The Nexus 6, 7 Days Later

Nexus 6 Grid

It’s been a week since Google’s 2014 flagship phone was officially unveiled. For hardcore Android enthusiasts like myself a new Nexus is a very big deal, and there have been enough new developments in the past seven days to warrant a second front-page post on the subject—at least, that’s what I think.

You all know my opinions on the Nexus 6, but I will endeavour to be as objective as I can in presenting what follows. Just be prepared for some bad news along with the good.

Caught on Camera

So just yesterday a pair of YouTube videos started making the rounds, giving us a better idea of just how big the Nexus 6 really is. Spoiler alert: it’s huge.

Source: Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 shown off in comparison video

Source: The Nexus 6: hands-on with Google’s phablet

“Definitely about as big as the iPhone 6 Plus”, you say? Hold on to that thought…

Early Signs of Failure

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. I think “divided” would be an apt description for how Android fans feel about the Nexus 6. Before its release, the biggest point of contention was its rumoured size; now that the curtain has been drawn back some of us—myself included—have a big problem with the price.

1. reddit Poll

Over the weekend one of the mods over at r/Android did an informal device poll with the community there. Of the 2,466 users who responded, 58% indicated that they will not be buying a Nexus 6. Now 1,442 lost sales for Google and Motorola may not sound like much, until you consider that reddit—like XDA and these forums right here—is largely populated by the type of user who is not only extremely knowledgeable about mobile devices, but has enough clout with friends and family to influence their purchasing decisions.

2. Nexus 5 – Going… Going… Gone.

From the day the Nexus 6 was announced I started keeping tabs on the Nexus 5’s availability in the Play Store. If you didn’t know the 16 GB models are off the table, but Google will continue to offer the 32 GB version for the foreseeable future. It even posted a new product page to go with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 tablet.

By last Friday the black 32 GB model was completely sold out. Sometime Saturday the red 32 GB sold out. And by Sunday morning the white 32 GB model had sold out as well. Without knowing how much stock Google had of each to begin with, the only thing I can say with any certainty is that the Nexus 5 is still very much in demand, even with its replacement waiting in the wings. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that.

Strategies for Success

Let’s just get this out there: the Nexus 6 is really an Android Silver device—that is, if you believe the fairly compelling argument made by the Android Police podcast to that end. With a $699 USD / $799 CAD price tag (you don’t want the 32 GB version, trust me) it’s priced like no other Nexus device we’ve ever seen. The high cost of entry may be an immediate deal-breaker for some (like me), but that hefty price tag might actually end up working in Google’s favour, in ways which aren’t immediately apparent.

1. Better Carrier Support

So the Nexus 6 will be the first Google device available in-store from every carrier in the United States, including Verizon. That’s cool. In Canada we had that with the Nexus S. I’m not entirely sure about the Galaxy Nexus but the Nexus 4 and 5 were pretty much ubiquitous across all carriers here. But that’s not my point; here’s my point: With the past two iterations a Nexus (in Canada, at least) was a low-cost subsidized handset with a perceived lower value than your typical Apple or Samsung product. Now, with the high-end Nexus 6, carriers have more enticing bait with which to lure their customers into multi-year service contracts.

Can you afford an $800 CAD smartphone? Me neither. But a hefty subsidy will be tempting for many, I’ll bet…

Further Reading: For the Nexus 6, Google needs the carriers

2. iPhone Killer?

In the same way that Google is going after the iPad with the Nexus 9, I think they’re squaring off against the iPhone with the Nexus 6. My first inkling of this came with the discovery that the Nexus 6 will take a Nano SIM. Why on Earth would a phone this big need a Nano SIM?!!

But wait, there’s more… Google has just published a switching guide that mentions iTunes, iPhone and iPad by name. Still not convinced? Think about this: a 64 GB Nexus 6 may seem outrageously expensive at $699 USD, but it’s a bargain when compared to an unsubsidized 64 GB iPhone 6 Plus at $849 USD.

I think it’s a dangerous game to go after Apple at the high end of the market, but I also think that this is precisely what Google is up to with their new line of premium Nexus devices. At any rate, I really shouldn’t write anything more about the Nexus 6 until I actually hold one in my hands.