Nexus 6 Hands-On: So Big, So Beautiful

Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful

Google broke more than a couple of hearts when it announced that its new Android flagship, the Nexus 6, was going to be a whale. Now that I've seen it up close, I can tell you that, yes, this sucker is huge. But that's not a bad thing.

AU Editor’s Note: We’ve heard from Google Australia that there will be local Nexus 6 pre-orders starting in November, but prices aren’t yet confirmed. 

The first thing I noticed with the Nexus 6 in hand wasn't so much how big the phone was, but the size of its screen. The 5.9-inch display beats out even the gargantuan Note 4, but its body holds it well. The bezels are thin, specifically the bottom one, which is barely a strip of black along the bottom and makes capacitive touch buttons look positively stone-age. It even makes the Nexus 5 look like it could stand to lose some weight around the edges.

Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful

But, even with that help, it's still hard to use one-handed (duh). I have large hands, and simple actions like swiping the notifications menu down from the top of the screen are impossible without switching up my hand posture to a less secure grip.

The Nexus 6 is at least mercifully easy to just grip in a single hand. One of my biggest concerns with the smaller Moto X 2014 that the Nexus 6 is based on is that its rounded edges make it feel like it's trying to jump out of my hands when I really squeeze down on it. No such problems with the Nexus 6; those rounded edges are still there, but at such a bigger size, the temptation to sort of muscle it down to 5 inches through sheer force of will just isn't there.

Fortunately, the Nexus 6 design (and Android Lollipop) definitely help make this mammoth usable. Stock Android doesn't have anything like Apple's reachability feature, or the more garish-looking one-handed modes Samsung throws into its phablets (yet), but Android L shows off notifications in the centre of the home screen, which lets you get to all that info without venturing up into the northern wasteland of the top of the screen. And the Nexus 6 design helps out with a hold button and volume keys that are mounted on the centre of the phones side — where your fingers are bound to be — instead of up top where buttons like that normally live. That, and the small indentation that's been showing up on the back of Motorola phones since the Moto X is more important than ever. An index finger resting there immediately orients your hand so that you have the maximum possible reach over that giant screen.

Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful

Speaking of the screen itself, it looks fantastic. The 1440 x 2560, 493ppi AMOLED display doesn't pop out and really hit you in the face the way the Galaxy Note 4's does, but it looks wonderful all the same. It comes with all the rich, deep blacks you can expect from an AMOLED, and it's a great little giant showcase for all the fancy new animations Android Lollipop's new material design has to offer. All of those lovely visual tricks look silky smooth on the Nexus 6. Considering that this puppy rocks high-calibre Snapdragon 805 guts inside, it pretty much goes without saying that performance — at the very least while you're tooling around the homescreen — is top notch. (Performance is top notch.)

Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful

We haven't had much time to put the camera through its paces yet — or even to look at Nexus 6 photos on a computer — but it seems like a shoo-in for "best Nexus camera yet", which is great news for a line of fantastic phones that have always suffered pretty atrocious cameras. It's fast, and the low-light performance seems decent. It's hard to say whether it will be a standout, but even just "good enough" is a step up from the Nexus cameras of yore.

I'll have to use this big boy for a bit longer before I can really give any sort of accurate impression of what life with it is really like, but the first impressions are promising. I used to think my Nexus 5 was the perfect size, and when I heard news that the Nexus 6 was going to be gargantuan, I felt a little let down. But having actually seen and played with the thing, I have to say I'm coming around, and fast.

Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful
Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful
Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful
Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful
Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful
Nexus 6 Hands On: So Big, So Beautiful


    Want~!!! but still no news on release/pre-order dates here in Aus?

      Probably be cheaper to buy it in the US and ship it here, as usual....

      Man talk about Aussie tax....

      AUD $869 for 32GB and AUD $929for the 64GB those prices they are on par with the flagships from any of the other manufacturers....

    I can't believe people still try to use a phone one handed. I've never done that even with feature phones. It's so much easier just using two hands.

      Really depends on the type of user, someone people are always on the go and doing quick text/phone calls. Some are normally sitting down and using more time consuming app/web features.

      But I agree, the whole emphasis on this "one handed use" and "premium feel" were all hand fed requirements that Apple made consumers feel were most critical

      Which feature phone is so big that you need to use two hands?

        It's not the size, I just always used two hands. It's easier

      I've never used two hands with my nexus 5 and I love it and I'm sure I'd be the same with a Nexus 6 too. Only having one hand might part of the cause there though. :)

        Get the 2014 moto X. You can do most things by voice and they have that excellent ear bud thing to go with it. I'm always in the car, so having hands free for everything would be a huge benefit for me. That's the phone I'm getting even though the nexus 6 looks good.

    To big and not enough new features to make me replace my nexus 5

      And I think that's the point, I reckon they'll keep the 5 on sale for a fair bit longer.

    I was looking forward to upgrading to the nexus 6 until i heard about its size. I'll be sticking with my nexus 4.

      My current phone is a Note, and I find myself wishing for a bit more screen real estate - closer to a 7 inch tablet.

      I think the Nexus 6 would be ideal for me.

        My current phone is an iPhone 6 Plus and find myself wishing the same.

    I thought the 6" size would be ridiculous, but I'm actually starting to come around after having a play with a Xperia Z Ultra a couple of days ago.

    Torn between this and the Sony Z3

      Have a Z3 right now. Best phone I've ever used. The 2 day battery life claims are completely true. I can use my battery in a single day. But I have to try damn hard and not use any of the simple power saving tools built in.

    I little too expensive for outright purchase relative to their last two devices.

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