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Google Nexus 6

Google Nexus 6 review - Killed after the Pixel takeover

Nathan Spendelow Seth Barton
20 Jan 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
499
inc VAT (32GB)

The Nexus 6's screen and battery life could have been better, but Google's Pixel is now top dog

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 , Screen Size: 6in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 4G, Size: 159x83x10.1mm, Weight: 184g, Operating system: Android 5.0

Camera

We’ve done initial testing on the camera in our labs, and the results are pretty impressive. It uses a 13-megapixel sensor measuring roughly 1/3in across, which is a smaller than the one on our benchmark Galaxy S5 handset. However, it has a brighter F2.0 lens, compared to the F2.2 on the Galaxy S5. More importantly, it includes optical image stabilisation, which also comes on the Note 4, to help give you steadier shots.

In our indoor still life test, we found the Nexus 6 sat between the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6. The Galaxy S5 has aggressive noise reduction which eradicates fine detail and the results look flat and a little overlit. The Nexus 6 does a far better job, there’s a slightly greenish cast but plenty of detail and noise is kept to a soft patina. The iPhone 6 still comes out on top through with spot on colours and plenty of detail.

^ Comparing the Nexus 6 and Galaxy S5 - Click on image to see at full resolution

The Nexus 6 has a dual LED ring flash around it lens, apart from looking rather smart it’s also more powerful than most flashes and the ring is designed to diffuse the light to stop things looking too harsh. We’re not convinced of the latter yet, but it’s certainly a decent flash with good reach.

Moving outdoors into a sunny day it was harder to make comparisons. The Nexus 6 took pictures with spot-on colour and plenty of detail. It dealt better with high-contrast scenes than the S5, even without using HDR mode.

^ Outdoors it coped well with carried lighting and produced true-to-life colours

It’s a good camera, although it does lack fun and useful features. There’s no burst mode for starters, so you’re limited to tapping the buttons over and over. You do get panorama and Photosphere modes, but that’s pretty poor compared to the wealth of playthings on Samsung’s models.

Conclusion

The Nexus 6 isn’t a bad phone, but it’s not a great one either. The handset is lovely, the camera’s good, but the screen has some issues and the battery life isn’t the best. At £500 for a 32GB model it’s £100 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (32GB), although they’re similarly priced on contract at present and cost a bit below £40 a month for a decent contract and a free handset.

It really comes down to what you want. As far as phablets go, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the better choice overall. It has a superior screen, a handy stylus and numerous software tweaks to make the most of its big screen. However, you’ll have to live with Samsung’s strong riff on Android. Likewise, the iPhone 6 Plus is a better phablet, with Apple redesigning iOS and key apps to work on the larger screen.

The big issue with the Nexus 6 is that a lot of Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 owners would have been far happier with an updated ‘Nexus 5.1’ than this phablet. But since that isn’t forthcoming, it’s hard to recommend a straightforward alternative for them. The Nexus 5 had its share of issues, notably a rather average battery life, but its low price and middle-of-the-road screen size gives it a far wider appeal than its new step-sibling - especially given you can buy one for as little as £239 at present. Given that the current best Android handset, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, costs a lot more, there's not a clear successor.

If that feels a bit old hat, and like us you’re keen on the Nexus 6’s design, then you can buy a smaller version in the form of the Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen). It looks great, has a great set of useful Motorola apps, a practically unchanged Android 5.0 OS, but still suffers with some colour accuracy issues.

We’re not bothered by the size of the Nexus 6, but despite that we’re finding it hard to justify switching to the new handset from our trusty Nexus 5, and that’s with both sitting freely available on our desk. If money was no object, we'd definitely buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but check out our regularly updated best smartphone guide for the latest best handsets.

Hardware
ProcessorQuad-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
RAM3GB
Screen size6in
Screen resolution2,560x1,440
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera2-megapixel
Rear camera13-megapixel
FlashDual LED ring flash
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)None
Wi-Fi802.11ac
Bluetooth4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data4G
Size159x83x10.1mm
Weight184g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 5.1
Battery size3,220mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£499
Price on contract (inc VAT)£38.5
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierhttps://play.google.com
Contract/prepay supplierwww.vodafone.com
Detailshttp://www.google.com/nexus/6/
Part codeXT1100

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