For those after a tablet, there has never been more choice on the market, and for those after an Android-powered device, the Nexus 6 and Galaxy Note 4 are perhaps the two handsets that have caught the eyes of buyers.
We have pitted the two devices head to head on paper, to see which one comes out on top.
The Nexus 6 is the first phablet handset from Google’s flagship brand boasting a near 6-inch display panel on the front. It’s also the first Nexus device where the Android giant has drafted in Motorola, the company it briefly owned, to put the thing together. As a result the Nexus 6 bears more than a passing resemblance to Motorola’s Moto X flagship, in fact it pretty much looks like an enlarged variant of said device.`
There are differences, however, and the Nexus 6 is one of the first handsets from Google where it is abundantly clear the search giant is going directly after the upper-end of the smartphone market. Concessions with hardware and specs in order to maintain a low price point are now a thing of the past; Google’s Nexus 6 is positioned as a high-end, premium smartphone that is designed to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, the Galaxy Note 4, obviously, and the LG G3. It features a wide range of updates: the display, the processor, imaging and design and build have all been tweaked, modified and, generally, spruced up quite a fair bit.
Samsung, however, came out guns blazing in late-2014 with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, a truly phenomenal powerhouse of a device. The Note 3 was excellent, but the Note 4 takes things several steps farther. As phablets go, the Note 4 is the unabashed KING of the now-common large form smartphones. Be that as it may, though, Google will be very keen on taking a few percentage points out of Samsung in the run up to Xmas and in the New Year with its Nexus 6.
Here we compare the two devices, so, without further ado… let’s do THIS!
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Nexus 6: Specs
|Device||Samsung Galaxy Note 4||Motorola Nexus 6|
|Dimensions||153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm, 176g||159.3 x 83 x 10.1mm , 184g|
|Display||5.7in Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 pixels, 515ppi||5.96in AMOLED 1440 x 2560 pixels, 493ppi|
|Camera||16-megapixel ISOCELL, LED flash, Optical Stabilisation, 2160p video||13-megapixel, dual-LED flash, 2160p video|
|Storage||32GB, microSD up to 128GB||32GB, 64GB|
|Processor, RAM, Graphics||2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core Krait 450, 3GB RAM, Adreno 420 GPU||2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core Krait 450, 3GB RAM, Adreno 420 GPU|
|Operating System,||Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Upgrade to 5.0 expected)||Android 5.0 Lollipop|
|Connectivity||microUSB, Bluetooth, NFC,dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, 4G||microUSB,Bluetooth,NFC,dual-band Wi-Fi (Hotspot),DLNA,4G,GPS|
Quad HD is the weapon of choice in the current display spec war, and while there might not be a notable difference from 1080p, we certainly aren’t complaining about the change. Both displays also come with AMOLED technology, with Samsung once again employing their tried and true Super AMOLED displays, to bring the high saturation and contrast you may come to expect from Samsung flagships. AMOLED is utilized by the Nexus 6 in a similar fashion, as its colors have some of that saturation and very comparable sharpness, though its main advantage is the activation of only a pixels for the Ambient Display.
Either screen allows for a fantastic viewing experience, with the Nexus 6 losing a little fidelity only at the sharpest of viewing angles. Though the display of the Nexus 6 is slightly larger, the overall media and gaming experience is largely the same, and basically amazing, on both. It is worth noting that if the high saturation of the Galaxy Note 4 display isn’t your thing, you do have the ability to adjust the color profile to your liking, something not possible with the Nexus 6, which also likely won’t require it.
Bottom line, both displays represent the pinnacle of current display technology, and you cant go wrong with either choice.
Processor, Performance, Software & UI
Both devices should be pretty much an even match as they pack the exact same Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor chip, with 3GB of RAM, an Adreno 420 GPU, Krait 450 core architecture and four cores clocked at 2.7GHz. That said, Google’s phone is unhindered by UI overlay software, so depending on how well Samsung has implemented its TouchWiz UI we could see slightly smoother performance from the Nexus 6 – this remains to be seen, however.
At any rate, both handsets are stacked full of muscle power –– this is Qualcomm’s very latest top-end chip after all –– and each should be easily capable of handling premium content from Google’s storefront for a long while. In terms of the software, both devices are running Google Android. The Galaxy Note 4 runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with its own TouchWiz layer, which creates a distinctive aesthetic and some extra functionality, but is not necessarily as straightforward to use as the stock.
