Google Nexus 6 review: No longer in production following Pixel launch

£499
Price when reviewed

Google Nexus 6 review: Camera

On paper, the Nexus 6’s cameras look decent, too. The rear camera has a top resolution of 13 megapixels, an f/2 lens, 4K video recording, optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a dual-LED ring flash. The front-facing camera can capture 2-megapixel stills and 1080p video. It can’t quite match the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s 16-megapixel snapper, but beats the 8 megapixels of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Google Nexus 6 review: No longer in production following Pixel launch

Nexus 6 review - camera sample - low light test vs iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4

In testing it performed much better than expected (given how disappointing the Moto X 2nd Gen’s camera was), capturing largely clean images and video in good light, and well-exposed and -focused photographs and video in low light, without recourse to the dual-LED flash.

Nexus 6 review - camera sample - BT Tower

If there is a weakness, it’s the speed of autofocus system. It isn’t anywhere near as fast as Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or iPhone 6 Plus, both of which employ phase-detect autofocus like a DSLR or compact system camera. The Nexus 6’s doesn’t have that, instead relying on contrast detect, and this takes quite a while to lock focus. In video, it’s more of a problem, as the focus jumps distractingly backwards and forwards as you pan the camera around.

Nexus 6 review - camera sample - Goodge St station

In general, though, I’m pleased with the results from the Nexus 6’s camera, and it’s nice to see that Google has refrained from messing about too much with the camera software. It’s simple, effective, and not overladen with features, yet it puts most of what you need a tap and swipe or two away. The only major thing it lacks is full control over ISO and shutter speed, but as compensation, it is possible to tweak the exposure up and down.

nexus_6_mural_camera_test

Google Nexus 6 review: Connectivity, storage, price and call quality

As you’d expect of a high-end handset, connectivity is cutting-edge. The Nexus 6 has Cat 6 4G support for download speeds of up to 300Mbits/sec and uploads of 50Mbits/sec. There’s 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which I saw hit speeds between 8MB/sec and 9MB/sec when reading a large movie file at close range from a network share. NFC is covered, too, as is Bluetooth 4.1, and you also get SlimPort for HDMI output via the phone’s USB port.

Nexus 6 review - upper edge

As far as storage is concerned, there are two different configurations of the Nexus 6 to choose between: a 32GB and a 64GB model. Both represent good (if not exceptional) value, at £499 and £549 SIM-free respectively. To put it into context, the iPhone 6 Plus (16GB) is much more expensive, the 16GB version costing £619 and the 64GB version £699, while the 32GB Samsung Galaxy Note 4 goes for £599.

Finally, call quality is perfectly respectable. The Nexus 6 goes loud enough that you can hear your caller in even the noisiest environments. Just be careful not to put the phone to your ear in speakerphone mode: you’ll come away with your ears ringing.

Nexus 6 review - bottom edge

Google Nexus 6 review: Verdict

The Nexus 6 has taken us by surprise in the short time I’ve had it. Once you sidle past the unavoidable fact of its gargantuan size, there’s an awful lot it does right. Battery life is good, the camera is excellent, and the build and design quality are second to none. And although its rivals hold an edge over it in many areas, the differences aren’t huge.

For us, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 remains top dog in the big-phone stakes thanks to its slightly more manageable size and stylus input, better camera and superior screen, but if you’re in the market for a big phone (and make no mistake, this is a real bruiser of a handset) you’d be doing yourself a disfavour by not putting the Nexus 6 on your shortlist.

Nexus 6 specifications

ProcessorQuad-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
RAM3GB
Screen size5.96in
Screen resolution1,440 x 2,560
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera2MP
Rear camera13MP
FlashDual-LED ring
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage32/64GB
Memory card slot (supplied)No
Wi-Fi802.11ac
Bluetooth4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data4G (Cat6 up to 300Mbits/sec download)
Size83 x 10.1 x 159mm (WDH)
Weight184g
Operating systemAndroid 5 (Lollipop)
Battery size3,220mAh
Buying information
Warranty1yr RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£400, 32GB; £479, 64GB
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free, £30/mth, 24mths
Prepay price (inc VAT)None available at time of writing
SIM-free supplierplay.google.com
Contract/prepay supplierwww.mobilephonesdirect.co.uk

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