Google have finally announced their 2014 product lineup, ending months of speculation. On the devices front, there are two new products: the Motorola-built Nexus 6 phablet and the HTC-built Nexus 9 tablet. Let's take a look at these two devices with a productivity perspective.
To look at, one might be mistaken for believing that the Motorola Nexus 6 is an extended size 2014 Motorola Moto X. The device looks very similar but rather than being based around a 5.2-inch display, the Nexus 6 comes with a 5.9-inch screen, as one might expect from the name. It's also an AMOLED screen and Google have talked about something called “Ambient Display,” which we can speculate is similar to some of the clever technologies that Motorola have incorporated into the Moto X. This screen is also a very high resolution display at 2,560 by 1,440: that's similar to the Nexus 10, but because it's a smaller screen, so things are sharper. Naturally, the Nexus 6 will run Android Lollipop and is available in two colors and a choice of either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage.
The Nexus 6 is also more powerful, being based on Qualcomm's fastest Snapdragon processor yet, a quad core 2.7 GHz 805 model, which is paired up to 3 GB of memory. It's going to be a powerful device. To keep things going, Motorola have given the Nexus 6 a large battery at 3,220 mAh. And finally, it's going to be expensive, starting at $650. This compares with the Nexus 5, which started at $350. It is a more powerful device but it's also a lot more expensive. The Nexus 6 should also benefit from Motorola's technical know-how when it comes to voice calls and signal, so putting aside the large size of the device, this ought to be a very good telephone. It comes with the usual selection of radios plus dual front speakers.
From a productivity perspective, the Nexus 6 could either be a great compromise between a larger smartphone and a smaller tablet, or be too big. That spacious screen means it's going to be great for viewing emails, websites, documents and similar. It also dictates the size of the device, which is large. Will it still be pocket-portable? Yes, if it's a big pocket. But the Nexus 6 isn't going to be as elegant to handle as the 2013 Motorola Moto X, for example. For this reason it won't be ideal for everybody.
Whereas Google increased the size of their flagship smartphone from the Nexus 5 to the Nexus 6, in the case of the tablet, they've combined the two devices (Nexus 7 and Nexus 10) to produce something between them. Google have also changed the aspect ratio to make it 4:3, meaning that it's noticeably larger than the Nexus 7. It's still smaller than the Nexus 10, so it's a compromise between the two sizes just as the Nexus 6 is a compromise between the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7. Prices start at $399 for the 16 GB, so it's priced to replace the Nexus 10 rather than the Nexus 7, which started off at $229 for the 16 GB model.
The Nexus 9 uses a 8.9-inch, 2,048 by 1,440 pixel display so it has fewer pixels than the Nexus 6 and Nexus 10. It's powered by a dual core 2.3 GHz 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor: this is the first Nexus device to make the switch from a 32-bit to a 64-bit processor. The processor has 2 GB of memory and 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. It's available with or without LTE in a choice of three colors and includes HTC's BoomSound, which we first saw on the original HTC One. Like the Nexus 6, it too runs Android Lollipop. It comes with an internal 6,700 mAh battery, protected by aluminum sides and a soft-touch plastic on the back.
Google have already announced that the Nexus 9 will come with a wireless keyboard case. It won't be cheap at $129 but it should make the tablet especially productive. And of course it'll work with our existing wireless keyboards!
From a productivity perspective, the larger screen and powerful processor stand out. We're yet to see what the battery life is like, which is something of a strength of the outgoing Nexus 10. I like that it's a little smaller than my Nexus 10 but it won't be as portable as my Nexus 7, which I can slide into a rear pocket.
Wrapping It Up
I don't mind admitting that I really like my Nexus products. The only reason why I don't use the Nexus 5 is because voice call quality wasn't as good as I needed, but now that Motorola are making the Nexus 6, this is one problem I don't expect to see. I'm sitting on the fence as regards the size of the Nexus 6: my HTC One (M8) feels about the largest size smartphone I could tolerate, but then I said that about the Nexus 4 right until I upgraded it! I'll wait and see how Android Lollipop handles on the HTC One before deciding if I'm going to upgrade.
For the tablet, I especially like the Nexus 7's size and portability, but I also like the spacious screen of the Nexus 10 and it's long battery life. Combining the two sounds like a great compromise, but I'm wondering if there are any drawbacks. I'm looking forward to reviewing one.