Bigger and smarter batteries
In El Reg tests, the Nexus 6 went from drained to fully charged in 94 minutes. But the battery was half-full in a quarter of that time thanks to fast-charging power systems, and the Nexus 5X was even faster to the 50 per cent charged mark.
That’s not the entire picture, however. The Nexus 5X hit 51 per cent of battery power after 27 minutes, and was 90 per cent charged after an hour, but then took another 28 minutes to get the last 10 per cent. The 6P’s charging slowed less rapidly towards the end, but sip power early and often seems to be the message.
Battery power is the bugbear of portable tech users, but the Nexus family, and particularly the ageing Nexus 5 handsets, were renowned for their failing battery life. The fast charging capabilities, and the improved battery sizes, are a smart move from Google and its hardware partners.
Another important factor in this is the Marshmallow build of Android, in particular the Doze function. Smartphones sitting in standby always lose power, but the Doze code powers down larger chunks of the operating system when the phone is not in use.
On the new hardware the results are very impressive. The phones last much longer in standby mode and the resultant power savings are impressive if users configure settings to get the most out of it but standing by often.
A smart user can easily get a full day’s use out of the Nexus 5X - six hours of Wi-Fi streaming video and normal call functions didn’t kill the battery until we turned the flashlight on for an hour or so. As for the 6P, the 3,450 mAh battery could easily give two days' normal phone use.
And the downsides
Despite some good advances, however, the Nexus line is still lacking in too many areas and suffers from some bizarre choices.
For example, both the Nexus 5 and 6 carried Qi-compliant wireless charging systems. Neither of the new phones do and it’s something Google is keeping quiet about. During the hands-on sessions at the launch the prevailing answer was “You’ll have to speak to the engineers about that,” of which there were none.
From an accountant’s point of view it’s easy to see why wireless charging might have been cut. There’s a standards war in progress, it adds to the unit cost, and very few people have wireless charging kits, yet. But that will change.
Something a lot of El Reg readers get annoyed about is the lack of removable storage in phones, and again the Nexus line falls down in this regards. Yes, Google is an internet company and we should all be using the cloud, but if you’re selling a 16GB phone then some extra storage would be polite.