Nexus 6 – a month later…

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I bought this new Nexus 6 almost on a whim. I have been wanting to change my phone (from Samsung Galaxy S4) for no specific reason other than the fact that I was getting bored with the earlier one I had.

It went a bit sluggish after an year+ of usage, but I did a factory reset and things were back in super form. Except the camera, which, because of Samsung’s legendary crapware that comes with the phone, had a percievable lag of a few more seconds than it should. So, I try to take a pic of my daughter doing something cute and what ends up in the pic is of her making faces at me for trying to take her pic.

I laid my eyes on a Nexus 6 (online) and it was instant, inexplicable love. I have no idea why. I said, ‘inexplicable’, didn’t I?

Then I waited for it impatiently, till Flipkart put it up for pre-order. And pre-order, I did, immediately. Thankfully, this wasn’t being made available in the current shenanigan-style sale of brands like Xiaomi where the prospective buyer has to jump across 2 fire-tinged hoops, cross 7 mountains by foot while being stark naked and profess undying love to the first woman he sees on the street… to just get on to the queue that can *potentially* book a place in the queue that *may* end up buying one of the 4 pieces of the phone made available online. Small mercies.

I had consoled myself with the assumption that I’m upgrading my phone, spending a grand Rs.44,000 for 3 reasons –
a. Better voice recognition – I had imagined that I’ll speak out my messages and mails while driving. A very Arthur C Clark’ish notion.
b. Turbo-charging battery – I was hoping it would charge super fast.
c. HDR+ camera. I liked the sound of HDR+, that’s all.

So, now that I have been using the Nexus 6 for over a month, what’s the experience like?

1. It’s BIG. I mean Godawesome big. Some iPhone 6 Plus review I read had a poignant comment – ‘iPhone 6 plus is *good* big, while the Nexus 6 is *bad* big’. Yeah, right. Whatever.

No, seriously, the Nexus 6 is BIG. It’s not just a new phone, but a new habit, given the change in dimensions and screen size. You’d start using it in new ways that you haven’t considered yet. But once you get used to it, there is no turning back. Every other phone looks small. Or tiny.

2. It’s my watch! For a person who stopped wearing a watch many years ago, this one’s quite an intuitive watch by itself. With my Galaxy S4, I used to pick it up, press the button to see the time. Nexus 6 has a setting by which I only need to just pick it up, or move it gently. It shows the time, date and unread notifications in a grey-scale kinda setting (that saps less battery, it seems) instantly! This happens even if I pick it from my pocket without clicking on anything. Hugely beneficial for me.

3. The camera is super snappy fast. Significantly faster to load and shoot than – obviously – my Galaxy S4. I prefer it that way. The pics are great too – no complaints worth airing. Hell I care about this pinkish hue or that white balance – I don’t see anything visibly wrong the pics, that’s what matters.

4. The battery life is great. Not extraordinary, but great. It lasts a day with super heavy use of everything, but a day+ with moderate everyday use. But the turbo charging thing helps a LOT. It takes about 30+ minutes to charge it fully and that’s pretty good to get going again.

5. The screen is great too. Take that Anandtech! I don’t understand your technical scores and scales, as a normal user, but I’ve seen at least 20+ films on it and couldn’t find even one reason to crib.

6. The speaker volume is SUPER. The phone is the most preferred speaker-phone device in my office. I tend to just put it on speaker phone and speak these days, instead of picking it up.

7. The Lollipop UI adds to the phone’s appeal significantly. It’s perhaps the most polished version of Android I have used yet and comes really close to some of the nuanced thinking that has gone into iOS8. The notifications, in particular, is bloody awesome – most useful, right on the lock screen, even without switching the phone fully on (see point 2)

8. The voice recognition is really good (since it has a dedicated hardware to enable it, compared to clunky shortcuts the way Moto X has it), but beyond mere recognition, there’s nothing much to make use of it. For example, my ‘Ok Google’ lights up the device super fast, consistently. I then say, ‘Send new message’ and the message window opens up and with some difficulty (saving names appropriately, not having multiple similar names etc.), I can send a message too. But what I ideally want is to load my PlayerPro, select album and start playing a song. Right now, I can’t even open PlayerPro since calling that out goes to a Google search.

But few other things work partly. For example, I can invoke Google Keep to open, but not make a new note in it. I think there’s good potential in making a LOT of apps voice-enabled so that they can be used in hands-free mode. Can’t blame this phone alone in this aspect, but yes, this execution falls short of the almost sci-fi (And ‘Her’) premise I had in mind.

9. I expected the ‘Face Lock’ to work as seamlessly as iPhone’s fingerprint scanner, but it falls horrendously short. It’s a stupid attempt and doesn’t work. I still think iPhone’s fingerprint scanning execution is mind-boggling smooth and is a game changer.

Summing up, am I happy with the phone? Of course, I am. Am I super-pleased with the phone. Hmmm… I don’t know. It’s not a dramatically mega evolution over my Galaxy S4, but there are nifty things I’m really thankful for. It IS an evolutionary next step over S4, no doubt, but as many have admonished me earlier on this, there are other phones that make those nifty things happen too. But one thing’s sure – no regrets on getting this phone. With a screen like this, I tend to read a lot more on it gladly. That’s a big plus.

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