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Google Nexus 6 (Motorola XT1100-M0E10) Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 01/16/2015

You have grown! The Google Nexus 6 is manufactured by Motorola and follows Google's philosophy in terms of size at (almost) 6 inches. Our review reveals whether Google's device, which is not really a bargain anymore, can compete with the iPhone 6 Plus and other phablets.

In Review: Google Nexus 6. Test model courtesy of Google Germany..

For the original German review, see here.

LG continues to manufacture the Google Nexus 5 since the simple yet very well-built smartphone with a good price-performance ratio is still a big success for Google. The larger 5.96-inch Nexus is manufactured by the former Google subsidiary Motorola, which means there are some new features that should be familiar to fans of Motorola devices.

The Nexus 6 is a so-called phablet. At almost 6 inches it is a very large smartphone that can almost be used as a tablet. Apple has also positioned its iPhone 6 Plus in this category. The Google Nexus 6, priced at 649 Euros (~$752) is still cheaper than the iPhone 6 Plus, but there are more affordable phablets on the market: For example, the Acer Liquid S2 or the Lumia 1520Huawei's Ascend Mate 7 and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 belong in the phablet category as well. Is the Google Nexus 6 still a great offer? Let us find out...

Case

The case is very sturdy and noble.
The case is very sturdy and noble.

Wait a minute, did not Motorola launch a new flagship device just a couple of months ago? That is correct; the Motorola Moto X is actually the role model for the design of the Nexus 6. Details like the slightly raised and very long stereo speakers at the front or the ergonomically curved back create an individual design, just as the slightly depressed Motorola symbol that provides grip for the index finger.

The choice of colors on the other hand is fewer compared to the Moto XBlue and white are rather inconspicuous, more eccentric materials like the wood or leather covers of the Moto X are not available for the Google smartphone. You can choose between 32 or 64 GB of storage, which means there are four versions of the Nexus 6 in total.

The frame of the latest Google phone is made of aluminum, while the back cover is made of plastic with a good grip. The Nexus 6 weighs 184 grams (~6.5 ounces) and is slightly heavier than, say the iPhone 6 Plus, and thanks to the curved back,  the haptics are still very good. Despite its size, it is also unbelievably sturdy and pressure on the display or the back is not a problem, boosting the quality impression even further. The back cover, however, attracts fingerprints quickly and has to be cleaned regularly.

Google does not mention the nano coating of the Moto X on its website, but there are some YouTube videos where the Nexus 6 is even submerged in water and still works without any problems afterwards. The manufacturer does not make any specific statements, so there are no guarantees.

Our colleagues from iFixit have already disassembled the smartphone and evaluated the maintainability. Their verdict: The manufacturer does not use a lot of glue, but if you want to access the hardware, you have to loosen numerous screws with a special screwdriver. In addition, some components like the battery are glued and deeply integrated into the system, so replacing them will take some time.

Overall, the Google Nexus 6, which is significantly larger than the iPhone 6 Plus, leaves a very sophisticated and solid impression. The quality of the materials is good, but the design is not as stylish compared to Apple's phablet.

Connectivity

We already know from the previous models that Google is not a big fan of SD cards because none of them had micro SD slots. The storage of the Nexus 6 cannot be expanded either, so the user has to live with the integrated storage of 32 and 64 GB, respectively. The other features are good, but not exceptional: Fast SoC, two cameras with average resolutions, generous amount of memory (3 GB) and a battery that cannot be replaced.

Left side: No ports
Left side: No ports
Right side: Volume rocker, standby
Right side: Volume rocker, standby
Top: Nano SIM slot, 3.5 mm headset port
Top: Nano SIM slot, 3.5 mm headset port
Bottom: Micro USB 2.0 port
Bottom: Micro USB 2.0 port

Software

It is actually a logical decision that Google uses a Vanilla version of its operating system, or more precisely an unchanged original version of Android Lollipop 5.0.1, but Motorola can still add its own extensions. They have not changed the basic functions or the design of the operating system, but you get some handy additional features. 

The display immediately shows the time and the current notifications in black and white when you lift the phone. The Nexus 6 is equipped with an AMOLED display, so this kind of visualization is very frugal because black pixels do not consume any power. In the Moto X this technology was called "Active Display"; the Nexus 6 on the other hand calls this feature "Ambient Display". It is activated via accelerometer that turns on the screen during fast movements. This only requires a slow and frugal co-processor, so the whole feature should not consume a lot of power, but we will have a closer look at this in the section Power Consumption.

