Blog Post

If buyers avoid the iPhone 6 Plus, is that bad for the Nexus 6?

I’m going to go out on a limb and make an early prediction: The newest Motorola phones will outsell the Google Nexus 6 in the U.S., which is also made by Motorola. This is the first time we’ll actually be able to gauge such a sales difference since the Nexus 6 is being sold direct by the major carriers in addition to direct sales through both Google and Motorola.

Nexus 6 landscape

I’ve used the Nexus 6 for nearly two weeks and it’s a great piece of hardware with its 5.96-inch quadHD display, fast processor, 13 megapixel camera and front-facing stereo speakers. It comes with a Turbo Charger that’s replenishing my Nexus 6 battery in just under two hours. And it runs the purest possible edition of Android. So if that’s good, why would I make the sales prediction?

Because for many consumers, the jump to a nearly six-inch handset is just too much to handle. As circumstantial evidence, let me present Exhibit A: A report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported by AppleInsider that says Apple’s U.S. sales for the first 30 days skewed heavily towards the smaller iPhone 6. Nearly seven of every ten new [company]Apple[/company] iPhone models sold was the 4.7-inch edition.

Apple's newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom
Apple’s newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6.

Granted, there were supply issues during the first month of iPhone sales, which may have had something to do with the data. But the general feeling I get from reading various reports and consumer comments is that while the iPhone 6 Plus is great for some, others couldn’t get used to the size.

There’s another reason I’m inclined to think the Moto X and Droid Turbo will outsell their big brother though: Both of those handsets are very similar to the Nexus 6 in terms of design, internal components and features.

Moto X and Nexus 6
Moto X (2014) and Nexus 6

In fact, they actually offer a few excellent Motorola-specific functions that the Nexus 6 doesn’t have such as the twist gesture to quickly launch the camera app. The Nexus 6 also lacks the Motorola Assist software that I became enamored by on last year’s Moto X:

“With Assist, the phone can take smart actions when you’re driving, in a meeting or asleep. Incoming phone calls or text messages are read aloud, for example, when driving. The ringer is automatically silenced when Moto X sees a meeting on your Google Calendar or during the night. And the phone can send auto-reply texts in many of these cases.”

Motorola makes that app available in the Google Play Store, but I already checked: It’s not compatible with the Nexus 6.

Essentially, the Nexus 6 is a large Moto X without the added Motorola benefits. Sure, [company]Google[/company]’s latest flagship has the latest and greatest processor inside along with 3 GB of memory; the Moto Droid Turbo has the same. It also has the same qHD resolution but in a smaller 5.2-inch display so it has a higher pixel density.

Droid Turbo

Of course, the Droid Turbo is specific to Verizon and perhaps that’s not your carrier. You can step down to the Moto X and without giving up much. That phone has a slightly older and slower Snapdragon 801 processor and just 2 GB of memory. The battery is a lower capacity as well but that should be partially offset by the lower resolution 1080p display. And coming back to the main point, the handset has a 5.2 inch screen, making it a smaller cousin to the Nexus 6.

I know people that will be or have bought the Nexus 6 and are perfectly happy with their choice. They’re certainly not “wrong” for buying it; it’s the best choice for them. But there’s a common denominator amongst nearly all of them: They’ve owned larger than average handsets in the past. Moving to the Nexus 6 is simply another small step upward in phone size.

The Moto X's new leather backs (Photo by Kevin Fitchard/Gigaom)
The Moto X’s new leather backs

For most U.S. consumers, the Nexus 6 is much bigger step and one that they don’t necessarily have to take thanks to comparable Motorola phones readily available in addition to fast Android 5.0 upgrades already made available. Carrier promotions will certainly influence sales of all these phones, including the Nexus 6, but I still think that Motorola will do just fine with its own line of phones over the next several months.

Nexus 6 and Moto X images by Kevin C. Tofel/Gigaom
Moto X leather back image by Kevin Fitchard/Gigaom
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus image by Tom Krazit/Gigaom
Droid Turbo image courtesy of Verizon

27 Responses to “If buyers avoid the iPhone 6 Plus, is that bad for the Nexus 6?”

  1. Apple sold more Iphone 6 than Iphone6+ is due the the fact that apply stacked 6 at the same time, in another word, same “Iphone6”. There are no Nexus 6 / Nexus 6+, Only Nexus6, no other variety meaning people will Buy it because there is only 1 kind of NEXUS 6 no +. This is my Honest opinion.

  2. Scott Lowe

    Again, why do people get so upset over opinions of gadgets? I happen to like Android for a phone, but I think that iOS owns the tablet sphere. I like them both, and I would be quite happy if I were given a Nexus 6, or an iPhone 6+. Is that actually possible to like both? Not based off the comments I see on these boards.

  3. While your prediction is correct, there’s no mystery or rocket science behind it. It is also based off of information that doesn’t relate to android.

