5 factors that future Nexus 6 owners should consider before upgrading


Nexus 5 Nexus 6 upgrade

The Nexus 6 (our review) is a big phone, both in size and importance. It’s available from four US carriers right now (though it’s still hard to buy), which is a big deal for the Nexus line. The Nexus 6 is also Google’s first Nexus in a while to offer a “no compromise” experience. Top notch build quality. High-end specs. Available on most carriers. It’s the Nexus we’ve always wanted.

That’s not to say the Nexus 6 is without faults. In fact the biggest feature of the Nexus 6 is it’s biggest point of contention. Some people love the “phablet” experience, but others aren’t quite ready to give up precious pocket space. Unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to upgrade phones without upgrading in size. In actuality the Nexus 6 asks for the biggest compromise of them all. Is it worth it?

Size Matters

nexus 6 nexus 5

Obviously the number one question that potential upgraders will ask is about the size. The Nexus 6 has a 6-inch display (5.96 to be exact), but there is minimal bezel around the top, bottom, and sides. It’s still a very large phone, but it’s not as big as you might expect from a 6-inch display.

Figuring out how big a phone will be in your own hand can be tricky. The obvious thing to do is find one in a store so you can try it out. If that’s not an option for you we can compare it to a device you might have, or even regular household items. Check it out.

Personally, the Nexus 6 is too big for me. I can palm a basketball in one hand, but using the Nexus 6 is a bit unwieldy. It’s slightly top-heavy, which is not good since you’re usually holding the bottom half. When I unlock it and draw my lock pattern with one hand it feels imbalanced.

I can’t say the Nexus 6 is impossible to use. Despite it being too big for my liking I’ve been able to use it as my daily phone for over a week. The size does have its advantages in some areas. Watching videos, playing games, and taking photos is awesome on a big screen. It all depends on what you’re willing to sacrifice. I can safely say the Nexus 6 is too big for most people, but the question is will you care?

Super Saturation

nexus 6 brightness

Another thing to consider about the massive 6-inch display is that Motorola has chosen to use AMOLED. If you’re thinking about upgrading from the Nexus 5 or other LCD-toting phones you will notice a big difference in colors. I’m not going to try to tell you one display tech is better than the other. Your preference will depend on your own eyes.

However, one thing that Nexus 6 users have noticed in the display is a reddish hue. This is especially noticeable when you have the display brightness turned all the way down with adaptive brightness enabled. People have complained about this, but I actually like it. The red tint makes the display much easier on the eyes in dark conditions. AMOLED in general is great in dark conditions.


  • Pure blacks
  • Vibrant colors make Lollipop…pop.
  • Easy on the eyes at night


  • Colors aren’t true-to-life
  • Red hue can be annoying to some

Build Quality

nexus 6 nexus 5 2

As mentioned above, the Nexus 6 is the first Nexus in a while to offer top-notch “flagship” build quality. This is the reason why the Nexus 6 didn’t meet the insanely low price points of the previous two Nexus phones. If you want high quality you have to pay for it. Unlocked the Nexus 6 goes for a whopping $650, but you can get it for more typical prices with carrier contracts.

Coming from a Nexus 5 it’s easy to tell that the Nexus 6 has superior build quality. The Nexus 6 feels like a solid piece of futuristic material in your hand. It has a nice weight too it, but can feel imbalanced at times. Compare that to the Nexus 5 which has some give in the back and feels much lighter in the hand.

The only real issue I have with the build quality is the slippery material they’ve chosen for the back. A phone of this size is hard to hold in general, but with the slick back it’s even worse. A texture of some sort would have added some much-needed grip. As it is you will want to put a case on it, which only increases the size of the device.


nexus 6 camera

Nexus devices have been plagued with bad cameras for a while. The Nexus 4 was dreadful, and the Nexus 5 is only respectable. Motorola’s focus on build-quality for the Nexus 6 didn’t just stop at the dimple on the back. They’ve put together the best camera a Nexus device has ever had.