It is certainly a very interesting feature that caused some excitement with the Moto X, because you did not always have to turn the smartphone on to see notifications and the time. However, the accelerometer of the Moto X was more precise, so we do not always get the information on the display when we lift the Nexus 6.

Google Now is also available in standby, which means that the smartphone always listens to its environment and can be activated with the dialogue "Okay Google" to receive further voice commands. This actually works quite reliably and improves the handling as in some situations you can fully operate the smartphone without your hands. 

Android itself has not changed and we recommend our in-depth article on the latest Android version for more information. Except for the included Google app, you do not get any special free software additions.

Communication & GPS 

Once again, Google does not save any money in terms of communication modules and integrates almost everything that is currently available. First of all, the smartphone supports many frequencies: Four GSM bands, seven UMTS bands and eight LTE bands, so you should find a suitable network almost everywhere in the world.

The WLAN module supports fast networks up to the standard 802.11 ac and has two antennas to receive and transmit data. In theory, this allows transfer rates of up to 867 Mbps. The module also supports Miracast, DLNA as well as Bluetooth 4.1. The Bluetooth specification is actually an important difference compared to other smartphones since version 4.1 includes some new features that are supposed to avoid interferences with modern LTE modules. Manufacturers of Bluetooth accessories now also have the possibility to quickly reconnect with the device when the connection was lost, for example, if you left the room with your smartphone for a short while.

The WLAN signal at a distance of ten meters (~33 ft) from the router and through three walls is below average: You only get 50% of the signal; websites still open reasonably quickly – if you have a signal at all. Many users on the Internet complain about WLAN problems with Android 5.0, but the situation is better with the patch to 5.0.1 and our network connection was stable and fast.

The signal quality in the rather underdeveloped German E-Plus mobile network was good: We usually had a full UMTS signal on a short walk in the metropolitan area, even in a high-rise district as well as indoors.

GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

The A-GPS module is – depending on the location – more or less precise indoors: The accuracy in our test was down to ten meters (~33 ft) in proximity to a window, otherwise down to 20 meters (~66 ft). In the outdoors, the location is determined immediately and accurately down to three meters (~10 ft) and the accuracy is maintained as long as you stay outside. This means the GPS module is very fast and seems to be quite accurate.

We check the performance of the Nexus 6 on a bicycle tour and compare the results with the professional navigation device Garmin Edge 500. The complete track of the Nexus 6 is around 200 meters (~219 yd) shorter compared to the Garmin, and we just "fly" across the small river at the bridge crossing, while the position of the professional device is correct. The forest section is not as accurate as the Garmin device either, but the accuracy of the GPS module in the Nexus 6 is still acceptable.

GPS Google Nexus 6 – Complete
GPS Google Nexus 6 – Complete
GPS Google Nexus 6 – Bridge
GPS Google Nexus 6 – Bridge
GPS Google Nexus 6 – Forest
GPS Google Nexus 6 – Forest
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Complete
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Complete
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Forest
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Forest

Telephone Functions & Voice Quality

Thanks to the Vanilla Android version you also get the standard Phone app from Google. It can be launched directly from the home screen and shows the speed dial list at first. A large round button at the lower edge activates the number keys. At the top is a search bar that searches for results in the contacts. A voice search is also possible.

We like the loud voice of the recipient during calls, which benefits from the speaker at the front that is also used as an earpiece. The voice quality was very good on both sides of the call and there is no criticism. Only the hands-free feature via integrated speakers and microphone had some small issues with occasional dropouts and a tinny sound at the other end of the line. The powerful speakers on the other hand, sound good; they are very loud and perfectly balanced for voices.

Cameras & Multimedia

The camera equipment more or less meets the standard for this product class, but there are some small highlights: At the back is a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and a dual-LED ring flash. Videos can be recorded with a resolution of up to 2160p in 30 fps. Pictures taken by the rear camera are sharp, detailed, and still look very good when you enlarge them. The color presentation is very good too and can compete with the iPhone 6 or the dedicated camera smartphone Nokia Lumia 1020

The ring flash brightens up the picture very well, but does not overexpose the objects and is immediately ready for use. Focusing is quick and reliable. Pictures taken without the flash in dark environments suffer from picture noise and are often shaky because of the long exposure time.

