User Interface & Operating System
The Motorola Nexus 6 is the first smartphone to come out with Android 5.0 Lollipop, featuring new design and an improved ART runtime.
The lock screen widgets are gone, though the notifications are still intact. The snapper is activated by swiping from the right. The unlock options are the same, the pattern, password, swipe or pin. The users can deny screen lock options if none is required. The home screen has a different look, with the Google Play app and three folders alongside it, labeled Google, Create and Play – all these contain relevant apps. The four docks along with the menu are the same, though the phone book is replaced by camera. The button icons have been changed, with the Back button now a triangle, the menu shaped as a circle and app switcher depicted as a square. Multiple home screens are also allowed and we came up till 11 before we stopped. Adding these is simple – press and hold an app and drag it to the left of the home screen.
Making folders and the home screen customization are both same as before.
The notification area can be accessed the same way too, though it is much cleaner than before – the quick toggles and settings can be accessed from here also, as can the brightness and other such settings.
The app drawer has been provided a new look, now inside a window with a white background, though the feature set remains same as before. The app drawer now has a neat card-like interface, from which apps can be closed by side swipes or the cross button on every card, and switching can be done by swiping up or down. Swiping to the left takes the user to Google Now, which can be accessed by swiping from the bottom upwards too.
The Google Now has some design improvements, though the functionality does not change. The overall improvement is mainly regarding the feel, and the new ART runtime, which speeds things up considerably.
The phonebook is given a fresh new look, with tabbed interfacing showing all contacts, as well as favorites, and can be synced with Google and Exchange, among others – the option to add contacts is present as a button, displayed constantly in the phone book. Sync for the new account can be selected. The overall functionality, though, remains the same. The Phone app is given a makeover in line with the other apps, but has the same functionalities.
Motorola has come out with Google Chrome the default browser and the most recent version is available for the Nexus 6 – Google already redesigned Chrome to match the Android 5.0 Lollipop look and feel anyways. The sync with computers is still there, of course. The reduced data is the same classy use. The versatile options for settings are a huge plus.
The calendar has been taken up a notch, and now has a different graphic for each month, and, in addition to its solid feature set like syncing events from Google, etc. it can also add images and maps to events – a big help for many, especially the maps part.
For the document editing, the Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are present as apps, and allow for creating, editing and viewing relevant files – the standard sync feature is present, while work can be done offline which can be synced once connectivity is restored.
The health and fitness apps are becoming more and more popular, especially with Samsung making them a part of their offering in hardware too – Google has released its own version, the Google Fit, and allows sync with Android Wear devices as well as other such peripherals – the app can store relevant data, track progress and set targets, in addition to notifications and reminders regarding the same. We feel Google is planning to make the Google Fit a permanent fixture to its app set, with a lot of additions expected.
The bundle is completed with the clock, calculator and weather apps are all standard. The Google Maps and Google Navigation are valuable usages in any Android device, and allows for easy sight-seeing and commuting guidance, with additional assistance provided through the Street view and compass options.
Motorola Nexus 6 has outstanding in-call audio quality, with clear and loud voice and signal strength that is all the better due to the metal frame that is also being used as the antennas.
The messaging is pretty standard with the native messaging app (completely revamped in line with other basic apps) and with the Hangouts app user has another options to manage messaging, keeping threads managed. The Hangouts app is tabbed, with the first displaying all conversations, while the second only showing the hangouts, as well as suggested contacts. The generic app is pretty standard, with all communication, be it SMS or MMS, organized as threads. The latest OS comes with only the Gmail client, which can now cater to other email addresses too – the OS features a link to the standard alternate app, though clicking it prompts users to access Gmail app, so technically that doesn't count. The Gmail app has also been given a refresher, though functions are same.
The standard keyboard has been given a revamp, with different skins to select from, though users can select the generic Android theme - the keyboard switches between both landscape and portrait modes, allows gesture typing and voice input as well.
The gallery for the Android 5.0 is labeled Photos, with the similar two-tabbed view labeled 'All' and 'Highlights', along with shortcuts. The images from cloud are also present, and those from the local storage are separated on the basis of their storage area. The movie shortcut allows selection of images and videos to create a movie via the Video Creator – users can add a stitching them and music too, to make it more interesting. Images can be shared, edits are allowed via a very powerful Photos editor, set as wallpaper, and can be assigned to contacts as contact photo.
The video player is pretty basic for revisions of the scale that Android 5.0 Lollipop has brought about – run through the Photos app, with surprisingly, a better codec support than most of its counterparts.
The music player used by the Motorola Nexus 6 is the standard Google Play Music, with a new design taking up the app forward, but with the functionality still intact – playing local and cloud music files, with a built-in equalizer including toggles for bass and surround sound. The album art takes up the whole lock screen when locked while playing music, and displays the controls – the controls are also present in the notification area in such a situation. Google provides six months of free access to its service for music streaming which is pretty well-compiled, and should be definitely tinkered around with.
The external amplifier test for the Motorola Nexus 6 showed an excessive level of inter-modular distortion, which was the only gray area in an otherwise pretty decent performance – this distortion though, takes down the audio quality significantly. Still, the audio is pretty loud. Plugging in headphones decreased the audio levels quite prominently, though the distortion that was a big issue in the external amplifier was almost non-existent, however, the increase in crosstalk does occur, but it is in the ignorable range. Still, we feel Motorola could have worked on the distortion and audio levels for headphones to make it out to be an outstanding overall audio performance, but has messed up the opportunity to do so, and as such, now is ranked below the competition.
