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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Should I purchase the Google Nexus 6


Google Nexus 6 (front)Another year another Nexus, but unlike the Nexus devices of the last, the newly announced Google Nexus 6 and the Google Nexus 9 are priced higher than usual. Especially those who have been fans of the Nexus smartphone line would find the $650 price of the Nexus 6 is no longer a bargain, so should you really purchase one ?

The Nexus 6 is still a flagship device, in fact it offers some of the best specs on a smartphone including a large 5.9 inch display with a Quad HD resolution and a Snapdragon 805 processor. Its closest competitor is the higher priced Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the newly announced  Motorola DROID Turbo.

In terms of price, the Nexus 6 now costs as much as the notoriously overpriced Apple iPhone 6, and potential customers can now consider a wider range of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3, HTC One M8 or the LG G3 before spending all that money on the newest Nexus device. In fact customers may want to consider the cheaper Motorola Moto X, which is basically a smaller version of the Nexus 6.

Do the new features warrant the price increase

The Google Nexus 5 is still one of the most powerful smartphones in the market. It features a 5 inch display with a 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution, an 8MP camera with optical image stabilization and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM. A year later, its still hard to find a device with similar hardware to match the price of the Nexus 5.

According to Google product manager Sandeep Waraich, the Nexus 6 is a "deliberate decision to push the boundaries on technology. We arrived at the solution, then the price."

But does the hardware warrant such a high price? In a way it does... You get a 6 inch Quad HD display, 32GB of storage on the base model, a 13MP camera and a Snapdragon 805 processor. But these specs are best suited for a niche audience who want to continue to push the boundaries of performance on their devices.

But if you are a regular user, you needs a smooth performing device, you will quickly realize the Nexus 6 doesn't really bring you any new features you cant get on your much cheaper Nexus 5. You don't get a fingerprint scanner, you don't get a heart rate monitor. Yes it is water 'resistant' but that's about it.


Should I buy my Nexus on Google Play

In the past, I would have answered this with an emphatic yes. Previously Google offered their Nexus devices at a cheaper price on Google Play, while carriers would charge more for purchasing the device on their network. These were GSM unlocked handsets, and customers could purchase their Nexus smartphones from Google and use it with their own GSM carriers.

Because of this, carriers don't really get any advantage out of the Nexus lineup as users would much rather pick their smartphones up directly from Google's inventory.

With the high price of the Nexus 6, users are once again tempted to opt for the carrier's subsidized prices instead of paying $650 for their smartphone on Google Play. In fact, all five major U.S. wireless carriers will be offering the Nexus 6 for just $200 up front, along with a lucrative two-year contract.

While some users with deeper pockets, may still pick up the Nexus 6 from Google Play, the handset will end up primarily being sold on-contract, and presumably locked to one network. In an interview, Google VP for Android Engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer said "We are selling the Nexus 6 in a way most people are used to buying a phone." Yes, but what happened to networks not supporting certain apps (Google Wallet, for example), or being slow to update software? Weren't these unpopular tactics a driving force behind making the Nexus range different?


The Pre-order fiasco

The first Nexus phone was designed to shake up dependency on networks and stop us being sucked into an expensive, long-term contract. And there are still fans of the Nexus brand who will willingly spend their hard earned money on purchasing the handset on Google Play.

Since the launch of the Google Nexus 4, it has been extremely hard to pre-order the Nexus 4, and even the Google Nexus 5 due to high demand which resulted from its low price. Now one would expect that the Nexus 6 demand would be much lower on Google Play, given that it costs nearly twice as much as the Nexus 5.

The pre-orders were set to take place on October 29, and Google didn't even announce when the pre-orders went live. A few lucky users managed to grab an order of the Nexus 6 over the course of an hour, but through most of the pre-order period anxious users were greeted with a message station "We are out of inventory. Please check back soon."

Putting it up for sale inside Google Play was a token gesture. The company kept the pre-orders quiet, not even tweeting it out from the official Nexus account until 10am on October 30, by which time the virtual shelves were empty. For the phone to disappear so fast suggests the initial stock was relatively small. Google also delayed pre-orders in the U.K. and Europe until mid-November, and there’s no information on when pre-orders will re-open in America.

Did Google really run out of inventory of their expensive Motorola built Nexus ? Did the company learn nothing about pre-orders in the last three years? Did they underestimate the demand of the handset and not prepare enough stock ?

Or does this mean that the company that once fought against monopoly and money makers has now gotten in bed with the carrier networks. The sell-out of the Nexus 6 on Google Play could turn out to be due to Google, um, selling out.


Profits vs. Value for customers

Since Amazon launched its first Fire tablet, manufacturers were forced into compete or stand the chance of loosing customers to Amazon. Google was one of the first to respond with their Nexus 7 followed by the affordable Nexus smartphones. The demand for affordable small sized tablets even forced Apple into releasing the iPad mini at a lower price.

However for company's like Apple they have always tied quality with a hefty profit, and we saw this year's iPad mini 3, hidden behind the more profitable iPad Air 2 in order to make more money off their flagship tablet. Even Amazon who initiated offering better value for their customers ended up releasing an overpriced Fire Phone which didn't perform well in the market.

You'd think Google would have been paying attention to all this. Well, in a way, it has. "I wouldn't draw any conclusions from what we’re doing this year," said Google’s Android engineering VP, adding that “every year we do different things."


So should I buy the Nexus 6 or not ?

So it would seem that Google has taken a gamble with their Nexus 6. The company has introduced the interesting concept of affordable smartphones, and have decided to take advantage of their growing Nexus fan-base in an experiment to see if they will spend more money for the Nexus brand.

At $650, the Nexus 6 is fairly priced when compared to other flagship smartphones. There are very few smartphones with the Snapdragon 805 processor and you get the promise of quick Android updates. Those who find the price too daunting can still pick one up from their carriers at a subsidized rate.

However, if Android 5.0 Lollipop is what you are looking for, consider sticking to your Nexus 4 or upgrading to a Nexus 5. The Lollipop update is one of the biggest updates Google is set to release, and nearly the entire Nexus lineup will get to enjoy the latest treat before the end of this year. So you can gain access to the latest version of Android at a much more affordable price.

If Google is indeed trying to experiment with their user's money, it maybe a good idea for the customers to step back and wait a year. The company will hopefully come back to their senses and return to what made them popular in the first place... Quality first and quantity will follow...
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