The front camera is a very simple module with a 2-megapixel camera. It is adequate for occasional selfies, but the results quickly suffer from picture noise when the lighting is not perfect.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories

The box of the Google Nexus 6 only includes a quick-charging power adaptor that we will evaluate later, a USB cable as well as an in-ear headset from Motorola, which sounds quite decent. Google's Play Store also lists two protective covers: The completely transparent "Naked-Tough-Cover" with a fold-out stand for 30 Euros (~$35), or a micro-fiber cover with additional room for card slots for an extra 5 Euros (~$6).

Warranty

Motorola's warranty period for the hardware is 24 months.

Input Devices & Handling

The virtual keyboard is the standard version from Google, but the latest version does not use separation lines for the individual keys anymore. At a first glance, you are actually not sure if you can hit the correct key, but our typing test shows that it is easy to type quickly and reliably on the Google Nexus 6 even with two hands thanks to the size. Otherwise, the Google keyboard already includes numerous features like voice dictate, swipe inputs and automatic word corrections. You can still find numerous alternatives in the Play Store if you do not like the preloaded keyboard.

The touchscreen is very reliable, precise up into the peripheral areas, and has good gliding capabilities. Multi-touch gestures are quickly and reliably executed. The physical buttons at the right side of the case have a well-defined pressure point and some have a structured surface, so it is easier to find them.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

The Google Nexus 6 is equipped with a 5.96-inch AMOLED display and a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, which means it has a higher resolution compared to almost all other rivals: Only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can keep up, all the other phones only have Full HD panels, but the average brightness of the Google Nexus 6 is much lower with 264.4 cd/m². However, our colleagues from AnandTech clearly showed that the brightness of an AMOLED display depends heavily on the picture content, so it is very hard to compare it with the brightness of LCD panels.

Subjectively, the brightness of the panel is completely adequate, and large white areas can actually dazzle you in the highest brightness setting. The brightness distribution of 89% is quite even, so you can only see small brightness differences in large colored areas.

279
cd/m²
260
cd/m²
248
cd/m²
278
cd/m²
274
cd/m²
251
cd/m²
280
cd/m²
259
cd/m²
251
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 280 cd/m² Average: 264.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 274 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.99 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 4.01 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
Gamma: 2.03
Google Nexus 6
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
Mali-T628 MP6, Kirin 925, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
46%
47%
40%
35%
33%
Brightness middle
274
519
89%
451
65%
421
54%
335
22%
435
59%
Brightness
264
496
88%
455
72%
399
51%
339
28%
406
54%
Brightness Distribution
89
90
1%
93
4%
86
-3%
92
3%
88
-1%
Black Level *
0.62
0.46
0.48
0.25
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.99
3.67
47%
2.49
64%
3.28
53%
1.77
75%
3.59
49%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.01
3.78
6%
2.88
28%
2.28
43%
2.06
49%
3.83
4%
Gamma
2.03 108%
2.42 91%
2.5 88%
2.41 91%
2.61 84%
CCT
6329 103%
7327 89%
6936 94%
6424 101%
6491 100%
Contrast
837
980
877
1740
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
99

* ... smaller is better

Black value and contrast ratio are not a problem for AMOLED displays: There is no brightness in black areas because of the missing background illumination and the black value is 0.0 cd/m², which results in an infinitely high contrast ratio. There are no settings to adjust the picture of the Google Nexus 6, but it creates decent colors.

We determine more precise values with the software CalMAN and a spectrophotometer. Here we can see that the saturation of the colors is actually a little too strong compared to the sRGB color space. The color deviations from the reference color space are also much higher compared to the rivals. The same applies for the grayscale, medium shades of gray in particular. The saturation of red is the highest among the colors, but there is no color cast.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker

You can still see the display content on the high-contrast panel outdoors in quite bright environments; direct sunlight on the other hand can be a problem because of the reflections from the glossy screen surface. However, we did not have problems with the visibility of the display in the shade or indoors.

There were no restrictions in terms of the viewing angle stability. The picture content is still visible with horizontal as well as vertical shifts, even from very flat angles.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

The Google Nexus 6 uses the current flagship of Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 805 APQ8084, also used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The SoC has four cores that run with up to 2.7 GHz.

A new feature of the processor is the decoding of 4K videos with the H.265 codec and you can also watch the videos on 4K displays. The playback of our Big Buck Bunny sample video was smooth and fast on the internal display.

