Nexus 6 release date, news and rumors
30th Sep 2014 | 12:18
The Nexus 5 was really rather good... so how can Google improve?
Nexus 6 release date, news and rumors
The Nexus 5 arrived in the second half of 2013, continuing the brand's mantra of high specs, low cost and a pure version of Android.
We're now well into 2014, so our thoughts are turning towards Google's next iteration of Nexus device, although the chance of the Nexus 6 actually appearing isn't guaranteed.
There has been talk about Google's new Android Silver program, where the search engine is apparently turning to key smartphone manufacturers and offering resources to make high-end devices in collaboration with Google.
Some are suggesting that this could be the death of the Nexus line, with @evleaks claiming: "There is no Nexus 6. Farewell, Nexus. Don't worry, there's a silver lining to this cloud... Android Silver, circa February 2015."
But don't worry Nexus fans, as Android's head of engineering Dave Burke has confirmed the brand is still 'invested in Nexus'.
Mentions of the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 8 tablet have also been spied by eagle eyed devs who have been sifting through code for Google's Chromium browser - giving us hope the Nexus 6 is still on the cards.
For now though nothing is confirmed and the Nexus 6 could still arrive this year.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Google's sixth iteration of its affordable Nexus line
- When is it out? Going on the Nexus 5, probably October or November
- What will it cost? It's likely to start around $349, £300
Nexus 6 release date and price
The Nexus 5 was announced on October 31 2013, hitting stores in November of the same year.
In terms of the Nexus 6 release date we're expecting the handset to arrive around the same time in 2014.
Considering the Nexus 5 launched at $349, £299 for the 16GB model we'd expect the Nexus 6 to inherit a similar pricing structure, although if it's rocking some serious tech it may come in slightly more expensive.
Nexus 6 operating system
The Nexus 6 could be the first device to run the next version of Google's operating system, which we now know to be Android L, after it was announced at Google I/O earlier this year, though its final name is likely to be Android Lollipop if Google's lollipop-topped birthday cake is anything to go by.
When Google launches a new major version of its software it usually offers up some hardware too.
The Nexus 5 ushered in the arrival of Android KitKat and the Nexus 6 seems the sensible option for the next installment, although there's always a chance that'll we'll see the Google Nexus 10 (2014) or an updated Nexus 7 slate instead.
Nexus 6 design
Korean manufacturer LG was being hotly tipped for a third term as Google's Nexus smartphone producer, and while the Nexus 5 bore resemblances to last year's LG G2, some sources reckon the Nexus 6 will apparently be based on the LG G3.
That's all been called into question though as LG has now denied any involvement in the Nexus 6. That begs the question of who then will be making it in LG's place, but it also kills most of the theories that had been circulating.
They may have a point though, as Motorola is another manufacturer being linked to the Nexus 6, with reports of a handset codenamed "Shamu" doing the rounds and with most recent rumors pointing to Motorola it's looking likely increasingly likely.
We may have caught our first glimpse of the Nexus 6 a while back, as the Android Twitter account tweeted a photo featuring an unidentified Nexus handset.
The phone wasn't the focus of the photo, so it's possible that it's just a generic mock-up, but that then begs the question of why they wouldn't just use a Nexus 5 for it.
Either way there's not much to take away from it, all we can tell is that it's a black rectangle with curved corners, large bezels above and below the screen and small ones at the side. There's no sign of any buttons on it, which could mean they've been moved to the back, on the other hand they could just be flush with the edges or hidden by the fingers.
The thin side bezels could mean that it's taking a similar approach to the LG G3, by packing a larger screen into a similar sized chassis, though again it doesn't look like LG itself has anything to do with the phone.
Another picture has since popped up, this time a mock-up created by 9to5Google, apparently based on the actual Nexus 6. As you can see it looks a lot like the new Moto X, complete with an aluminium frame, a dimple in the back and a similar camera design, though the Nexus 6 is supposedly bigger and the volume and lock buttons are in a slightly different position.
