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?
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?
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
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 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
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?
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.
- You love stock Android
- You need a big display
- You don’t care about one-handed use
- Camera quality isn’t important to you
- You own a Galaxy Note 4
- You’re fine with a 5-inch display
- Camera quality is important to you
- You hate AMOLED displays