Skip to main content

A closer look at Google's new Nexus 6 and Nexus 9

It is estimated that one in three smartphones shipped in 2018 will be a phablet, which is more than double their projected share for 2014. For Google - with Android still likely to run on the majority of phablets - helping developers to properly optimise their apps for larger screens has become a top priority. Ensuring that Android phablets provide a great user experience is paramount; otherwise, users may jump ship to Apple's iPhones or Microsoft's Windows Phones.

So, today, Google takes the wraps off its first phablet, Nexus 6. It is the embodiment of all the great features we have come to expect out of a phablet from late-2014: super high-resolution screen, super fast processor, solid cameras, very thin bezels and a huge battery. As expected, Google also announced a new tablet, the first one to come since July 2013, called Nexus 9. It does not disappoint either. Of course, both run the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is shipping in the next few weeks.

But, first off, let's talk about Nexus 6. The Motorola-made handset packs a whopping 5.96in screen with a resolution of 1,440 by 2,560; that equates to a pixel density of 493. The resolution has become standard for flagship smartphones launched in the second half of 2014, so it is only natural that Google would want to use it in a phablet which will most likely be its only one for a year. It is also a resolution for which few titles are optimised, which makes that much more relevant.

Power comes from a 2.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, coupled with 3 GB of RAM, and a 3,220 mAh battery. By the looks of it, battery life will be better than with past Nexus smartphones. Turbo Charge will ensure that, after just 15 minutes of charging, it will add around six hours of battery life, which is nice.

On the back, there is a 13 MP camera, which features optical image stabilisation (OIS). It has a large f/2.0 aperture, which should mean great image and video quality in low light. It is a welcome upgrade coming from Nexus 5, which camera boasts a smaller f/2.4 aperture, but still offers OIS. On the front, there is a 2 MP shooter, which should be good for selfies and video chats.

Nexus 6 is offered in two storage options: 32 GB and 64 GB. Naturally, there is 4G LTE connectivity on board, as well as other typical features like NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. It also packs stereo front-facing speakers, like HTC One (M8).

Available colour options are white and dark blue/black. There is no pricing information available yet, but Google says it will go up for pre-order later this month. Nexus 6 will be offered at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, US Cellular (on-contract) as well as Best Buy (on-contract as well, probably) and Google Play (unlocked).

It is worth noting that Google will keep selling Nexus 5 alongside it, probably because lots of people have asked it to, in the same trims as before: black or white, with 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage. Nexus 5 is currently listed from $349 (£220) on Google Play.

As far as Nexus 9 is concerned, Google's new tablet - which is made by HTC - packs an 8.9in display. Power comes from a 64-bit 2.3 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra K1 processor and a 6,700 mAh battery. It ships with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, depending on which version you get.

Google Nexus 9

For those who like to take photos with their large tablets, Google has opted for an 8 MP camera on the back and a 1.6 MP shooter on the front. Since the latter will probably get the most use, the relatively low megapixel count (compared to other Nexus devices) is likely to disappoint, at least when it comes to selfies and video chats (1080p is out of the question). Other noteworthy specs include NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

Nexus 9 will be available starting November 3, with pre-orders kicking off on October 17. There is no pricing information at this stage.