The Nexus 6 is large and in charge -- and very expensive. The 5.9-inch Google phablet, codenamed “Shamu,” was announced Wednesday with a hefty price tag of $650 off-contract, a $300 increase from the Nexus 5. Google's launch of a big-ticket device shows it's now ready and willing to challenge Apple and Samsung in the high end of the hardware market.

The Nexus 6 is poised to compete with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Inc.'s first phablet, and Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 4, which features a metal frame.

Prior to the Nexus 6, Google’s smartphones were essentially a medium on which to showcase the Android ecosystem. The devices included enough of the latest internal hardware to keep them fresh in terms of technology, but they sold for half the price of rivals' flagships. The Nexus 5 shipped in 2013 starting at $350 off-contract, while the Nexus 4 debuted in 2012 at $300 and up.

The Nexus 6 is Google's first phablet. Developed by Motorola, it has a number of high-end features, including a high-resolution QHD display, a metal design and a 13-megapixel camera.

“The Nexus 6 is considered a premium 6-inch phone and includes the highest-quality hardware we’ve ever shipped for showcasing Android 5.0 Lollipop,” a Google spokesperson said.  “Consumers will also see a substantial discount through carrier contracts.”

In addition to the Google Play Store and Motorola’s website, the Nexus 6 will be available at major U.S. carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular, which should provide subsidies for the Nexus 6 with two-year contracts. In the past, Nexus devices were made available on only one or two mobile networks. Google adding more attractive features to the Nexus 6 while expanding availability indicates that the Mountain View, California-based company wants to be a player in the premium-device market.