| Till Simon Nagel |
Berlin (dpa) – Google’s first phablet comes with a unnerving feature: it doesn’t just listen to you, but eagerly perks up into life with a “ping” in response to other people within its range of hearing.
One office user was astonished when the six-inch screen unexpectedly lit up, as if he had just said, “OK, Google…” He hadn’t.
What he did not realise was that a co-worker a couple of desks away had just remarked to one her colleagues, “OK, I’ll Google this quickly.” The phablet may get muddled about who is its master, and can sometimes misinterpret a comment as a command.
The device, offered with some slick software and the new Android 5 operating system, is always on, even when it seems to sleep.
Its unprompted reactions take a while to get used to. The Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6 is always listening for orders. Costing 600 euros (US$748), it also, of course, responds to touch-screen instructions too.
It’s Google’s first Android phablet, a class of device that, because of the size, can seem either like a large smartphone or like a rather small tablet.
From looks alone, the Nexus 6 just seems to be a pumped up version of Motorola’s Moto X. It has a metal frame and a rounded back made of plastic. At 184 grammes, its weight is noticeable.
It’s well made and the materials well-chosen, if you ignore the plastic back, which is easily smudged with fingerprints and seems to attract dirt. Because the back is rounded, the phone always wobbles if you try to use it with one hand when it’s on a table.
At its thickest place, the Nexus 6 measures one centimetre, but is thinner at the edges. The case is more than six inches diagonally, which means people with even the biggest of hands will have problems using it one-handed.
It’s also hard to fit into the average pants pocket.
So, why would you need or want such a giant, heavy portable device?
Using it day-to-day quickly provides the answer. Everything runs great. It is a smooth machine with no lags or hiccups. Even the 3-D representation of Google Earth works just as smoothly as if you were calling it up on your home PC.
It also has stamina. The battery packs 3,220 milliampere hours, meaning it should last for 24 hours without a charge. A simple 15-minute recharge can always provide you with six extra hours.
Tests show the phone manages to meet those standards in everyday use easily. The endurance record has been set at three days.
Oh, and lest we forget, the phablet can also be used for making phone calls.
But there are downers. The camera takes good pictures, but they don’t quite compare to the shots you can take with rivals like the Samsung Note 4, the iPhone 6 or the Lumia 1520.
Android 5.0 has also met mixed reviews. On the one hand, it’s been de-cluttered nicely. On the other, users sometimes cannot tell if an item is text or an actual link. At first look, it can feel like reading a street sign in a foreign language.
Dubbed Lollipop, it does not provide the intuitive user experience of a Windows phone or an iOS device.
And then there are questions of privacy with the always-on Nexus 6.
Upon powering up, it asks if it can access one’s location and user data. Any other privacy protection one might want has to be taken care of manually.
Thus, buying the Nexus 6 provides the customer with a solid telephone that is maximally integrated with Google. Its hardware is good and, if one ignores the user friendliness of the operating system, it has a well-thought-out software package.
Buying it allows access to countless apps in the Play Store. It’s hard to imagine being more integrated into the Google and Android universe. That means, if you are an avid fan of the Google system and want a large screen, this is something to consider.
But, if it all scares you a little bit, but you still want a large smartphone or a small tablet, there are a lot of alternatives in the 5.5-6-inch range, with Windows Phone as well as iOS.