    Yes the nexus 6 will be a sales dud, just like all prior nexuses were. This has nothing to do with size. On the 6 is all about price. Americans, as Google finally acknowledged with the full price 6, are not ready for and will probably never get weened off of carrier subsidized phones. They tried for the 5 previous models and sales of each amounted to rounding errors in the grand scheme of things. The face that the carriers will be subsidizing this nexus would have helped a miniscule amount has Google not delayed is launch nearly 2 months after the new untoy sized iPhone. That blunder lost android and the 6 countless sales.
    Also, the carrier subsidized price is no bargain as the moto x just got the 1 penny mark, where it will stay pretty much indefinitely. Once Googlerola, now officially Lenovo sees the horrible moto sales numbers and starts heavily discounting the off contact prices of all the new motos, sales might pick up, but it will be to little to late.
    As to your attempted correlation of the size with the itoy 6+, there is no correlation.
    Android users have had large screens for years, while the itoy was such at 3.5 and 4″ forever.
    The avg itoy user, just a few months ago, swore they don’t want and would never buy a larger phone. And then apple reinvented the wheel and came out with the “world first, best ever, most unbelievable new thing in the world” an evolutionary 4,7″ phone. And the lemmings can’t buy it fast enough. I guess they really had size envy after all?

    The sissy’s among them and the childish reviewers are fixated with the mythical ability to use a phone one handed, as if that matters, and have all but convinced them the 6+ is to much for them to handle. So, like the sheep they are, they are avoiding it.
    Which, when you think about it is senseless. Considering the avg. Itoy user only uses the phone for texting, Instagram, twitter,taking photos and the rare phone call. You would think they would appreciate and run to the bigger, better in every way 6+.
    But since the core demographics of all things apple is the tween, teen and 20 something USA girls, They need a phone that will fit in their tiny front pockets. So they look cool.

  4. Not sure about the iPhone 6 point but you are spot on with the Android viewpoint.

    I have had a note 1, nexus 4 and nexus 5 until it died recently. Google play gave me my full money back for the 5 since they had no replacement. The nexus 5 was a lovely phone and I would have stayed with it if it hadn’t died.

    I was waiting for a nexus 6, however the pictures I have seen online mean it is clearly too big and for the extra money as well I questioned the need.

    Looking at alternatives I wanted the Motorola droid turbo but this is unlikely to come to the uk. Finally I went for the moto x custom design. The nexus 5 was fast enough for me and I like the idea of spending on the look and the extra niceties that Motorola have put in to the model.

    This is pretty much what you said in this article. I think the nexus 6 will sell in much smaller quantities. They should have beefed up the nexus 5 at the same time if they were interested in any volume.

  5. Biggus Dickus

    The world is much, much bigger than America.

    Just because the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 is selling better than the iPhone 6 Plus in America, doesn’t mean a damn thing. Asians in Asia love big phones: let’s wait for their sales figures before passing judgement.

    That is also why I’m highly annoyed whenever some new phone gets reviewed and in the end the reviewer starts a little moan about the various US carriers (e.g. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon).

    Newsflash: the rest of the world doesn’t care about US carriers. Stick to the design, specs, features and software UI. Stop the American-centric BS already.

    • I agree with you. Is the Nexus 6 available outside of the U.S. right now? No.

      Did I specifically note the U.S. in the article several times (because I know big phones are more popular overseas)? Yes.

      The Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus could well outsell their smaller counterparts worldwide. That’s not what this article is about.

      • pkdecville

        “That’s not what this article is about.”

        I agree, but who’s responsible for clarity here? You can save your self a lot of commenting by merely rereading your posts and editing them so your meaning is clear from the first subscriber read.

        No need to get lost in the weeds. As you’ve learned in these comments, you wrote a post which was read as applying to the world markets…

        Among other possibilities for clarity, the title could have been…

        “If US Buyers Avoid….”

        In your next article, let’s hope you don’t need to spend so much ink defending against misreadings and confusion. (These are writing issues, not reading issues, are they not?)

  6. Anonymous

    From iPhone 6 release; a lot of people wanted the + but was not available just settled for the 6! So I think the numbers are kind of skewed in the direction of the 6! If you look at the backlog; the + still is out 3-5 weeks for shipment and this November 14th! Many + buyers place their orders early October and are now just getting it!

  7. Could be skewed? How about: You know the data is skewed because the iPhone 6+ is still back-ordered as demand was grossly underestimated. You also know that the Nexus 6 price-tag is going to kill a lot of interest, although it showing up on carriers with traditional subsidies will move a greater number of units than being soley available through the Play Store. What you might not realize is that the Nexus 6 is being sold about as fast as it is being produced (who knows what the supply is at all, though). The Nexus 6 is an experiment between Google/Lenovo to deploy a device to market at a premium price-tag for a device that’s absurdly large while avoiding over-shooting demand and winding up losing money in a fire sale trying to clear out inventory.

  8. Apple Lover 6

    Everyone that has gotten their hands on and OWNS an “iPhone 6 PLUS” absolutely loves it and the extra size is rather overblown once you’ve lived with the phone for a week or two. If price wasn’t an issue, most people would be choosing the 6 Plus…..chew on that for a while.

    • YoMamalikesmeat

      Applelover, you stated “If price wasn’t an issue, consumers would choose an IPhone6 Plus.” This apparently was your best argument yet your point is null and void for price is ALWAYS an ISSUE,,and usually is ALWAYS the most important issue. I would choose an Audi over my Honda if price wasn’t an issue…yeah great point there…maybe you should change your name to RottenApple??? It would be more fitting, NO DOUBT!!!!

