Why I Stopped Buying Nexus Phones

Posted by Nathan Osman on July 1, 2016

I have always been a big fan of the Nexus product line. I first wrote about the Nexus 5 back in January of 2014. It was a truly excellent phone. When the Nexus 6 was released, I grabbed one of those as well and thoroughly enjoyed the increased screen size and turbo charge. That would prove to be the last Nexus phone I purchased.

Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus devices are still the way to go if you absolutely must have the latest version of Android as soon as possible. Only Nexus devices, for example, are able to participate in the Android beta program. When it comes to non-Nexus devices, getting timely updates seems to be largely hit-and-miss.

However, there were two things that left such a sour taste in my mouth that I decided to move on:

The first of those relates to the camera on the Nexus 6, which consists of a Sony IMX214 sensor. According to the spec sheet, this sensor is capable of recording video at “1080p 60 frame/s”. This is the same sensor contained in the OnePlus One which supports this recording profile. However, the Nexus 6 did not take advantage of this, hence the feature request.

The first 76 comments were from enthusiastic users showing their support for the feature. An engineer from Google finally responded to the feature request with the following:

Unfortunately, this is not feasible for the Nexus 6.

While the hardware may (barely) be capable of this, there’s a very significant amount of software work necessary to make high-speed recording actually work reliably, due to the stress it places on the entire device.

Retroactively adding such software support to the Nexus 6 is just too complex of an effort.

I was stunned. This was posted on December 18 - less than a year after I had even received the device. We are talking about Google, a company that has far more resources than a new company like OnePlus, who was able to provide this feature. Not only that, but the Nexus 6P had just been released, which included a 240fps@720p profile. Considering that I had paid nearly $1,000 to get the phone, I was not impressed that Google was abandoning the phone less than a year after I got it.

The second issue was even more of a nuisance. Routing audio from my phone to my computer via A2DP (Bluetooth) worked well until Android 6.0.1 arrived. As soon as the update was installed, volume control no longer worked. No matter what the volume level was set to, the playback level was stuck at 100%.

This should have been easy to fix, since the problem didn’t exist until the new release. All that had to happen was for the change to be rolled back or at least an option to be provided to disable the new “absolute volume” feature. Weeks went by. Months went by. The problem was originally reported in December and still exists at the time of writing. There are reports that the problem is fixed in the N preview builds, but those sticking with Android M are stuck.

All of this was incredibly frustrating for me. We’re not talking about a small company here. This is Google. After months of putting up with this, I finally gave up and decided to move on.

I am now the proud owner of a OnePlus 3. Not only does Bluetooth volume control work perfectly, but I can also record video at reasonably high framerates. I haven’t had the phone for long, so my opinion may change in the future. However, as of now I am very satisfied with the purchase.