Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: How do the Android tablets compare?

Nokia  on Google’s flagship tablet

Nokia - that’s Nokia Nokia, not Microsoft Nokia - has just surprised everyone by announcing an Android tablet, the Nokia N1.

With high-end components, a premium design, and stock Android 5.0 Lollipop, it’s clearly looking to take on Google’s own Nexus 9 as the most desirable Android tablet out there.

So how do these two tablets compare? Here's the tale of the tape.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - Design

Nokia N1: Aluminium body with surface anodisation, one-piece design, 6.9mm thick, 318g
Nexus 9: Soft, matte plastic back, brushed metal sides, 7.95mm thick, 425g

The Nexus 9 is a pretty decent-looking tablet, but at initial glance it’s not in the Nokia N1’s league.

Google’s flagship tablet looks rather like a largeNexus 5, which means it’s solid rather than spectacular, with a familiar soft-touch plastic back. Meanwhile it’s a millimetre thicker than the N1 and more than 100 grams heavier, despite the N1 being the one with an all-metal body.

The Nokia N1 looks to be a lot sleeker, but then, it would do - it’s a blatant copy of one of the best designed tablets around, the iPad mini. As such, we need to temper our praise of the N1’s design at this early stage, as it appears to have been lifted wholesale.

Also, while there’s no denying that the Nokia N1 is shaping up to be the nicer design of these two, it’s worthy remembering that the Nexus 9 was designed and built by quality outfit HTC, while the Nokia N1 is essentially a licensed product built to spec by Foxconn.

We will reserve final design judgement until we’ve actually handled the N1.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - Display

Nokia N1: 7.9-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio, 2048 x 1536 resolution, laminated IPS LCD
Nexus 9: 8.9-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio, 2048 x 1536 resolution, IPS LCD

Of course, one reason the N1 is sleeker than the Nexus 9 is that its display is significantly smaller. It’s just 7.9-inches, whereas the Nexus 9’s display is an 8.9-incher.

Other than that, there are a lot of similarities here. Both have a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is still pretty unusual for Android tablets. In fact, this is another common iPad feature, and it suggests that both Google and Nexus have come around to Apple’s way of thinking here.

Both tablets have a 2048 x 1536 resolution, but that means that the Nokia N1’s display, being smaller, should be sharper. As far as pixel density goes, it's 324ppi versus 287ppi.

While both displays are IPS LCD examples, which typically makes for great viewing angles, the N1 component has another edge in being laminated. This means that there’s no air gap in between the display panel and its glass, making for a slightly clearer and more vibrant picture than the Nexus 9 display, which isn’t laminated.

Finally, we should point out that the Nexus 9 display tends to suffer from backlight leakage, which isn’t ideal for such a premium tablet.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - CPU and RAM

Nokia N1: 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 CPU, 2.3 GHz, 2GB RAM
Nexus 9: 64-bit dual-core Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU, 2.3GHz, 2GB RAM

Both tablets include 64-bit processors, which positions them well to make the most out of Android 5.0’s 64-bit compatibility. Also, both processors are clocked at 2.3GHz, and both are backed by 2GB of RAM.

However, that’s where the similarities end. You might think that the quad-core Atom Z3580 of the Nokia N1 holds an advantage over the dual-core Tegra K1 of the Nexus 9 simply through the core count alone, but the Tegra K1 has an absolutely monstrous desktop-class GPU backing it up.

Ultimately, these two chips appear to be fairly well matched for general tasks, but for anything graphically intensive such as games, the Nexus 9 and its Tegra K1 should have the edge.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - Software

Nokia N1: Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nokia Z Launcher
Nexus 9: Android 5.0 Lollipop

Both the Nokia N1 and the Google Nexus 9 run on stock Android 5.0, also known as Lollipop. That means that both have one of the freshest and most powerful mobile operating systems around.

The only slight deviation here is with the Nokia N1, which will also ship with the Nokia Z Launcher. This lightweight piece of software presents a new contextual app list and an innovative search system whereby you draw letters on the display.

However this piece of software turns out, the Z Launcher can be readily deactivated to leave stock Android running in its full glory. This isn’t the same thing as other third party manufacturers laying on their heavy UIs modifications by any stretch.

The Nexus 9 has the edge because it will get updates faster than the Nokia N1, but otherwise it looks like a draw.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - Cameras

Nokia N1: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing cameras
Nexus 9: 8MP rear, 1.6MP front-facing cameras

Both tablets contain 8-megapixel rear cameras, while the N1 appears to have the edge in the selfie/video calling stakes with its 5-megapixel unit. The Nexus 9’s front camera is a 1.6-megapixel example.

Then there’s the fact that Nexus devices don’t typically contain the best cameras, and that HTC isn’t exactly renowned for its quality cameras either. Sure enough, we found the Nexus 9’s snapper to be pretty ordinary.

Add in Nokia’s reputation for trailblazing mobile camera tech, and the N1 seems nailed on for success, right?

Well, not necessarily. Remember - this isn’t the Nokia of PureView cameras and ZEISS optics fame. That Nokia has been swallowed up by Microsoft. This Nokia is essentially starting from scratch, which means we have no idea how well its first tablet camera will turn out - let alone how well it will compare to its rivals.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 - Storage

Nokia N1: 32GB
Nexus 9: 16GB/32GB

Pretty simple one this. The Nokia N1 only comes with a 32GB option, while the Nexus 9 comes with the choice of 16GB or 32GB.

However, we don’t think that 16GB should even be on the cards in a modern tablet at this stage - it’s way too meagre an amount for a mediacentric device at the close of 2014. We’re disappointed there’s no 64GB and 128GB options with both of these tablets.

With neither of these tablets sporting a microSD slot for expansion purposes, storage is not their strong suit.

Early Verdict

The Nokia N1 has been a total surprise, but that hints at a reason for caution. To a large extent, our preconceptions about Nokia design and build quality have to be jettisoned - or at least redirected towards Microsoft’s new internal mobile hardware arm.

This is effectively an all-new, relatively small outfit, having its designs built to spec by a massive Chinese manufacturer. Sure, the Nokia N1 looks pretty good, but we have no idea whether it will be.

Conversely, we know what we’re getting with the Nexus 9, having reviewed it recently. It’s a decent Android tablet with some strong specs running one of the best mobile operating systems around.

However, it has a number of flaws, and there’s ample opportunity for another player to step forward and take the Android tablet crown.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: How do the Android tablets compare?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Android Lollipop update: Nexus 5 owners face Wi-Fi issues, battery woes.