    • Price an issue for an Apple consumer? How dare you suggest that :)

      For years we keep hearing how The itoy is a “High End” phone and that Apple users are rich and Android users are poor etc.. And yet Nobody! Has ever put two and two together to debunk this myth of all myths.
      First off, the vast majority of iPhone are bought for kids by their parents.
      Secondly, nearly all iPhones are bought at the subsidized carrier price. Almost Nobody pays full retail for iPhones.
      Third, Price is an issue! If people had to pay 700+ for an itoy, their USA market share would be low single digits.
      Fourth, price is why Apple can’t make headway in Asia and other markets, where carrier subsidies are few and far between. Can you imagine the backlash from all the send described “Rich” American itoy users if apple started selling the 6 and 6+ in China for $199 without a contract?

      Why do you think Apple is offering / subsidizing all those trade in deals, early termination deals and other incentives with the carriers? Not to mention their non stop advertising.
      Nearly Everyday for the last almost 2 months there have been full and dual full page ads in all the NY papers. Billboards everywhere and non stop carriers advertising.
      Why does the “World’s bestest, most innovative, best selling” etc… phone need so much advertising and subsidies?

  9. wow! younoted in the post that the data could be skewed due to supply; where? Your title says buyers avoid iPhone 6 Plus. So not true. There are still lines today at Apple Stores for people who back ordered 6 plus.

    So how did people avoid a product that is not available for purchase or sold out? The only reason they are sold out is because it is the most wanted! Fanboys will do anything to discredit big screens.

      • pkdecville


        Your ‘Granted’ fig leaf is being assaulted. Reread your post.

        After writing ‘Granted…’ you’re off to the races basing your projections on the ‘Granted’ 3 to 1 ratio between the two 6 models.

        You would have been on sounder footing if you were more cautious about what ‘Granted…’ really means:

        Sort of close to ‘nothing’ since 6+ supplies were //truly outrun// by as yet unknown, but possibly massive, demand.

      • pkdecville


        Your ‘Granted’ fig leaf is being assaulted. Reread your post.

        After writing ‘Granted…’ you’re off to the races basing your projections on the ‘Granted’ 3 to 1 ratio between the two 6 models.

        You would have been on sounder footing if you were more cautious about what ‘Granted…’ really means:

        Sort of close to ‘nothing’ since 6+ supplies were //truly outrun// by as yet unknown, but possibly massive, demand.

    • ummm,,you claim that IPhone6 + is most wanted because the + is sold out?? Shoo, U are a gigantic donkey for the IPhone6 + is underproduced and Apple has simply not made enough of them. There are lines at stores because Apple has not made enough + devices. Apple has stated in recent press releases that the IPhone6 is the top selling device they have ever produced in its 1st 30 days on the market, which is pretty amazing considering how many Iphone5s, Iphone4s, Ipads, and Ipods are already in consumers hands. Apple has also stated that the IPhone6 + has tremendous demand yet the regular IPhone 6 model is outselling it 3 to 1. Shoo, you are arguing against facts which have been stated by Apple itself, therefore your argument is null and void. I have a Samsung Galaxy Light which I paid $50 for brand new at MetroPcs. My friend and i did a test and signed onto Facebook at the same time using our own phones. My friend owns Iphone5 and has had it for a year now. We logged in at same time, and my Samsung Galaxy Light opened Facebook faster than the all powerful Iphone5. IPhone is an amazing product but lets not forget that its only a PHONE. I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t make a cheaper version of it’s IPHONE, BUT that’s why they haven’t received a penny from me when it comes to cellphones. Apple is worth more than any company in modern history and they are doing it with high end items which really makes it that more amazing considering how frugal most of the world is. What happens if Apple starts selling new Iphones for $100?? Good God, Apple might have a market cap of $1 Trillion by then?! You gotta remember also that Apple still hasn’t got its foot in the door in many of the developing countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. All this being said, Samsung still sells more phones at more affordable prices.

  10. Drew Palmer

    There is also a huge demand for smaller iPhones, with petitions for a credit card sized iPhone air all over the mac fan press. A lot of us don’t have purses or cargo pants!

  11. Guest1831

    Did 3 in 4, as is being reported, choose the 6 over the 6 Plus, or did many go to the store wanting the 6 Plus but because of Apple supply chain problems, take the 6 since it was available? The other problem is that this is a US study – there’s a big world of smarphone users out there – author should ride the HK and Shanghai metros with me and he’ll see a very different trend. The sales of Samsung, HTC, Nokia larger phones in the last 5 years proves that there is a huge market for larger screens; Apple is only finally tapping into. Like The Woz said, Apple should have been making bigger phones 3 years ago.

    • Yup, I noted in the post that the data could be skewed due to supply. And I’m well aware of the big phone trend overseas; that’s why I was specific to point out the U.S. market several times. I know this market is big: I’ve been saying that for three years; it’s just that in the U.S. it’s not going to explode all of a sudden.