Google Nexus 6 review: still the biggest, but is it the best?
Ever since the Galaxy Nexus appeared on the scene, Nexus phones have been associated with exceptional value for money, and flagship quality. The Nexus 6 bucked that trend slightly, with a lofty price and a 6-inch screen that looks beautiful, but is too big for many peoples' hands. Our initial skepticism about the Nexus 6 eventually faded though, and we gave it a four-star review when it was released.
A number of months later, and with fierce competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and LG G4, does it still stand strong among flagship smartphones? Read our updated Google Nexus 6 review to find out.
- Huge screen (for big hands)
- Stereo speakers
- Quality camera
- Great battery life
- Huge screen (for small hands)
- Problems with wireless Nexus charging dock
- Relatively dark display, with slight pink hue at lowest brightness
Google Nexus 6 release date and price
The Nexus 6 price is higher than that of previous Nexus phones when they first came out. It is available to buy now in the US and UK at Amazon, the Play Store, Motorola and other outlets. The 32 GB variant costs US$649, while the 64 GB version costs US$699 (£499 and £549 in the UK, respectively). It's available in Cloud White and Midnight Blue colors.
Google Nexus 6 design and build quality
The Nexus 6 looks like an oversized Moto X (2014), which may leave some thinking that Motorola took a bit of a shortcut on the design. But let's not nitpick. The Moto X is a wonderfully-designed phone, and the Nexus 6 is well-crafted and feels great to hold. It has an elegant yet practical design, thanks to the slightly rounded back.
Then there is the matter of the size. The Nexus 6 is so big that you could hide even a Galaxy Note 4 behind it. The phone is definitely not great for people with small hands, and even though I have relatively big hands, it took me a while to get used to it. Top-of-the-phone tasks, such as pulling down the notifications bar or tapping the Google search bar, will most likely need to be done with your other hand.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to its large size, and appreciated the obvious usability advantages – more accurate typing, greater precision in navigation, bigger text, etc.
The raised stereo speakers unfortunately attract dust particles and dirt, and the display suffered from the same slight stickiness as the Nexus 5. On the plus side, the Nexus 6 is more resistant to fingerprints than its predecessor, so at least the screen stays looking fresh even if it could feel a bit better.
- Nexus 5 review: still top-shelf one year on
Also, worrying rumors about the letters on the back of the Nexus 6 peeling off proved unfounded in our review. We gave them a good scratching and rubbing (no scalpels were involved), and the letters stayed visible and in place. So there's another malicious Nexus 6 rumor quashed.
Google Nexus 6 display
Google and Motorola planted a 6-inch AMOLED display with QHD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution on the Nexus 6, with 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 yet not over-saturated.
The maximum brightness is slightly darker on the Nexus 6 than other smartphones. When placing the Nexus 5 next to the Nexus 6, with both displays at 100 percent brightness, the predecessor was clearly brighter. That said, I had no problems reading the screen outdoors, nor in any other scenarios, thanks to the useful auto-brightness.
- Nexus 6 vs Nexus 5: is the new Nexus worth the upgrade?
Pure whites on the screen have the slightest pink hue, not enough to be a distraction, but you don't expect such niggles on a pricey flagship phone. It might be a minor complaint, but in this regard the Nexus 6 falls against the recent competition.
Google Nexus 6 special features
The Nexus 6 supports Qi wireless charging, but the Qi charging dock is sold separately. This feature worked well with the Nexus 5, which was magnetically attached to its official charging dock and didn’t budge when the phone vibrated.
Unfortunately, the curved back on the Nexus 6 means it has issues laying on flat surfaces, so when it received messages while lying on the dock, it would steadily rotate as it vibrated. This is not helped by the fact that it lacks the magnetic docking function of the Nexus 5.
The Nexus 6 does come with a Turbo Charge cable though, which delivers on its promise to deliver a six-hour charge in just 15 minutes.
Google Nexus 6 software
The Nexus 6 comes with stock Android 5.0 Lollipop, and is first in line to receive the latest OS updates. This means that the Nexus 6 should receive the final build of the Android M earlier than the competition. You can install the Android M developer preview on it right now if you want find out what to expect from the next version of Android.
The Nexus 6's stock Android interface represents Android at its most pure, free from the typical bloatware and unwanted features tacked on by third-party developers. It's the cleanest and generally most sought-after version of Android. That being said, there are some elements missing from stock that it could benefit from: read more about those at the link below.
- The best features stock Android doesn't have
Google Nexus 6 performance
The top-end Nexus 6 specs ensure that it runs smooth. Apps start quickly, animations are silky, and most games can be played without any jitters (which is exceptionally fun on a 6-inch screen).
