Google’s tradition of releasing a brand new flagship Nexus phone every year isn’t stopping, and the company has come an incredibly long way since the original Nexus One. The latest iteration is the Nexus 6 with, yes, a gorgeous six-inch display. It’s manufactured by Motorola and was codenamed “Shamu” for a good reason — it’s monstrously huge and just feels like it’s going to slap you with its dorsal fin.
This is one of the most well-manufactured, technology-packed, volcano-luging, shark-diving phones I’ve ever used. But is it the best of the best or the best of the worst?
I’m going to focus on the hardware features here and not too much on Android 5.0 Lollipop.
To start with, let’s just get this out of the way… there’s a good chance the Nexus 6 is going to be too big for you to handle. It’s not only incredibly wide and tall, but it’s shape is similar to the second-generation Moto X, with heavily tapered edges that lead to a significant bulge at the center of the device’s back.
One of my favorite things about Samsung’s devices isn’t just that they are thin, it’s that they are evenly thin across the entire back of the device, making them much easier to hold than an HTC One or a phone like Google’s new Nexus phone.
The construction of the Nexus 6 is fantastic, however. It’s aluminum and put together with a great fit and finish. It seems durable, but it also isn’t too heavy, and the Nexus 6 feels like a premium device.
One annoyance is because of the bulge on the back, tapping on your phone’s screen while it’s sitting on a flat surface is incredibly irritating because it wobbles all over the place.
The screen on the Nexus 6 is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not sure it’s different from other Motorola devices including the Droid Turbo and Moto X — the panel offers super accurate color reproduction, is crystal clear, bright and white, and insanely detailed, but there’s something missing.
A big pain point for almost all Android devices is the camera, and the camera on the Nexus 6 is good, though it still can’t rival Apple’s iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, or potentially even Samsung’s Galaxy S5.
But man is this phone fast. Super, mind-numbingly fast. It flies as much as an Android phone can and keeps pace with the rest of the flock until all of a sudden as the wind is beneath its wings, gracefully flapping — WHAM! The app you’re using all of a sudden crashes, or for some reason the phone completely slows down and chokes.
It doesn’t happen as much as on other Android devices, but it’s still a recurring issue on Android even when Google is involved at the manufacturing and component levels. When multitasking, some apps I was using took a little bit to update the preview, and switching between multiple apps wasn’t as fluid as it should have, or could have been.
Using Android 5.0 Lollipop in general is just so refreshing. It’s easily the most polished, and dare I say cohesive and thought-out release ever by Google.
Android and iOS are both almost on parity at this point in many ways from a features standpoint, though iOS has that deep integration only possible with Apple owning the entire hardware and software stacks. And it does show; even in a device as good as the Nexus 6, there’s just this little bit missing.
It always feels that way with Google’s Nexus devices, though. You just need a little bit more salt, a pinch more parsley, and another dash of crushed red chilli flakes to complete the dish.
The Boy Genius Report is a periodic column written by BGR founder Jonathan S. Geller. It offers insights and opinions on various products, companies and trends across the consumer electronics business and beyond.