Google’s Nexus lineup of devices is an interesting segment of the Android market. It both provides a low-cost alternative to consumers and lets google thumb their nose at carriers. It’s also a hit-and-miss proposition most times (for various reasons), with google making a few mistakes along the way, and the latest Nexus smartphone may be the biggest mistake yet.
If you’re buying the rumors, the latest Nexus smartphone — the Nexus 6, unofficially officially — is going to be a dynamo, just like those which came before it. The spec sheet is pretty spectacular, and we can safely assume the pricing will be equally impressive. This time around, it’s Motorola (probably; again, nothing confirmed just yet) building the Google standard for Android.
And that’s the problem. The Nexus 6 will be Google’s Android flagship — and if those rumors end up being accurate, it’s going to have a 6-inch screen. According to the reliable Android blog Android Police, that’s precisely what it will be (their rendering of the Nexus 6 is above).
Going from 4.7-inches on the Nexus 4 to 5-inches for the Nexus 5 screen wasn’t a radical departure. A few tenths of an inch isn’t something we’ll get too annoyed with, but a full inch?
Not only does that size increase deviate Nexus from smartphone standards, it takes the Nexus 6 out of most hands — almost literally. At 5-inches, the Nexus 5 is a bit large for smaller hands to adequately maneuver single-palmed. A 6-inch monster is going to be nearly impossible.
Larger phones like Samsung’s Note 3 (and soon Note 4) don’t crest the 6-inch mark. When Sony did it with the Xperia Z Ultra, we scoffed. Hard. All of us. “Who would want a phone that big?!”, we all wondered aloud.
If — and that’s still a big “IF” — Google and Motorola deliver on a 6-inch Nexus 6, it’s going to be a tough sell. Not only do they need to find a way to convince a public uninterested in a massive smartphone to buy one, but they probably need to diversify their existing and popular Nexus lineup.
Google doesn’t keep older Nexus devices around, so once the Nexus 6 hits, you can probably kiss the Nexus 5 goodbye. Google has a very popular tablet in the Nexus 7, and an incoming Nexus 9 (again, rumors — but convincing ones).
The Nexus lineup has always meshed well; you have an appropriately sized phone, a smaller tablet, and a larger tablet. They gave up on the large tablet almost immediately, but their Nexus 7 has been a massive hit. Google has complimented that by keeping Nexus phones appropriately sized, too.
Now we seem to be cruising for a larger phone and larger tablet. Is this the new Nexus from Google? Is the Nexus 7 going away, supplanted by a phone nearly as large and a tablet that has an equally larger footprint? If they do keep the smaller tablet alongside a bigger phone and slightly larger tablet, why not keep a five-inch phone around, too?
I don’t think (I’d even go so far as to guarantee) a 6-inch smartphone will speak to as many people as the Nexus 5 did. The Nexus 5 was at the precipice of the larger phone movement, accompanied by the HTC One (M8), Samsung Galaxy S5, and LG G3. A Nexus 6 — with a 6-inch screen — is simply a step too far.
A Nexus phone with a 6-inch screen is a flat-out mistake. Not because it’s too hard, as in Google/Motorola can’t make a nice one. It’s a mistake because most people just won’t want a phone that large (it won’t matter if it’s slim or the bezels are thin), and Google typically doesn’t make two Nexus devices in the same year.
If Google has a second Nexus handset that’s slipped under the radar somehow, that’s a triumph. It may also be their saving grace for the Nexus lineup in 2014/2015.