January 17, 2015

Nexus 6 is a Gigantic, Powerful but Unpolished Beast


I am a bit surprised at myself, for deciding to get the NEXUS 6.  When this phone was announced at first, I was against the idea of a super-sized phone; I thought Google's approach was rather progressive since they didn't produce two sizes like the Apple iPhone 6, 6 plus approach.  (Although many have considered NEXUS 6 is a larger twin of the MOTO X, which would have been interesting had Google/Motorola considered a NEXUS X... but I digress).

Why did I change my mind towards the this "Phablet"?
In short, my own laziness.  Over the holidays, as I was visiting family, I realized I needed a checklist just to pack all the necessary chargers, cables for our entire family's worth iPods, iPads, smartphones, etc.  While I was away, I was spending most of my time with my just plain ole' phone, the act of pulling out the old iPad from my bag or walking to the next room to grab a laptop was even too much effort.  I was spending so much time reading on my old NEXUS 5 that made me realize that the potential of a Phablet (bigger screen for reading, bigger battery to last longer) can be the solution to be the one device that rules them all!

Why did I choose this Phablet - NEXUS 6?
Over the years, I made a rule for myself.  I would only be interested in phones that come with un-adulterated OS which pretty much leaves me with two options:  Apple iPhones or Google NEXUS "Play Edition" phones.   (Side note:  Play Edition is the only way to go and truly unlocked, because even if you bought a NEXUS 5 or 6 from Carrier... they still manage to load some small provisioning software on their version).  Since I still held on to a legacy unlimited data plan, I always enjoyed Google Play Edition phones ability to let you run HOTSPOT without limitation.  The latter rational is weakening as I am typing this entry with the latest announcements from Tmobile and ATT which allows for some forms of Data rollover.  Oh, and having the Qi Wireless support + "Turbo Charging" helped me with the decision making.

So, Whats my Impression after 1 week?
The phone is heavy, sturdy and well... BIG.  The irony is by looking at NEXUS 6 laying flat across a table top, it looks manageable, "barely" larger than a NEXUS 5; however, grabbing it in your hand feels like you are picking up a small tablet, adding a case just makes the phone feel just big enough to be uncomfortable.  The phone for the most part, matched somewhat on my expectation:  BIG, POWERFUL, and FAST.  But then I start to notice some areas that could use some polishing.  So without further a due, here are my complaints:

1. Software could use a bit polishing: With Lollipop 5.0.1  I lost the ability to turn on/off auto-sync data; as a result, the Power Control Widget that I have gotten used to in Nexus Galaxy, S, Nexus 4, 5 and 7 became non-existent.  I find it so frustrating whenever Google engineers decide to remove features... Also, what happened to my LED pulse notification light?  According to this article, a hidden LED does exist but is currently disabled in favor of the Ambient Display notification feature (which I dislike). Another feature removed was older Android OS gives you some option when you power down (ie. power off, air plane mode, mute, vibrate, etc...), those shortcuts were handy... again removed without reason... or substitute.

2. Missing Key Hardware features... and this time, don't tell me its the cost cutting as the phone cost $649 and up out of pocket:  Google and Motorla, where is the MicroSDHC slot?  Where is infrared port? 

3. It's a big phone already, why skimp on the battery size... 3,220 mAh is IMHO barely big enough.  Why not go up to 3,500 or 3,900 and make the beast last two full days of med-heavy usage?  (Note, my personal usage has allowed the phone to last me 2 days so I can't really complaint, but under sub-optimal conditions like poorer receptions or lack of WiFi, I can't be confident that it can last 2 days.

I have had the phone for 3 days now and it is starting to grow on me despite the short list of complaints above.  The phone is fast, powerful, sharp and BIG!  I know the software portion may be addressed some day, so there is hope, but its too bad the hardware side is stuck as is.  When I reviewed the NEXUS 5, I tolerated missing features since Google subsidized some of the costs; with this one being full price; however for the price of this phone, it should have just come packing and give Samsung a run for the money.

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