The rear camera on the Nexus 6 sports a 13 megapixel shooter with auto focus, optical image stabilization, and dual-LED “ring” flash, which is powered by the Sony IMX214 CMOS sensor. The biggest improvements come in low-light. If you’re coming from a Nexus 5 you will notice big improvements. Users of HTC, Samsung, and LG flagships won’t notice much, if any.

Lollipop & Phablets

nexus 6 tablet UI

Perhaps the most compelling reason why people might be considering the Nexus 6 right (besides “Nexus!”) is to get Android 5.0 Lollipop. Most Nexus devices already have Lollipop, but if you’re out in HTC or Samsung Land you’re still waiting. Lollipop is definitely one of the best things about the Nexus 6, but it’s also one of the most disappointing.

Lollipop is just as good on the Nexus 6 as it is on the Nexus 5, if not a little snappier. The problem is that the OS doesn’t treat the 6-inch display like a phablet. The Nexus 7 is only an inch bigger, but it gets tons of optimizations for the bigger display. Lollipop on the Nexus 6 is just a blown-up phone interface. This is one area where Samsung does a much better job with phablets. Stock Android is just not suited for a phablet.

Worth the upgrade?

nexus 6 nexus 5 3

I really wanted to like the Nexus 6, and I believe I could use it every day if I had to. That being said, I don’t think it’s worth the upgrade. There’s not enough to make me feel like my Nexus 5 is outdated. The same can be said for owners of the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, and especially Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Make no mistake, the Nexus 6 is an excellent device. It’s the best Nexus that has ever been made. The only problem is it’s not enough better to make it worth the upgrade. The best way to think about it is if you would switch from the Galaxy S5 to the Note 4. You’re getting almost all of the same features, but with a bigger display. If that’s all you want then the Nexus 6 is for you, but if not it’s time to wait for the next Nexus.

Should Upgrade

  • You love stock Android
  • You need a big display
  • You don’t care about one-handed use
  • Camera quality isn’t important to you

Shouldn’t Upgrade

  • You own a Galaxy Note 4
  • You’re fine with a 5-inch display
  • Camera quality is important to you
  • You hate AMOLED displays

[polldaddy poll=8517783]

Joe Fedewa
Ever since I flipped open my first phone I've been obsessed with the devices. I've dabbled in other platforms, but Android is where I feel most at home.

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  1. so if i have a note3 and hate touchwiz — upgrade?

    Since you don’t plan on using yours, how about you send it my way :)

    1. If you hate Touchwiz and want a phablet only Sony and Nexus 6 are your options. LG has yet to deliver.

      1. The G pro/G Pro 2 are great devices.

        1. I just recall a rumour of a Note competitor coming soon so that’s why. Also the Pro 2 has an older processor versus the phones currently releasing. I love LG hardware tho.

  2. Sent back my nexus 6 and tried a Moto X, couldn’t be happier. Got the cyber Monday special and paid 300$ less than nexus 6 too

    1. What a discount (especially considering that you got that on the Nexus 6). If I hadn’t decided two months ago that outright buying a Nexus 6 didn’t make financial sense for me and that it’s too big for my current pants pockets I would have jumped on that. Got a Nexus 5 and I’m still living it, though.

    2. I thought about doing the deal and side-grading from my OPO to the X but battery life was my biggest issue on reviews. Would’ve gone great with my 360.

      1. I had the Nexus 5 and the Moto X is a significant improvement on the battery from that plus I got the turbocharger which really comes in handy on heavy usage days

        1. The turbo charging is awesome. That’s something my next device needs to have.

  3. i really wanted the next nexus but the 6 is too big. i’m sticking with my n5 until someone comes out with a stock android 5-5.5″ with built-in wireless charging and great battery life edit: that works on t-mobile.

    1. Droid Turbo.

      Yes, it works on T-Mobile.

      1. afaik it doesn’t support all of t-mobile’s hspa+ and lte bands
        edit: yea it doesn’t have support for t-mobile’s HSPA 1700 (AWS) and t-mobile’s LTE 5 and 17 band

        1. T-Mobile doesn’t have band 5 or 17. Not sure where you got that from.

          1. ah yes you’re right. so just the aws band

          2. AWS is critical with T-Mobile. I would hesitate to try and use the Turbo on T-Mobil.

    2. One annoying thing is the u.s. carriers force the manufacturers to not include wireless charging back plates by default whenever they can.

