Nexus 6 Hands-on: 5 Things You Need to Know

Google pulled a few surprises out of its sleeve this year when they announced the new Nexus 6. One that left many buyers looking elsewhere due to the size, while surprising the rest by delivering an impressive phone which will be available on all five major carriers in the United States. Now that we’ve got our hands-on it, here’s five things you’ll want to know.

Earlier this month Google announced the all new Nexus 6 smartphone along with the Nexus 9 tablet, and Android 5.0 Lollipop. Later, it confirmed a Nexus 6 pre-order date for October 29th. Right on time, the Nexus 6 went up for pre-order as expected, but sold out in less than 5 minutes by my count.


Read: Nexus 6 Release Date Mysteries Remain

This week the Nexus 6 went up for pre-order but didn’t last long, selling out in a matter of minutes. Many buyers were angry with the pre-order problems, but rest assured, all five carriers will be offering it soon and you’ll have a chance to get one. For those who’ve ordered, or plan to, read on for five things you’ll want to know and our quick hands-on and initial impressions video.



It’s finally here, and it’s huge. The Nexus 6 breaks away from everything we’ve known when it comes to a Nexus device. It’s no longer an impressive device that cut a few corners and priced to sell. No, this is a flagship premium smartphone with all the bells and whistles, a huge HD display, and a big price tag to go with it.


However, it’s also rather impressive and feels great to hold, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. After months of reports, leaks and rumors Google finally announced the phone on October 15th, but there’s still no solid release date. That being said, here’s five things you’ll want to know about the Nexus 6 once it’s finally available to buy.

It’s Big

The Nexus 6 is massive. A true phablet. Rather than keep the screen small, or match other big devices like the Galaxy Note 4, Google went all out and delivered a stunning 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD display. Or a 2k display, some would call it. The screen is big, bright, and text is extremely crisp. The colors are vibrant and our initial impressions are rather favorable. Quad-HD displays are new to US buyers, but so far this looks better than the LG G3 quad-hd display, and could be on par with the Note 4. Before we go any further, check out our quick hands-on and initial impressions video below.

Google’s Nexus 5 had a 5-inch display, and the Nexus before it was only 4.7-inches. Meaning the new Nexus is a major step up in terms of gradual increases to the screen size, but you knew that. The phone overall is bigger than the Galaxy Note 3, the new Note 4, and bigger than the LG G3. It’s one of the biggest phones I’ve used to date.


Below is a quick comparison between some other large devices recently released. Showing it’s size compared to the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Nexus 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus vs Note 4 size comparison

And yes, while it’s massive, it delivers a bigger screen than both the phones above, but is only a hair bigger. Meaning they packed a lot into a small space, still delivered dual front facing speakers, and have an excellent phone to offer buyers.

This is a big phone. A “phablet” in every sense of the word. Earlier this week Google posted a blog post about phablets. Stating that over 50% of smartphone users, if given the chance to test a phablet for a week, would end up loving it and not want to go back to smaller phones. This can be looked at as a bad thing, or a good thing, you decide. There’s certainly a market for big smartphones. Just ask Samsung, LG, and now Apple.

Easy to Hold

The Nexus 6 is comfortable and easy to hold. While it does have a massive 5.96-inch screen, it’s still rather easy to hold, use, and enjoy. Google and Motorola rounded the sides on the back with subtle curves that not only make it easy to hold, but makes it feel extremely thin in the hand. Even though it comes in over 10mm thick.


You’d think a huge phone would be hard to hold and uncomfortable, but it’s actually quite comfortable. Thankfully they lowered the volume rocker and power button to the middle of the device so it’s easy to reach.


The soft-touch plastic on back in either Blue or White also feels great in your hands. It isn’t slippery and you won’t be afraid of dropping it or it slipping from your hand like the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

While we can’t get into specifics yet, and will have more details in our full review, lets just say it feels great, and is something I could get use to using daily. I’ve never wanted a phablet, but I think I like it.


It isn’t the Moto X

It’s very tempting to just say the Nexus 6 is a bigger Moto X. Because it looks nearly the exact same. It doesn’t just look like it either, it feels like it too, only bigger. There’s no leather or wood backs here, but the soft-touch design is similar to the regular Moto X from carriers.


Motorola built the Nexus 6 just as the company was sold by Google to Lenovo, but they delivered one of the best Nexus phones to date. There are many obvious similarities to the Moto X, sure, but it’s an entirely different beast. From the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, the massive quad-hd display, and Google’s even promised some neat new camera features and software too. We’ll be testing that thoroughly in our full review.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Of course the Nexus 6 is running Google’s absolute latest release of Android, which is Android 5.0 Lollipop. It debuted earlier this month and has yet to officially arrive for other Nexus users, and the first retail device to run Android 5.0 will be the Nexus 9 tablet when it arrives on shelves November 3rd.

This is our first look at the final version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, and it runs amazingly smooth and fluid. We’ve already been testing Android 5.0 on the Nexus 5 developer preview, which looks exactly the same as what we have here, but this thing flies. All the animations are smooth and fancy, like opening the app drawer, and tapping buttons gives you a visual response. Either by round expanding button tap visual responses, or colors changing, and more. Everything was designed to be simple, clean, beautiful, and most importantly, fast.


Google’s updated all its key apps to support the new Android 5.0 design language, called material design, and they look great. It’s all about paper, and layer. Everything slides under eachother while scrolling, there’s almost a 3D type depth to everything. It just looks and feels great.

Read: Android 5.0 Lollipop Update Release Confirmed

So far we’re extremely impressed with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but we’ll share more details and our full thoughts in our review. Check out the link above for more on Android 5.o Lollipop.

Battery & Camera

Aside from the huge screen and front facing speakers, Google address two major problems from previous Nexus smartphones. Those being battery life and the camera. This time around we have a huge 3,220 mAh battery that should give users the best battery life of any Nexus device to date, and you’ll need it all with this huge display. The Motorola TURBO Charger promises 8 hours of usage after only 15 minutes of charging too. That’s huge!


Then of course we have the camera. The Nexus 5 had a decent 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, but it wasn’t as great as many hoped. With the Nexus 6, we now have 13 megapixels and optical image stabilization, changes in Android 5.0 to improve photo quality, an improved Google Camera app to do the heavy lifting and processing, and a dual ring-flash LED system for low light photography.

So far we haven’t had it long enough to test battery life, and the camera is taking pretty good shots, but we’ll need to spend a significant amount of time with it before we comment further.

Initial Impressions

I’m a bit torn here. It’s big, but I like it. At the same time, I’ve never used any of the Galaxy Note devices because they’re simply too big to use with one hand. The same thing applies here. Yea you can do most of your tasks with one hand, but this is a two-handed use phone. That’s for sure.

Size aside, the Nexus 6 is a stunner. This is the best Nexus smartphone to date, and possibly the best smartphone of all of 2014. It has everything a buyer wants or needs. Big display, check. Front facing speakers, check. Excellent battery life (hopefully), check. You get the point. Add in an extremely powerful quad-core processor with 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a blazing fast charger so you’ll never have to worry about your battery running low. What else do you need?


It’s rather large, but just feels good in the hand. It’s a significant upgrade over the Nexus 5 in all aspects, and that includes the price.

So when can you get one? We’re not sure. It looks like the official launch date is November 12th for T-Mobile, and hopefully other carriers will be on the same day, or quickly behind. Google Play Store pre-orders start shipping on the 21st of November, and it should be in around 30 countries before the end of November.

This is the Nexus 6, and we’ll have plenty more for you in the coming days.