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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  • Spunjji - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    A better battery and camera in this would persuade me to upgrade in a heartbeat. I only hope that if they eventually replace the 5 with an equivalently-sized phone (5 2015?) they keep the wonderful screen. Reply
  • niva - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    Yes, I'm hoping for a Nexus 5 refresh with all the new fluff like the chip/ram/camera and battery. I think the Nexus 5 design and screen are perfect. My wife has a Nexus 5 and I'm still on my Gnex. Was hoping to get the 6 but with the size and price I'm going to wait some more. Roll on the Enyxos 810 phones and I might get whatever runs pure Android.

    PS. I cannot stand Touchwiz/Sense and whatever LG and Sony are doing on their "flagships." Thankfully Motorola has mostly stock interface.
    Reply
  • techconc - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    LOL! Good luck with that. The Nexus 5 is known to have weak radio signals and overall poor cell and WIFI reception. Not exactly the best choice and it's not really competitive with recent devices. Reply
  • owan - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Because Google isn't a charity? Reply
  • synaesthetic - Thursday, November 27, 2014 - link

    Google would have been better off making another "almost-flagship" at the $350 price point. I've been using Nexus devices since the Nexus S, but now... no, it's just too damn big and too damn expensive. Reply
  • algarblandom - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Having a Nexus 5, I see very few reasons to upgrade to this, unless you stronly like phablets. But in almost every area (battery life, camera, cpu performance, software..) it is almost a draw. Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    I'm curious, you've listed the nexus 5 as running lollipop in the first comparison chart... is it running the dev preview or the official release (that's MIA to the public)? Also, are the rest of the charts where the nexus 5 is listed results from the original kitkat release or from a lollipop build? I'm asking because the camera experience was greatly improved with the dev preview for the 5.

    Also I was worried about the display with moto making the 6... looks like that was justified. The 6 needs a price drop to sell IMO. As you state, the Note 4 is so much better on battery life and display and can be had for only $100 more (if you have T-Mobile anyway).
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    I'm just saying it's confusing to show the 5 as having Lollipop but show the original test results from 4.4. Reply
  • DILLIGAFF - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    amen

    AT are comparing apples to oranges in charts and then writing words about pumpkins. i think the methodology error is that you (you as in AT staff) combined a performance review of a new os and a performance review of a new piece of hardware one too many times when it comes to phones. it worked for a while but this release its clear as mud... the outcome is that this review basically sitting in a vacuum- nothing to compare to objectively, so now your subjective comments are worth more than the benchmarks, which at this point are arbitrary. it's like benchmarking a new motherboard and using a just-released retail windows 8.1 on the tests of that new board, while the other motherboards in the benchmark charts are run on an windows 7 or windows 8. except there is no label in the charts to indicate which device is running what os. i bet if you did this with pc benchmarks people would flame you to death.

    while i understand your position with a new device and os combination making things more difficult to test, you make things more confusing by labeling the spec table for nexus5 as having os lolipop...yet the bench charts you show are for nexus 5 running the original release of kitkat.

    imho to address this issue in this specific review you should run additional benches for nexus 5 on lollipop (google released the production images on their dev site today) and add them to this review's charts. that way, the label in the spec table correlates to what i see in the charts. and that way, we have at least 2 lolipop devices to visually compare to each other in terms of performance. add the moto G and X performance numbers running lolipop for extra brownie points.

    i am not trying to attack the writer/editor, i love this site, just asking for additional data so i can see an apples to apples performance comparison of the new device to an older device running same os release. maybe i am just too traditional....
    Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    I put Lollipop because Google will be rolling it out soon, but the results from all the tests are the original N5 results in Bench. I had been using the Lollipop preview on the N5 for an upcoming Android L review, which is how I determined that the N6 has regressions in UI performance. However, I disagree with the idea that there are any improvements to the camera on the N5 going from 4.4 to 5.0. I didn't notice any, and the software isn't going to save the camera system from just being inherently not very good. Reply

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