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Nexus 6 review: The best Nexus yet, if you can tolerate its gargantuan size

Jason Cross | Nov. 13, 2014
The biggest, most expensive, and best Nexus phone Google has ever produced. All it needs is decent camera software.

It's bound to happen. You'll be lining up the perfect shot with your Nexus 6, and someone will mock you for taking photos with your tablet. And you'll have to explain, "No, that's just my absurdly large phone."

With a nearly 6-inch display, Google's latest Nexus is downright unwieldy. It's impossible to use effectively with one hand (and I have large hands). It doesn't fit well in my pants pockets (and I have large pants). You can forget about taking it with you for a run.

And yet, it's hard not to love. That's partially thanks to the top-shelf hardware and slick design of this Motorola-built phone, and partly because it's a showcase for stock Android Lollipop (5.0), which is far more elegant and usable than any previous version. 

But it's also true what the phablet-lovers have been saying for the past couple years: that an oversized phone is too big at first, but after a while, it's hard to go back to anything smaller. The bigger displays just make these pocket computers more useful as, well, computers. And as our smartphones get more capable, it's increasingly appropriate to recognize that they're often our primary computing devices, and maybe a big screen is best.

Is that a Nexus 6 in your pocket?
I'm not used to phablets, and the Nexus 6 is the phablet-est of them all. It's about as tall as an iPhone 6 Plus, but a quarter-inch wider. It's almost a quarter inch taller and wider than the Galaxy Note 4.  It took me several days of constant use to come to grips with the downsides: the need to stuff it in my bag or jacket instead of my pants pocket, or to hold it with one hand while tapping with the other, even just to reach the back button in the lower left corner. What a drag.

But with all the concessions you make in carrying around a phone apparently made for NBA players, you'll also come to rely on the its benefits. A 6-inch, 2560x1440 screen is large and sharp enough to read webpages that aren't explicitly designed for mobile. Watching YouTube and Netflix becomes an immersive joy, rather than an exercise in how long you can maintain a squint. Typing accuracy goes way up. Games are easier to play, with larger tap targets and more visible area around your thumbs.

A phone this big makes you start to feel, dare I say, productive. Even when you're just goofing off, you seem to be goofing off more efficiently.

That huge chassis provides plenty of space for top-shelf hardware. That big AMOLED display is the star of the show. It's big, fairly bright, and very sharp. Colors are a little too saturated, and whites have a slightly greenish tinge to them--these are common problems to AMOLEDs, but the Nexus 6 seems to suffer from them to a smaller degree than most.

 

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