Having said that, the QHD resolution is much more demanding than 1,080p and this was noticeable now and again, especially with very demanding games, which inevitably run less smoothly than on Full HD screens. This problem isn't unique to the Nexus 6 though; other QHD devices, including the LG G3, Galaxy Note 4, and even the Galaxy S6, suffer from the same symptoms.
- Data encryption and Smart Lock make Android 5.0 Lollipop the most secure yet
Google Nexus 6 audio
The stereo speakers on the Nexus 6 look and sound great. They're loud and crisp (as smartphone speakers go), but try not to get carried away using them on trains and buses – unless you're surrounded by audio enthusiasts, no one will appreciate their sound in the way that you do. When you and your friends start hitting parks in the summer though, the Nexus 6 speakers will serve you well.
Reception and voice quality on the Nexus 6 get full marks. On the same network as the Nexus 5, the Nexus 6 would sometimes get three bars of signal where its predecessor would only get one. Phone calls sounded crystal clear, with no background noise or other nasty interference getting in the way. Google has also promised to include HD audio calls in the incoming Android 5.1 update, which should further boost phone call quality.
Google Nexus 6 camera
The Nexus 6 camera boasts 13 MP and takes great pictures. Pictures snapped in low light conditions have very little noise and the amount of detail is satisfactory. Sometimes the camera takes a little time to focus, but otherwise there is very little to complain about. We didn't notice any advantages to the ring-shaped Dual LED flash on the phone – flashed pictures didn't look any better or worse than those from other phones.
Take a look at our image gallery to see the results of our camera test.
Google Nexus 6 battery
Blasting away all worries that a massive 6-inch display would be a battery drain, the 3220 mAh battery in the Nexus 6 ensures that you'll have more than enough juice to get through the day.
During this review, I took countless pictures, watched videos, listened to music, and surfed the internet. After about 27 hours of use, the battery was down to 17 percent with the display having been active for three hours. The Nexus 6 battery isn’t as long-lasting as the Sony Xperia Z3, but at least you won’t have to worry that the battery will be drained after just half a day's use.
Google Nexus 6 technical specifications
Google and Motorola pushed the bar way up for future Nexus phones with the Nexus 6. It has sucessfully addressed past problems with the camera and battery. If you can deal with its formidable size and want to stay on the front-line of Android updates, then the Nexus 6 is for you.
In terms of processing power, it's no longer a match for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6, but it can also be found for quite a bit cheaper now, and its phablet screen is unmatched for its combination of size and quality. The Nexus 6 is a unique and bold phone, and is still worth considering even in light of recent competition.
What do you think of our Nexus 6 review? Has it persuaded you to get a Nexus 6, or are you waiting to see what flagship phone Google has in store for us in 2015?
Updated 14/08/15 by Scott Adam Gordon, Translated from AndroidPIT Germany's Nico Heister.
Google Nexus 6 - where to buy?
Please note: only the lowest tariffs and main networks are shown. Cheaper deals may be found with re-sellers.
The Google Play Store or Motorola UK are probably the best places to visit if you want to pick up the Nexus 6 off-contract. Motorola has regular deals and it has dropped the price of the Nexus 6 a number of times this year. Currently it is back up to the normal price of £479 for the 32 GB version and £549 for the 64 GB version.
Vodafone £40/£50 p/m (£0 upfront) with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 6 GB / 10 GB data (32 GB model)
Like the UK, Motorola's own store is a great place to find the Nexus 6 on sale, as it currently is. Right now you can get the 32 GB Midnight Blue or Cloud White model for $499.99, down from the normal asking price of $649.99, and the 64 GB model for $549.99 instead of $699.99.
Verizon $77 p/m ($0 upfront) with unlimited talk, unlimited texts, 1 GB data
T-Mobile (pre-owned) $70.83 p/m ($0 upfront) with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited data (1 GB 4G LTE data), $499 outright
All information correct at the time of publication (August 14, 2015)
Nexus 5X, 6P, 6, 5, 7, 9 and more are now on sale only on NexusPhoneOffers:com
I've had a Nexus 6 since April, recently updated to Android M (OTA update) which improved battery life even further with Doze. My wireless charging works even through a thick case, mine is a inclined charger I use at bedtime so I haven't had the issues described in the article. Whenever I've had it out of a case, which is rare, I haven't noticed any peeling of the letters. The article accurately describes everything else, it isn't the latest thing out there, but I plan on keeping it and using it as a daily driver. Article did not describe screen as fragile, definitely want a rugged case(I finally picked the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro) and rip out any plastic screen protectors and get a quality tempered glass, not the junk the carriers offer in store. Yootech works EXCELLENT with my case, install as low against the speaker as possible, though a bit tricky to install accurately. I drop mine on occasion now with absolutely no worries, where before it was like getting to the dramatic part of a TV show with lesser case/screen protector. Battery is awesome unless there's a ton of screen-on time or gaming, lasting me all day easily. I'm in love with the dual front speakers, produce a decent sound where it should be. Going to keep around as long as it continues to be a great performer.