Recent reports suggest that Nexus 5 owners are facing some problems after updating their phone to the Android 5.0 Lollipop. A few bugs encountered include connectivity issues with Wi-Fi. Some developers are complaining Nexus 5 saves passwords but would fail to actually connect to it, states Business Insider. Some Nexus 7 and Nexus 9 users are also facing the same problem. Earlier, users were facing problems as their phone’s battery would drain down too quickly but Google has fixed the issue. A few owners are also saying that their device could not complete the installation due to a ‘missing system.img’ error message. The bug would cancel the installation for Android Lollipop. There s no word from Google yet.


Google’s latest Android Lollipop update has begun rolling out for the older Nexus 5. The OTA update should reach users in couple of days. Those using a Nexus 5 can go to “Settings > About device > System updates > Check now” to check for the update.

Google has announced via its official Twitter handle that it will begin rolling out Android Lollipop for all Nexus devices soon.

While OTA updates are the safest way to upgrade your devices, Google has released factory images as well. The company has released factory images for Nexus devices including Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The new devices – Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 – will run Android Lollipop out of the box. Now, you will also find a factory image for the rather older Nexus 4.

Motorola has also commenced its soak test for the Android 5.0 Lollipop in India. Motorola has posted the release notes for both the Moto X andMoto G devices on its website and some lucky owners have already got the update.

New Moto X and Moto G devices can enjoy thenew Android 5.0 features, such as the Material Design interface, updated camera and improved security, while still being able to use Motorola’s own services such as Motorola Alert, Migrate and Connect.

While the Moto X and the Moto G will be some of the first devices to get the latest Android OS, other manufactures have also announced the same for their devices. To find out if your phone is eligible, check out the list of devices that are confirmed to get the update.

Android Lollipop update: Nexus 5 owners face Wi-Fi issues, battery woes

They're the world's smallest documentary makers. E. coli bacteria have had their DNA hacked so they can store memories of their cellular environment. And they do it in much the same way as an analogue tape recorder. Other more complicated cells should be capable of the feat too, which could pave the way for cellular biographers that can be inserted into our bodies for the inside scoop on our health.

E. coli may be one of the most widely used microbes in scientific research, but there are still aspects of its biology that are mysterious. "There are these DNA sequences called retrons that were discovered 30 years ago – but there's still a lot of controversy over what they actually do," says Timothy Lu at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What we do know is that the retrons carry the genetic code for enzymes that generate new strands of DNA. These strands can then insert themselves into the cell's genome. Lu and his MIT colleague Fahim Farzadfard realised that they could manipulate these retrons so that, when the E. coli is exposed to a particular chemical – or some other input like bright light – it inserts a new chunk of DNA into a specific site in the genome. That DNA chunk is then effectively a "memory" of the experience.

Crowdsourced memories

Each of the E. coli cells records a personal account of its experiences. That could be useful, but it's when whole populations of cells record their experiences that the system becomes really powerful.

Lu and Farzadfard engineered the retrons to be only partially efficient, so that when a population of E. coli is exposed to an input, like a light signal, only a few cells will instantly record a memory of the event.

As time goes by, more of the cells will respond to the input and record the memory. By calculating at a certain point how many of the cells carry the memory, it's possible to work out either the input's strength, or the length of exposure.

"Imagine having 1000 humans all exposed to sunlight," says Lu. "Some proportion will develop a mole on skin from over-exposure. With more exposure, an increasing number of people will develop the mole. So by counting the number of people with moles you can back-calculate how intense or how long the exposure was."

Play back memories

"That's the crux of it," says Cameron Myhrvold at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, who was not involved in the research. "You can encode extra information because it's a signal that accumulates over time rather than an all-or-nothing switch." In other words, its analogue rather than digital.

"We think this is going to be very useful in monitoring applications," says Lu. The retrons are known to function in animal cells, he says, so if some of our cells were engineered to record the conditions they are exposed to, they could later be extracted and their DNA sequenced to play back the memories.

That kind of cellular monitoring is already possible with some microscopy techniques, but Lu says that these techniques require researchers to keep a constant eye on the cells. With his method, cellular environments could be seeded with cells to remotely record events in much the same way that forests are wired up with camera traps to remotely track wildlife.

Monitoring disease

For example, modified gut cells could be used to track the progress of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, or modified brain cells could help establish the nature of individual cellular connections within neural networks, says Lu.

In principle, the cellular system could be used to monitor the spread of disease, such as the growth and spread of cancers, perhaps by responding to the cellular signals generated by cancer cells, although Lu says additional development will be needed before that can be demonstrated.

Although an analogue system allows you to record more nuanced information, Myhrvold says that this is also a potential weakness. It means it works best when there is a large population of cellular recorders, so might not work so well for monitoring environments that contain relatively small numbers of cells to begin with, he says. That's an important point, agrees Lu, and one he's working on.

Myhrvold also says that retrons might mutate and malfunction in some more challenging cellular environments, which could compromise their ability to record cellular events. This is a problem that his Harvard colleague, Pamela Silver, addressed earlier this year by inserting a responsive genetic switch into E. coli that is so resistant to mutation that it is stable even in the hostile environment of the mammalian gut.

Cells act like old tape recorders to monitor health

Friday, November 14, 2014

Manually installing Lollipop to Nexus device

There are two methods for manually updating your Nexus device to Android 5.0 Lollipop. You canflash the factory image, but if your bootloader isn’t unlocked, it means you have to do a factory reset. The good news is that there is another method and that is to install the actual Over-The-Air (OTA) update. Even better news….you won’t lose your data!! Oh wait, there’s even better news…..we have all the instructions on how to do it right after the break.

You will notice that there is a lot of information here. In fact a lot more than other sites. I remember when I first tried to do this method and found a lot of guides online, but every single one left out a lot of relevant info, especially for the newbies. I tried to compile every little detail in an attempt to make it as easy as possible for you. If you have already done this before, and only need a refresher, a lot of it is overkill for you.

If you’re running a custom recovery, you can go ahead and download the appropriate Zip file below and flash it. The below instructions are for those that are running stock, which is the majority of you.

The first thing you want to do is download and install the Android SDK if you haven’t already. You only really need ADB so you can skip the entire Android SDK and download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot instead, which will give you just the necessary files.

Note: If you go the route of installing the full SDK, ADB and Fastboot will be in the C:\program files (x86)\android\android-sdk\platform-tools folder. If you use Minimal ADB and Fastboot, you can choose the directory you want.


