10 Dec 2014

Enter the Nexus

As rumoured (and expected), Google announced the Nexus 6 phone/phablet last month:

And the Nexus 9 tablet:

The big shock for many was the Nexus 6’s price. Gone are the days of cheap, subsidized Nexus devices from Google. The N6 costs a staggering $650. Some argued that this is the normal price (still costing slightly less than a Note 4 or iPhone 6 plus), but for many, it was a huge surprise and disappointment. Many also criticized the N6’s size. Fortunately, the device is brilliant. Excellent battery life and great performance. The only downside (apart from potentially being too big) is the screen. It’s has an outrageous resolution of 2560×1440 that’s substantially higher resolution than my 1080p HDTV. Unfortunately, it uses a previous generation AMOLED pentile panel that doesn’t have the best colour accuracy, and suffers at the lowest brightness setting. I’m also a little disappointed that the device doesn’t use a 64-bit ARMv8 SoC, but that’s Qualcomm’s fault, not Google’s. Outside of Apple, there’s only one high-end ARMv8 SoC, and it’s the Nvidia Tegra-K1 chip found in the Nexus 9, but that runs too hot to put in a smaller phone. Still, it’s frustrating to spend this much money on a phone knowing that high-end 64-bit phones are just around the corner.

Despite a few flaws, it is a really good device with fantastic build quality, and a worthy competitor to the other phablets.

I also bought a Nexus 9 during their Black Friday sale. I was hesitant of the new 4:3 aspect ratio, but really wanted the brand new 64-bit Nvidia SoC, and rumoured higher build quality. I should have trusted many of the reviews I read online and avoided it because the build quality is absolutely atrocious. The speakers rattle with minimal bass, the back of the device flexes, the power/volume buttons don’t work consistently, and worst of all, the screen has a massive amount of backlight bleeding. Here’s a photo of the device while booting up. Everything except the bootup logo and progress bar should be pure black. Imagine how distracting this would be while watching a dark film such as The Dark Knight.

Needless to say, I returned it immediately. I requested a replacement from Amazon, and got a second device that exhibited the same problems. A few Google searches show that there are hundreds of complaints similar to mine, showing that HTC/Google have done an awful job at Quality Control. This is a real shame, because for many Android users that want pure Android, the Nexus line has been the only choice. Thank you Nvidia for building some competition. My next tablet might be the Nvidia Shield Tablet.