I bought this unlocked Nexus 6 back when it was a Gold Box daily deal at Amazon and my good old Nexus 4 (still alive and kicking by the way) was getting too old and too slow and more importantly wouldn’t be getting any more major Android OS updates. Fast forward to now, is this a usable phone in 2017?
This review is based on the phone running Android 6 (more specifically 6.01). After this review is done, I will upgrade it to Android 7.x and once I have a stable update, I will switch to Project-Fi. So there are at least two more reviews coming on the Nexus 6 ~ along with the promised case reviews 🙂
REASONS to GET THIS
- one of only five phones eligible for Project Fi
- a Nexus device
- no bloatware (other than Google’s app suite)
- one of the last phones made by the “Real Motorola” (before Google, before Huawei)
REASONS to IGNORE IT
- no microSD slot
- no removable battery
- no fingerprint reader
- will not get Android O (may not get beyond Android 7.0.x – a bit hazy at the moment
- since it came out, dozens of phones came out with similar or better specifications
- the phone (obviously), with a built-in non-removable battery
- the power brick (2×2 inches, 1 inch deep) with detachable microUSB to USB cable
- I believe you get a SIM removal tool thingy
- nothing else (from what I recall)
The case is not included, it just happened to be on when I took the pictures 🙂
The headphone jack is up top, right in the middle. Yes, a headphone jack is now considered a feature since some phones have abandoned it in a market bereft of usable USB-C headphone choices (compared to the 3.5mm market). The SIM tray is right next to it, and from what I recall, a little tool is included to push it out. But any other similar SIM (or otherwise) tool can do that too.
The power and volume (up/down) buttons are on the right hand side, and with various cases on, you get the occasional accidental presses of volume instead of power, or power instead of volume. Overall, this is about average as I have with other devices that have buttons in this formation.
There’s nothing on the left hand side, while the bottom has the microUSB port in the middle.
I use a variety of devices throughout the day, phone, tablet, laptop, desktop. So I don’t use the phone as a conventional main “daily driver” because I’m almost always near a bigger screen. So for my use, I can usually survive two days on battery before having to recharge. This includes use as a mobile hotspot. It may go to three days without hotspot and lighter than average use.
This is without installing any automated performance apps, but I do pay attention to which apps use battery and which ones use background data, and I am ruthless in dropping the hammer on them. With such a big screen an 3GB of RAM, I use a lot more mobile websites than apps. The only app that I have buzzing around non-stop in the background without any restrictions is The Green Monster (Evernote).
My biggest issue with the screen is that it is difficult to read in direct sunlight, eg walking around in the middle of the day. Even with Brightness maxed out, I still have to angle or shade it in order to read. And it’s not a defective model, because the measurements at Phone Arena agree with this.
Except for bright sunlight, the screen is fine otherwise. I usually have it fairly low indoors, and rarely above the halfway point. Touchscreen accuracy is good, I haven’t noticed any issues through the years of using this.
NOVA LAUNCHER makes the most of the big screen
The default Google launcher is wasting the true potential of this phone. Giant icons take up valuable space. After switching to the Nova Launcher, I am making the most of the big screen. I have a grid of 49 app shortcuts and folders and widgets per screen, along with seven that appear on every screen. I don’t even need to use a second screen unless I need to run full screen widgets.
And that’s not all. The size of the screen makes it ideal for gestures. As of the time of writing, the Nova Launcher has eleven customizable gestures that you can connect to your favorite apps or shortcuts or Nova utilities.
This is also handy because it’s a big screen and unless you have NBA player fingers, you can’t start apps using one hand. This is where the combination of Nova and strategic placement of apps (the edges that are more convenient to the way you are holding it) help. Add to that and 11 gestures, some of which can be easily performed single-handed (swipe down, swipe up, double tap). It takes a bit of getting used to it, but once you do, and memorize the gestures, this is a life safer!
SCREEN ROTATION BLUES
I don’t know if this has been fixed in newer Nexus/Pixel phones, but of the two I have (6 and 4), Google’s stubborness in how it deals with Screen Rotation is very frustrating. You can’t auto-rotate the phone in all directions ~ you can’t turn it upside down. This is very useful when you have something plugged in the microUSB port at the bottom (external power, keyboard, etc) while using the phone on a stand. If you could just rotate it in portrait mode, you can continue using it.
Sometimes we take some of the practical things TouchWiz for granted 🙂
The 3GB RAM is nice along with 32GB of on-board storage. If you pay attention to apps that misbehave and uninstall them or tame them (turn off notifications, background data, etc), you can easily have 1 to 1.5GB of RAM free without doing any manual app killing.
With both apps getting bloating and the mobile web getting bloated, along with the eventual phone performance leak/creep, it is starting to feel slower. So if you want this-year or last-year flagship-caliber performance, this won’t cut it. However, it is very serviceable and it rarely gets “in a state”. It’s just not blazing fast.
If you prefer less nebulous performance, here’s a few benchmarks, from GeekBench 4 and Antutu. The first two are the single-core and multi-core of GB4, the rest is Antutu.
WHAT’S NEXT HERE?
I updated this to Android 7.0 (Nougat). It already had one OTA pushed update pulled and replace by Google, but I boldly went (after the dust settled) 🙂
Then, after using it for a few days, I will post another review, looking at it as a Nougat smartphone in 2017.
After that, I will switch to SPRINT or Project-FI (sorry, T-Mobile but you are becoming more and more “carrier” than uncarrier every day) and have a write-up.
I have amassed about half a dozen cases. I will be reviewing them all individually, and then do a group review summary. I have reviewed one of them so far 🙂 You can find them all (in the future) at the this blog section.
If there’s anything you want me to check or test, or run any other benchmarks and such, please leave a comment below! Or if you have any feedback or suggestions or if you spotted any errors or typos or confusions!