Now it’s time to download the appropriate Zip file for your device and place it in the folder where ADB and Fastboot is. If you installed the full SDK, it’s in the C:\program files (x86)\android\android-sdk\platform-tools folder. Below are the links. Note:You want to make sure that your device is on the“From” Build Number that’s listed for each device. To see that, just open Settings > About Phone and scroll down to About Phone. Now scroll down to the bottom and look at the Build Number. Make sure it matches the “From” listed below for the device that you’re upgrading.

Nexus 4 (occam) From KTU84P to Unknown (C0ming Soon)

Nexus 5 (hammerhead) From KTU84P to LRX21O

Nexus 5 (hammerhead) From KTU84Q to LRX21O

Nexus 7 (2013) WiFi (razor) From KTU84Q to LRX21P 

Nexus 7 (2013) LTE (razorg) From KTU84P to Unknown (Coming Soon)

Nexus 7 (2012) WiFi (nakasi) From KTU84P to LRX21P

Nexus 7 (2012) 3G (nakasig) From KTU84P to Unknown  (Coming Soon)

Nexus 9 (volantis) From LRX21L to LRX21Q

Nexus 10 (mantaray) From KTU84P to LRX21P

Note: The Zip file has a rather large name so feel free to rename if it you wish so you don’t have to type out the entire file name in the CMD Window. Alternatively, you can paste it in the CMD prompt window by pressing ALT and the Space Bar, then choose Edit, followed by Paste.


Now you need to make sure USB debugging is enabled. If the Developer Options aren’t showing in the Settings on your device, follow these steps…..

1) Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.

2) Tap on the Build Number 7 times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.

3) Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.

4) Tap on Developer Options.

5) Check to enable USB Debugging

Before you connect your device to the USB port on your desktop / laptop, you want to make sure you have the appropriate drivers installed. You can grab them here.

Now connect your device and you are ready to flash the Zip file that you downloaded earlier. Note: You might get a pop up box on your device stating what the computer’s RSA Key is. Just check Always allow from this computer and tap on OK


Now it’s time to install the OTA update that you downloaded earlier

1) Open the Command Prompt in Windows and navigate to the folder that ADB and Fastboot are installed in. Again, if you installed the full SDK, it’s in the C:\program files (x86)\android\android-sdk\platform-tools folder. Just type cd\program files (x86)\android\android-sdk\platform-tools. If it’s somewhere else, just navigate to it.  Note: To make things easier so you don’t have to type out long directories, you can also paste it by pressing ALT and the Space Bar, then choose Edit, followed by Paste.

2) Assuming you device is already connected to your computer via USB and USB Debugging is enabled, you need to start it in fastboot mode. Follow one of the two methods below.

A) Type adb reboot bootloader

B) Turn your device off, then turn it back on while holding down the relevant key combinations for your device. For many devices it’s Volume Up + Volume Down + Power. You can see what your device’s key combinations are here.

3) The  fastboot menu should appear and you should see “Start” in the top right. Press Volume Up till it changes to “Recovery.” Press the Power button to select it.

4) You will see an Android with a red exclamation point icon, press Volume Up and the Power button at the same time.

5) You will get a new menu. Navigate to apply update from adb and select it by pressing the Power button.

6) In the CMD window (make sure you are in the right directory), type: adb sideload [the full name of the file].zip (Note: without the brackets around the file name)

7) The update will install and reach 100%.

I hope this guide helped you. Please let me know if I missed anything.

If you want to learn how to flash factory images, make sure to check out our guide on that here.

8) Reboot and enjoy your new update!!

How to manually install the Lollipop OTA on your Nexus device, download links included

The Google glass workout

So we’ve talked about what Google Glass has tooffer, its features and capabilities and how it is the most anticipated wearable gadget in 2013. But why leave it there? Add a dash of wishful thinking (okay, maybe a whole lot of it) and here’s a wishlist of things we want to see happen with Google Glass.

Google Glass is a sight for sore eyes as it is touted as the lightweight, hands-free solution to the smartphone. It still tethers to the Internet access of the smartphone via Bluetooth but has a built-in GPS chip for navigational use. Voice commands make the integration almost seamless and Glass also comes with a camera for recording pictures and videos in first-person view.

With this recap, you now probably have a sense of the potential Glass has in all sorts of situations. Here are just 10 examples of how Glass can further enrich our lives. Note that this is just a wishlist and while Glass may not be able to do these things, who know what will happen in the near future?

1. Benefit Education

If Youtube tutorials have taught us anything, it’s that videos can go far in education that is not confined in the classroom. Glass can help push that barrier even further by recording tutorialsin for instances the type spaces mechanics find themselves in when fixing a car engine or machinery parts, or in restricted areas where only the surgeon and its staff is allowed.

In both examples, Glass keeps the mechanic’s and surgeon’s hands free to work their magic, and still gives students a first-person view of the masters at work. It would be great for the feed to be streamed live and to allow the viewers to get to experience what is happening in real-time.

2. Live Information When You Need It

In #1, the surgeon would appreciate having access to the vital stats of his patient straight in Glass if he needs it. For the rest of us, Glass could even provide information about programs we are watching on TV such as stats about the actor, the shows they’ve acted in, synopsis or facts about fashion.

Glass could also work in the world of sportswhere it gives you the latest team and playernews, table standings and past results the moment you switch TV channels or when you’re at a live sports event.

3. Recommendation Guides

With augmented reality in place, it’ll be cool to have Glass give you information of restaurants as you walk past, such as the chef’s recommendation of the day, prices and reviews. Information of promotions going on at each shop outlet would appease the shopaholic in you and can even be sorted to cater to the specific needs of each Glass user

This will even be a good thing to have for touristswho visit foreign lands where they don’t speak the language.

4. Health Monitor Interface

With Glass’ built-in GPS chip, it can easily track your movement. Together with an external health tracking monitor or through health related apps, Glass could probably display, track or log in yourpace, speed, heart rate and running durationfor use such as when you’re running a marathon.

Its capability to have sunglasses attachmentalso means it’ll be perfect for use on brigh sunny running days, and the avid calorie counter may be able to keep his or her nutritional intake in check almost constantly.

5. Get More Out Of Life

A person who has to keep an eye on the family while working from home could benefit from Glass. Instead of having to worry about missing an important call or email on their work phone, wearing Glass allows them to receive notifications while doing things around the house since both their hands are free.

They also need not tether themselves to any computer, laptop or tablet to receive updates.

6. Assisting Busy Lives

That said, having Glass equipped with apersonal assistant app like Siri on iOS or alternatives found on Android lets you manage your work life even better via voice commands, say, to schedule reminders, alarms and events.