Motorola has released the Nexus 6 with the Snapdragon 805 2.7GHz quad-core CPU, combined with the Adreno 420 and 3GB of RAM – all the ingredients for a huge success in the making.
The CPU testing shows that the Nexus 6 is one of the best performers around at this time. The single core and multi-core testing though, showed the Nexus 6 was not the top class performer that we thought from the specs, coming in slightly short against some top performers. The display though, had good news thanks to the recent release of Adreno, the 420 GPU. The browsing tests showed good results for the Nexus 6, showing off the powerhouse it is.
The Motorola Nexus 6 does give an outstanding performance, optimized for peak performance, and can easily compete with the best out there, without any issues – really an impressive feat from Motorola.
Motorola Nexus 6 has come out with a 13 MP main snapper featuring a Sony sensor and OIS, accompanied with dual LED flash, set up in a ring surrounding the sensor. The camera can be activated from the lock screen as well as home screen. The camera can snap up images at 4128 x 3096 pixels, and has autofocus, touch focus, face detection, as well as the other generic features. For video recording, UHD videos can be captured at 30fps, while the secondary camera can capture 2MP images at 1080p. On shooting, HDR, Panorama and burst modes are present.
The camera UI is pretty simple, with the snapper button on the right, and a menu on the top right catering to switching between snappers, flash, grid and timer – the menu on the left contains different shooting options including Photo Sphere, Video, Lens Blur, Panorama, and normal shots – the HDR+ requires manual activation though. The camera uses the Sony sensor to the best, locking onto focus very quickly, and focus point can be changed by tapping on the display at the relevant location. Settings contain options to manage exposure, resolution as well as panorama quality.
The image quality is pretty good, with great depth in detail in good light, though a bit aggressive on the noise reduction in shadows does cost the shots a bit – the colors are rendered very well, and the dynamic range is at par, with very good contrast. The processing could have been taken up, but still the output is among the better performers out there, with good images coming out consistently. The dual-LED has a pleasing effect on shots, mainly for short and moderate distance shots, and though not as effective as a full-ring flash, it does give a stiff challenge to the competition. The panorama shots are at 10MP, though not too much in terms of competition, it does have good detail and very fine stitching with very few issues and a good pixel count.
The UI for the video is the same, with qualities ranging from 720p to 2160p available to select from. The quality of videos is excellent, consisting of a good frame rate, amount of detail and great color reproduction, and the OIS removes any jerks. The mono audio recording is a huge disappointment for us though.
Motorola Nexus 6 has all cellular data options, including 3G and LTE support in addition to the generic GSM connectivity, and also includes Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. The global positioning uses A-GPS and GLONASS.
The microUSB 2.0 port is available with USB host option. NFC is available to share content by simply placing it in contact with any other NFC enabled device back to back.
The Motorola Nexus 6 comes out with a 3,220mAh battery that is non-replaceable. Interestingly, this is the same juice as the battery powering the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – what a surprise.
The Nexus 6 came out with an endurance rating of 70 hours, meaning it easily surpasses the 2 day mark when used on a comfortable routine of an hour use of video, telephony and web browsing. The 25 hours of talk time is pretty good, though the browsing came in at almost 8 hours, while video playback came in at just 10 hours, both unimpressive.
Still, the battery is a decent competitor to the market. The Nexus 6 supports Qi wireless charging, and has the Motorola Turbo Charger, which is supposed to power the device at a rapid rate – still, this is most effective when the battery is most drained, and effectiveness decreases as the battery size gets filled up.
Apart from its improved user experience, and the other enhancements the Motorola Nexus 6 has available, it does come with some shortcomings which are listed below:
- Storage cannot be expanded
- Video sound is captured in mono only
- The back cover is smudge prone
- Non-replaceable battery
- Absence of headphones
- The smartphone may be slightly on the thicker side for some
Should I Have to Buy the Motorola Nexus 6?
With the Moto X being a release just to come up to the competition, the time was ripe for Motorola to release something that would be one step ahead, and what a competitor Motorola has brought into the market – just the perfect candidate to boast the Android 5.0 Lollipop with – the latest hardware, the classy looks and a solid build quality – all checkboxes marked.
Though the Nexus 6 took some time to plan and come out with, we feel with the release of Nexus 6, Motorola has justified the delay. The newcomer fits in snugly with competition in the market.
The things going for Motorola with this release are, the curvy design, especially suited for grip by palm, the latest OS, the upgrade to the hardware, the 13MP snapper, a decent battery with great turbo charging option, and a great audio quality ably assisted by stereo speakers.
The display is comfortably large and very comfortable to handle, and the front speakers make user experience all the better. The recording of videos could have been improved in the presence of OIS and good images and video quality depict this too, but the absence of stereo recording spoil the fun somewhat. The battery is a decent performer, though efficiency could have further been improved for an even better performance. The Qi charging and Turbo Charger, though, reduce a lot of the pain.
The Android Lollipop has been mentioned again and again in our review, with its new runtime and looks as well as speed.
The memory card has again been left out, with only limited storage space on offer. Thankfully, a 64GB version is also on sale.
With Google in the driving seat for the Nexus 6, we have a first look at how Google visualizes phablets, and we have to say, we are impressed at the end result. The Nexus 6 has quite a lot to offer than just the OS improvement, and we feel it will be on the shortlist of many customers.