Easily the Nexus 6 is the best Android device on T-Mobile, period. The Sony Xperia Z3 is a great competitor, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but Android 5.0, Lollipop, makes a HUGE difference. Of course, currently released devices will eventually get the update to Android 5.0, but why wait? Fragmentation is the biggest argument that iPhone fans use against Android advocates, so just eliminate that completely with the Nexus 6. This phone is the first device to receive the updates to Android as Google publishes them. There is no need to wait for manufactures and carriers to bake in their bloatware, then wait for approval, then be tested, then finally be pushed out, and hoping they caught all the major, annoying bugs before rollout. If the Z3 Compact or the Motorola DROID Turbo were available on T-Mobile, we would have a different discussion on our hands, but since that is not the case, the Nexus 6 is the only choice going forward for an Android customer on T-Mobile.
The 6-Inch Monster
Many may be concerned, worried, or just plain scared about having a 6-inch screen, but trust me it is worth it. Open hands and eyes welcome the switch to an AMOLED display! The screen is drop dead gorgeous and extremely pleasing to gaze upon. A number of people claim there is not a noticeable difference on smartphone’s small screens after a resolution of 720p and that anything beyond that is just hurting battery life, graphics performance, and keeping phone prices artificially inflated. Whether or not that may be true, I ask you to try this out first. Go to an AT&T or Best Buy and look at the Samsung Galaxy Alpha (720p), the Samsung Galaxy S5 (1080p), and then the Note 4 (2K) to see the difference that resolution makes for the latest generation of AMOLED screens. Okay, I am just saying that there is just something elegant about the Note 4’s screen, which makes it stand out above all the others. In other words, it is B-E-A-U-TIFUL! The colors pop out at you, and they are exceedingly accurate and vivid. It even seems the brightness of the screen can illuminate the night sky. Straining to see the screen outdoors is outdated. This does not include the fact that the viewing angle of the screen reaches 180 degrees. This is exactly what you can expect to receive with the Nexus 6. Never again will Nexus users have to deal with calibrating washed out colors or avoid the sun because the glare on the screen is too harsh. More than likely, most of you are worried about the mammoth sized screen, but fear not! I am here to tell you that it is not necessary to reach up to top of the phone at all. Google has eliminated any need of this by building the double-tap-to-wake feature into Lollipop, which was originally exclusive to only the LG G2 and LG G3. More importantly, they moved the notifications alerts displayed on the lockscreen to the center of the screen to facilitate one-handed operation of the Nexus 6 and phablets overall.
Larger than Life or Misunderstood?
Consider this, the Nexus 6 is the virtually the same physical size as the iPhone 6 Plus, and only a little bit bigger than the Note 4. It is also very close in thickness to the Motorola X (2014), yet the Moto X has a dismal 2300mAh battery compared to the Nexus 6’s massive 3220mAh. The reason that the Nexus 6 is thicker than the average smartphone is mainly due to the gigantic battery found inside. Shocking, so what precisely is the problem with the Nexus 6 being the same as the Moto X while it increases battery size dramatically? I will take a thicker phone in exchange for a larger battery any day, especially since the Nexus 6 is already bigger in general! That said I am going to refrain from discussing the battery any further, because I discuss the battery life further down in my review.
Do not be surprised when you go to pick up the Nexus 6 and it is much lighter than you expected it to be. It is literally only 12 grams heavier than the iPhone 6 Plus, and 10 grams over the Note 4. If you have held either of those devices, you know that they are not a burden at all. A mere 10 to 12 grams really does not make that significant of a difference. What you should take away here is that the Nexus 6 is super comfortable to hold in the hand, and it has not caused me any cramping at all. The total package and design of the phone is essentially flawless in almost everyway. The only thing I would change is the button placement. What I mean by that is if I could have decided where the buttons were on the device, I would have liked to put the volume buttons in the upper-middle on the left side, and the power button to be lowered a smidge, but that is just my personal opinion. I actually love the ergonomic design of the G3’s volume and power button placement on the back to be able to make the Nexus 6 that much slimmer, though I might just be asking for too much.