You can set reminders as and when you have made decisions during a meeting, gotten a reply from a client or finalized a plan that is good to go.

7. Documentaries In First Person View

We’ve seen the video introducing Glass where skydivers recorded their descent. However, Glass can be used to push documentaries even further.

For instance, viewers can actually step into the shoes of police officers during an actual drug raid, first responders during a disaster or emergency event or even of paramedics who have to think on their feet to save lives. This beats reality TV shows anytime.

8. Video Conferencing Alternative

Google Hangout is a fine tool for conferencing but you still need to sit yourself in front of a laptop to use it. For companies that need to have a lot of meetings regularly it’s common to spend a budget on a state of the art conference room.

Perhaps Glass can be a great alternative for decision makers who are always on the move and who everyone wants an audience with.Group meetings can be done regardless of where everyone is.

9. Easier Video Logging

For the avid DIY builder, keeping track of screws and parts may be a common annoyance during the assembly process, but this is recitifiable with some strategic video logging. Since Glass has a camera equipped, the builder gets a first-person recording of what he does and keeping track of steps and parts are just a matter of playbacks.

Alternatively, scientists can log the results of their experiments easier, faster and more accurately. Video recordings and voice logs neatly time-stamped can ensure that they can focus more on the science instead of the documentation. To top it all off (since we’re dreaming anyways) it’ll be cool to then create an app for data-logging using speech-to-text with itemized logging.

10. Work Together With Any Smartphone & Its Apps

This is probably the most important thing anyone who is eager to try out the Glass would want. We’re talking about support for popular mobile OS like iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry as well as upcoming OS like Ubuntu, Firefox, Tizen and Sailfish.

With widespread support and a higher user base, and seamless integration with apps, there is probably hope for the prices to drop to affordable ranges so everyone can grab a pair

10 Things We Want To Do With Google Glass

Apple iPhone 6 vs. Google Nexus 6: which phone will be better?

With the iPhone 6 now on our doorstep and being pre-ordered by the millions, those of us firmly entrenched in Camp Android are looking to the Nexus 6 to bring balance to the universe in the next few weeks. So given what we know so far, let's speculate on which phone is shaping up to dominate the rest of the year in our Nexus 6 vs iPhone 6 comparison.  

Will the Nexus 6 be better than the iPhone 6?/

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: Design

The Nexus 6 has a 5.96-inch screen and is based on the Moto X (2014). The new Moto X itself is certainly quite striking, with curved back, large camera lens and circular LED ring flash. With the Nexus 6 taking design cues from this it certainly looks like an interesting looking phone indeed.

The Nexus 5 proved you can't judge a book by its boring cover.

The iPhone 6 is a pretty nice change to the blocky iPhone style we've seen repeated a lot over the last few years. The corners are curved, the chassis is made outal and everything seems sleeker, thinner and more "designed" than the iPhone 5s or even the iPhone 4, which have all been iterations on basically the exact same thing.

The Nexus 6 has a refershing design, but we also admire Apple's thinking on the new iPhone design. The iPhone takes a few cues from Android too, with the new device looking a lot like the new Sony Xperia Z3. The iPhone screen has finally grown up too: offering a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch The new iPhones have finally increased their screen size.

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: Display

The Nexus 6 will arrive with a 5.96-inch, QHD display with 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 493 pixels per inch. The AMOLED screen technology is a wise choice if the touchless controls and ''always-on'' listening are as big a feature of the Nexus 6 as they are to the Moto X.

Evolution of screen sizes and pixel densities on Android and Apple smartphones (infographic).Up front, the iPhone 6 still looks a lot like the iPhone 5s and shares a similar pixel density.

The iPhone 6 on the other hand introduces a Retina HD LCD. ''Retina'' HD basically just means that its pixel density is over 300 ppi: in the 4.7-inch iPhone 6's case, 326 ppi. The screen resolution comes in at 1,334 x 750 pixels, which is just a tad above regular HD. The Nexus 6 will destroy the iPhone 6's screen, in terms of pixel density and size, but we'll have to wait and see them in real life to make judgments on quality.

If the Nexus 6 takes after the Moto X's touchless controls, an AMOLED display makes sense.

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: System

Both smartphones will arrive with the latest versions of their respective operating systems: the Nexus 6 will appear as the showcase for Android Lollipop and the iPhone 6 has iOS 8.1 on board. We already know a bit about Android Lollipop thanks to the developer preview and we've already seen a bunch of iOS features. We don't have enough room for a full comparison here, but check out our iOS 8 v Android Lollipop comparison for more information. Of course, we expect you have a pretty good idea of which OS is right for you.

Android 5.0 Lollipop: what you need to know.The Nexus 6 will arrive showcasing Google's new Material Design standard for Android L. © Google

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: Performance

Not the easiest thing to compare on two phones you haven't used yet, and because Apple and Android components are quite different its not always so easy to figure things out on paper. But we can make estimations based on the improvements over what we already have.

The iPhone 6 has not changed too much compared to the iPhone 5s, which admittedly does its job quite well. Of course, the fluidity and stability of the iPhone 6 will be just as good as what we have seen before and the upgrade to the A8 64-bit chip and M8 motion co-processor will certainly uphold their end of the bargain.

Android fans may tease Apple's ''walled garden,'' but it's super stable and smooth. © Apple

However, the Nexus line has always been jam-packed with the best specs around and the Nexus 6 will arrive with a quad-core Snapdragon 805 clocked at 2.7 GHz with 3 GB of RAM (we don't know how much RAM is in the iPhone 6, but we think it's 1 GB). Considering the 64-bit support in Android Lollipop we're a little surprised that the Nexus 6 will arrive with a 32-bit chip, but regardless, the Nexus 6 will be just as buttery smooth and lag-free as the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 camera got much better with software, but it could still be improved. 

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: Camera

The camera of the Nexus is usually its weakest point. While not a catastrophic flaw, camera quality is a serious concern for most smartphone owners, and its importance is only increasing. Google has announced it wants Nexus devices to offer a class-leading camera experience, and while we admire their pluck, we haven't seen a good enough camera to compete with the iPhone yet.

Keeping costs down on the Nexus usually means a smaller battery and weaker camera than many fans would like. The Nexus 6 has a 13 MP camera with optical image stabilization and a 2 MP front-facing camera.

The iPhone 6 camera will be just as great as previous offerings from Mountain View. 

