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