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Nexus 6 vs the competition

The newly announced Nexus 6 may be large, but it's not the only supersize phone on the market. We take a look at the best 5.5" smartphones currently available.
By
October 15, 2014
Nexus 6

The huge size of the Nexus 6 surprised many when it was first rumored, but it’s not the only super-size handset on the market right now. If you’re next smartphone is going to be a big’n, here’s everything you need to know about the best handsets on the market right now.

Before we delve into the internal hardware, it’s worth considering the sheer size and bulk when picking a larger smartphone.

Nexus 6Galaxy Note 4LG G3OnePlus OneAscend Mate 7Desire 820
Size (mm)
Nexus 6
159.3 x 83 x 10
Galaxy Note 4
153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5
LG G3
146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9
OnePlus One
152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9
Ascend Mate 7
157 x 81 x 7.9
Desire 820
157.7 x 78.7 x 7.7
Weight
Nexus 6
184 g
Galaxy Note 4
176 g
LG G3
149 g
OnePlus One
162 g
Ascend Mate 7
185 g
Desire 820
155 g

The Nexus 6 is definitely one of the bulkiest handsets on the market. If you’re concerned about one handed operation, or simply if it will fit in your pocket, then the LG G3 is safest pick, being the most compact handset of the bunch. The Nexus 6 and Ascend Mate 7 are noticeably bigger, but only due to their slightly larger display sizes. When it comes to bezels, these devices have managed to keep up with the best of the previous generation.

Screen to Body Ratio Nexus 6

Aesthetics are also likely to influence your preference. Fortunately the Nexus 6 has gone with a more stylish metal looking frame, but the rest of the handset still seems a little basic. Personally, it doesn’t quite match the premium look of the Note 4, and the plastic isn’t as well disguised as the LG G3s case.

Spec War

The Nexus 6 is a truly high-end affair this time around, packing a bleeding edge display, SoC, camera, and memory options. You will be hard-pressed to find a more powerful smartphone on the market right now, although the Nexus 6 is not without its rivals.

Nexus 6Galaxy Note 4LG G3
Screen
Nexus 6
5.96" AMOLED
Galaxy Note 4
5.7" AMOLED
LG G3
5.5" IPS-LCD
Resolution
Nexus 6
1440x2560
Galaxy Note 4
1440x2560
LG G3
1440x2560
SoC
Nexus 6
Snapdragon 805
Galaxy Note 4
Snapdragon 805 / Exynos 5433
LG G3
Snapdragon 801
CPU
Nexus 6
4x 2.7GHz Krait 450
Galaxy Note 4
4x 2.7GHz Krait 450 / 4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A57 & 4x 1.3GHz Cortex-A53
LG G3
4x 2.5GHz Krait 400
GPU
Nexus 6
Adreno 420
Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420 / Mali-T760
LG G3
Adreno 330
RAM
Nexus 6
3GB
Galaxy Note 4
3GB
LG G3
2GB / 3GB
Storage
Nexus 6
32/ 64 GB
Galaxy Note 4
32GB
LG G3
16GB / 32GB
MicroSD
Nexus 6
no
Galaxy Note 4
128GB
LG G3
128GB
Rear Camera
Nexus 6
13MP (OIS)
Galaxy Note 4
16MP (OIS)
LG G3
13MP (OIS)
Front Camera
Nexus 6
2MP
Galaxy Note 4
3.7MP
LG G3
2.1MP
Battery
Nexus 6
3220mAh
Galaxy Note 4
3220mAh (removable)
LG G3
3000mAh (removable)

If you’re looking for the most crystal clear image quality on the market, then the Nexus 6, Galaxy Note 4, and LG G3 are your choices, each packing a QHD display. However, serious gamers may want to avoid the LG G3, as its Adreno 330 GPU doesn’t quite offer up the same high levels of performance as the Nexus 6’s and Note 4’s Adreno 420 at a QHD resolution. Alternatively, dropping down to a 1080p Snapdragon 801 handset, like the OnePlus One, should also give you a little more gaming performance, at the expense of resolution. If you’re not a serious gamer, then you won’t have any problems with any of these handsets.

On paper, camera options are consistent across the board, although the Note 4 and G3 edge out ahead of the pack in our own experience. We’ll have to put the Nexus 6’s new OIS camera through some real world tests to see how it stacks up.

On the CPU and RAM side of things, performance is going to be roughly the same across all of the smartphones listed when multitasking. The differences between the Snapdragon 805 and 801 are quite small. Although, the mid-range Desire 820 won’t quite have the same peak performance as the others, due to its low performance core setup. 3GB of RAM will see you through multiple applications without a hitch, and the Nexus 6’s stock Android experience probably means that you’ll have memory to spare more of the time.