In general the smartphone is very fast: Changing home screens, scrolling and animations – everything was smooth, both on the user interface and in apps. The synthetic benchmarks also determine good results for the Nexus 6, but it cannot quite keep up with the iPhone 6 Plus. On the other hand, less expensive phablets like the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 or the Acer Liquid S2 are easily defeated.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
3141 Points ∼10%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
2874 Points ∼9% -9%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
3178 Points ∼10% +1%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
3239 Points ∼10% +3%
Acer Liquid S2
2539 Points ∼8% -19%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1043 Points ∼22%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1609 Points ∼33% +54%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
893 Points ∼19% -14%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1112 Points ∼23% +7%
Acer Liquid S2
872 Points ∼18% -16%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
2108 points ∼46%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
4332 points ∼94% +106%
Acer Liquid S2
4328 points ∼94% +105%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
7468 points ∼40%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
9732 points ∼52% +30%
Acer Liquid S2
7920 points ∼42% +6%
AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
51812 Points ∼52%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
50360 Points ∼51% -3%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
42181 Points ∼43% -19%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
47172 Points ∼48% -9%
Acer Liquid S2
32731 Points ∼33% -37%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1158 ms * ∼24%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
499 ms * ∼10% +57%
Nokia Lumia 1520
1542.4 ms * ∼32% -33%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1253.2 ms * ∼26% -8%
Acer Liquid S2
1001.3 ms * ∼21% +14%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1231 ms * ∼33%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
338 ms * ∼9% +73%
Nokia Lumia 1520
1172.9 ms * ∼31% +5%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1268.7 ms * ∼34% -3%
Acer Liquid S2
1059.7 ms * ∼28% +14%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1736 ms * ∼14%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1463.2 ms * ∼12% +16%
Nokia Lumia 1520
2206.4 ms * ∼18% -27%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1713.8 ms * ∼14% +1%
Acer Liquid S2
1581 ms * ∼13% +9%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
898 ms * ∼10%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
904.7 ms * ∼10% -1%
Nokia Lumia 1520
1767.1 ms * ∼20% -97%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
980.7 ms * ∼11% -9%
Acer Liquid S2
854.3 ms * ∼10% +5%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
340 Points ∼15%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
604 Points ∼27% +78%
Nokia Lumia 1520
255 Points ∼11% -25%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
326 Points ∼14% -4%
Acer Liquid S2
379 Points ∼17% +11%

* ... smaller is better

Graphics are handled by the Adreno 420, which supports DirectX 11.1 and is supposed to be 30% faster than the predecessor. It runs with up to 600 MHz and we could not find an app in the Play Store that was too demanding for the GPU. The Nexus 6 with the Adreno 420 is at the top of the synthetic GPU benchmarks and can even outperform the Apple iPhone 6 Plus.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
18113 Points ∼21%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
9473 Points ∼11% -48%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
11851 Points ∼14% -35%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
18913 Points ∼22% +4%
Acer Liquid S2
12181 Points ∼14% -33%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
25480 Points ∼5%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
23937 Points ∼5% -6%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
14432 Points ∼3% -43%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
20733 Points ∼4% -19%
Acer Liquid S2
17112 Points ∼3% -33%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
23368 Points ∼10%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
17873 Points ∼8% -24%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
13766 Points ∼6% -41%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
20299 Points ∼9% -13%
Acer Liquid S2
15700 Points ∼7% -33%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
39 fps ∼0%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
44.8 fps ∼0% +15%
Nokia Lumia 1520
13 fps ∼0% -67%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
42.4 fps ∼0% +9%
Acer Liquid S2
23 fps ∼0% -41%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
28 fps ∼1%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
52.4 fps ∼2% +87%
Nokia Lumia 1520
25 fps ∼1% -11%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
27.7 fps ∼1% -1%
Acer Liquid S2
23 fps ∼1% -18%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
19 fps ∼0%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
18.8 fps ∼0% -1%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
8 fps ∼0% -58%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
17.7 fps ∼0% -7%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
12 fps ∼0%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
30.6 fps ∼1% +155%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
8.5 fps ∼0% -29%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
11 fps ∼0% -8%