The iPhone 6 comes with an 8 MP iSight camera that we expect will produce the same outstanding results we see on every iPhone and a low resolution front-facing camera. The iPhone 6 misses out on OIS, but its bigger brother, the iPhone 6 Plus has OIS on board. We have to be honest though, we fully expect the iPhone 6 camera to embarrass the Nexus 6 camera.

iPhone 6 vs. Nexus 6: Battery

Neither the iPhone 5s or the Nexus 5 are known for their outstanding battery life. In fact both are generally the butt of every battery-related joke in the smartphone world. Of course, no one is ever satisfied with their battery life, but both devices have been typically poor performers. Apple don't like to tell anyone what battery capacity the iPhones have, so it won't be until we have a tear down that we can share that little nugget with you.

I wouldn't be working for an Android site if I didn't take the opportunity to post this again. © Samsung/YouTube

This Nexus 6 comes with a 3220 mAh battery, up almost 1000 mAh over the Nexus 5. Android Lollipop is also packing Project Volta, which, combined with the new Android Run Time, should squeeze unheard-of amounts of battery life out of even the most pitiable battery. We'll have to wait and see what Apple can do with its poor battery in the iPhone 6. In the keynote however, they rather blandly said it will be as good as or better than the iPhone 5s. Yay.


The Nexus line is like the Android prophet: not everyone listens but those that do listen to every word and accept it as Truth. We expect the Nexus 6 to be just as impressive as the Nexus 5 was but with even better specs and performance.

The iPhone 6 is probably much the same for iOS fans, although of course I'm going to compare it to a cult leader instead. Most Apple fans are simply not as concerned with the internal specs of their idevices as they are simply with owning the newest iPhone, and this alone will assure the iPhone 6 of insane levels of success.

Until we can put both side by side for a real life comparison, the jury is still out.

Do you think the Nexus 6 will be the mythical iPhone 6 killer? Or is it simply different strokes for different folks?

iPhone 6 vs. Google Nexus 6 comparison

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The apple Mac mini

The Mac Mini is a machine I half expected Apple to quietly drop. The decline of the desktop personal computer business in general, and the fact that you’ll never see a Mac Mini as a prominent piece of product placement, means this miniature micro is unlikely to ever to hold a place in Apple's heart like the iMac.
A safe pair of hands? Apple's Mac Mini late 2014 edition
Indeed, it’s been a full two years since Apple last revised the Mini, leaving many of its fans fearful that it might be on its way out, victim of changing tastes in computing products.
But no, just when you’ve given up waiting for the bus and ready to plod your weary way home, along come three — units Apple would once have labelled Good, Better and Best. The year-long wait for Intel’s impressive Haswell processor to come to the Mini is over, and that’s very welcome. Ditto the addition of 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The quid pro quo is the loss of upgradeable RAM.
Let’s be clear: the Mini was never an easy upgrade. Getting the hard drive out involves removing all of the machine’s internals. It still does. But at least it used to be a doddle to expand the previous incarnation’s memory: rotate the base, unclip the Wi-Fi card’s antenna, unscrew a metal plate, and there’s your RAM slot.
Easy upgrade? Depends what you want to change
No longer. The base is clipped in place, and beneath the metal plate ... soldered memory. Apple’s build-to-order memory is less expensive than it used to be — £80 for a 4GB upgrade from the base 4GB isn’t as daunting as £80 was two years ago – but it’s still a darn sight less cost-effective than buying memory from someone like Crucial and fitting it yourself. Doubly so if you want 16GB.
Moreover, being able to upgrade your system as you need — rather than investing all at the start – is half the point of buying a desktop rather than a laptop. The other half is better performance, though with the Mini that’s perhaps less of a concern thanks to its laptop-derived parts and ultra-compact form-factor. This is not a computer for customisation.
Of course, that’s probably why Apple felt it could get away with its margin-enhancing plan to solder down the RAM; it’s why it stopped bundling an HDMI-DVI adaptor too. No one will upgrade the Mini, it thought; you can’t replace the CPU, and the graphics core is integrated so that can’t be swapped out either.
The soldered on-board RAM highlighted in red isn't exactly enticing on desktop machine
OK, so that’s not an unreasonable assumption but it’s nonetheless very disappointing for those of us who like Macs for more than their consumer convenience. You can add RAM to the iMac, for instance, so why penalise Mini buyers, especially when you already have an elegantly engineered mechanism for memory upgrades?

Soldering on

Mac OS X isn’t quite the RAM gobbler that Windows is, but since the Mini uses integrated graphics, that’s a big chunk of RAM nabbed before you’ve even started running applications, especially if you’re using multiple displays or even a single screen with a greater-than-HD resolution.
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Just how much RAM do you need to run a bunch of music plug-ins smoothly?

The Mini I have here has 8GB of RAM and I would‘t take anything less. Mac OS X Yosemite, pre-installed on the new Mini, demands rather more memory than its predecessors did — more daemons, more backgrounded apps, more memory leaks. Even with only a handful of basic applications open, this Mini is already consuming just under 7GB of the installed eight.
Trouble is, I can't do anything about that. I can’t assess my memory usage on a new platform and then expand the memory as necessary. Who cares if no other Mini user wants to do this. I do. For the sake of perhaps five dollars for the memory slot and the tooling for the removable base, Apple has made its little machines far less attractive for anyone not seeking an appliance. And surely those people are among the iMac’s natural constituency, not the Mini’s?
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

The Fusion drive option sees the SSD position on top of the HDD housing 

If you do open up a 2014 Mac Mini, it’s still an engineering marvel. All kitted out in silver and black, it’s as attractive on the inside as it is on the outside, as the iFixit disassembly pics on here reveal. Better than anything I can take, these shots will show you exactly how accessible the new Mini isn’t. Getting to the 5400rpm 500GB hard drive (in the base model; others have bigger drives and even a Fusion Drive SSD cache) is a chore, but doable.
In use, this box, based on a 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5-based 4260U CPU feels fluid, and unlikely to trouble any but the most power-hungry users. As I say, it’s the lack of memory expansion that’s the problem here.
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Alas, no FireWire but you do get two Thunderbolt 2 ports now

There’s a problem for users with Firewire peripherals too: Apple has dropped the Firewire 800 port it had placed on the back of the 2012 model. In its place is a second Thunderbolt port which will come in handy if you’re driving your monitor off the other one. The new Mini, like the old, has HDMI, but that limits you to 1920 x 1080. Thunderbolt drives my 2560 x 1440 Dell display very well.
The Mini still has a useful four USB 3.0 ports and the SD card slot. Once again, the PSU is built in; no brick hanging off the back here. Gigabit Ethernet rounds off the new Mini’s port array; the internal Wi-Fi has been upgraded from 802.11scores
The CPU may have altered, but the performance hasn’t. Geekbench 3 yields 64-bit single-core and dual-core ratings of 2800 and 5382, respectively. The 2012 Mini El Reg reviewed had a 2.5GHz Core i5-3210M, based on Intel’s third-gen Core architecture.
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Out-of-the-box the only accessory provided now is a power cable

