Google Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: is the Nexus 6 the best Android phone ever?

Google Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: is the Nexus 6 the best Android phone ever?

Drink your milk and get on your horse - there’s a new cowboy in town, and by cowboy we mean smartphone. The exciting Google Nexus 6 is imminent, and it’s up against Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S5. Which one will end up face-down in the dust?

AndroidPIT Nexus 4 5 6 size comparison
If it keeps growing, next year's Nexus will be the size of a horse. / © ANDROIDPIT/Google/Android Police

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: display and screen

The Nexus 6 has a 5.96-inch QHD display delivering 1,440 x 2,560 pixels at a pixel density of 493 ppi. The Galaxy S5 has a typically dazzling 5.1-inch AMOLED screen delivering 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. That’s 432 ppi, but we reckon you won’t notice any difference unless you put your phones under a microscope.

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: design and build quality

Neither smartphone is a dramatic departure from existing smartphone designs: the S5 looks like a typical Samsung phone while the Nexus 6 resembles the second-generation Moto X that it’s based on, and they’re as robust and well engineered as the two firms’ other flagship devices. We don’t think you’d spend much time gazing lovingly at either one when you weren’t using them, but then we don’t buy phones to use them as ornaments. It’s all about the screens, and both screens are superb.

nexus6 leak
The new Nexus doesn't exactly herald a new era in smartphone design. / © Android Police

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: processor and RAM

The processor inside the Nexus 6 is a quad-core Snapdragon 805 clocked at 2.7 GHz, with 3 GB of RAM and an Adreno 420 GPU. The Galaxy S5 has a quad-core Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5 GHz and there’s 2 GB of onboard RAM.

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: operating system

In its role as Android’s flagship phone, the Nexus 6 will run Android L 5.0, aka Android Lollipop. The Galaxy shipped with Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and we’d expect an Android L 5.0 upgrade to turn up very quickly once the final release is made available by Google. 

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: camera

The Nexus 6 has a 2 MP front-facing camera and a 13 MP rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization. The S5 wins on the megapixel front: its main camera is a 16 MP model with Samsung’s ISOCELL sensor, which is designed to boost sensitivity without increasing the amount of unwanted “noise” in images. Samsung’s device also uses phase detection focus, which is faster and more reliable than the contrast detection autofocus you get in most phone cameras.

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: battery

The Nexus 6 battery delivers 3,220 mAh, while the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 2,800 mAh. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Samsung will run out of puff more quickly than the Nexus, though, as the Google phone needs to drive a bigger display. We won’t know for sure until we get our hands on the Nexus 6 for some real-world testing. The big difference between the Nexus and the Samsung is that the former has Motorola's fast charge technology, which can deliver up to 6 hours of charge in as little as 15 minutes.

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: tech specs

  Nexus 6 Galaxy S5
OS Android L 5.0 KitKat
Display 5.9-inch QHD 1440 x 2560 @ 493 ppi 5.1-inch AMOLED, 1920 x 1080 pixels (432 ppi)
Dimensions 82.98 x 159.26 x 10.06 mm

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight 184 g 145 g
Processor 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 (quad core) Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, quad-core at 2.5 GHz
Camera 13 MP with OIS 16 MP with ISOCELL sensor
Internal storage 32 / 64 GB 16 / 32 GB
Battery 3,220 mAh 2,800 mAh
Connectivity LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac (MIMO)

HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0

Price 649 USD 499 GBP

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5: early verdict

Google’s Nexus devices are designed to show Android in the best possible light, but while they’re usually very nice products that doesn’t mean they’re the best in every way. The new Nexus has a faster processor, more RAM and a more up-to-date version of Android, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a particularly good camera and protection from the elements. The fact that it’s been out for a while helps too, because that means it’ll start coming down in price. 

What do you think? Does the Nexus 6 have the edge over the S5?

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  • Cory Weston Oct 16, 2014 Link to comment

    No. The M8 is the best Android phone ever.

  • joe emanski Oct 15, 2014 Link to comment

    Why do the writers constantly "pick on" Samsung.

    You barely put the S5 in your top 5, yet compare a phone that is not on the market to the S5. What about comparing to the phones you rated higher. Would that not be more logical?

    You should forget whatever problem you have/had with Samsung and write about something that you can support.

  • mike Oct 12, 2014 Link to comment

    there both okay phones. the S5 has a ways to go to compete with my M8. As i have compared them. will wait on the nexus 6.

  • Raja Khan Oct 12, 2014 Link to comment

    The Samsung Galaxy S5 would be a big name but Nexus 6 will lead the race not because of its name but also considering its display size, RAM and battery power. It will really be a real competitor with iPhone 6 as well.

  • Richard Page Oct 12, 2014 Link to comment

    If the Nexus 6 does come with 5.9 inch that would be awesome and the fact that it would get automatic updates for 18 months is even better. Samsung was good but the added apps which take up too much memory is ignoing.

    • Daniel Westerdale Oct 13, 2014 Link to comment

      I agree, for me the 5.9 screen size is a key factor which is why AP should be comparing the (virtual) Nexus 6 with a (real) Samsung Note 4. Again, the Samsung installed apps + TouchWiz aren't a compelling combination. Also updates from Samsung from myexperience can be disastrous: Android 4.3 Update led to massive battery drain and random resets on my Note 2; despite a number of phone resets. I would want not to go through that again. The note 4 would come with the fairly stable Android 4.4.4..

  • Dave P. Oct 12, 2014 Link to comment

    Yet another article where you guys compare rumored specs with real life specs, and then publish conclusions as if those were based upon facts?

    Fine,.. what about the Nexus 15? How did that one survive the bend-test? Does it work okay, 25 meters under water?

    • Michael L. Oct 12, 2014 Link to comment

      I totally agree, how do you compare devices when one hasn't even been released yet... Ridiculous!!

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