Nexus 6 officially unveiled: Google’s first phablet
The Nexus 6 has finally broken cover. Google unveiled the Nexus 6, its sixth generation in the Nexus smartphone series, today, and it would be the official launch vehicle for the company’s new Android 5.0 Lollipop platform.
The official Nexus 6 announcement puts an end to leaks and rumors that initially claimed Google has killed the Nexus program entirely early this year, only to switch opinion later on and bring us official renders of the device just before its official unveiling. So did the rumors come true? Let’s take a look.
Design: a true 5.9” giant with Quad HD resolution
The Nexus 6 is the first phablet in the Nexus series, and it is large. Google knows that this size might not be right for everybody, but seems to embrace this diversity with a new ‘be together, not the same’ campaign.
The Nexus 6 features dual front speakersThe Nexus 6 design is almost identical to that of the 2014 Motorola Moto X, except for size, of course - the 5.9-inch Nexus dwarfs Motorola’s flagship. For all else, though, there is little difference between the two, and it’s clear that the Moto X served as the base for designing the Nexus 6. Last year, Google used LG to make the Nexus 5, and it based it on the LG G2, but the two looked vastly different, while this year that is not the case. Still, there are slight differences: the Nexus 6 has beveled rather than curved screen edges, for instance. The Nexus 6 is also a fairly heavy phone, with a weight of 6.5 ounces, and its curved back goes from a fairly thin 4mm at the edge to around 10mm at its thickest point.
One thing we're particularly happy to see in it is dual front-firing speakers 6 that Google claims deliver 'high-fidelity sound'. It's also listed as being water resistant, which means that it should be able to resist splashes, but is not supposed to get submerged in water.
The highlight of the Nexus 6, a device codenamed ‘Shamu’ after the big orca whale, is the equally large 5.9-inch display. The screen features a 1440 x 2560-pixel, Quad HD resolution that translates into very sharp-looking images.
Welcome to Android 5.0 Lollipop
Android Lollipop features a new ‘Material design’ language based on flat shapes and realistic shadows to subtly convey structure. It comes with a redesign of the icons, and a refresh of the looks of Android with neat, snappy animations.
What happens under the hood, however, might be even more important as Lollipop sets the foundation for a future of 64-bit Android phones. It introduces the new ART runtime that replaces Dalvik, and this 64-bit-compatible environment is ready to transform existing Java apps into 64-bit without any effort from the developer.
Powered by Snapdragon 805
The Nexus 6 is powered by the Snapdragon 805 system chip, the jewel in Qualcomm’s 32-bit crown. This is the last iteration of Qualcomm’s Krait CPU core architecture, with four cores running at up to 2.65GHz, along with 3GB of RAM, and Adreno 420 graphics.
The GPU in particular is an impressive step forward, as it is capable of delivering top-notch graphics performance, and handling the most intense games at fairly smooth framerates. We do expect Adreno 420 on a Quad HD display to actually be able to match the performance of the ealier Adreno 330 on a much less demanding 1080p screen. Having a 32-bit chip in the Nexus 6, however, also means that the phone won’t make full use of the 64-bit optimizations coming with Android L.
The Nexus 6 is also the first in the series to ship with 32GB of internal storage for the basic version.
After introducing optical image stabilization in the Nexus 5, Google keeps that feature while bumping the camera resolution to 13-megapixels on the Nexus 6. Google is nice enough to tell us all the details about the camera right away: it uses a Sony IMX 214 image sensor, the newest from Sony, and the lens has a wide, f/2.0 aperture. The camera is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, as well as 1080p.
13-megapixel camera with OIS
The phone also features a 2.1-megapixel front camera for selfies or the occasional video chat.
The big question: battery life
The Nexus 6 features a large, 3220mAh battery, and that capacity alone is promising. We’re yet to see how it performs under real-life usage as that has long been a weak side for Nexus smartphones, but we do expect to see a marked improvement in longevity. The new phablet also comes with a Turbo Charger, that you can use to get up to six hours of use with just a 15-minute charge.
Nexus 6 price, release date and carriers
The Nexus 6 will be go up for pre-order on October 29th, and will be available in stores in the beginning of November (we've heard rumors circling November 3rd as the date). It will also be offered unlocked and off-contract for a full retail price of $649, practically a flagship grade price with none of the 'Nexus' discount we've seen in earlier years.
The Nexus 6 will be available on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, US Cellular, and Sprint. Google will also continue to sell the Nexus 5 along with the new Nexus.