Its clock speed was almost twice that of the Haswell CPU in the new model and with a slightly higher (3.0GHz to 2.7GHz) Turbo Boost speed. The previous Mini was tested with Geekbench 2 which generated results not directly comparable with those of Geekbench 3, but numbers from the database of the benchmark’s developer, Primate Labs, put the old model on averages of 2630 (single core) and 5418 (multi-core).
So the new model, with a lower average clock speed, is delivering very slightly better performance. But it’s not a stellar increase, and certainly no reason to sell off your 2012 Mini for a new one. Indeed, given the upgradeability of 2012’s model, you might even prefer to seek one out second-hand and spend the difference getting yourself an SSD and a big memory boost.
The former, in particular, will be a noticeable improvement as you reduce the ‘lag’ of the 5400rpm HDD thanks to faster start-up times and application loads.
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Lower price, but fewer user upgrade options

The one piece of good news here is that Apple has knocked £100 off the price tag. The base 2012 model would have set you back £499; today’s entry level Mini is £399. Price reductions are nice, but in this instance it’s small compensation for the loss of a memory slot: most of that £100 will go on a measly 4GB build-to-order upgrade.
Spending £170 more than the base price gets you the 2.5GHz Core i5 version, 8GB of memory and a 1TB HDD if you need the space. A further £230 (total: £799) buys you a 2.8GHz Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 1TB of HDD plus a 256GB SSD. Both the latter versions include Intel’s Iris Graphics; the baseline model has Intel HD Graphics 5000.
The cores are the same; the Iris just has a higher clock speed than the 5000. It’s more a nice-to-have than a must-have, especially if you’re not gaming. Two years on, my ageing copy of Doom 3 steps from 44fps to 54fps at 1920 x 1080.
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Use your old peripherals and spend the savings on RAM

The Reg Verdict

The Mac Mini remains a stylish, very compact desktop with the ability to drive greater-than-HD displays. It’s no games machine, but it does make for a very nice general productivity box. Thanks to OS X’s foundations, it’s a great Unix machine too thanks to wide access to both open source and commercial software.
I’m going to get one to keep in the office, to save me carrying a laptop back and forth. I just think I might see if I can find a discounted 2012 model, its initially wobbly HDMI output now long fixed, rather than the current one and grab some extra memory for it. 

The late 2014 Apple Mac Mini: The best (and worst) of both worlds

Lollipop rollout for nexus devises

Google officially introduced Android 5.0 Lollipop mid-October and, for the time being, the update has yet to roll out. The release is imminent and according to Sprint the Nexus 5 Android 5.0 Lollipop update will be pushed to users later today.

According US carrier’s post on their community page, the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for Nexus 5 will roll out later today. The date checks out with previous rumors that were suggesting that the new update will be pushed to devices on November 12. If the reports are accurate, the release has been delayed over battery issues that were fixed in the meantime.

Sprint also says that the Nexus 5 Android 5.0 Lillipop update has build number LRX21O. The build number lines up with builds we’ve seen for Nexus 9 and Nexus Player – LRX21L and LRX21M, respectively – and even with the leaked Nexys 7 2012 build (LRX21P).

As usual, the Nexus 5 Android 5.0 Lollipop update will be rolled out in phases, which means that some of you might not be able to download and install it right away. You probably know already that once your device becomes eligible to receive the new firmware you should be able to notice a system update message in the notifications bar. You know the drill, tap on it, choose ‘Download now’, wait until the download is completed, then select ‘Install now’. Your smartphone should reboot and install the new firmware. In case the system update notification failed to appear you would also want to perform a manual check under Settings > About phone > Software updates > Check now.

Android 5.0 Lollipop is the most major update Android has seen since its debut. It brings a new design philosophy called Material Design, revamped notification bar and quick settings, lock screen notifications, multi-user support for phones, improved battery life and security, support for 64-bit processors, and Android Runtime (ART) instead of Dalvik.

Have you received the Android 5.0 Lollipop update on your Nexus 5? Have fun abusing that ‘Check now’ button.

Nexus 5 Android 5.0 Lollipop Update to Roll out Today


Reviewing a Nexus phone is always a daunting task. It’s one of the most important devices of the year for much of the Android community, and it represents - in theory - the very best of what Google has to offer on phones for the respective update period.

I’ll start by saying the Nexus 6 is a great phone, albeit huge. It’s also different from previous Nexus phones in a number of key ways, which I’ll try to cover as faithfully as possible in this review.

Besides just being a great phone, though, the Nexus 6 represents a shift for Google’s Nexus strategy. The device is priced like a regular phone, and competes more evenly with similarly priced phones. Gone are the qualifications of “it lacks X but that’s okay because it’s inexpensive.” Google has managed to create what I consider a top-level phone that carries a normal phone price, and will actually be available from all the major carriers in the US. That’s a big deal.

That out of the way, where do we begin? Let’s take a look at some of the general ups and downs, and then we’ll get into the deeper review.

Nexus 6 Specifications
Price: $649/$699 from Google PlaySoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 805CPU: Quad-core 2.7GHz
GPU: Adreno 420
Display: 1440x2560 5.96",493ppi
Memory: 3GB RAM, 32/64GB Storage
Cameras: 13MP/2MP
Battery: 3220mAh
NFC: Yes
Ports/Expandable Storage: MicroUSB, 3.5mm / None
Thickness: 10.1mm
Weight: 184g

The Good
The Display: The Nexus 6’s QHD display is impressive, bright, and vibrant, despite its two main faults.The Speakers: Both of them produce sound! This sounds like a small victory but it’s actually great. Before HTC introduced BoomSound, I never realized how great it would be to have two front-facing speakers on a phone. The Nexus 6 has this (unlike the Moto X, which only fires out of one speaker), and it sounds good.Everyday Performance: Coming from the Nexus 5 and Moto X, I didn’t think much of this at first, but the Nexus 6 is smooth. It performs really well in everyday use without any noticeable stutters or hangs. This came into sharp focus after I got the Nexus 9, which itself suffers a lot of random performance drags. Lollipop gliding smoothly all day is really a great experience.Lollipop: I won't rehash everything we've learned about the OS in this review, but Lollipop is so much more than a facelift for Android, and running Lollipop on the Nexus 6 is great.