Just after that mock-up arrived we saw a leaked image of what might be the real deal. It's snapped alongside an LG G3, highlighting its intimidating proportions and it certainly looks convincing, though it's always possible that it's a prototype. This new picture also matches the earlier mock-up, showing a very Moto X like design.
Another image, this time supposedly showing the Nexus 6's 'About Phone' screen, has also emerged. Though the details mention 'Shamu' rather than the Nexus 6 specifically it's likely that this is a Nexus handset as it's running Android L with a very recent kernel version.
Another mock-up has also been created, this time by Android Police and again it looks a lot like what we've seen before, though the site adds that it will have front-facing stereo speakers and an aluminium frame.
Nexus 6 display
Beating the LG drum again, and one rumour pegs the Nexus 6's screen size at 5.5 inches, which is the same as the LG G3, but with LG seemingly not involved that's presumably just a coincidence if it's even true.
Going back to the Motorola leak, and the "Shamu" handset apparently sports a sizeable 5.9-inch display which would push the device firmly into phablet territory.
We'd be surprised if the Nexus 6 turned out to be a phablet offering, unless Shamu arrives alongside a more conventional handset (around 5-inches in size), but ever more rumors are pointing in that direction, with 9to5Google now also claiming that it has a 5.92-inch display, specifically a 2560 x 1440 QHD one with a pixel density of 498 pixels per inch.
Android Police meanwhile claims to have got confirmation that the Nexus 6 will have a 5.9-inch QHD display with a pixel density of 496 pixels per inch.
We've also seen another older leak, this time on GFXBench, which lists a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 QHD display. That's big and high resolution and would seem more likely than 5.9 inches were it not for the fact that every other rumor is pointing to a super-sized screen.
Nexus 6 power
It looks like the Nexus 6 might be a real beast. The Motorola Shamu, which is believed to be the Nexus 6, appeared on GFXBench. It has so far only completed a single test but alongside the results you can see that it has a 2.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM, which would make it a match for any other smartphone out there. A similar listing has also popped up on AnTuTu, revealing an Adreno 420 GPU.
That matches more recent reports from 9to5Google of a Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM, though the site goes on to note that it only appears to be 32-bit device. The site also claims that it will have a 3200 mAh battery and that there will be a 32GB version, but it's unsure whether or not the phone will be available in other sizes.
Android Police also points to a 3200+ mAh battery and adds that it apparently supports fast charging, allowing it to get 8 hours of life with just a 15 minute charge from Motorola's turbo charger.
Nexus 6 camera
It may even be slightly better still, as according to a similar listing on AnTuTu it will actually have a 13MP main camera, plus a 2.1MP front-facing one.
9to5Google agrees, claiming it will have a 13MP main snapper which can shoot 4K video and a 2MP front-facing one which is apparently the same as the camera on the front of the new Moto X.
Android Police has also thrown its hat into the ring, claiming that the Nexus 6 will have a 13MP camera with optical image stabilisation and a dual-flash, along with a 2MP front-facing snapper, all of which is roughly along the lines of what we've heard before, though the mention of OIS is new.
Nexus 6 fingerprint scanner
The Nexus 6 is no exception, with Android Geeks citing a "trusted source" who claims the handset will indeed come with a fingerprint scanner.
Android Police also reckons that the Nexus 6 will have a fingerprint scanner and that it will be positioned in a dimple on the back of the phone.
- Read our in depth Google Nexus 5 review
The key features the Nexus 6 needs
Here's what our friendly neighbourhood search giant could do to get us excited about the Nexus 6.
A bigger battery
Battery life has bossed the chart of complaints in the smartphone market for years now and last year's Nexus was a major offender, with a constantly weird amount of power suckage.
Scraping through a day simply isn't good enough. If you're going to pack more and more irresistible features into a device with a gorgeous hypnotizing display, then please give it enough juice to fulfil our obsessive usage.
A better camera
Google made some swift adjustments to roll out an update that fixed up the Nexus 5 camera, but it's still an obvious candidate for improvement. A new version of Android should handle the software side, but the Nexus 6 is going to need to pack some decent hardware.
