Motorola on the Nexus 6: “[Google] wanted the screen size”

by: Matthew BensonFebruary 25, 2016

Google Motorola Nexus 6 Hands on Android 5.0 Lollipop -23

Making a phablet can be a bit of a gamble: the prime screen real estate is lavishly luxurious, however not every consumer wants to go for a so-called “miniature” tablet. Heck, by Apple’s own calculations, approximately 60% of its customers are still using 4-inch iPhone devices even now. In Android land, size has always been king with game changers like the original Galaxy Note paving the way for the venerable plethora of phablet products that now populate the planet. There is, however, one famous phablet that was arguably not as well received as its maker would have hoped.

When Google announced the Nexus 6 in the fall of 2014, it turned heads. Build under the codename “Shamu” the device was seemingly as large as its namesake would imply. Not a 5.5-inch phone like the LG G3, and not even a 5.7-inch one like the Galaxy Note 4, the Motorola Nexus 6 was, essentially, a full six inches. This put it in a very rare category of devices, primarily consisting of the Samsung Galaxy Grand and the Xperia Z Ultra.

Moto X Pure Edition Vs Nexus 6-14

Ironically in 2015, Motorola would make the “X” even bigger than before, though still not as Shamu-sized as the Nexus 6.

The reaction was indeed what one might expect: phablet fans were quite excited, and those who wanted a formal follow-up to 2013’s more pocket-friendly LG Nexus 5 were inevitably left with a sour taste in their mouth. Google itself seemingly could sense the scrutiny of its sensibilities, and following the launch quickly proceeded to tell customers how they don’t know they want a big phone, but if they tried it they might actually like it.

Today there is some new insight from Motorola, the manufacturer, that sheds some new light on the product. In a statement to techradar, Adrienne Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer at Motorola had the following to say:

You learn as you go. It was right about this time period that we were jumping screen sizes so quickly. I think it was one of those where we were like ‘is it [screen size] going to continue to go up?’ I think unfortunately, that was one of the products that was going to be the example of no, it’s not. So now we know.

Perhaps the more critical detail however, is which party made the judgement call with respect to the display. Hint: The company’s name begins with a “G”:

They [Google] wanted the screen size – we could have built it with same display size as the Moto X.

Indeed the design of the Nexus 6 was highly reminiscent of the Moto X Pure Edition (2014) so much so that, in China, it actually was released as a Moto X variant: the Moto X Pro.

With respect to the rest of the design, Hayes said that:

“For the most part they have some influence, but they really let the manufacturing partner drive the industrial design.”

On a final note, the Chief Marketing Officer also addressed the issue of if Motorola would one day return to the Nexus manufacturing table:

I don’t know whether we’ll do another Nexus device, but we would be happy to. It was a good experience.

Google HTC Nexus 9 Android 5 Lollipop-21

For some, the 4:3 aspect ratio of the HTC Nexus 9 (seen here) was a perfect “ruined” compliment for the larger-than-expected Nexus 6.

At this point it’s far too early to make any solid guesses who will wear the mantle of manufacturer this year, however in the past few weeks two tid-bits of leaked information has made its way around the internet: (1) HTC may be manufacturing one (or both) Nexus devices that will allegedly come out this year, and (2) LG will not be producing a follow-up to last year’s Nexus 5X.

While not on the rumor table, there is always the potential for Samsung to come back into the fold, having made the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus, and the Nexus 10 tablet some years ago. Given the premium body and performance of the Galaxy S7, it would potentially make a good framework for a new Nexus.

Wrap Up

Moto Metal

This leak purports to show the new approach Motorola is said to be bringing to its 2016 flagship.

While many found the Nexus 6 to be a wonderful device, Google’s decision to release it’s follow-up, the Huawei Nexus 6P, with a somewhat smaller display might offer a silent “confirmation” of Adrienne Hayes’ first quote in this piece. Indeed it would have been quite interesting to see what kind of product the Nexus 6 could have been had things turned out differently. Perhaps it would have been the same size as the Moto X, and by now it’s somewhat well known that there could have been a fingerprint sensor built in.

The question ultimately boils down to what the individual consumer felt about the product. To this end, we would like to invite readers to answer the survey question below and share your opinion in the comments section!