The Not So Good
Optimization: As I said before, performance is great, but there are a few areas where the software could stand tweaking to make it perfect. One of these areas is ambient display, which is sometimes too slow to activate.Video capture: The camera still wants to refocus itself in a noticeable way during capture, and digital zoom is choppy, but what you actually capture still makes a decent end product.Size (maybe): This is a plus for some people and a minus for others. I am neutral on the subject for the most part, but the size of the Nexus 6 does objectively preclude the “one-handed use” standard most have for smartphones.Removable battery and SD slot: This is another minus that will likely not apply to everyone reading. These are two features people love about other devices, but features we likely won't see in a Nexus device any time soon.

My overall opinion of the Nexus 6 so far is a positive one. It’s a well-built phone with great performance, a good display, above average speakers, a good camera, and a decent (though not mind-boggling) battery. I’m not sure that any major pillar is missing or severely lacking here (unless you count availability). All of that said, let’s get into the details.

Design and Hardware

As I said in my initial hands-on, the Nexus 6 is not built like a typical Nexus device. In fact, instead of going over every detail, it would be easier simply to say that the Nexus 6 is like a giant Moto X plus a Nexus logo and the old-style Moto dimple on the back. That’s it.

One theory behind this is that the Nexus 6 may have previously been the Moto S, Motorola’s rumored silver device that would have ostensibly been scrapped when the project’s lead left Google and the Nexus program was confirmed to still be alive.

Whatever the case, it breaks with the Nexus design language we’ve seen since the original Nexus 7 - a flat back that curves at the edges, an inward-angled frame, and a flat top.

The N6 has a curved back that tapers at the edges, a curved display, and a straight metal frame.

Meanwhile the Nexus 9 picks up on the typical Nexus shape perfectly.

From the top: Moto X, Nexus 6, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9

Regardless of whether it looks like a Nexus, the N6 feels good to hold. Moto’s design language is excellent for phones. The curved back rests comfortably in my palm, and the rounded screen is great for side-navigation and other gestures.

The phone is big, though (as if you didn’t know). Its 5.96” display is massive, but its bezels are not. It seems Moto did its best to eliminate bulk here, but there’s no denying that the N6 is huge. It takes some adjustment to get used to.

The phone sticks out of my back pocket, and can rest comfortably (if snugly) in most of my front pockets. Adjusting to putting it in your pocket is actually a thing that will happen, if you’re coming from a smaller device. But it gets much easier after a few days of carrying the phone around.

Next to the Moto X 2014

Thankfully, the speaker grills on the front are flat (not textured) and black, rather than serrated and silver like on the Moto X. This helps them stay discreet, though they do still protrude over the surface of the screen which may or may not cause you anxiety.

Speaking of the screen, the Nexus 6 has a great display. Its 493ppi resolution shows an incredible amount of detail, even making obvious the difference in stroke-widths between lowercase L and uppercase I in sans serif fonts. As I said in the initial hands-on, there are green and magenta shifts at the edge of some graphics (likely due to the sub-pixel layout), but these aren't noticeable at normal viewing distance. Also, while the screen is a little warmer than the Nexus 5, it also benefits from the AMOLED panel's saturation - there's no shortage of color on the Nexus 6.

Battery Life

This, of course, is a big deal. Nexus phones of the past haven’t exactly been known for stellar battery life.

Before we dig in to the Nexus 6’s battery life, I want to qualify the battery portion of the review. Battery life is my least favorite part of the review because - no matter what - it won’t be truly accurate to every reader’s real-world use. Scientific screen-on tests may make a good benchmark, but they don’t reflect real world use, while telling readers about my real world use won’t reflect thereader's use patterns, signal strength, etc.

That said, I have found the Nexus 6 to have respectable battery life. Here’s a look at an average day with the N6. While using the Nexus 6, my brightness was almost always at maximum, and I was connected to mobile data exclusively.


On a day with heavy navigation use, the battery did suffer considerably.


On the whole, the first set of shots is what I experienced most days, which comfortably got me through an entire day and evening. The phone definitely still needs to be charged every single day, but that’s what I expect until a breakthrough in battery tech actually materializes in production devices. One aspect of the battery that really impresses me is Lollipop's battery saver mode, which squeezes every last drop out of the battery, though the fact that it eliminates animations can make the overall user experience a little jerky.

Speaking of charging, the Nexus 6 has wireless charging (something sadly lacking on the Nexus 9). There are some magnets in the back so presumably it will stick to the square charging mat by Google, but I don’t personally own one so I can’t speak to its stability specifically.

The Nexus 6 comes with a turbo charger from Motorola, which is an amazing benefit. The charger is able to take the Nexus 6 battery from 7% to 100% in about half the time it took to charge using a regular adapter (just over an hour vs about 2 hours). The length of time the phone takes to charge either way will, of course, depend on what you're doing with the phone at the time. While testing it out, I left the phone basically untouched, except to check its progress.

Connection and Call Quality

I'll get through this part quickly and painlessly - WiFi performance on the N6 has been great in my experience, Bluetooth is exactly as I'd expect, and mobile data connection (despite a colorful indicator in my battery stats) has been serviceable on T-Mobile's network. As I sit at home writing this review, my signal strength is at -99 dBm, ranging up to -150dBm as I drive around town.

Call quality is also what I'd expect given the quality of the Nexus 6 speakers. The quality is clear and volume goes way past the level I'm comfortable with. Using the phone on speaker is a night-and-day difference from the Nexus 5's single, bottom-firing speaker.

Audio and Speaker

Speaking of speakers, the Nexus 6 has two that face forward. As I’ve already said a few times, I’m loving the audio on the Nexus 6. With previous phones, I’ve never actually listened to music from the speakers for any real length of time, but I have a few times since having the Nexus 6.

In the initial hands-on I noted that I am in no way, shape, or form an audio expert, so my experiences and statements on audio should be taken for what they’re worth. 

The speakers get as loud as I want them to (filling a medium-sized room without being too loud), and sound pretty good. As I said in the initial hands-on, they aren’t perfect - there’s still distortion at top volumes on certain tones, but they perform admirably.


This is another hot topic for Nexus users. And, as with the battery, I have some thoughts about how to properly gauge performance. I feel that camera performance can be best characterized in a review based on its average performance in a variety of categories - how sharp is the lens, how good is the sensor, how is the processing, how does the camera handle low light, and how are the videos?

