Motorola Nexus 6 by Google

6 inch premium Android smartphone

Motorola Google Nexus 6 review, rating and latest UK deals & offers


It's got a quad HD screen, forward facing stereo speakers and a fantastic 13 megapixel camera. But is Google's own new smartphone just too big?

Our rating
96
Images © Google Inc. 2015

Available on O2 mobile phones @ 1stMobile.co.uk


Main features

  1. Stunning 6 inch Quad HD 4K screen
  2. Outstanding 13 megapixel camera with dual flash
  3. 4G handset
  4. 32GB memory
  5. 2.7 GHz processor
  6. Forward facing stereo speakers
  7. Water resistant
  8. Android v5 Lollipop


Click here to read our full review

Each new incarnation of Google's Nexus Android smartphones doesn't just get bigger, it gets better too. You will be happy to hear that the Nexus 6 continues the trend.

As ever, the number denotes the screen size so the ever increasing size of the Nexus range reaches the 6 inch point.

This will no doubt be dubbed as a phablet in some quarters, meaning a cross between a phone and a tablet because of it's size. Our opinion is not only is it a silly name, if it's less than 7 inches it's not a tablet. you can, of course, call it what you like! To us it's a very big smartphone.

Google's Nexus phones have always been excellent value for money and offer the 'naked' Android experience as Google intended it to be, with no manufacturer add-ons and tweaks to the operating system, known as bloatware. On this occasion though, Google have opted to push the price up towards a similar level as competitive top end smartphones rather than offering it at a cut down price.

Is it worth it? Well it's most likely been placed to take on the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It's better than the iPhone too, but probably on a par with the Note 4.

Neither are a direct comparison with Apple of course using their own iOS operating system while Samsung push the stylus-friendly features such as the obvious one, writing notes, and use their own highly customised overlay of Android's operating system.

Perhaps the main notable feature here is that this is the first phone to feature Android 5, better known as Lollipop, with the new design which includes flatter icons. It hasn't gone unnoticed that this new, flatter style now looks very similar to Apple's operating system.

Despite having used LG for the last the Nexus handsets, the Nexus 6 is made by Motorola this time around. That's probably not too big a surprise given that until recently, Motorola was briefly owned by Google before being sold on to Lenovo. The handset was probably conceived during Google's ownership.

It will be even less of a surprise then that it resembles a larger version of the Moto X. No problem with that - the Moto X was one of our favourite Android phones of 2014. Motorola are always top of the range when it comes to build quality too, so you're in good company.

Design

The water resistant casing is immediately reconisable as Motorola, with the top to bottom glass screen, slightly rounded corners and wonderfully designed curved back panel which tapers down to under 4mm at the edges. This design, first seen on the acclaimed Moto G, remains the easiest to hold that we have ever seen and even in 6 inch format feels just perfect in the palm of your hand.

The concave finger-sized dimple containing the famous Motorola logo just beneath the camera lens is also here, and helps you to know exactly where your finger is and helps to prevent you accidentally covering the lens when you're taking your snap with the 13 megapixel camera.

The sheer size of the smartphone means it's a two handed affair. Most of us use one hand to hold and one to type in any event regardless of the size of the phone, but there's no option to do anything else here and many of you might find it a size too far. That said, at 159mm it's only fractionally larger than the iPhone 6 but the 83mm width means it is 5mm wider.

In the greater scheme of things 5mm isn't much, but it's pushing the boundaries of what is too big to hold, especially if you're using it for it's primary function - a mobile phone.

It is notable that although the back isn't covered with the smooth, rubbery surface of similar, smaller Motorola phones it still offers excellent grip. The curved back and thin bezel is predominent in this aspect and is a world away from the flat, slippery iPhone. It's crucial too because there is no getting away from the fact that this isn't an easy phone to hold and one-handed usability isn't what it would be with a smaller screen.

If you spend a lot of time playing games, surfing the net and in particular, watching video then the Nxus 6 comes into it's own and there is no better choice. If you spend your time sending messages and taking notes then it's just too big. They all are, even the 5.7 inch Galaxy Note 4. Unless you have large hands anything over 5 inches is going to be more difficult to type on one handed simply because of the width of the casing, although Motorola do an excellent job here of keeping the width down with an alomst impossibly thin bezel and the screen stretches almost edge to edge.

There is no doubting the quality though, and the metal band around the casing ensures you will own a solid, rigid piece of equipment which is well up to Motorola's usual high build quality standards we mentioned at the top.

Screen

The size is necessary of course to hold that 6 inch AMOLED screen, and you will struggle to find a better one. The iPhone 6 Plus is left behind here. We always thought Apple's foray into the world of HD screens had come too late, with the similar sized LG G3 already sporting a Quad HD screen before the iPhone even hit the shelves. Just like the LG and Galaxy Note 4, you'll find Quad HD here with just under 500 pixels per inch on offer. Needless to say, it's absolutely stunning with pin sharp text right down to a size that's actually too small to read, while images are also sharp and crystal clear.