  • Mail carrier

    I’m still rocking the OG N6. It has everything I need, and nothing I don’t. A SD card slot would have been nice but that’s my only gripe with this phone, other than Otterbox lost some cash from me for failing to make a case. Wireless charging with my Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro works fine.

    • AllPurposeRadio

      Yeah Otterbox really has seemed to give up on making cases for Android devices outside of Samsung. Oh well their loss. Plenty of other quality options for Nexus devices.

      • Mail carrier

        Unless you need a holster case daily. My case is doing its job but still not quite as good as Otterbox. Can’t flip it around to view while on the clip. Inside case cracked on the Supcase but the outer shell still holds everything together nicely for the moment.

    • robinottawa

      Spigen did their clear air case, which is perfect.

  • shreyans

    I hate motos speaker placement…. Why at back , front is what we love

    • Pat Miller

      Ummm, the Nexus 6 speakers are in the front.

      • shreyans

        I am talking about the one in render

  • Origin

    Nexus 6 rules.

  • That One Guy

    I wish nexus devices had micro SD cards slots. I would purchase another one if it did. the only nexus I ever owned was the nexus 5 (for 2 months and traded for more 3). Have the LG v10 now and it is the first LG device I have owned since the g2x which was horrible. I love the phone, (wish it had a little louder speaker though).

  • Kody

    I liked it. The extra screen real estate was much appreciated at the time. I wish they’d do something similar this year but aybe 5.85″ screen and have a bigger battery.

  • Benoit Bourdua

    Was not for me but Nexus line is supposed to be pushing things forward, which is what it did. N6 was sort if a lab experiment, and it was a success in that the lab showed just how big is too big.

  • teomor

    I’m not buying anything over 4.7″ again. I had lots of plus sized phones over the years, but I came back to smaller and smaller devices as I realized they didn’t really have any pros other than the screen size, but all the cons like taking too much space in the pocket, not being able to type with one hand, increased chance of dropping.. Not really worth it, for me!

  • darkchazz

    It’s not only the size. What really turned me away was the terrible quality AMOLED display samsung supplied them.
    It had poor as hell brightness levels, oversaturated colors with no option to tone down. Every measured display metric was a regression from the Nexus 5’s IPS LCD except for contrast ratio and viewing angles.

    It was pretty much a Galaxy S4 display but with QHD resolution.

    • King_Android

      Custom roms goes a long ways for this phone. I originally had the same complaint. But luckily it was able to get corrected.

  • Shellyman 8K

    It was a mess.

    • King_Android

      It wasnt. Im still rocking mine after having all of the latest and greatest.

  • jay555

    After 3 months with the Nexus 6 I realized that the biggest problem wasn’t the size but the fact Google in it’s infinite stupidity (or laziness) did absolutely nothing with its software to take advantage of it. No way of showing apps in a split-screen or windowed display like how Samsung does with their phones. For me it was the worst of both worlds – it was cumbersome to use and carry in your pocket without offering any real advantage over a normal sized phone except for watching YouTube or play video games. To top it off, the screen itself really wasn’t even all that sharp or beautiful looking and the battery life was atrocious. I quickly sold off the Nexus 6 and when the Galaxy S6 was released and haven’t looked back since.

    • King_Android

      Too bad. My N6 lasts 2 days now with Doze. I had the S6 and the small screen was a step backwards and the battery life wasnt that much better if at all. I turned in that and got my N6 back and havent looked back., Besides the camera and screen crispness are the only thing I liked about the S6. At the end of the day Samsung sucks. Their software sucks, it lags over time, the settings looks like a middle school girl designed them. And KNOX, so much I can say about KNOX and the phone being rootable.

      • Oli72

        Totally agree. The doze feature is awesome.

    • intruda

      Yeah I got ripped apart on XDA saying the same thing. I recommended they up the multiscreen feature or some smartphone/tablet hybrid or something.

      If you rooted and played with screen, it was just as nice as the note 4 if not better.

  • Victor Martinez

    At 1st I thought it’ll be to big when I 1st got it. But now I freakin love it!! I’ll NEVER go back to anything at 5″.

    • Mark Washington

      That’s what()said! I agree also!

  • Bradley Uffner

    I bought the Nexus 6 specifically FOR the screen size. I will never go back to anything smaller.

    • King_Android


    • Kurt Place

      Ditto ^^

    • Mister R

      Same here. Still using it today until something equal comes out.