Web browsing on the Nexus 6 is quite fast in general, and the experience on the huge display is very good. Web animations and HTML5 were not a problem for the Nexus 6 during our review; everything is smooth and the loading times are fast. The benchmarks confirm the good impression and the Nexus 6 can hold its own with the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. All three phablets are rather similar on a very high level.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
784 ms * ∼9%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
347.4 ms * ∼4% +56%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
666.2 ms * ∼7% +15%
Nokia Lumia 1520
545.2 ms * ∼6% +30%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
955.6 ms * ∼10% -22%
Acer Liquid S2
739.4 ms * ∼8% +6%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
5271 Points ∼11%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
7276 Points ∼15% +38%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
6552 Points ∼13% +24%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
5379 Points ∼11% +2%
Acer Liquid S2
3810 Points ∼8% -28%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
6124 ms * ∼10%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
4469.8 ms * ∼8% +27%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
5414 ms * ∼9% +12%
Nokia Lumia 1520
27066.8 ms * ∼46% -342%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
6127.4 ms * ∼10% -0%
Acer Liquid S2
7220.4 ms * ∼12% -18%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1579 Points ∼42%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1817 Points ∼49% +15%
Acer Liquid S2
1178 Points ∼32% -25%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1701 Points ∼38%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1924 Points ∼43% +13%
Acer Liquid S2
1541 Points ∼34% -9%
Browser (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
3740 Points ∼49%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
3472 Points ∼46% -7%
Acer Liquid S2
2767 Points ∼37% -26%
Acer Liquid S2
2443 Points ∼32% -35%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
6559 Points ∼34%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
8604 Points ∼44% +31%
Nokia Lumia 1520
1277 Points ∼7% -81%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
6442 Points ∼33% -2%
Acer Liquid S2
4163 Points ∼21% -37%

* ... smaller is better

You can choose between 32 and 64 GB flash storage that cannot be expanded. The storage performance of the Nexus 6 is much slower compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and even the Acer Liquid S2 manages better transfer rates for read operations. The write performance of our review unit on the other hand is acceptable.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
1.49 MB/s ∼1%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
1.05 MB/s ∼0% -30%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
3.14 MB/s ∼1% +111%
Acer Liquid S2
1.4 MB/s ∼1% -6%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
7.85 MB/s ∼5%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
7.32 MB/s ∼4% -7%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
19.87 MB/s ∼11% +153%
Acer Liquid S2
11.91 MB/s ∼7% +52%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
18.46 MB/s ∼7%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
10.43 MB/s ∼4% -43%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
38.91 MB/s ∼15% +111%
Acer Liquid S2
17.94 MB/s ∼7% -3%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
25.78 MB/s ∼3%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
51.23 MB/s ∼6% +99%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
178.77 MB/s ∼20% +593%
Acer Liquid S2
103.17 MB/s ∼11% +300%
BaseMark OS II - Memory (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
421 Points ∼7%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
536 Points ∼9% +27%
Nokia Lumia 1520
1002 Points ∼16% +138%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
595 Points ∼9% +41%
Acer Liquid S2
369 Points ∼6% -12%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1 - Disk Tests (sort by value)
Google Nexus 6
19076 Points ∼11%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
23184 Points ∼13% +22%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
34250 Points ∼19% +80%
Acer Liquid S2
14809 Points ∼8% -22%

Gaming Performance

The GPU also manages high resolutions in fast games.
The GPU also manages high resolutions in fast games.

The Nexus 6 leaves a good impression in games: Thanks to the high resolution, the presentation looks very good, and the GPU does not have any problems with the large number of pixels. Our tested games like the fast racing game "Asphalt 8: Airborne" or shooters like "Modern Combat 5" always ran smoothly. You also get accurate handling via touchscreen and the similarly precise position sensor. The Google Nexus 6 is a good solution if you are looking for a phablet to play games.

Emissions

Temperature

None of the phablets in our comparison has problems with temperature development, only the Nokia Lumia 1520 gets noticeably warmer reaching up to 49 °C (~120 °F) under maximum load. All other devices, including the Google Nexus 6 reach a maximum temperature of around 40 °C (~104 °F). This is perceptible, but not problematic. Our review unit does not get warm while idling.