Camera

Not only have Google ramped the camera up to 13 megapixels, you also enjoy a larger aperture, Sony sensor and optical image stabilisation on top of a huge array of features and settings. You can enhance this even further with a an almost endless list of camera apps on Google's Play market.

Pictures are as stunning as anything we have seen and detail on your photos and videos is simply supreme. HDR+ ensures that pictures in dimply lit situations are enhanced so that you don't end up with a grainy, dark picture while backlit shots are taken care of too. No need to worry about your family shot with a bright sky behind you turning into a group of dark silhouettes.

There's another excellent design feature here too - the dual LED "ring" flash, which is arranged in a circle around the camera lens.

You will be pleased to know that you can record video in full Quad HD mode, ensuring that you can enjoy your videos and photos on that razor sharp screen in full 4K which you really have to see to believe. You can also record from both front and rear cameras at the same time. Overall this has to be one of the best cameras we have ever seen on a smartphone, though it's fair to say that there isn't a top end smartphone with a camera you can really fault.

Sound

Also worthy of note is the superb sound quality. We generally advise you to use a decent set of headphones or Bluetooth speakers to enjoy your music and videos on even the better sounding phones, but the audio here is excellent.

Clarity is superb, they are actually load, not something we can say very often of smartphone speakers, and the 6 inch screen means that because the forward facing speakers are placed above and below it, as on the HTC One M8, you can actually tell the sound is stereo.

HTC's BoomSound features better bass but the Nexus is definitely louder. Superb sums them up in a word. They're slightly raised from the screen too, protecting that 6 inch sheet of glass if you turn the phone face down.

Charging

It's not often we make a point of mentioning charging facilities for a mobile phone but it's something worthy of note here. The Nexus 6 includes the QI standard of wireless charging. Instead of having to plug the phone into a charger, this gives you the option of simply placing it onto a charging pad to recharge the battery. This is a feature we saw on the excellent Nokia Lumia 930 Windows phone last year. This might sound like a gimmick but in practice you will wonder how you ever lived without it, and actually having to plug a phone into a charging cable feels like another job to do.

However should you choose to do so, you also get a Turbo Charger which boosts the handset's battery with an extra 6 hours of life on just a 15 minute charge. It's another great feature which all phones should come with as standard. Maybe one day?

Battery power itself benefits from Google's new Project Volta battery saving technology. It's possible to get 2 days good use out of the Nexus 6 and you also get a battery saving mode, but while it extens battery life by several hours it does cut heavily into actual functionality of the handset. Handy though if you are expecting a call or message later in the day - at last you know your phone will still have some power left in the battery.

It's a powerful piece of lithium too, at over 3200mAh although with all those pixels to power it is a necessity. overall we were impressed by the battery life given the size of the phone, the only caveat being that as is often the case with Android smartphones it does seem to vary wildly at times.

This powers the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, generally accepted to be the best processor you can currently get for smartphones. The 2.7GHz quad core processor coupled with a healthy 3GB dose of RAM memory will keep things speeding along seamlessly.

Memory

The Nexus 6 is available in both 32GB and 64GB versions, however there is no memory card slot. Manufacturers would argue that with the increasing emphasis on cloud storage you don't need a memory card, and Google's Drive offers you 15GB free. You can of course also sign up to other cloud storage accounts with Microsoft's One Drive and Dropbox which is perfect for saving your files, while Yahoo's Flickr offer a whopping 1000GB of free storage for your photos as well as a high quality camera app. Your smartphone can be set to save your photos automatically to Flickr and other apps.

That said, you do need a connection to access all of these apps. That might be an issue when you're on an aircraft for example, where many of us like to while away the boring in-flight hours listening to our music and viewing our photos. You can't do any of that unless you have saved that content to your phone and this is where a memory card becomes invaluable. Cards are cheap enough too these days, and we can see no excuse for not including a card slot, particularly on a large, premium device such as this.

Our summary

You will find every conceivable top end feature on the Google Nexus 6. You are guaranteed a top notch Gorilla Glass coated 6 inch screen up front and a probably best in class camera at the rear, superb Quad HD viewing and it's also amongst the best sounding phones we have heard with it's fornt facing stereo speakers.

There is no bloatware to bother you and you are assured of Motorola's usual excellent build quality and clever case design. With the exception of the lack of a memory card slot we can't fault this handset in any way.

However the operating system, Google's new version 5 of Android (Lollipop) spoils the show a little. It can be buggy and a little laggy in places, notably when opening apps and firing up the camera, but these issues should be addressed in soon to be released updates, with the Nexus 6 almost certainly the first in line to receive these.

Until then you might feel that it's not quite the finished article but it is without a doubt the best Android handset to date. If you can live with that for now, and the sheer size of this beast of a smartphone, the Motorola Nexus 6 should be somewhere around the top of your wish list.


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