But in the end, how a user feels about a mobile camera will depend on preference. Few are looking to mobile cameras to be the paragon of control and accuracy (though heightened controls and accuracy would be great), so while judgments can be made on those topics, I'd prefer to let readers take a look for themselves. As I've said in previous reviews, mobiles cameras are a different beast from "real" cameras. The way that people expect and are expected to interact with them is different. Mobile cameras need to be smarter, faster, and - ideally - just as good. We still aren't that much closer to that goal than we were last year, but baby steps are being taken.

As for my impressions? So far they are positive. The camera compares well against the Moto X and Nexus 5, both devices not particularly known for their photographic prowess. While there is still a little work that could be done to improve the camera, it's already pretty good in my experience.

As with any phone camera I’ve dealt with though, the cracks begin to show at full resolution. The cracks on the Nexus 6’s camera are fewer and smaller than those on the Nexus 5, though. It seems to this reviewer that the Nexus 6’s image processing is attempting to aggressively eliminate noise, which causes some details to look like mosaic pieces, smooth but perhaps wedged into place, whereas the Nexus 5 is less prone to this, but suffers from lower resolution and ostensibly less favorable processing overall. In low-light situations, this effect is particularly evident on the Nexus 6. In some ways it is preferable to the alternative, but it’s not perfect.

Objectively, the Nexus 6’s photos are not terribly strong at 100%, and the camera is prone to the occasional blown-out highlight, but the colors are true, the clarity is there, and HDR+ really shines on the device. In general, the Nexus 6's HDR+ photos had color truer to the actual scene than its Nexus 5 or Moto X counterparts, but still picked up the (high dynamic) range of light necessary to make a compelling image.

My opinions out of the way, here are some comparisons between the Nexus 6, Moto X, and Nexus 5, with some HDR comparisons thrown in too.


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X

Top: Normal Exposure, Bottom: HDR/+


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X

Top: Normal Exposure, Bottom: HDR/+


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X

Top: Normal Exposure, Bottom: HDR/+


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X

Top: Normal Exposure, Bottom: HDR/+


Left: Nexus 6, Middle: Nexus 5, Right: Moto X

Top: Normal Exposure, Middle: HDR/+ Bottom: With Flash

Below is a quick video sample. Audio capture isn't perfect, but the phone does do a good job of blocking out irrelevant noise, providing good enough sound for what I'm looking for in a smartphone camera. The camera does want to re-focus itself during capture, though, and digital zoom is still choppier than it should be.

Stability and Performance

As I've said a couple of times in this review, the Nexus 6 is fast. It's also reliable. If you've experienced performance issues and random stutters on the Nexus 9 as I have, the Nexus 6 will be a complete turnaround. If you're into benchmarks, here's a quick AnTuTu test:

Pretty good, right? The performance on the Nexus 6 is notable. Like its predecessor the Nexus 5, this phone is smooth, fast, and - again - performs reliably. It's a great experience.

Lollipop on the Nexus 6

We won't be diving into the intricacies of the latest version of Android in this review (I'll save that foranother post), but it is worth talking about what Lollipop has to offer specifically for the Nexus 6 (and what it doesn't).

The biggest thing separating the devices in Google's new lineup is their waking functionality. The Nexus 9 has tap-to-wake but no ambient display, while the Nexus 6 has ambient display but no tap-to-wake (the feature was actually explicitly turned off by Google in this commit). The second is a source of frustration, as the fluidity of the Nexus 9's tap-to-wake is a great benefit. It is possible that the feature was switched off because it may interfere with lift-to-wake or ambient display functionality, but lift-to-wake has its own issues.

The feature doesn't always work immediately - pulling the phone out of my pocket, the screen often took 2 or 3 seconds to enter ambient mode, when I could double-tap the screen instantly to wake it. Whether the feature was deemed too redundant to appear on the N6 is neither here nor there, but this user would personally appreciate some sort of option for waking features.

Speaking of ambient mode, I am actually more enthusiastic about the implementation Google's chosen for Lollipop than I am for the implementation on my Moto X. For example, the Moto X does not show Google+ notifications, but since Google's ambient mode shows a black-and-white version of the entire lock screen (minus the wallpaper), I can see every notification that comes in.

What's also great is that touching anything on the screen instantly brings it to life. There's no downtime between your touch and interaction with the elements on the screen. If you begin a swipe in ambient mode, it continues when the screen comes alive instantly.

Elsewhere, there aren't many notable optimizations made for the Nexus 6's massive screen on Lollipop. Apple chose to encourage developers to create alternate layouts for its giant iPhone 6 Plus, but Google is still taking a more holistic stance, encouraging developers to simply make interfaces that work well at every size, working more with scale than specific types of layouts. Frankly I am okay with this. In my opinion, even on an ample 5.9" display, a two-pane layout in one app may still feel cramped, even in landscape mode. That said, the Nexus 6 makes a good reference for developers for larger phones, and there are still some things to think about.

Whether the split-screen functionality explorations we took a look at (shown in our materials on a 4:3 display a la the N9) will make it to the Nexus 6 remains to be seen, but I'd be interested to see how much productivity it added.

Google's launcher does make fair use of the screen real estate. The launcher icons haven't shrunk, but the app grid in the drawer is 4x6, cutting down - at least marginally - on swiping when looking for an app. Additionally, the Nexus 6 is included in the supported hardware for Google's new always-listening feature in Lollipop, which allows users to trigger Google even when the screen is off and the phone isn't charging. This is something I'm accustomed to from my time with the Moto X, and makes a great addition to stock Android.

One more thing - as we've mentioned before, Google has introduced a new feature that - during initial setup - allows carrier bloat apps to be downloaded automatically. During setup, my review unit downloaded one T-Mobile app called "My Account." The app appeared automatically, but I was able to uninstall is just as easily as any other app, which is awesome.


As I said in the opening to this review, I generally really like the Nexus 6. Google has effectively removed the need to qualify its flaws with its price, and in fact there are very few flaws at all as far as I can tell.

The predictable lack of expandable storage or removable battery and the overall heft of the device may be deal breakers for some, especially with Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 floating around. But that doesn't negate my opinion that the Nexus 6 is a great device.

Personally, I've not toted a phone as big as the Nexus 6 before, and while it was an adjustment I've become accustomed to the size of the device. As I transition back, the Moto X 2014 feels absolutely tiny. If you're worried about size, you'd be well-advised to go check the phone out in person before making a final decision.

Nexus 6 Review: Google And Motorola Have Made A Great Big Phone At A Normal Price

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