    • Alejandro Delgado

      Well i changed from an iPhone 5s to the Huawei Mate 7 wich has a 6 inch screen too. And never going back as well, i would not be able to handle anything so small anymore, keyboards looks so puny on 4 inch screens now.

  • Kaye Barasa

    I have had mine since it first came out…I have had lots of people tell me after seeing it, that they love the quality of the display, the size, no one has ever said anything derogatory about it, in fact they said that their next phone will be a 6″….I will never get a smaller screen, I love my “phablet”! I do a lot of reading and research on it, it’s perfect.

  • Planterz

    I just bought a Nexus 6 (64gb). Arrives today. I bought it specifically for the screen size (and dual speakers and other stuff).

    • Mark Washington

      Youre going to love it!

    • King_Android

      Great purchase. I wish another OEM releases a 6″ flagship. It seems as if 5.5 is the max and some will argue 5.7 but those are faw and few in between.

  • HotelQuebec

    Hoping the Note 6 will be 6″ with minimal bezels like how tiny the S7 Edge is with 5.5″ vs the Frankenstein iPhone 6S Plus.

  • Herman Blume

    The huge screen and great speakers are the only good things about the Nexus 6. Otherwise my experience has been thoroughly underwhelming.

  • King_Android

    The N6 feels the same size of a note or Sony device but with at least half an inch bigger screen. I dont know whats with the hate. This phone’s screen to body ratio was awesome and a very compact size for it being a 6″ device.

    • shushant kumar

      it was because it was under the brand ‘nexus’ so people were expecting a cheap phone which it was not

  • Pat Miller

    I bought the Nexus 6 at launch, and am still using it. Love the size, screen is great IMO. Love the speed. Did I mention the size is great? Judging by the poll, people either love it, or hate it, which is fine. This is the best phone I personally have ever owned, and nothing since had even made me look twice. If it’s not at least 5.7″ screen, I won’t even look.

  • RolLz AloT

    The nexus 6 is the best phone ever. I will never buy a phone under six inches again.

  • JC

    I’ve been rocking the N6 since October and I still love it. I’ll admit that I laughed out of loud when I first opened the box because of how big it is. But really…I don’t want a screen smaller than 5.5″. I’m on my phone a lot, so why not go big.

  • Lara Croft

    Well size does matter :P

  • RunningGreat

    That is one ugly phone…

  • Joseph W.

    Bought an N6 on release day. Purchasing a Nexus device is always a nightmare because Google seems clueless on how to release a product. My experience since then has been mostly positive. I love the size, form factor, battery life, and the small bezels make it not feel like a whale in my hand. It feels so much smaller and less fragile than the iPhone 6+.
    It’s real problems are in the forced encryption, which slowed camera and other operations because of the lag in writing the data, the wishy washy waterproofing, and the battery lifetime. The waterproofing is great, but they don’t guarantee it at all. They put a water sensor in the most vulnerable place they can find (or sometimes forget to, voiding your warranty entirely) and still don’t honor warranty on phones with “water damage”, even if that has nothing to do with the problem.
    The battery is plenty large enough, but it heats up quite a bit when using speed charging or wireless charging. As a result after about a year it would shut off if you tried to do something battery intensive like take a picture or watch a video and the battery was below about 30%. My wife’s 2014 MotoX has the same issue, though it took longer to happen and isn’t as bad since it lacks the speed charger and wireless charging.
    It is problems like this that make the 2 year upgrade cycle ludicrous. All problems like this are impossible to find until the phone is already out of date. Phones just don’t last 2 years. I’m glad most are making it easier to upgrade after 1 year, but most cell companies have just gone from one ripoff scheme to another and the “savings” somehow totals to an even higher bill and longer commitment.
    Anyway, as a whole, I love my N6. Not perfect, but more perfecter than than most of the others.

  • Walter

    I was going to buy a Nexus 6 but the knocks against the camera and battery life scared me off. Now I am perfectly happy with my Moto X Pure. If the camera and battery life were better out the box then I’d be on board.

  • mcdonsco

    Any insight as to whether the Nexus 6 will get N and O versions of Android?

    I’m *considering* getting one (if I can find one again at $250 or less) primarily as an ereader but also to see what the new versions of Android are about and lastly as a spare phone in case something happens to my main one.

