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Nexus 6 deep-dive review: A supersized smartphone that shines

JR Raphael | Nov. 13, 2014
Been avoiding big phones? Google's Nexus 6 packs pure Android Lollipop software into a plus-sized package that's actually pleasant to use.

Still, big is big -- and the Nexus 6 isn't the type of phone you're going to be able to use single-handedly. Carrying it is no cakewalk, either: Even in roomy men's pants, I'm always acutely aware of its presence in my pocket. I often have to be extra careful when sitting down and standing up, too, as it's large enough that it sometimes pokes out of the top of my pocket and can slide out if I'm not careful.

The Nexus 6 is visually attractive, with an aluminum frame around its perimeter almost identical to the one on the Moto X. On its back is a smooth and subtle dimple you can rest your finger on while holding the phone -- similar in appearance to the understated dimple on last year's Moto X phone -- along with a silver textured Nexus logo. All in all, it's simple yet elegant. My only gripe is that the finish on the phone's casing is a magnet for oily fingerprint smudges, so you'll be doing a fair amount of shirt-wiping if you want to keep it looking clean.

The real reason to get a device of this size, of course, is for its screen -- and the Nexus 6 definitely doesn't disappoint in that department. The phone's 5.96-in. Quad HD AMOLED display is absolutely stunning, with strikingly rich and true-to-life colors and razor-sharp detail. Its whites are a little more yellowy than the Note 4's similarly equipped (though 5% smaller) screen, but that aside, it's tough to tell much difference between the two -- even when studying them closely side by side.

The new Nexus also excels when it comes to audio. The phone has dual front-facing speakers, a step up from the single front-facing speaker on the Moto X. Music played from the phone is loud, clear and full. It's pretty similar to the Moto X in both volume and quality, though the addition of stereo sound obviously provides some extra punch.

Problem-free performance
Performance isn't something you'll ever have to worry about with the Nexus 6. With a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM, the system is fast as can be. Web browsing is speedy, system animations are jitter-free and app-switching is satisfyingly snappy. There's really nothing to complain about -- which is a relief after the performance-related issues I encountered while evaluating the device's Nexus 9 sibling.

Battery life is commendable, too: Even with moderate to heavy use, I've never come close to running out of power within a single day. In fact, with as much as three to four hours of screen-on time, I've consistently made it from morning to night with at least 20% to 30% of the battery still remaining -- and often even more. That's a notch above than what I experienced with the also-impressive Note 4; aside from a stamina-focused phone like the Nexus's Droid Turbo cousin, you aren't going to get much better than this.

 

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