Max. Load
 36.7 °C
98 F
39.3 °C
103 F
36.1 °C
97 F
 
 38.5 °C
101 F
40.7 °C
105 F
37.2 °C
99 F
 
 37.7 °C
100 F
38.8 °C
102 F
37.7 °C
100 F
 
Maximum: 40.7 °C = 105 F
Average: 38.1 °C = 101 F
35.3 °C
96 F
38 °C
100 F
34.3 °C
94 F
37 °C
99 F
36.9 °C
98 F
34.7 °C
94 F
36.6 °C
98 F
39.5 °C
103 F
36.5 °C
98 F
Maximum: 39.5 °C = 103 F
Average: 36.5 °C = 98 F
Power Supply (max.)  33 °C = 91 F | Room Temperature 21.1 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 38.1 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 40.7 °C / 105 F, compared to the average of 35.6 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 39.5 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 28.8 °C / 84 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

The speaker layout of the Google Nexus 6 is similar to the Motorola Moto X, which means they are at the top and the bottom of the front, the upper speaker serves as an earpiece during calls. The sound quality is very good with some small restrictions: Very powerful movie scenes, like "Lord of the Rings", for example, actually sound quite good and you can even notice some bass. Music, voices and sound effects can be clearly differentiated.

Individual instruments can be differentiated in orchestras. We could not determine distortions, even with the maximum volume, but you still get the feeling that the speakers are operating at their limit and there is too much emphasis on the high tones. Still, the sound quality is much better compared to the slightly tinny mono speaker of the iPhone 6 Plus

The sound from headphones or a headset via 3.5 mm stereo jack is very clear, but obviously the result depends on the quality of the headphones.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

You have to consider the high resolution and the large display when you look at power consumption, but the average idle value is still lower compared to all the rivals except for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Load, however, changes the situation, and the Nexus 6 consumes much more power than its rivals with 4.8 Watts on average. Overall, the results are average at best, but still tolerable when you consider the large screen

Practical: Android 5.0.1 shows the time needed before the smartphone is completely charged. Motorola and Google also include a quick-charging power adaptor that is supposed to realize a runtime of 6 hours with a charging time of 15 minutes. Our test resulted in around 20% of the critical battery capacity. The complete charge took slightly more than 1:30 hours.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.2 / 1.5 / 1.7 Watt
Load midlight 4.8 / 10.9 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The battery of the Google Nexus 6 has a capacity of 3,220 mAh or 12 Wh, which is not a very good value when you consider the large chassis: The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 manages to integrate a battery with 4,100 mAh for a similar display size. The other rivals are better as well, only the iPhone 6 Plus has a smaller capacity.

This also means that the battery runtimes of the Nexus 6 are shorter compared to the majority of rivals, only the Acer Liquid S2 is slightly worse. However, this does not mean that the Nexus 6 cannot manage a whole day: It actually lasted for one and a half days in our mixed scenario; a WLAN runtime of 10:01 hours is not a bad result for a smartphone either. On the other hand, the idle consumption of our review unit is rather high, so the runtime in the idle test is much shorter compared to the rivals. The Nexus 6 also falls behind under load.

Overall, the runtimes of the Google Nexus are usable, but do not break any records. The results could have been better when you consider the large chassis and the comparatively high price.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
19h 13min
WiFi Surfing
10h 01min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 52min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 15min
Google Nexus 6
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
Mali-T628 MP6, Kirin 925, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
26%
51%
25%
54%
-1%
Reader / Idle
1153
1436
25%
1455
26%
1668
45%
977
-15%
H.264
652
675
4%
873
34%
701
8%
274
-58%
WiFi
601
777
29%
687
14%
582
-3%
744
24%
844
40%
Load
135
199
47%
253
87%
194
44%
323
139%
177
31%

Verdict

In Review: Google Nexus 6. Test model courtesy of Google Germany.

The Nexus 6 is a phablet that fits well into the Nexus-series: Sturdy, nice design and fast with small points of criticism.

Like the other Nexus devices, the manufacturer uses well-known components and accepts not being the very best device at the risk of too much cost. This is apparent when you look at the camera equipment in particular: They take very decent pictures, but other high-end smartphones are much better in this section by now. The battery runtimes of the Google Nexus 6 do not break any records, either. The high-resolution screen could have more color accuracy, but otherwise, we like the AMOLED qualities like the deep black and the great viewing angles.

Good front speakers, low temperature development and the sophisticated case – even though it attracts fingerprints – are other advantages, the same as the very fast SoC. The Google Nexus 6 is great for gaming and there are currently no apps that could really stress the processor. There is hardly any room for improvement for the communication modules and both handling as well as the software work very well.