OnePlus OneAscend Mate 7Desire 820
Screen
OnePlus One
5.5" IPS-LCD
Ascend Mate 7
6.0" IPS-LCD
Desire 820
5.5" IPS-LCD
Resolution
OnePlus One
1080x1920
Ascend Mate 7
1080x1920
Desire 820
720x1280
SoC
OnePlus One
Snapdragon 801
Ascend Mate 7
HiSilicon Kirin 925
Desire 820
Snapdragon 615
CPU
OnePlus One
4x 2.5GHz Krait 400
Ascend Mate 7
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A15 & 4x 1.3GHz Cortex-A7
Desire 820
4x 1.5GHz & 4x 1.0Ghz Cortex-A53
GPU
OnePlus One
Adreno 330
Ascend Mate 7
Mali-T628
Desire 820
Adreno 405
RAM
OnePlus One
3GB
Ascend Mate 7
2GB / 3GB
Desire 820
2GB
Storage
OnePlus One
16GB / 64GB
Ascend Mate 7
16GB / 32GB
Desire 820
16GB
MicroSD
OnePlus One
none
Ascend Mate 7
64GB
Desire 820
128GB
Rear Camera
OnePlus One
13MP
Ascend Mate 7
13MP
Desire 820
13MP
Front Camera
OnePlus One
5MP
Ascend Mate 7
5MP
Desire 820
8MP
Battery
OnePlus One
3000mAh (removable)
Ascend Mate 7
4100mAh
Desire 820
2600mAh

The Exynos variant of the Galaxy Note 4 and the Desire 820 are still your only 64-bit processor options at this display size, although I really wouldn’t put any weight on that when making a decision.

However, due to its high-end specs the Nexus 6 comes with a pretty hefty price tag this time around. The LG G3 is quite a bit cheaper than Google latest flagship, despite having similar specs in most regards, as is the bargain OnePlus One. Instead, the Ascend Mate 7 and Desire 820 both offer up compelling offerings for those on a slightly tighter budget. The Desire 820’s 720p display and Adreno 405 GPU are mandatory sacrifices given its cut down price tag, but the Mate 7 holds its own against these other large flagships. The battery is huge and the display should be clear enough. The only downside is the weaker GPU, which might struggle with some of the newer games on the PlayStore.

If the Nexus 6 has one drawback, other than its price, the lack of SD card slot is going to be a bit of a hindrance to users with large photo, music, or video collections, although the choice of 32GB and 64GB options should be enough space for most people. However, with other smartphones now compatible with 128GB microSD card slots, this could be a deciding feature for some.

Extra Features

While the Nexus 6 offers up a compelling hardware experience, the software side of things is bound to be much more subjective. The Nexus 6 comes with a stock-Android OS, no bloat or extra features, which will either please your minimalistic tendencies or leave the handset feeling disappointingly bare.

The Nexus 6 will ship with stock Android Lollipop, which boasts improved multitasking features, improved notifications, and a swanky new design. It has the added benefit of being on Google’s speedy update list. The closest rival to this pure Android experience is the OnePlus One, which ships with a custom version of the popular CyanogenMod ROM. Whilst CyanogenMod has a few unique features of its own, it’s mostly a bloat-free experience similar to that offered by the Nexus 6.

However, if stock Android isn’t for you then you’ll find plenty of competitors which can offer up unique features. Heavy multi-taskers will probably find the Note 4’s multi-window and G3’s QSlide functionality highly useful, while those who love customization might find that the OnePlus One or Mate 7 UI’s can be tweaked more to their liking. The Note 4 and Mate 7 also feature a fingerprint scanner for the security conscious, whilst the Nexus 6’s dual front facing speakers should offer audio buffs a superior experience. Stylus lovers will still probably prefer the Galaxy Note 4.

Is the Nexus 6 for me?

The Nexus line has a history of offering some high-end hardware at a cost-effective price point, but the Nexus 6 departs quite heavily from the value aspect of the range. The additional build materials and high-end specs have pushed the price up a little this time around, but that wasn’t completely unexpected. The Nexus 6 still offers a bloat-free Android experience with a fast update schedule, and will suit developers and stock-Android enthusiasts just fine.

However, many Android users have come to expect a little more from their handset’s UI, and in which case the Nexus 6 will probably seem a little basic, given the expensive price tag. It’s also worth remembering that most flagships released over the past two years will be receiving Android 5.0 Lollipop at some point in the future, so there’s no rush to buy a Nexus 6 just for the new Google OS.

The Nexus 6 is a cutting-edge piece of kit and sets the bar high for next year’s flagship smartphones, but it will set you back more than most of its competitors.