Six months into owning a Nexus 6, I'm feeling lucky I chose it. The complaints about the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which can be found at the Next Web and Android Central, inspired my gratitude to this massive hunk of glass, polycarbonate, and metal frame. Now that the bloom of newness has past, I've been taking the Nexus 6's battery for granted, just expecting this phablet to perform.
I run out of battery before my Nexus 6
My Nexus 6 never needs a midday charging. Never means…well, never. It only sees its charger next to my bedside after I've run out of energy. With subscriptions to seven news apps, my Nexus's huge six-inch screen is often lit for long periods of reading time whenever I have down time. Its 5.96-inch, 1440x2560 pixel/493 ppi screen delivers clear detail and an unstrained reading.
It's not the combination of battery and screen size that delivers better battery performance. The ratio of the screen sizes to battery storage gives the S6 Edge 234 mAh per square inch of a roughly equally spec'd display, compared to 212 mAh per square inch. There are surprisingly few or marginal differences between the devices, with the exception of the strikingly larger dimensions and processors of the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 runs the Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, compared to the S6 Edge's Exynos 7420 Quad-core Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57. Given the slower clock of the S6 Edge and a smaller 14 nm die size compared to the Snapdragon's 28 nm, suspicion for its lackluster battery performance doesn't fall on Samsung's processor choice.
Both devices are beneficiaries of the power management improvements of Google's project Volta, released with Android L. Some have blamed battery life issues on Samsung's implementation of Google Play Services and Google Now, which keep a mobile data connection running on the Galaxy S6 even after an application is no longer in use. Samsung reportedly pushed a battery life improvement with Android 5.1.1 updates in July, but early reports aren't conclusive. The S6 battery life problems don't appear to be due to the battery size nor Samsung's choice of components.
Beyond recharging, other reasons to love the Nexus 6
It's a big phone that most people won't be able to use with one hand. And powerful too – users won't perceive any lag in running apps. It supports LTE Cat6 with download and upload maximum rates of 300/50 Mbps that should stay ahead of carrier LTE network upgrades, future proofing the device by at least two years. At today's data prices, operating at Cat6 speeds would bankrupt most users.
The version sold on Google's Play store is unlocked, which means subscribers can move to any network, including Verizon. And it's the first smartphone to support Google's Project Fi MVNO, through which users can pay only for the data they really use.
It's also an easily rootable Android 5.x phone. More technologically inclined users can create a free Wi-Fi hotspot without paying a separate carrier surcharge with one change to the build.prop file (assuming the owner is willing to assume the liability of bricking the phone). With a text editor, just add net.tethering.noprovisioning=true to the end of the build.prop file, and viola – the phone can be turned into a free Wi-Fi hotspot that uses the phone's data plan.
Its only shortcoming is that it lacks Motorola's Active Display. Though the Nexus 6 is a collaborative effort by Motorola and Google, and that it looks a lot like a large Moto X, it lacks the Moto X's Active Display feature that pulses monochrome time and notifications onto the screen using a negligible amount of energy. Given how much love the Nexus 6 has shown me, I guess I can overlook one shortcoming.