My Google Nexus 6P is my PC

Marc Bilodeau/ October 8, 2016/ Coder's Life, Minimalism

After three years of successfully using my Samsung Galaxy S4 as my PC, it was time to upgrade. To save everyone the suspense, I chose the Google Nexus 6P.

Why Upgrade?

I did not take this decision lightly since my Samsung Galaxy S4 already did an excellent job at my daily computing needs. Alas, as good as it was, there were a few issues that pushed me toward upgrading.

  • The Galaxy S4 is over 3 years old – My old phone is generations behind in hardware. The apps were getting slower as my daily needs demanded more computing power.
  • No more OS Updates – Vendors have to decide when its time to retire older hardware. That being said, the newest version of the operating system for my Samsung Galaxy S4 is Android 5.0.1. In today’s world, this is dangerous without the latest security updates. I felt helpless while waiting for malware to cripple me.
  • Pre-installed Apps – I really don’t mind pre-installed apps. However, I don’t like it when I can’t uninstall them. There are several apps on my Samsung Galaxy S4 that I never use and can’t remove.

Choosing the Google Nexus 6P

Keeping those points in mind, I searched for a suitable smartphone replacement. I considered upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S7 since I had so much success with the S4. I also compared other models such as the HTC 10,Sony Xperia XZ, and LG G5. All of these smartphones are great phones, however, the Google Nexus 6P met my needs best.

Security and malware protection are important to me. The fact that Google co-develops the Google Nexus 6P means there will likely be regular releases of OS patches. This reduces my overall risk to crippling malware. Additionally, it’s more likely Google will continue to push OS patches to their smartphones longer and more frequently then other vendors.

Lastly, there is the issue of those pesky pre-installed apps. Wireless vendors and smartphone manufacturers typically install their own apps on a smartphone when ordering one directly through them. Even worse, many of those pre-installed apps can’t be remove. The Google Nexus 6P, if purchased through Google, will have a stock install of Android thus minimizing extra apps I won’t use.

Replacing the Smart Dock Multimedia Hub

Before I purchased a Google Nexus 6P, there were a few technical issues to work out. My Samsung Galaxy S4 setup uses a Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse and a Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hub. An alternative solution is needed since the Google Nexus 6P does not have an equivalent Multimedia Hub.

My SmartPhone can be my PC with a Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hub

Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hub

The Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hub is an important piece of gear in my Samsung Galaxy S4 setup. It connects it to a Monitor using HDMI, and my keyboard and mouse to a USB port.

Mirroring the Google Nexus 6P screen

To replace the HDMI connection, I chose Google Chromecast. Newer versions of the Android OS allow users to cast the screen contents without installing a special app. With a Google Chromecast at work and home, I simply mirror my smartphone’s screen to my monitor and I’m ready to go.

I decided to test a Google Chromecast with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Google Cast App first. Satisfied with the results, I happily crossed this issue off the list.

Replacing the USB Keyboard and Mouse

With the display issue addressed, the next hurdle was the USB keyboard and mouse. My Samsung Galaxy S4 setup has a Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse at home and work. When I travel, I use a Logitech Tablet Keyboard and Gigabyte M7700B Compact Bluetooth Mouse. I felt it was time to get rid of all of that gear and use a single keyboard and mouse for work, home, and travel.

After some research on the topic, I chose the iClever Ultra Slim 3 Color Backlight Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard and Logitech MX ANYWHERE 2 Mobile Mouse. I purchased both and tested them with my Samsung Galaxy S4 setup.

iclever keyboard and logitech mouse

iClever Ultra Slim 3 Color Backlight Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard and Logitech MX ANYWHERE 2 Mobile Mouse

At first, typing was a little awkward. However, after a couple of days it became really comfortable and fluid to type again. Both the keyboard and mouse last a long time between charges, and I can use the same cable to recharge both.

This is a big win for my minimalist mind! Two HDMI cables, two Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hubs, plugs, cables, three keyboards, and three mice have been reduced to one keyboard, one mouse, and a couple of cables for home, work, and travel.

With the technical aspects worked out, it was time to move ahead with the upgrade. I purchased my Google Nexus 6P from Google and requested a new Nano-SIM from my wireless provider. Within a few days, I was ready to setup my new smartphone.

My Google Nexus 6P is my PC

(left) my old Samsung Galaxy S4 | (right) my Google Nexus 6P

Travel

Traveling with the Google Nexus 6P requires less to pack. Now everything fits nicely into my travel case. This takes up only a small amount of precious suitcase real estate.

Google Nexus 6P Travel Kit

My mobile office packed away in its travel case

When traveling, I carry my Google Nexus 6P with me. Everything else is packed in my travel case. Here is the complete list of what I take for my on the go office:

This is everything I need when traveling. I can continue to be productive, stay in touch, and on top of my priorities almost anywhere in the world.

What I’ll miss with the Samsung Galaxy S4

One big advantage of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is removable batteries. I own three batteries that I use when traveling. This extends my time away from power outlets quite a bit, and when a battery no longer charge properly, I can replace it without getting a new smartphone. The Anker PowerCore 20100 appears to be an overall better solution. It touts recharging some smartphones up to seven times before it needs recharging.

Bluetooth technology has come a long way. However, sometimes when not using the keyboard for several minutes, it sleeps. Occasionally, I need to wait a few seconds for it to reconnect to my Google Nexus 6P. The Samsung Galaxy S4 setup with the USB keyboard and mouse did not do this. I did experience the same behavior with the Logitech Tablet Keyboard and Gigabyte M7700B Compact Bluetooth Mouse. I simply run into it more frequently since I’m always using a Bluetooth keyboard now.

Overall, the Google Chromecast solution works well. Occasionally, it will pixelate briefly. This problem didn’t exists with the Samsung Galaxy S4 setup since it uses a wired HDMI connection. A minor nuisance every now and then, but certainly not a big deal.

Life is Better with the Google Nexus 6P

The total number of apps on my Samsung Galaxy S4 is 117. Many of those are pre-installed apps that I can’t uninstall. With my Google Nexus 6P, I had 55 apps installed after I finished transferring everything. Now, I only have apps I use, and I have more available storage.

As expected, the Google Nexus 6P is much faster then my Samsung Galaxy S4. Opening, closing, and switching apps is smoother. It keeps up with my thinking, and I feel like I’m getting tasks done more quickly. Having two apps on the screen at the same time is awesome. However, not all apps support this yet. I can watch a YouTube video and take notes at the same time. This is just one example of how it increases my productivity.

But most of all, there are less pieces of hardware, fewer cables, and several apps that are no longer needed to make my new setup work for me.

Now that I’m using the Google Nexus 6P as my everyday PC, it’s turning out to be better then my Samsung Galaxy S4 work space. I can only imagine what the future will bring, but in the meantime my Google Nexus 6P is here to stay.