The Nexus 6 isn’t just a big phone, it’s a whale of a phone (hence its internal codename, “Shamu”). How does the Moby Dick of smartphones compare to the popular Samsung Galaxy Note 4? Read on, as we compare their features and specs.
The Galaxy Note 4 is already big, but the Nexus 6 is 4 percent taller and 5 percent wider.
Samsung’s phablet is, however, 16 percent thinner.
The Note 4 is 4 percent lighter than the new Nexus.
Both Motorola and Samsung took similar approaches here. Rather than go all plastic (and risk being branded as cheap) or all metal (which isn’t easy to manufacture, and could eat into profit margins), they both went with plastic backs with metal edges.
We haven’t yet handled the Nexus 6, but I thought this made the Note 4 feel much more high-end than its all-plastic predecessors.
We’re looking at two color options for the Nexus 6, and four for the Note.
The Galaxy Note used to stand alone as the big-screened smartphone, but in 2014 we have Shamu giving us 9 percent more screen than the Note 4.
Both handsets have ultra-sharp Quad HD displays. Just a couple of years ago, 1080p screens in phones sounded like overkill, but now these Quad HD screens give you 1.8x the pixels of a full HD screen.
In experience, it’s hard to say 1080p screens needed to be any sharper, but I do appreciate the denser pixels that Quad HD screens give you.
Both phones have AMOLED screens, which have the deepest blacks, along with rich colors and high contrast.
You could use the Galaxy Note like you would any other smartphone, but you’d be missing out on its most unique trait – as Samsung’s S Pen adds a pen-and-notepad feel to the device. Not only does it give you a sense of precision and control, but Samsung’s stylus-based software features are handy for note-taking, saving images/text and annotating screenshots.
The Note 4 has a slide-based fingerprint sensor. It’s improved over the ones we saw in the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Tab S, but still not as effortless to use as Apple’s Touch ID.
Heart rate sensor
Also like the GS5, the Note 4 has a heart rate sensor below its rear camera.
Samsung’s Multi Window goes hand-in-hand with the Galaxy Note’s large screen. And on the Note 4, you can drag and drop text and images between side-by-side apps. The only downside is that, like Multi Window itself, it’s only compatible with select apps.
On the Note 4, a swipe gesture from the edge of the screen can shrink its entire display to a size that’s manageable with one hand.
On paper, the Note’s camera is looking better – and we were impressed with its results. But the Nexus 6’s shooter gets an “Incomplete” until we put it through the paces.
We’re looking at the same ƒ/2.0 aperture in both phones’ rear cameras.
Both cameras have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) onboard.
This is an especially nice fit for the Note’s Advanced Digital Zoom, which automatically merges multiple shots together to make your zoomed shots (which are usually the same as crops) appear clearer and more detailed.
Dual LED flash
Like several other recent flagships, the Nexus 6 has a dual LED flash. This can help to light subjects more evenly, with less of a blown-out look.
Both phones have the same 3,220 mAh battery capacity. We’ve yet to test the Nexus’ battery, but the Note 4 had some of the best battery life of any phone we’ve tested.
Each phone has its own fast charging mode:
On the Nexus, Google says that 15 minutes is all it takes to go from a dead battery to “hours of additional battery life.”
Samsung says that the Note 4 can charge from 0 to 50 percent in about half an hour. In our test, it hit 43 percent in 30 minutes, and took 37 minutes to reach 50 percent (though that was with the phone powered on).
Ultra Power Saving Mode
If your battery gets dangerously low on juice, the Note has an ace up its sleeve. Ultra Power Saving Mode limits available apps, turns your display black & white – and can turn 10 percent battery into an extra day of uptime.
In the same ballpark (perhaps) as HTC’s BoomSound, the Nexus 6 has front-facing speakers that can potentially enhance your gaming or movie-watching experience.
If you like using your phone as a remote control for your TV or cable/satellite box, the Note 4 can help out.
Both handsets have the same processor, though you’ll want to note that this only covers the LTE version of the Note 4. The 3G/HSPA+ version has an octa-core Samsung Exynos CPU in its place.
Each phone also has 3 GB of RAM.
Internal storage options are even, but the Note 4 also lets you complement that with a microSD card.
Like every Nexus device before it, the 6 launches with a new version of stock Android. This time it’s 5.0 “Lollipop.”
It’s possible that the Note 4 will get the Lollipop update before long, but Samsung’s TouchWiz UI dictates your experience much more than the underlying Android core does.
The Note 4 just launched this month, while we’ll start seeing the Nexus roll out in November.
Starting price (full retail)
You could argue that the Nexus 6 is still a great deal, but you can’t argue that it has the rock-bottom pricing of its predecessor, the Nexus 5. The new model is bigger and faster, with a sharper screen … but it also costs nearly twice as much off-contract.
Starting price (on-contract)
Some alleged leaks have suggested we’ll see a US$50 on-contract price for the Nexus, but that’s unconfirmed. If so, then it’s possible Google is throwing in the towel on competitive off-contract pricing, and trying to deliver the best value with a carrier-subsidized contract.