Spec showdown: Google Nexus 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Google's Nexus 6

Google's Nexus 6

Credit: Google

If you’re on the lookout for a new Android smartphone with a big screen, the Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6 from Google and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 4 are two hot possibilities.

The Nexus 6 was announced on Wednesday along with Android Lollipop, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS. It will compete with a growing number of smartphones with screens larger than 5.5 inches. But the biggest Android-based competitor is the Note 4. The success of the Note family is the main reason behind the “phablet” trend. Here’s a spec comparison between the phones:

Processors

Lollipop, which the Nexus 6 will run, is the first 64-bit compatible version of Android. However, Qualcomm won’t offer high-end 64-bit processors until the first half of next year. Therefore Google decided to go with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 processor, which is a 32-bit chipset that also powers the Note 4.

Still, the Snapdragon 805 offers better performance across the board compared to Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon 800 processors, which are used by many high-end smartphones. The Snapdragon 805 lets both devices implement carrier aggregation, technology that increases download speeds by combining two channels, for example.

The screen

Samsung and Google appear to be in agreement that a smartphone in the high-end segment should have a screen with a 2560 by 1440 pixel resolution. But when it comes to screen sizes their offerings differ slightly; the Note 4 has a 5.7-inch screen while the Nexus 6’s screen measures 5.96 inches.

I have only seen the Note 4’s screen and it looked stunning, but there is little doubt the display on the Nexus 6 will look great too. The higher resolution starts to make sense on these bigger screen sizes.

Size and weight

The size of the screen also means the smartphones are big and quite heavy. The Note 4 is 8 grams lighter than Nexus 6, which weighs 176 grams. The Samsung device is also smaller: the Note 4 measures 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 millimeters, compared to the Nexus 6’s measurements of 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm.

Camera

The Note 4 has a 16-megapixel camera on the back; the Nexus’ back camera is 13 megapixels. The cameras have optical image stabilization, which this year has become a common feature on more expensive smartphones. On the front, the Note 4 has a 3.7-megapixel camera, while buyers of the Nexus 6 will have to make do with a 2-megapixel resolution front camera.

Storage and RAM

Google offers a choice between 32GB and 64GB of integrated storage, but there isn’t a card slot for adding more storage. Upgrading from one model to the other costs $50. Samsung, on the other hand, has decided to offer 32GB of storage plus up to an additional 128GB on a MicroSD card. The phones have the same amount of RAM: 3GB.

Battery

The phones are kept up and running by a 3,220mAh battery. Both have battery saving and quick-charging features. Nexus 6 owners will be able boost battery life by up to six hours with only a 15 minute charge, according to Google. With the Note 4 users can go from an empty battery to half full in about 30 minutes, Samsung said.

Shipping and price

The Note 4 is already on sale in Korea, and will be available in 140 countries by the end of the month. The Nexus 6 will go on sale in 28 countries over the coming weeks, priced from $649 without a contract, according to Google. The Note 4’s “regular price” is $826, according to AT&T. A full review of Samsung’s phone is available here.

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