Nokia is the current gold standard with the 41MP-toting Lumia 1020, but the Android pack is pushing 13MP and upwards now. Of course there's more to a camera than the megapixel count, but there's a lot more than can be done here.
We want great quality shots, but also fast performance to help us capture those precious, spontaneous moments as they happen.
A slightly bigger screen
With some clever engineering and some ruthless bezel slicing we're getting bigger displays without smartphones growing to ridiculous proportions, although phablets are now a thing. Perhaps the 6 will refer to the screen size.
Realistically 6 inches might be pushing things too far, but we could always use more screen real estate.
We'd like to see the Nexus 6 creep up a touch past 5 inches without becoming unwieldy. A slight increase in screen size without additional bulk would hit the spot nicely. An edge-to-edge display has long been a dream for smartphone fans.
A 64-bit processor
Since Apple made the jump to a 64-bit processor in the iPhone 5S it's inevitable that other manufacturers will want to follow suit. It doesn't matter if there isn't much obvious short term advantage.
App developers and manufacturers will be able to realize the potential of this in years to come, but perception is important and that's reason enough for the Nexus 6 to need a 64-bit processor.
The front-facing dual-speaker setup on the HTC One M8 is undeniably nice and the more we consume media on our smartphones the more important it becomes to get decent sound.
The Nexus 5 had one speaker at the bottom and it was less than stellar. It's another obvious target for a spot of improvement on the Nexus 6 and it would be nice if headphones weren't a requirement for enjoying music on your phone.
A new form
The LG G Flex and the Samsung Galaxy Round have begun the transition to flexible displays which will enable new form factors.
A gentle curve is not much to get excited about, and it's still probably too early for the full potential of flexible displays to be realized, but anything that takes smartphones away from the black rectangle convention could be good.
A Nexus 6 with a really interesting design and some software innovation from Google could point the way for the evolution of the smartphone.
At the very least a kind of secondary display portion on the edge for at-a-glance functionality and controls. Maybe even a dual-screen set-up with a low energy secondary display for notifications.
The big USP for the Moto X was the voice recognition, allowing you to issue commands to Google Now without using your hands. The idea of hands-free operation has always been hampered by the need to press something first.
If the Nexus 6 was always listening for its master's voice, we might be tempted to make better use of Google's fortune-telling digital butler.
A feature we wouldn't be surprised to see make its way onto the Nexus 6 is Wi-Fi calling. Apple introduced the feature with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and its unlikely that Google will be far behind.
A spokesperson for T-Mobile seemed to let slip that this feature would be included when talking to 9to5Google - confirming that the network was currently working on it with Google. The process involves using Wi-Fi coverage to boost mobile signal and in the case of T-Mobile is represented by a blue "Talk Bubble" icon.
A 2K display
Full HD with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution is still the standard for top-end Android smartphones, but QHD 2560 x 1440 displays are just around the corner.
It wouldn't be a shock if the Nexus 6 brought us a new level of pixel density. It's probably too soon for 4K displays, but we're heading in that direction, and this would at least give a Nexus the headline grabbing features we love.
Of course, only if it can be done cheaply. We don't want to lose the low prices we've become accustomed to.
Face Unlock was a gimmicky feature that arrived in Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It didn't always work and it was easy to spoof with a photo but finding new ways to effortlessly, but securely, unlock your smartphone is still on the agenda.
Apple's Touch ID uses your fingerprints and there's a digit scanner in the Galaxy S5 too. If this kind of security is set to become a new standard, then the Nexus 6 needs to jump on board.
We've seen Kevlar coating from Motorola and waterproofing from Sony and Samsung, and there's no doubt the Nexus line could stand to toughen up.
You only need to glance at any Nexus 4 or Nexus 5 forum to find tales of woe from hapless owners with shattered screens.
Flexible display technology could put an end to cracked and broken screens. Waterproofing has left the rugged category behind and broken into the mainstream. A Nexus 6 that can survive a dunk and doesn't need a polycarbonate overcoat is surely on the cards.