Steep Pricing, Still Competitive
I have noticed that price has been noted as a concern of many, but look at it this way, the direct competitors to this device are all more expensive and either lacking in performance, features, design, or a combination of all of the above. The iPhone 6 Plus and Note 4 are both priced at $750, the Z3 is $630, the “stunning” Note Edge will be a ridiculous $870, and even the infamous iPhone 6 is $650 at full price. All the rest of the devices available on T-Mobile are either outdated by hardware or software by the Nexus 6. So, why exactly is the $650 price point of the Nexus 6 a problem when all the other options are just as expensive, more costly, and/or just inferior products? Just because the Nexus 4 and 5 were cheaper, does not mean that every product developed by Google has to be the same cutting-edge price. People have been demanding a bleeding-edge Nexus device; well your voices have been heard loud and clear. This time by the newly titled “King of Android,” Motorola, who is proving to be a clear and present threat to all smartphone manufactures. The Nexus 6 is just another superior device that the Motorola can claim as one of their own. Best of all, T-Mobile is selling the Nexus 6 fully unlocked right out of the box. Can it get any better?
The Battery that Never Ends
Finally, it is time for the ever-important battery discussion. Google has also done wonders with Project Volta featured in Android 5.0. This feature in Lollipop will have the greatest impact on all current and future Android devices. Google has employed a massive amount of battery optimizations that are immediately present on first day of usage, or should I say the first two days. You WILL get two days out of this phone; I would bet on it. This holds true for everyone unless you are a hardcore tweaker, video watcher, or game player, which you should already understand that there is no phone out yet that is going to last you over day, let alone 12 to 16 hours. In a typical day with normal usage, I am able to get through it without ever needing to worry about the Nexus 6 dying or needing to find a place to get my next charging fix. Even if I do need to charge the phone, the new Turbo Charging technology developed by Motorola works phenomenally. Turbo Charging mode enables once the battery in substantially depleted. If I recall correctly that means below 15% of battery life. Plugging the Nexus 6 into the charger that comes in the box with the phone will super charge the phone to over 30% in literally 15 minutes. This is enough battery life to easily get you through the rest of the day until you can return home. The Turbo Charging technology floored me by how quick it was able to charge the enormous 3220mAh battery found within Nexus 6 by just using the standard microUSB 2.0. The only downside to this is the part where I noted that this is only if you use the Motorola Turbo Charger. That means you cannot expect your friends charger to perform in the same manner. As well, it compels you to carry the charger around, or buy a spare to keep with you incase of an emergency. However, I want to reiterate that this is not necessary for most individuals simply because the battery will not die that fast or often!
Simple Yet Satisfying
The camera has to be the single most improved feature in the Nexus line. The Nexus 6 sports a 13-megapixel OIS+ camera, and man does it take great shots! It does not let you down at all. The focus, clarity, and quality of the photographs the Nexus 6 takes are 1000% better than the Nexus 4 and at least 500% better than the Nexus 5. I am still disappointed in the simplicity and complete lack of features of the Google Camera software, but that said, I could not be happier with the performance of the point-and-shoot ability of the hardware. The videos are even crisp and stable without any signs of choppiness or pixilation. I know with my old Nexus 4, videos were horrendous, and the Nexus 5 was not much better. Audio quality is subpar, but I will take what I can get. I have not come across a phone that can record exceptional audio while simultaneously videoing a scene. Professionals’ rare usage of the high-end camcorder’s onboard microphones supports my findings. The best video cameras in the world can still have terrible stock microphones. Sometimes it is necessary to record the audio in different setting or time. When that is not an option, the Nexus 6’s microphone does a decent job, but that still might be a stretch.
Goodbye Beats and BoomSound
The sound playback of the Nexus 6 is spectacular. It far exceeded my expectations. I previously owned an HTC One M8, and it was amazing when it came to sound quality. The dual stereo speakers on the front of the Nexus 6 replicates the same performance I experienced with the M8, if not even outperforms it. This is shocking considering the “BoomSound” amplification that the HTC touts as the clearest and loudest sound quality for a smartphone. While that may have been true previously, the Nexus 6 has overtaken the M8 in this category along with a magnitude of others.