  • Brandon Higgins

    Not too big at all I got the 64 GB version and put a heavy duty sup case and 9h screen protector. Ive avussed this phone to the point of dropping it from 4 feet at 45 mph and taken it in the shower with me on multiple occasions. This phone has only left me with one wish, more storage and a SD slot. Try this phone if your looking to upgrade and need something durable this phone will probably take anything you can throw at it if protected right.

  • Just throw on a compact keyboard on it and any phone you can comfortably hold is manageable. People always laugh when they see my keyboard shrunk down to only fill half of the display. But at least I’m adapting my device to my needs. Not the other way around.

  • Eddie

    I love my Nexus 6. Especially love the big screen

  • ineptone

    As a Nexus 6 owner for the last 15 months I’m a combination of “Absolutely. But I bought it anyway.” and “Definitely not. Let people [hate] all they want, the Nexus 6 was AWESOME.” I love the Nexus 6 for everything it is and does – batter life, media consumption, “stereo” sound, performance, the usual ease of Nexus customization, etc. But, As an average sized guy, with average sized hands, its size is a daily issue for one handed usability and its top heavy weight distribution doesn’t make that any easier. However, I find myself cringing at the thought of the newly announced flagship devices – namely the LG G5, which is awesome, and the S7/S7 Edge, which I couldn’t care less about – are drastically smaller. Just the simple thought of losing so much screen real estate – basically anything less than 5.5″ – worries me and makes me seriously reconsider anything smaller than the Nexus 6. Which, ironically, is exactly how I felt in the opposite when switching from the Nexus 5 to the 6. I think OEMs need to acknowledge that, yes, most people may want or like a slightly smaller device where 5.0″ is the ideal when paired with compact form factor like the S7 (which, I know, is 5.1″) and the new Xperia X line, but there are many of us who still, because we’ve gotten a taste of it, want that large 5.7-6.0″ screen size. Will it ever be possible for us to all get what we want and be happy? Likely not. But I’ll try to remain optimistic.

  • Jasper

    The Nexus 6 is still awesome. Not just ‘was’.

  • m ross

    Own both the 6 and the 9. Can’t be beaten.

  • BH

    A massively large phone with no practical purpose for its size, while having average battery life and so-so camera. No wonder it wasn’t a huge seller.

    • Jason O

      The phrase “massively large” is both redundant and subjective :| As for purpose, playing games and/or full-screen video is extremely relevant…perhaps the highest and best use unless you’re into video conferencing (voice calls are going the way of the dinosaur).

      A flipfone is immeasurably more “practical” when the focus is placed upon un-phablet qualities, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to campaign for the death of smartphones in favor of antiqued technology.

  • Seuh

    I love my Nexus and if mine dies I will get the same exact phone. Great size, I gave away my ipad. The specs are here to stay, that is all you need, the phone is actually smaller than the iPhone 6 plus. Please Motorola make the next Nexus.

  • Oli72

    Thx u God for the hands u blessed me with to hold this awesome Nexus 6 phablet.

  • jian9007

    I’ve had mine since launch day and I still enjoy it. I love the size but have been thinking of getting a GS7 Edge. But losing .496″ of screen space has me worried (although half an inch technically isn’t huge). I would like the better display, better camera, faster processor, larger battery, and waterproofing. However I don’t know if I can handle losing the screen real estate (although with the home and capacitive buttons on the bottom instead of the screen, it may help). I feel like no one is going to make a high-end 6″ screen phone. I think Samsung will stick with 5.7″ for the Note 6, as they went with 5.1″ and 5.5″ for the S7/S7 Edge. And LG and HTC aren’t going any bigger than 5.5″ this year, if the current phones and leaks are correct. I hope I’m wrong and someone releases a flagship 6-incher but I won’t hold my breath.

    If I buy the GS7 Edge then I can always sell it if the screen size isn’t livable, since I’ll be keeping the Nexus 6.

  • Paweł

    It is my phone since 13 months. And it is the best phone ever! The screen is just great! Also sound and performance!

  • robinottawa

    The key to this phablet is the thin edge design. I had the Lumia 1520 before the N6 and find the N6 much easier and more comfortable to hold and spin around etc.

  • Michiel Mohr

    Rocking N6!