  4. the difference in battery life is astronomical… I went from 5 hours of heavy usage on my nexus5 before it quit, to 8 hours on my Nexus6 of heavy usage!, and with moderate usage, its the whole entire day literally. so its a super big win and reason to upgrade for me to the Nexus6. the larger screen, and 2 speakers (as opposed to 1 on the N5) and larger megapixel camera are just bonus. Also, the N5 will stop receiving android updates next year november… the N6 will continue to receive updates for 2 years. At first i was a little bit worried about the large screen size, but after a few days using it, you get used to it, and you’ll never want to go back. the phone fits in my pocket too!

    1. What makes you think the nexus 5 will stop receiving upgrades? The nexus 4 is at 5.0.1 and it’s a year older than the nexus 5.

      1. Because Nexus devices typically stop getting them after 2 years. It’s quite probable that this is the last update for the N4 now that it’s hit 2 years.

      2. the Nexus4 will never receive any other updates past Android Lollipop (sure, maybe 5.0.2 or 5.1, but those will still be android lollipop). The same way the Nexus5 will never receive any other update past next year’s Android Moonpie

  5. The fact that it has a screen-on time of 3-4 hours was a deal breaker for me. My M7 has around that life-span, and I’m finding myself charging it before the end of my day (it can be due to the age of the phone). Although it has quick-charge technology, I don’t want to be worried about my battery life throughout the day.
    My next phone needs a longer screen-on time, preferably around 6 hours.

    1. Battery tech hasn’t advanced yet to give more than 3-4 hours. Where do you see different? Not even the ‘Turbo’ gets better.

      1. Example? Note 4 lasts a hell of a long time (6 hours screen-on time), with the same resolution and the same sized battery. For some reason, the screen used is not battery-friendly as with Samsung’s screen.

        1. Thanks! I had no idea.

        2. Not sure about your use or reception, I get 6 to 8 hours of screen on time consistently on my M8, actual use, plus hours more on standby on that same charge. Posts in the forums show that’s not unusual.

          1. I don’t have the M8, I have the M7. And yeah, the M8 is great on battery life, which is why I’m excited for Hima/M9

  6. Another for “Should Upgrade:” if you’re using a phone older than the Nexus 5, such as my current Galaxy Nexus. Whole reason I just upgraded today is A) it’s a Nexus, and B) I can use it on VZW.

  7. Title should read ‘5 reasons you shouldn’t get the Nexus 6 and me repeatedly bringing up size as one of them’

    “Personally, the Nexus 6 is too big for me. I can palm a basketball in one hand, but using the Nexus 6 is a bit unwieldy”

    WHAT?! I can’t palm a basketball but I easily use my OPO that is slightly smaller than an N6. You make adjustments.

    I think from the S5 it is an update due to Crapwiz and hardware (heavily biased as I dislike Samsung). Obviously from a Note 4 it’s not because they both released in the same release cycle. Most people don’t even use the Note pen features, I would easily choose the N6 over a Samsung phablet any day because I know Vanilla Android will be faster and I’ll get quicker guaranteed updates straight from Google.

    Disclaimer I’m too happy with my OPO to justify dropping ~$700 on a phone (when that’s 2 OPOs).

  8. just by dumb luck i got through on the MOTO store and scored a 32GB one.

    VZW nano sim card is on the way and i can recoup the cost by unloading a bunch of old stuff on EBAY.

    i don’t think the value of the device can be equated just in dollars and cents, i think it’s going to be those intangible things all summed up.

    i’m really looking forward to putting it through its paces.

    for all you ‘too big’ naysayers, google NOKIA 9500, i carried one oft hose for over a year and loved it too.

