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Nexus 6, Nexus 9 Revealed: Google Unveils Pocket-Busting Smartphone and Slim Tablet

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Yahoo Tech
Nexus 6 and Nexus 9

Google has officially unveiled its latest smartphone, the Nexus 6, and, boy, is it huge. Sporting a nearly 6-inch display, the Nexus 6 is easily one of the biggest smartphones on the planet, dwarfing even Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.

So what’s the big to-do with this behemoth of a handset? Well, as a Google phone, the Nexus, which was actually manufactured by Motorola, is essentially everything that the Mountain View-based company thinks smartphones running its Android operating system should be.

Google’s Android operating system is open source, which means the company lets any manufacturer use the OS and customize it as it sees fit. That’s why Samsung’s Android interface looks different from HTC’s Android interface.

With the Nexus program, Google can make phones and tablets the way it wants to.

The hardware
Because the Nexus 6’s hardware comes from Motorola, the handset looks remarkably similar to Motorola’s own Moto X phone. That’s not exactly a bad thing, though, as the Moto X is easily one of the best-designed Android phones around.

The Nexus’ enormous 5.9-inch display packs a 2560 × 1440 pixel resolution. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 comes with a 5.7-inch, 2560 × 1440 resolution screen, while Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch display with a 1920 × 1080 pixel resolution. In other words, you can expect a similar screen brilliance from the Nexus 6 on a slightly larger display than you would see in Samsung’s and Apple’s large phones.

The pocket-busting Nexus 6 will also include Qualcomm’s brand-spanking-new Snapdragon 805 processor, which means that the handset should be both fast and power efficient. There’s also a 13-megapixel rear camera with a circular flash ring and front-facing dual speakers.

Android Lollipop
But what matters most here is the software. The Nexus 6 is the first smartphone to get the latest version of Google’s Android software, dubbed Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Nexus 6 with a lollipop

The software includes a new styling called Material Design that puts an emphasis on animated responses to your taps and touches and makes buttons appear as though they are floating above their backgrounds. Lollipop also features an improved notifications drawer, a new Recent Apps menu, enhanced overall performance, and battery-saving technology.

Speaking of battery, the Nexus 6 will come packing a 3,220-mAh powerplant that should easily get you through the day; Google says you’ll get more than 24 hours of battery life from a full charge. What’s more, Google is including a fast charging cable that the company says will give you up to six hours of power in just 15 minutes of charging.

According to The Wall Street Journal, pricing for unlocked models on the Nexus 6 will start at $649, though Google has said each of the big-four U.S. carriers will also offer the handset with a standard two-year contract. Pricing with a two-year contract has yet to be announced.

Nexus 9
In addition to the Nexus 6, Google has also announced its new HTC-made Nexus 9 tablet. The second big-screen tablet to come from the company, following the Nexus 10, the Nexus 9 packs an 8.9-inch display with a 2048 × 1536 resolution. That’s the same size and resolution as Apple’s iPad Air.

Also like the iPad Air, the Nexus 9 weighs about 1 pound. Still, the iPad is a hair thinner than the Nexus tablet.

Nexus 9 tablet

Like the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 also comes with Google’s new Android Lollipop operating system.

Still, Apple is set to unveil two new versions of its iPad on Thursday, a follow-up to its iPad Air and a new version of its iPad mini with Retina display.

There’s no doubt that Google’s announcement was timed to get ahead of Apple’s event, as the next-generation iPad Air is said to sport a variety of impressive features, including a Touch ID fingerprint reader, and Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payment software.

That said, The Wall Street Journal reports that the Nexus 9 starts at just $399, the same price as Apple’s previous-generation iPad, and $100 less than the iPad Air. When the next-gen iPad is revealed tomorrow, Apple will likely drop the price of the previous iPad Air down to $399 to match the Nexus 9’s price. The new iPad will likely cost $499. Preorders for the Nexus 9 begin Oct. 17.

Nexus Player
Beyond the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 tablet, Google has also revealed its new Nexus Player set-top box. The player takes dead aim at Amazon’s new Fire TV, Apple’s Apple TV box, and the Roku 3 streaming player.

Nexus Player

The Nexus Player, which is shaped like a hockey puck, is manufactured by ASUS and features a remote with a voice search button (hello, Fire TV) and a game controller.

Google’s Nexus Player also boasts a variety of streaming options including Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and, of course, Google’s own Play store, from which you can download movies and TV shows.

The Wall Street Journal says the Nexus Player will be available in November for $99.

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+ here.