You know nothing, Jon Snow.
Letter on back of nexus 6 peeling off rumor is not squashed, I had this phone no more than a month got Lil dirt on back started wiping off with a rag went to rub rag in the letter grooves the plastic inside slid right out. Came right out with the corner of a rag. Thought it was just maybe that one letter nope ever one came right out. Putting silver plastic in the grooves on the back of a phone with glue bad idea. Charge the phone battery get warms melts the glue letters fall out. Not to mention this phone is junk. Every update something else goes wrong. Now my phone won't put out any sound unless I put in phone jack and remove it, then the sound will work again. I'm tired of taking it back and getting a new one. I'm just waiting for the Samsung note 5 to come out and trading this over priced paper weight in. Nexus 6, major fail!!!
Tis an awesome phone, no doubt. However the nexus stickers on the back so peel off. I'm very careful with my nexus 6, and grant it maybe it's too big to be carrying around in my pocket, but one day when I was pulling out our of my basketball shorts I felt it hang on something. I gently pulled it on out only to find the straight line of the u coming off. Had to tediously super glue it back. No big deal though... Can't really tell.
I use my phones for business, so few texts, lots of phone and data use. I have been blown away by the clarity of the HD audio on my N6 w/5.1. Also, as the article noted the data signal strength is better than my N5. I was wary of the size but now that I've used it for a couple of months I don't know why I hesitated. Give it a little time and apps will get creative about using the real estate. Each of the Google phones has been different and highlighted new concepts, most good, that were emulated by other manufacturers. N6 is not for everyone but I won't give mine up.
I have been using Mobile phones 4years now, I am working class, 13 moved from N.Ireland UK. to Dublin city and with 7 of my family stayed while the other older members,married and still living in N.Ireland, as both parents are from large family's,15 kids in my Fathers side,&7 kids in mother's side!
I am amazed at how strong the wifi receptive signal on a Nexus 6 compares to other phones that I owned. I workout at a LA Fitnesss and across the double-lane highway is a Perkins restaurant that I can get free wifi signal from. None of my pevious models including Samsung S3, S4, and Nexus 5 has been able to pickup the signal until the Nexus 6. At home, I can get my wifi signal from my detached garage and previously I could never do that. I think this wifi receptive signal improvement alone is worth its weight in gold.
I also love the phone voice quality of the Nexus 6. In a noisy environment, it has no problem filtering what's noise and what is real sound. Now with HD voice on 5.1, it's really icing on the cake. Amazing!!! Definitely worth the upgrade from the Nexus 5.
Well, I have to admit that I'm a Samsung "phanboy", but I have really been intrigued by the Nexus 6. I do have a Note 4 and love it, however I would be lying if I said I didn't read about and watch a ton of reviews in regards to the Nexus 6. I think it looks great, plus it's running stock Android (of which I've always wanted to try). I don't really have anything to compare it to because I've never owned a Nexus phone, but this one has really peaked my interests.
The worst Nexus
(But that's a good Alien)
When the Nexus 6 launched it was a sad battery draining fake wanna phablet BIG JUST FOR THE SAKE OF BEING BIG which served NO LEGITIMATE PURPOSE. Everyone knows MOTOROLA has no knowledge of anything phablet related and neither does GOOGLE. THIS phablet game was made prominent by SAMSUNG since August 2011 and ever since NOTHING HAS TOUCHED THE GALAXY NOTE PRODUCTS THEY ARE THE GOLD STANDARD.
Richard, I'm pretty sure you have Samsung tattooed above your heart 😉.
I disagree, i won't go in to details and specs, as the article does a well enough job at that. Have you ever owned a nexus? Samsung has brainwashed you! I've owned both a note 4 and a nexus 6 and I'm telling you there's no contest!!
Richard - Yawn. It's all getting a bit boring with your Samsung ideal world comments. There is much better out there for cheaper... FACT!
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.
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?
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.
All I heard was Blah, Blah, Blah...I am an Apple Fan Boy now.
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.
Might want to add "XT1100" and "XT1103" into the "Model" field...