    1. ah, the good old days of nokia innovation

  9. I’m over phablets. They seemed like a great idea until I started using one every day. I have a G Pro from LG and it’s a perfectly fine device, but it’s kind of the worst of both worlds. It’s too big and top heavy for me to use one handed in many of my frequently used apps. At the same time it’s too small to use for media consumption like reading magazines or watching a movie. At this point I have a 10″ tablet, and I’m looking to downsize my phone to something in the 4.7″ range. Of course now that I want a smaller Android phone, they’ve become somewhat rare.

  10. Other than software and an unlocked bootloader, the droid turbo is far better.

    1. Don’t forget ugly. That chin…

      Not sure how it’s far superior, since it’s pretty much the same hardware specs minus the screen and battery sizes.

  11. Oh wow, so there is an AT&T logo on the N6? Bummer… I’m glad I purchased it on T-Mob instead. I couldn’t be happier with this phone. I’m 5’6″ with average sized hands and I can do many things one-handed (although it’s tiring after a while). The size isn’t a bad thing for me – it really is something that has been blown out of proportion by all or these tech sites. When I look at my N4 or N5, they seem soooo tiny and not as enjoyable. I love this screen. The build quality is excellent – really feels like a solid piece. Lollipop has many bugs but it still looks miles better than KK. Overall, I’m very pleased with this phone. Oh – the stereo speakers are AWESOME. My favorite feature of the phone next to the screen size.

  12. First Nexus I’ve had zero interest in. Way too big. Should be 4.7-5.0″ tops.

  13. Same here… It’s just too damn big and too damn expensive for a Nexus… Actually disappointed this time around :(

  14. I bought it and actually like the size after a few weeks of use. I like the amoled over the IPS screen and the camera has been much better than the nexus 5.
    Hate that the power button and volume are in the middle instead of the top. That is the single most annoying thing in my opinion. Wouldn’t both men if it were on the left side but I constantly push the buttons using the device with one hand being right handed.

    1. Bother me***

  15. You can palm a basketball and not the N6? Sounds like a lack of coordination to me. This is an upgrade to my N5 for certain. The same 5.0 O/S is faster + better hardware. You make it sounds as if you’re downgrading by increasing RAM, processor, battery life, screen size, graphics, etc.. ? Anyway, get yourself a jump plan. If you don’t like the size get yourself a Bluetooth or stop with the skinny jeans. Maybe look into upgrading pants to something more comfortable with a pocket pre-sized for your gear AND your package. I think this phone makes it easier to get the job done and looks fly compared to the Note or I6. Try it for yourself.

  16. I love my Nexus 6! Great phone. At first I was worried about the size but after a few days you adjust. Now 5 inch phones seem sooo tiny. Thank you for an awesome phone Google! Love lollipop too and all the beautiful colors and animations.

  17. You, like many reviewers, have not mentioned the cordless charging feature. Some, at least, like me will choose the Nexus 6 because their eyesight is not what it might be. I find the orienting the plug to go into the charging socket is not that easy as I don’t see it clearly. NOT having to plug in every night is a BIG plus for me. Much prefer the idea of plonking the Nexus 6 down on something instead.

  18. I find it funny that you say that ‘upgrading’ from a Galaxy Note 4 is a thing. It’s not an upgrade at all imo.

    The Note 4 has a better display, expandable memory, s pen, fingerpring scanner, splitscreen multitasking, better camera, ir blaster…

    1. Yet not Lollipop.

      1. That is true, but imo, I’d rather have all of the advantages stated over a software upgrade. Lollipop will come eventually, and even then, I’m not sure I’d upgrade due to Xposed not being compatible.

    2. … better battery life, one-handed operation features, easier to hold in one hand (Nexus 6 significantly wider and doesn’t have as sharp of a bottom edge), wired connectivity to a big screen with MHL (a preference for me), “back button” on right (a preference for me). Plus, I’m surprised at how well the fingerprint feature works on it.

      I had both for two weeks and returned N6. I only saw 3 advantages to N6:
      – Speakers way louder
      – wider screen get’s another word or two on lines of text (email, news, etc).
      – Quick updates from Goog.

      1. You should try Viper4Android, it really boosts(and improves) the volume on a rooted Galaxy Note 4. You have to sideload the app.

