Three things that surprised me about the Nexus 6

Is there anything more to say on the Nexus 6? Google's latest flagship smartphone has come in for more than the usual degree of attention, as the first handset to run Android 5.0 Lollipop. The fact that Google can't keep them in stock for longer than sixty seconds or so isn't doing anything to dampen the hype, either. I've already gone digging through Google's huge new phone in my equally huge Nexus 6 review, but it turns out the Motorola-made handset hadn't quite finished teaching me a lesson.

Fast charging changes everything

Our phones are faster than ever before, have bigger and more pixel-dense displays. more capable cameras, and swifter data. Yet they're still hamstrung with the same battery technology that has plodded along pretty much since Android itself first spilled out of Google's labs.

The answer to chemistry's laggardly development has been fitting bigger and bigger batteries into our phones, though that of course increases weight. Motorola skirted away from the biggest pack around for the Nexus 6, in fact – the new Google phone has a 3,220 mAh battery, whereas the DROID Turbo stomachs a vast 3,900 mAh – but its big, bright display means it still only lasts a day or so of decent use.

If the batteries themselves can't improve, though, the way we charge them can. Google calls it Turbo Charge, and it's effectively a way of force-feeding the Nexus 6 with power: 6 hours, or thereabouts, after fifteen minutes plugged in.

Now, it's worth noting that Turbo Charge actually isn't really something you can credit either Google or Motorola for. Instead, it's a rebrand of Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0, something we've already seen on the HTC One M8 and the Moto X, among other devices.

However, with the combination of Google including the Turbo Charger in the box (rather than making it an optional extra) and the sheer screen size of the Nexus 6 leaving you more aware than ever of what's sucking down your power, it's only really on the latest Googlephone that the charging advantage is clear.

More so than wireless charging – which the Nexus 6 also supports, though you'll need a Qi-compatible pad to use it – I can't help but think that all mobile devices should support some form of Turbo Charge now. All of a sudden, those few snatched minutes of time plugged in actually do add up to something useful.

It made me appreciate Motorola more

Motorola has been through some tough times recently, there's no denying that. Its 2014 line-up, however, is its best in years – if not its best ever.

In many ways, the Nexus 6 is an oversized Moto X; along the same lines, in many ways that's no bad thing. I miss the Moto X's broader range of back panel finishes – once your fingertips have experienced a leather-backed phone, they don't really want to go back to plastic, and a little more texture would definitely help avoid that "it's slipping" feeling the Nexus 6 causes – but the aluminum chassis and clean design is carried across.

What Motorola has done with Android itself is what I've come to appreciate more, however. The Nexus 6 has always-listening Google Now functionality, but then so does the Moto X, and it can react to more than just "Ok Google" to trigger it.

Motorola's useful camera launching shortcut – firing up the app by physically twisting the phone as if you're rattling a doorknob – is also preferable to the Nexus 6's often fiddly lockscreen camera shortcut. Sometimes I'd simply unlock the Nexus 6, rather than launch the camera, because I hadn't pulled up the trigger in quite the right way.

I find it interesting, because the traditional stance has been that what manufacturers do to modify Android is invariably worse than pure Android, and yet the Moto X disproves that. With Motorola already rolling out Lollipop updates for select handsets, it's even closing the gap on upgrade delays that have been the other significant downside to customized Android versions.

If Motorola can keep that pace up under its new Lenovo ownership, it'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Android's next challenge is embracing bigger screens

If you see the Nexus range as Google's way of telegraphing the keys areas of focus it hopes Android device manufacturers will look to each year, then it looks like there's no escaping big phones.

It also means that Android's next challenge is figuring out how to use those screens to their best advantage, because right now there's a feeling that it's not really doing much more than making the UI bigger. Coming from a Galaxy Note 4 with all of Samsung's app resizing tweaks, or even just the iPhone 6 Plus with "reachability" shuffling the top half of the UI down to the bottom half of the touchscreen, you really notice how little the Nexus 6 actually does to help you when you don't have ridiculously long thumbs.

In fact, Google could do a lot worse than look to Samsung for its inspiration. TouchWiz may have its critics – I've been one of them on many an occasion – but one thing it gets right with phablets is factoring in the software tweaks that help suit either one- or two-handed use.

I don't think it would take too much effort, either, at least for the basics: Lollipop on the Nexus 9 gets things like a multi-column view for email which would make just as much sense on a smartphone. Some sort of native zooming or other display adjustment that would bring key controls into easy reach seems vital if other manufacturers are to follow Google's example.

Oh, and one more thing...

I knew the Nexus 6 was big. In fact, it's bigger than a Note 4 or an iPhone 6 Plus, and they're both big phones. What I didn't expect was that it would be too large to fit into the cup-holders of some cars.

Sure enough, I tried to prop up the Nexus so that I could use the beautiful, Material Design-updated Google Maps for some turn-by-turn directions, and yet it simply wouldn't fit. Where a Big Gulp would go, the Nexus 6 resolutely refused.

You hear that, America? Your cup holders need to be bigger. Google said so.