Still, Google and Motorola are playing it too safe with some features, so it is not enough for a "very good" rating. However, if there was an update to improve the "Ambient Display" feature, the Nexus 6 would be an almost perfect Android phablet.

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In Review: Google Nexus 6. Test model courtesy of Google Germany.
In Review: Google Nexus 6. Test model courtesy of Google Germany.

Specifications

Google Nexus 6 (Nexus Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
6 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, AMOLED, Gorilla Glass 3, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 25.98 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: combined 3.5 mm stereo jack, Sensors: Movement sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor, Compass, Barometer, Qi (wireless charging), NFC, Miracast, DLNA, A-GPS
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS hepta-band (800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100), LTE octa-band (700/800/850/900/1800/2100/TD2500/2600)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 10 x 159 x 83 ( = 0.39 x 6.26 x 3.27 in)
Battery
12 Wh Lithium-Ion, 3220 mAh
Operating System
Android 5.0 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: Rear: 13.0MP, AF, OIS, dual LED flash, videos @2160p/30fps; front: 2.0MP
Additional features
Speakers: Two front speakers, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, headset, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
184 g ( = 6.49 oz / 0.41 pounds), Power Supply: 60 g ( = 2.12 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
600 Euro

 

The Nexus 6 is once again a very good smartphone from Motorola.
The Nexus 6 is once again a very good smartphone from Motorola.
It is apparent that the Nexus 6 is based on the current Moto X.
It is apparent that the Nexus 6 is based on the current Moto X.
The AMOLED display is huge with 5.96 inches.
The AMOLED display is huge with 5.96 inches.
The build quality is excellent and the materials are sophisticated.
The build quality is excellent and the materials are sophisticated.
However, the device quickly attracts fingerprints.
However, the device quickly attracts fingerprints.
The chassis is slightly curved, so it feels very good in the hand.
The chassis is slightly curved, so it feels very good in the hand.
The camera equipment is standard for this product class. The sensor at the back takes very good pictures, but they are not on a reference level.
The camera equipment is standard for this product class. The sensor at the back takes very good pictures, but they are not on a reference level.
The ring flash provides sufficient light in dark areas.
The ring flash provides sufficient light in dark areas.
The sensor at the front is primarily designed for quick selfies, which are not further edited.
The sensor at the front is primarily designed for quick selfies, which are not further edited.
The speakers are at the front and create a very good sound with a small emphasis on the high tones.
The speakers are at the front and create a very good sound with a small emphasis on the high tones.
We are also convinced by the voice quality.
We are also convinced by the voice quality.
The operating system is an unchanged version of Android 5.0.1.
The operating system is an unchanged version of Android 5.0.1.
The preloaded apps are focused on Google contents as well, a fitness tracker, for example.
The preloaded apps are focused on Google contents as well, a fitness tracker, for example.
With a good performance and little issues, the latest Google smartphone is once again a real member of the Nexus-series, even though it is not really cheap this time.
With a good performance and little issues, the latest Google smartphone is once again a real member of the Nexus-series, even though it is not really cheap this time.

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Pros

+Very sturdy case
+Sophisticated materials
+Good front speakers
+Great voice quality
+Good camera equipment
+High-contrast and high-resolution display
+"Ambient Display" feature
+Low temperature development
 

Cons

-Attracts fingerprints
-No SD slot
-Hands-free via speakers not perfect
-Some features not reliable
-Below-average WLAN signal

Shortcut

What we like

Sturdy case, high-resolution screen, good cameras: The Nexus 6 checks many right boxes.

What we'd like to see

The Nexus 5 was an excellent offer for the provided performance. The Nexus 6 is still a good device, but no bargain anymore.

What surprises us

That some special features of the Nexus 6, like Ambient Display, are not always working reliably.

The Competition 

Apple iPhone 6 Plus, Acer Liquid S2, Nokia Lumia 1520, Huawei Ascend Mate 7, Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Rating

Google Nexus 6 - 01/12/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
89%
Keyboard
73 / 75 → 97%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
50 / 60 → 83%
Weight
89%
Battery
91%
Display
86%
Games Performance
68 / 63 → 100%
Application Performance
49 / 70 → 70%
Temperature
93%
Noise
100%
Audio
72 / 91 → 79%
Camera
78%
Average
79%
86%
Smartphone - Weighted Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Google Nexus 6 (Motorola XT1100-M0E10) Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-01-16 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.