        1. Thx dude…

      2. If the button position is a problem for you I know for a fact that Cyanogenmod allows you to switch the button positions in whichever way you want. I don’t know if Xposed will allow you to do that but it might work.

  19. I have a Note 4 and I am dying to get hold of nexus 6. The damn phone is just impossible to buy.
    Someone is currently trying to port lollipop to Note 4, but I would gladly trade my Note 4 for a nexus 6.

    1. It will be available in stores (CarphoneWarehouse) on/after December the 30th ;)

      1. Thanks. I am in India. The black 32 GB version is sold out in play store.. When it was available, it was showing a delivery time of 7-8 weeks. And that sucks. The other local retailer is showing as coming soon. The 64 GB versions are showing as coming soon for more than a month in play store.

        Boy it sucks to be in India if you love gadgets, Superbikes and Ford Mustang.

        1. Haha. Move to London :P. I’m guessing most places will get loads in stock come January. Google always seem to make low bulks of their products at first.

  20. I am in Australia. My current device is Note 2, which upgraded to Android 4.2.2 two days ago. Although I have determined to get Nexus 6 to experience the pure Android experience for the first time, I may have to wait until March 2015 to get this device. Do you experts think it would be still worth for waiting or I should get something else since I live in the land does not exist from USA’s point of view?

    1. Just upgraded to 4.2.2 on a Note 2. Wow, that sucks (seriously). I would have rooted the hell out of that if they’d delayed software updates that much. You might want to consider starting to root if things are like that.

  21. Anyone that thinks the nexus 6 is too big should be looking at the less expensive Moto X. Think of it as the Nexus 6 and the Shamu is the Nexus 6 plus.

  22. Said it before will say it again. This is for phablet lovers, if you don’t like the size fine. Just stop acting so gaddam self entitled like it’s compulsory that all Nexus devices must be under 5″.

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s for phablet lovers. I hate them or at least I used to. I’ve never owned one before as I’ve thought they’re hideous. Well… TouchWiz could be the issue there. Anyways, I love my big assed Nexus 6 and I used to hate big assed phones.

  23. What a slanted article!
    “If Camera quality isn’t important to you”
    The camera is very good:

    Conveniently left out the N6 awesome front facing stereo speakers.

    I use the N5 for a year. You need to be insane to choose it over the N6.
    Much better battery life, camera, internals and build quality.

    And can you place the N5 under water for 30 minutes?

    1. Most of the Nexus have had decent cameras, but you would be hard pressed to find that info, people still think that iPhones set the standard for “quality” when like with everything else, Android has been far superior for quite a while now

  24. The poll answers are bs. The yes is “because the next nexus is always worth it”. That makes it seen like only a blind nexus fanboy would like it. Excuse me, this phone is amazing all on its own, nexus logo or no.

  25. I compared n6 to my g2 at store and noticed on the brightest setting the screen was yellow and dim. Im sorry but using old tech amoled and pricing it over 600 is bs. Note 4 looked way better and brighter almost ips like display. Front facing speakers were disappointing. Just huge let down.

  26. I am enjoying my nexus 6. It’s amazing how quickly I acclimated to the size. My Htc One M8 feels tiny now. I wouldn’t mind a Note 4 if there was a Google play edition and if Samsung ditched that stupid copycat iPhone home button.

  27. I remember when I first got the Note 2 and I thought it was absolutely massive. At times I felt like maybe it really was too big of a phone. Then I fell in love with the battery and made the size a convenience more than a hassle.

    I have an iPhone 6 Plus now and apparently the N6 isn’t much bigger so I would have absolutely no issue with it. Not sure why so many stories are being written about it.

  28. I have a Nexus 5, because I don’t want a 6″ behemoth. Too damned big. The Nexus 5 is already a bit bigger than I like.

    1. I agree, I had the Note 2, which was 5.5″ of screen, just the right size for someone with bigger hands, But I now have the N5 which I enjoy even more. No pen to worry about losing or not using. The N5 needs a refresh, maybe a Moto N5.5? I’d like to see that. 6 inches is too inbetween the 7 inch tabs and the 5 inch phones to make it a daily user, IMO

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