Hands on: Google Nexus 6 review

Google Nexus 6 is a supersized version of the new Moto X that has been given a two-handed booster shot and, appropriately, received a Lollipop.

This is the first smartphone to run Android 5.0 Lollipop and, really, there's no better way to experience all of the changes Google has made to its operating system.

It parades the new Material Design interface on a massive 6-inch display, moves seamlessly between apps thanks to the latest Snapdragon processor and 3GB of RAM, and lasts all day with a Qi-chargeable 3220 mAh battery.

Nexus 6 review
Android 5.0 Lollipop bring lockscreen notifications

Nexus 6 isn't for everyone, especially one-handed texters who think a 5.2-inch Moto X pushes the limit, but Motorola has what may be the best Android phablet yet with few feature misgivings.

Key features

The Nexus 6 has a head-turning 5.96-inch AMOLED display that is not only bigger and brighter than the Moto X, it edges out the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in every way.

That's because it doubles down on Apple's full HD screen with a more stunning 1440 x 2560 resolution and 493 pixels per inch. It's officially welcomed into the Quad HD club.

Nexus 6 review
Out of the box and into our hands

Yes, that Quad HD club already includes Android members like the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but Google Nexus 6 stands out from the pack with its exaggerated display.

There's no 6-inch juggernaut like it and its edge-to-edge display and on-screen soft buttons maximize the screen real estate while minimizing the overall phone's dimensions.

It's bigger without feeling overbearing: 159.3mm (6.27in) tall, 83.0 mm (3.15in) wide and a depth of 3.8mm - 10.1mm (0.15in - 0.39in). It weighs noticeable but acceptable 184g (6.49oz).

Design

Google Nexus 6 also feels better in the hand for its size. Motorola's design, borrowed from the Moto X, gives it a sturdy BendGate-free aluminum metal frame and gently curved back.

Google Nexus 6 review
The metal frame is a huge improvement on the Nexus 5

The curve feels natural against my hand or, in most cases, hands and the plastic back is at least smooth. There are no Moto Maker customizations for wood or leather backs here.

Nexus 6 colors are limited to either Cloud White or Midnight Blue with the advantage of being compatible with Qi wireless chargers, a feature all tricked-out Moto X phones don't support.

Nexus 6 review
Does this Cloud White cover make my Nexus 6 back look big?

Google's new phone also benefits from dual speakers at the top and bottom and comes with a Turbo Charger that juices up the phone with six additional hours of battery in just 15 minutes.

Specs

At the heart of the Nexus 6 is a 2.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor that has an Adreno 420 GPU. It's a top-of-the-line chip for Google's largest Android phone yet.

Backing that up is 3GB of RAM and a reasonable 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Notice, there's no silly 16GB model to cheapen the value.

Nexus 6 review
Nexus 6 comes with everything you see here

All of these Nexus 6 specs aren't overkill. It's important for the lightweight, but feature-filled Android Lollipop update that's pre-installed on the phone.

Android does more things than ever in the background: running multiple apps, receiving notifications that hit the new lockscreen non-stop, making the instantly accessible Google Now available with one swipe to the left and performing voice searches whenever I say the "Okay Google" prompt.

Camera

Around back, there's a 13-megapixel camera that seems to be on par with 13-megapixel Moto X snapper. It's not. It has a better Sony IMX214 sensor with a wider f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilization.

Nexus 6 review
The camera is 13-megapixel and has a better sensor than the Moto X version

This trumps the Moto X camera specs that comprise of an older sensor and lacked OIS. It's also far superior to what we got with 8-megapixel Nexus 5 camera last year.

We'll evaluate camera performance with plenty of samples, run conclusive battery life tests and pour over every other feature in-depth throughout the week.

Availability and price

The Nexus 6 US release date is November 12 on T-Mobile. Likely to follow suit are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular given their vague, but apt "early November" launch window. Pre-orders via the Google Play Store began today and Nexus 6 sold out immediately.

Nexus 6 review
Nexus 6 is available in these two colors -- when it's not sold out

We're a little less clear on a UK release date and, frankly, anywhere else outside of the US. Officially, Nexus 6 launches in 28 countries, but no other region has a firm launch date or price.

Nexus 6 costs $649 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB model, a fair price given the specs and internal storage.

This is the same price the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 16GB model that's smaller in both physical design and storage size. Given US-to-UK phone price trends, the UK price could start just north of £600.

Nexus 6 review score
More Nexus 6 testing to be done

Early verdict

The death of the Google Nexus program has been greatly exaggerated, and this year's stock Android phone ironically resulted in an exaggerated Moto X. Its tremendous display, premium specs and debut of Android 5.0 Lollipop make one of the best phablets to date.

There's still more testing to be done before we score this review. In-depth processor tests, battery measurements and camera samples are still to come. We'll go over every inch of the new Nexus 6, just like we're doing for its tablet counterpart, the Nexus 9.