hands On: Motorola Nexus 6

The Google Nexus 6, by Motorola (Image: Google)

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24 July 2015 | 0

The Nexus 6, by Motorola for Google, is the latest in the line of Nexus Android reference smart phones.

It is the first Nexus device by Motorola Mobile, despite Google acquiring it in 2011.

As a fan of the Nexus line of phones, we were surprised somewhat by the 6. It is big — very big. In comparison to its predecessor, the Nexus 5, it is a phablet, not a phone.

Its major dimensions are 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm and weighing 184g, which puts it very much in the Galaxy Note niche. This is a little disappointing as there are already lots of devices in this space and to supersede a 138mm, 135g device with the 6 may actually alienate some potential users.

That said, there are a number of nice touches, which show the mobile heritage of the makers. The design is nicely curved on the back, with an ergonomic depression in the centre for extra grip. The power button too has a nicely knurled edge to distinguish it easily from the rocker button which is smooth. Overall, there is a nice feel to the device, despite its heft.

Screen size
The screen is a large, 150mm (6”) AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, with 16M colours at a 1440 x 2560 resolution for a pixel density of 493 ppi pixel. As with its tablet sibling, the speaker arrangement is top and bottom so that in landscape orientation it gives good stereo output. This is a considered arrangement, as the size and quality of the screen would encourage the consumption of video, right up to HD movies, as opposed to just cat videos on YouTube.

However, the screen, its size and aspect ratio (16:9), throw up an altogether different problem.

As one of a broad engineering bent, I like things to be nicely aligned, symmetrical and systematic. The Nexus 6 running Android 5.1.1 has a native clock widget on the home screen, which takes up 2 icon spaces. The screen is now 5 icon spaces wide. This means that clock widget will not centre on the home screen. This makes my eye twitch every time I look at it — it is just wrong.

Apart from that, the specs for this device are equally as impressive as its tablet stable mate the Nexus 9.

Spec list
The Nexus 6 boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor at 2.7 GHz with an Adreno 420 GPU, backed by 3GB of RAM. The test model was the 32GB version, with Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot), Bluetooth (v4.1, A2DP, LE), GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS), NFC, and a host of sensors (accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer). The battery is a Non-removable Li-Po 3220 mAh battery giving stand-by up to 330h and talk time up to 24h, with wireless charging via specific charging stand.

In testing the Antutu 5.7.1 benchmark scored the Nexus 6 at 51211. By comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 scores less than 50000, with the Huawei Ascend P8 scoring 46283. The Nexus 6 is no slouch.

As with most of the other Nexus smart phones, there is no expandable storage, but there are 32 and 64GB versions.

The screen tends to be on the warm side of the colour range and doesn’t quite have the colour saturation of the aforementioned P8. That said, it is really only noticeable in side by side comparison, and so should not be an issue.

The main camera has a 13 MP sensor, shooting up to 4128 x 3096 pixels, with autofocus, optical image stabilisation and an impressive dual-LED (ring) flash. Video can be shot at 2160p@30fps, again with optical stabilisation. As with most Nexus devices, this is a good rather than great camera that usually benefits significantly from Android version upgrades through its life. It is not sub-par by any means, but would not compete with the best that others, such as Sony, have to offer in the form factor.

Updated OS
Our test model was updated to Android 5.1.1, and so enjoyed the benefits of Lollipop, such as the new Android Runtime (ART), which can significantly improve the performance of apps. As such, combined with the decent 3GB of RAM and the processing speed, makes the Nexus 6 high performer and the perfect platform to enjoy the advancements of the ecosystem, such as the extended Play Store content, native YouTube apps and more.

The form factor, as mentioned, does encourage the consumption of more rich media than might have been the case on its smaller siblings, and the ability to easily cast content to a big screen via something like a Chromecast only expands its appeal.

But again it is just that capability that means it is far less pocket friendly, as opposed to wallet friendly, than the Nexus 5 before it. It may matter less to some, but it might also be the deal breaker. That and the starting at €599 price tag. It is a lot of phone for the money, it is also a lot of phone to fit in your jeans.

 

store.google.com/product/nexus_6

 

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