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Google's Next Nexus Phone Goes Big

Google's Nexus 6 will feature a 5.9-inch screen as the company jumps into the phablet fray.
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The Google Nexus 6 is set to arrive hot on the heels of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4. The phone, which will be the first to ship with Android Release L, is expected to have a 5.9-inch display. This puts Google's phone in direct competition with the best from Apple and Samsung.

Motorola is making the Nexus 6 for Google. Spy shots of the device suggest it will look like a large Moto X. Google owns Motorola, but not for much longer; Google is in the process of selling Motorola to Lenovo. With a 5.9-inch display, the Nexus 6 will be bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus (5.5 inches) and the Galaxy Note 4 (5.7 inches), according to anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal said the screen will be HD, but didn't offer an exact resolution. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 1080p HD screen, but the Note 4 has a quad HD display with 3.7 million pixels onboard.

The Nexus 6 will feature Android Release L. Google provided a preview of Release L earlier this year, but has yet to fully reveal all its new features. Ahead of Release L's arrival, Google has updated a slew of the core Android apps, such as the Play Store and Chrome browser. Android Release L uses what Google calls Material Design, a new, flatter user interface.

Little else is known about the Nexus 6's potential features, but it's fair to assume they'll be in line with what's available to the Motorola Moto X.

[But can it compete with a "selfie" phone? Read HTC Debuts Selfie Phone, GoPro-Style Camera.]

Google's decision to jump into the phablet craze could put off some potential customers, while at the same time attracting others. Large-screened phones are much more popular today than they were a few years ago as owners use them to consume more video content. Though the large screens are appealing, they beget phones that are difficult to hold and use in one hand. Apple recently increased the size of its iPhones to 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Apple hasn't said which device is selling in greater quantities, but the 6 Plus is definitely unwieldy when compared to the iPhone 6.

Pricing will be critical. LG made the last two Nexus smartphones, which were offshoots of its flagship designs. Google has long tried to keep the price of Nexus-branded devices lower than competing hardware. The Nexus 5, for example, costs just $349 without a contract. The iPhone 5, by way of comparison, costs $549. There's no word yet how much the Nexus 6 will cost, but Google will likely try to keep the price under $500 if it can.

The Nexus 9 tablet is also on deck. The device, which is being made by HTC, will have a 9-inch screen of unknown resolution. Few other details about the Nexus 9 are known at this point.

Google may announce both as soon as October 15, just one day ahead of Apple's scheduled iPad event.

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