A Realistic Point of View
Furthermore, I am going to switch gears and be realistic for a moment. The Nexus 6 is a developer device for a reason. The phone’s target audience is skewed more towards the experienced and technologically inclined Android user, and I am reluctant to say that I would not recommend it for a first time Android user, let alone a novel smartphone adopter. There are many other devices much simpler and easier to use than the Nexus 6. I say that with a grain of salt, because I still agree that this is the best Android device on T-Mobile. It is definitely a learnable device for anyone, but only if you have the time and patience to practice and play with the phone to understand it completely. The colossal size of the screen does make it highly appealing the older generation and folks with deteriorating vision. Now, I will say that the Nexus 6 is the most finger friendly phone I have ever used, and that has not been something I have considered important since the pre-iPhone era of Windows Mobile.
Top of the Line Hardware Helps A Lot
To round out the specifications of this monster and touch on them a tad, the Adreno 420 GPU equipped within the Nexus 6 blows away every other smartphone/phablet out there in benchmarks and graphics performance. The only GPU the Adreno 420 has not beaten is NVIDIA Tegra K1’s integrated Kepler GPU found in the Nexus 9, but that is not a smartphone CPU/GPU, so technically it does not count. The previews of the Nexus 6 conducted so far by technology news websites have them all raving about the superb performance by this innovative beast of a GPU! Clocking in at whooping 2.7GHz, the Snapdragon 805 CPU found inside the Nexus 6 is no slouch either. Android 5.0 and 3GB of RAM combined with the already impressive CPU makes the phone seamlessly glide through applications and processes. Multitasking has never been smoother or faster when switching between windows. The device never seems to slow down or hesitate ever, even when running the most intense applications, benchmarks, and games. There just does not appear to be a program out yet to wholly test the upper limits of the Nexus 6 and its hardware.
Observations and Analysis of the Smartphone Market
Moreover, Google’s move to a phablet design for the Nexus 6 signifies something much deeper, larger, and more elaborate than just avoiding competition with the Moto X. The decision to construct the Nexus 6 as a phablet forced Google to make the appropriate changes in Lollipop to increase the usability of phablets in general, and it certainly has made an immeasurable difference. Once manufactures administer Android 5.0 to their phablets, such as the LG G Flex, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Note 4, and ZTE ZMAX, it will become clear how effective the alterations were to the Android phablet family. Google prided themselves on making Android increasingly efficient in utilizing the larger screens of the phablets, as well as limiting the focus of the phone to the bottom portion of the screen. This is noteworthy due to the difficulty experienced when using a phablet on older versions of Android. Characteristically, Google created Android to provide more features, customizations, and functionality to the users throughout the entire phone. This is current even today in Android 4.4.4, KitKat. It is fundamentally required to access the top portion of the screen to be able to use the phone fully. Therefore, it caused excessive objections for users considering purchasing a phablet. Potential phablet consumers uttered, “My thumb cannot reach the notification bar,” more times than needed. This hurt the phablet market drastically, and even though there is a gargantuan demand for bigger and larger phones, Google’s Android continued to neglect its biggest potential marketing opportunity. Well, it took until Apple to finally make a move to capture that market share to finally realize that Google could not ignore the obvious gap any longer. Thankfully, it is definitely not too late for Google to fix this lapse in judgment. Reflecting on Apple’s “Bendgate” blunder with the iPhone 6 Plus and the new rumors of recalling the 128GB models, they showed inexperience in an area where a growing number of Android manufactures have been targeting for years. This is a completely reversal of roles in the industry. Apple is normally the leader in innovation and known to produce the highest quality products; however, it seems they have lost their grip and fortunately, Google and manufacturer followers are in a position to take the reigns from the technology giant. Will they be able to maintain the strategic advantage they have over Apple, or will Android falter their first major opportunity they have had in this never ending battle?
A Side Note for Wi-Fi Calling Users
To those of you who rely on Wi-Fi Calling on T-Mobile need to wait until next year. In order to meet the new “Wi-Fi Unleashed” requirements, the Google will be issuing an update for the Nexus 6 in early 2015. This feature is being baked into Android 5.0 and every phone running Lollipop from here on out. The lack of this feature alone notably hurt the sales of the Nexus 4 and 5 on T-Mobile. The same can be said for the iPhone users who attempted to switch to T-Mobile before the iOS8 announcement and update. When the Wi-Fi Calling support update is rolled out to the Nexus 6, there is no question that this is the only Android phone for you. Potentially, this is the only phone that you should even consider.