October 15, 2014 9:00 AM PDT / Updated: October 15, 2014 11:40 AM PDT
Google's latest flagship phone is finally here. But instead of holding a press event like years past, the tech-giant announced its newest Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 tablet today, via an online press release. The device starts at $649 (32GB) and $699 (64GB). Preorders begin Wednesday, October 29, and it will land in stores in November. You'll be able to buy the phone unlocked, with a service contract, or through monthly carrier installments.
US carriers that will carry the Nexus include T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. Google reported that in the next few weeks, the device will be available in 28 other countries as well. Nexus 6 variants for both the Americas and other countries will be LTE-enabled.
Hardware and key components
Shifting gears from previous years with LG, the Nexus 6 is now manufactured by Motorola. With its curved backing, flowing aluminum trim, and dimpled Motorola branding on the rear, the device borrows heavily from the second-gen Moto X design book.
At 6.27 inches tall, 3.27 inches wide, and 0.4 inches thick (159.26 by 82.98 by 10.06mm), it will also be the biggest Nexus phone to date. The handset now sports a 5.96-inch display with an ultra-sharp 1,440p resolution and 493ppi, and joins the rankings of the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with its Quad HD display.
Powering the device is a quad-core 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 processor from Qualcomm, an Adreno 420 GPU for smooth gameplay, and a 3,220mAh battery. The battery has a reported talk time of up to 24 hours and a standby time of 300 hours. Similar to its Nexus predecessors, it will also have wireless charging capabilities, and can regain six hours of power after 15 minutes of charging with a specialized Turbo charger that features Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 technology.
For your camera needs, the Nexus 6 has a 13-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash that encircles the camera lens and a 2-megapixel front shooter. Additional goodies include 3GB of RAM and dual front-facing speaker grilles, similar to the Moto X.
As the new Nexus smartphone, the handset will feature Google's latest mobile OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop, right out of the box. This means the interface will be completely untouched with any carrier or manufacture skin or bloatware. The device will also receive system updates as soon as they are available.
What's new for Android
With the new update, Android 5.0 introduces a refreshed interface design called Material, which is more colorful, transparent and minimalistic. New animations have been added, notifications are now organized in order of priority and show up on the lock screen, and the Heads Up feature now launches a pop-up dialogue box for your most important notifications.
Android L also enables users to unlock their smartphone via Bluetooth. If the Nexus 6 senses a known personal Bluetooth device nearby, such as a Motorola Moto 360 or LG G Watch wearable, the phone will automatically unlock itself.
Under the initiative of "Project Volta" Google set out to improve the device's battery life as well. With the OS update, developers were able to control how their apps affected battery life, such as scheduling tasks and fetching data only when the phone is plugged in to a charger. In addition, a new battery saver mode will turn off background data and decrease the CPU clock speed during times of low battery. For more on Android Lollipop, read our deep dive.
Equipped with a phablet-sized screen and powerful innards, Google has elevated its once scrappy, pure Android handset to one of a sophisticated, top-tier level. What reflects this change the most is its price tag -- the 32GB capacity variant is now $250 more than last year's. True, $649 is pretty standard for an unlocked high-end smartphone these days, but this higher price will mean the Nexus won't be as accessible as it was before.
As such, the Nexus phone has finished its evolution from an ultra-niche device aimed squarely at Android enthusiasts, to a mainstream high-end handset. And while every iteration of the Nexus has rightly been seen as Google's flagship, the 6 ushers in a new narrative for the device. One that now includes the latest-and-greatest of hardware specs and a wide commercial appeal.
Will you be ordering the Google Nexus 6? Let us know what you think about the handset in the reader comments below.