Living with Google Nexus 6

How Google’s biggest smartphone changes my perspective about phablet’s immense proportions.

It’s all started with 4.7inch HTC One X Android phone. I thought it was big enough for everything compared to iPhone 4 I had previously. Then I upgraded to 5inch Galaxy S4 Google Edition. I missed the premium build quality and good battery life, so I settled for HTC One M8 Google Edition.

Then my brother bought his first Galaxy Note phone. At 5.3inch, this is the first phone that really bring some of tablet’s features to the table, most notably the stylus. As phone gets bigger, I came to realize owning a tablet isn’t longer a necessity. Well, at least taking photo with phablet didn’t look as silly as taking using 10inch tablet. When Apple release iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, big phones are no longer as strange as science fiction itself - those credit goes to Samsung for taking such a bold move back in 2011.

When Google announced Nexus 6, the world already knew this is the phablet to go against iPhone 6 Plus. Unlike previous Nexus models where affordability was the key, this time it’s no longer a humble flagship for developers to toy around. Everything is high-end, right from internal to external. This is now ladies and gentleman, Google with a lot of O’s.

Big Motorola’s dimple for big phone.

Disclaimer : I fought a hard battle with local retailers to get this phablet from the beginning, but availability is wide open now.

Hands-on experience isn’t something I need to write again in here, but let’s just say for the sake of this post isn’t complete without ever mentioning at least once, that this is a really BIG phone. No surprise given by how big the screen is at 5.96inch Quad HD Amoled display. Unlike Galaxy Note series and most Android phablets such as OneTouch Hero, there is no stylus can be found on Nexus 6.

I have to admit it felt like an unfinished product at first. They must have it rushed into production to meet the deadline without having it tested thoroughly. Again, its a Nexus and as far as i know about Google, they don’t have anything so called ‘stable’ production on channel. But on the bright side, they are pretty consistent with improvement over the time and after 5.1 updates, this phone starts to shine.

Moto G 2013, Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Sometimes people ask me, is this a Google phone or Motorola? To make it simple, it’s Google Nexus 6 made by Motorola. Since Google is not a hardware company, they go around and ask original equipment manufacturer partner to build one according to their own specification. My guess since they don’t stress on hardware design too much, that’s why Nexus 6 looks like a larger version of Moto X 2014. Or let’s just say, Google Edition of Moto X Pro which has now sold exclusively in China.

Every Nexus model released by Google is to demonstrate the capabilities and features of latest Android operating system, and with Nexus 6 its Android 5.0 Lollipop. Truth be told, as much as I like Material Design and love every bits of it over previous version, Android 5.0 still leaves a lot to be desired. There is no specific phablet features to improve handling like Reachability which is really useful on iPhone 6 Plus. But again, software updates will bring much needed improvement from time to time.

Even without specific features to take advantage of having that big screen, Nexus 6 comes with dual front-facing speaker which is awesome for media consumption. No more awkward amplifying using your hand to pump up the sound coming up from back or bottom of your phone. While HTC’s Boomsound packed with big bass and fun factor, Nexus 6’s focus on overall clarity. Good for watching documentary, but you still need those Beats Pill for party.

Gaming performance isn’t an issue here as I played several games like NFS Most Wanted without any stuttering and it’s way a lot better playing those games with this beast. Video playback is made possible. This is definitely the device you would want especially if you’re flying. I would prefer having the 3.5mm audio jack located at the bottom of the phone. But again as standard Motorola’s design language, some users might prefer keep it at the top instead.

When I write they throw everything into this phone, camera module isn’t an exception. This is the first Nexus phone that takes a really good photo courtesy of Sony Exmor IMX214 CMOS sensors with dual LED flash ring. The very same sensors can be found on OnePlus One and Motorola’s own Moto X 2014 minus optical image stabilization (OIS) that present inside Nexus 6’s. I strongly believe that this should be standard as it really helps to capture precious moments without holding breathe like snipers. Especially when Nexus 6 is capable of recording in Ultra High Definition 4K format.

Even with that great sensors, Google should put more effort in bringing out the best out of it. While Google Camera app is good enough for everyday point and shoot, but it’s just way too simple. Things like switching to front camera shouldn’t take more than 2 tap and switching from camera to video mode shouldn’t require user to slide and choose. Image processing turned out okay on quality department, but largely due to 13MP sensors that preserve most of the details and colors. Zooming in will reveal how much improvement it really needs. It’s not that bad, but not as good either compared to Galaxy S4 I owned before.

Selfie-addicts might not be happy with 2MP front camera, but 1.4µm sensor brings enough details for Instagram’s narcissism session. I like it better compared to 5MP wide sensors found on One M8. Megapixels are not everything.

As a standard for phablet category, Nexus 6 comes with ample 3220mAh battery to power those big 5.96inch screen and powerful Snapdragon 805. My daily usage with Google Now and Ambient Display turned off, I manage to get 4 hours of average on-screen time with all-day battery life. If I really need to stretch the last 5% or 15% of remaining battery, I can switch on Battery saver mode at the expense of usage experience.

Charging is not a painful process as Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 comes in handy especially when you need to juice up real quick. 15 minutes of charge promise up to six hours of operation, but still that number might be vary depending on usage. It took about 1.5 hours for me to fully charged this device from 5%, which is fast enough given by large capacity battery built-in on Nexus 6. I’m not interested with wireless charging due to slow charge, but it’s good to know if I happen to find a spot I can easily take advantage of it.

Personally, I wish Google could settle down with 1080p Full HD display to extend valuable battery life. But again, there is no reason to not taking advantage of latest technology available to date.

In general, I think Google has done tremendous job with Motorola in bringing Nexus 6 to life. Maybe the drawback is the price, but you will get what you’ve paid for. I’m having a hard time to decide between keeping the M8 or Nexus 6, but in the end :

Once you go phablet, you never look back - Vic Gundotra

So here I am, happy with my ridiculously big phone. I look forward to all the good things to come from Google as this is my last purchase for the year. If you’re looking for phablet running on stock Android, then you will be happy with Nexus 6 as much as I do.

Posted April 9, 2015

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