Android 5.0 Lollipop aboard the Nexus 6 which looks cleaner. Needless to say, the Nexus’ software is also more up-to-date, however, it’s very likely the Note 4 will get Lollipop quite soon being such a new release.
It’s well worth mentioning the Note 4’s built-in multitasking capabilities, allowing you to split the display space between multiple applications simultaneously and overlay mini application windows (for things like the calculator) on top of each other. This makes it a genuine productivity device, which is relatively rare in the Android space.
It’s in hardware that some real separation starts to show between the two devices. Apart from the usual suspects of a replaceable vs non-removable battery, and the lack of microSD expansion with the Nexus 6, the more significant difference lies in the inclusion of the S-Pen stylus with the Galaxy Note 4.
When removed from its slot, the S-Pen opens up the Air Command menu with its various options, including using S-Note for recording notes in a variety of ways, clip out a part of the screen that you want to save, to just write some text down for contextual actions. Even if you don’t use the S-Pen much normally, the click and drag enhancement introduced with the Galaxy Note 4 is actually one of the most compelling reasons to start.
As mentioned, the Nexus 6 keeps things pretty bare bones with regards to additional hardware. What it does excel in is the audio experience, with the dual front-facing speakers doing a much finer job than the rear-facing speaker of its Samsung competitor.
When it comes to the battery though, it is difficult to recommend the
Nexus 6 over the Galaxy Note 4, as the standby power consumption of the former isn’t nearly as frugal as the latter. Both devices are capable of offering close to 5 hours of screen-on time, but I haven’t been able to get close to two full days of use with the Nexus 6. Despite the better longevity of the Galaxy Note 4 battery, the good news is that both benefit from fast charging capabilities.
The Nexus 6 packs quite an upgraded set of imaging kit from the Nexus 5, with a 13MP back-illuminated sensor (BSI), featuring optical image stabilisation (OIS), an f/2.0 aperture, 4K video capture and dual-LED flash. It’s hard to imagine this not producing some pretty impressive visuals.
But even so, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has had a similarly hefty boost, up to a 16MP rating on one of Samsung’s ISOCELL BSI sensors, with an f/2.2 aperture, OIS, and 4K video. Image and video quality should be at least as good as the Nexus 6’s. Historically Google and Motorola’s cameras have not been the best, so there’s a chance Samsung’s kit can outdo it, particularly given how capable ISOCELL tech seems to be so far.
Storage, Connectivity, Battery & Other Hardware
The Galaxy Note 4 only comes in one storage flavour (in the UK at least) and that’s 32GB onboard with microSD support for cards up to 128GB. Meanwhile, Google’s Nexus 6 doesn’t take SD cards but does have both 32GB and 64GB onboard options. Otherwise, both handsets are quite evenly matched when it comes to connectivity options, including 4G LTE and 3G mobile data, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, microUSB and GPS. The Note 4 packs an infrared blaster and supports MHL TV-out, while Google’s Nexus 6 has wireless Qi charging support and fast charging.
Speaking of battery stuff, you’re looking at the same size battery cell in each phone. However, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a few extra tricks up its sleeve; the cell is removable so you can swap in a new one, and it has an Ultra Power saving mode which can give you 15 days of use from a single charge when restricting to calls and texts with a black and white display mode.
Another key point is the Note 4’s S-Pen stylus, which has excellent handwriting recognition software and is incredibly accurate for drawing or photo editing duties. Samsung’s device has a capable set of speakers but they’re not a patch on the front-facing stereo setup aboard the Nexus 6.
PRICING AND FINAL THOUGHTS
What has been a little disconcerting to users wanting the Nexus 6 is how much more expensive it is from previous Nexus releases, which does make sense when you factor in how much Google and Motorola have packed into this powerful device. After all, the Galaxy Note 4, priced at over $700, is still more expensive, even if the Nexus device isn’t far off with its price point of $649. Both of these smartphones are available from various network carriers in the US under subsidies and payment plans, however, so the entry points actually aren’t far from one another.
There you have it – a closer look at the Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4! Both of these devices have received our Editor’s Choice Award, and deservedly so, with both offering the best their respective lines have to offer. When pitting one against the other however, the choice isn’t as simple. Fundamentally, both devices provide power in large form factors, capable of making everything underneath run smoothly, and what it comes down to is how you want to perform general tasks.