Battery Life

Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone, as it effectively determines how long you'll be able to use all of its other features. In order to get a comprehensive understanding of battery life on the Nexus 6 we run a variety of tests that attempt to stress different parts of the device in order to determine the battery performance in different conditions. Most important is that all displays are calibrated to 200 nits to avoid penalizing certain phones for having brighter displays than others.

Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

The first test is our WiFi web browsing test which loads a set of web pages in a loop with pauses to avoid penalizing phones with faster SoCs than others. In this test we see that the Nexus 6 does perform somewhat poorly. Compared to Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 which has essentially the same specifications on paper, the Nexus 6 lasts 4.27 hours shorter. It is likely that this can be attributed to the display, which may not be as efficient as the latest and greatest AMOLED panel used in the Note 4.

At this point we would usually post results for web browsing battery life on LTE. However, I've had difficulty locating a place to perform testing with a reliable cellular signal, and I didn't wish to put the Nexus 6 at an unfair disadvantage by performing the test with poor reception. Because of this, I was unable to obtain LTE battery life results for the Nexus 6, but given the platform it's likely that battery life is around 7.25 to 7.5 hours on our LTE web test.

BaseMark OS II Battery Life

BaseMark OS II Battery Score

In our more SoC-bound BaseMark OS II battery test we see that the Nexus 6 doesn't last quite as long as the Note 4. This is again likely due to a higher display power consumption on the Nexus 6, as both devices share the same SoC fabricated on the same process. However, we see that the battery score is a bit higher, likely due to a higher average CPU frequency afforded by a larger heat dissipation area to reduce throttling.

GFXBench 3.0 Battery Life

GFXBench 3.0 Performance Degradation

With GFXBench which is a more GPU focused test, we see similar results to our BaseMark OS II test. The Nexus 6 doesn't last quite as long as the Galaxy Note 4, with slightly more than 3 hours of usage compared to the Note 4 with 3.7 hours of usage. The gap definitely closes between the two here, but unfortunately it seems that the display continues to hurt overall battery life. The fact that the web browsing result is so close here suggests that Motorola is continuing to target "24 hours of mixed usage", so if one does fit their usage model they shouldn't have isssues lasting a day on battery. I can't help but think that a good LCD would get them much more battery life for the same battery size, but it should be usable here even if it's behind the competition.

Charge Time

The charge time of a smartphone is also very important. While having a long battery life means that a device can be used for longer, if it also requires a very long charging time it may be that the device is less frequently able to be fully charged and thus unable to actually reach its potential battery life. Charge time can also be an important factor in time-constrained situations such as topping up your battery before a flight. In order to test battery life we deplete the device's battery charge to 0, and then measure the duration that the device is plugged in until it reaches a power draw that indicates it is completely charged.

Charge Time

The Nexus 6 includes Motorola's Turbo Charger which can output 9V at 1.6A or 12V at 1.2A to Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 compatible devices. As you can see above, this leads to an exceptionally low charge time of 1.89 hours. I'm very glad that Google and Motorola decided to include the Turbo Charger instead of a typical 5W adapter. Something I would like to note is that my Turbo Charger did exhibit very noticeable coil whine, although this may have simply been an issue specific to my unit.

Introduction and Design Display
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  • mars2k - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Wow, old age is setting in. “I don’t like big phones so why would anyone else”. I just got my first phablet Galaxy Note 4, they did a great job on that btw. Larger up to a point is better for me. I travel and my phone is my GPS. Much better on the larger phone. Does anyone remember what it was like to have good paper maps? I could go on about how size really does matter but you get the point. Reply
  • drtunx - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Hi Brandon, this was an excellent review. I really enjoyed reading it. The poor display calibration is a huge disappointment especially after the Nexus 5, like you stated. Question: Do you think display calibration can be improved with an OTA ? Its almost a deal breaker for me and would love to know your thoughts on whether there is even a possibility of fixing that like many other software bugs currently present. Thank you. Reply
  • resma - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Turning down the screens to 200 nits (with modern screens that is about 1/3 of the maximum brightness) is a huge advantage to LCD displays, since AMOLED uses approx the same amount of energy until the pixels are really off.

    Please try to compensate for this in your next review, by doing the same test with maximum brightness and adding that chart as well!
    Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    Doing the test with maximum brightness would be an unfair comparison of battery life. Reply
  • TheEvilBlight - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Max battery life is a use case for in the open under bright light. Reply
  • hrrmph - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Nexus and Apple are just so scrawny on storage. I'm ready for 1TB phones and tablets already. Reply
  • polygon_21 - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    if apple can have an iphone 6 plus.. i would like to have a nexus 6 minus.. ie.. 4.5-5' device Reply
  • zodiacfml - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    Nah, too expensive. I don't see myself giving up the N5 for this and I have improved its battery life through one app that disables other active apps. It is now a very decent smartphone for me.

    I just don't like the blacks of the N5 when the display is dim.

    My next Nexus would be a slightly larger N5 with an AMOLED full HD display, Curved back/larger battery, stereo speakers, iPhone spec sensors or larger pixels, and h.265 @ 1080p60.
    Reply
  • p51d007 - Sunday, November 16, 2014 - link

    I'm a power USER, not someone that tinkers with a device. Take it out of the box, plug it in and USE it. Benchmarks don't mean a thing to me, neither do specs, AS LONG as the device is quick & stable. Heck, I kept 4.1.2 on my Note1 because it was flat out stable. Got a Mate2, "saddled" with mid tier specs & OS 4.3JB, but when you optimize a device for the hardware/software, you get a benefit. This thing is flat stable & flies...not from a performance standpoint of benchmarks (I don't use my device to play games, it's a WORK device). No lag (Nova Launcher), apps are quick to load, not one FC or lock up in 6 months. Pay 600 or more for a device...it's your choice, but when I find one that works for 300 bucks? Sign me up every time. Reply
  • RDS - Monday, November 17, 2014 - link

    Is this a "One use case for all" debate :) :)
    Is it a "phone" or is it a Hasselblad with Zeiss Lenses for $5.00. that includes phone capability :)

    $649 for an unlocked aka easy to root and manage device is still cheaper than any other vendor's phone unlocked and not quite as easy to root and manage.
    There are quite a few very good camera apps for Android out there are the people complaining about camera quality using those or are they complaining about the stock camera app comes with the device. Of course none of these apps are going to convert you phone camera lens into a Nikon or Zeiss or Canon. So what are we really whining about here.
    I thought the main value point of the Nexus platform was that you could install whatever you wanted or thought you needed on it.
    Reply

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