Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Pick up Google’s current flagship, or wait for its upcoming one?

If you love Android, Google Nexus phones should always be on the top of your shopping list. Why? Because the Nexus line has a tendency of being affordable, reliable, fast and always gets updates to Android first. Add to that the fact that it’s the only smartphone line to run core Android out of the box, Nexus phones are obviously appealing to many. Such is and was the case with the Google Nexus 5, a brilliant smartphone that we can’t recommend enough. It might not be the best-selling smartphone in the world, but the Nexus 5 certainly gave birth to a large number of Nexus fans, and for good reason.

The Google Nexus 5 is far from perfect, but it has so many things going for it, that it’s easy to neglect its downsides. First and foremost, it’s blazing fast, due to both its core Android that isn’t hindered by useless UI features, and due to its capable hardware. The smartphone sports a 2.26 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, which, coupled with the phone’s 2 GB of DDR 3 ram and Adreno 330 GPU handles everything Android has to throw at it. No, we’re not exaggerating things – despite other competitors coming up with stronger hardware phones, the Nexus 5 is still one of the fastest, lag-free phones you can get your hands on. It also has a really good 4.95 inch (5 inch for reference) Full HD IPS LCD display that provides a great 445 PPI. There really isn’t anything to complain about here.

Design-wise, the Nexus 5 doesn’t really stand out, but it certainly won’t fall behind the competition. It doesn’t look spectacular, but it’s still pleasing to the eye. The only downside of the phone is that it isn’t particularly resistant to shock, water or dust, so you do need to handle it with care. On the lower end of things, the Nexus 5 suffers from a weak camera. It still does the job, but there are certainly better ones out there, so if you’re a photo enthusiast, the Nexus 5 might not be for you. The phone comes with a 8 MP sensor and a LED flash, but that’s about as fancy things get. The front-facing 1.3 MP camera isn’t particularly impressive either. Last, but not least, the phone does suffer a bit from a mediocre battery life. It’s not a very power-hungry phone, but somehow the 2300 mAh battery just doesn’t last as long as we’d hope.

The Nexus 5 is blazing fast, has a great display, looks decent enough and is affordable. The only downsides are its camera and battery life, but these become minor nuisances when considering the phone’s price!

Despite all the downsides, the Nexus 5 is still a lot of phone for the buck. The best thing about it? It’s dirt cheap, and prices have been going down consistently as of late, with major retailers offering extremely good deals on it. For instance, a recent Ebay deal offers the Google LG Nexus 5’s black or red, 16 GB storage version for a measly $330. Sure, it’s $20 off the normal price, but it’s a good confirmation for the trend we’ve seen with the Nexus 5 lately, namely that it’s getting cheaper. The phone can already be upgraded to Android KitKat 4.4.4, and will be the first phone to get the highly anticipated Android L update from Google.

So we’ve clarified that the Nexus 5 remains a good investment, but what about the confirmed upcoming flagship, the Nexus 6? At this point, most inside sources are pointing at the fact that the Shamu, made by Motorola, will in fact be the Nexus 6. This contradicts previous rumors that were suggesting that LG would manufacture the Nexus 6 too, following the company’s success with the Nexus 5. The rumors are believable, as Motorola is indeed starting to establish a foothold in the Android market (with its strong line-up made out of the Moto X, Moto G, Moto E and the upcoming Moto X+1). We can definitely see the company work together with Google for the Nexus 6.

Now, pinpointing which rumors are true and which aren’t is extremely difficult at this point. Some sources would suggest that the Nexus 6 (or Shamu, how you call it is up to you) will feature a QHD display. However, this is unlikely. The age of Full HD isn’t quite over yet, and Google always strives for affordability instead of top-notch hardware with its phones. It’s reasonable to believe that the Nexus 6 will keep using a 1920 x 1080p display, and won’t be exceeding the 5 inch size by much. On the hardware-side, we’re expecting to see the new Snapdragon 805 coupled with 3 GB of RAM. Some early benchmarks were already supposedly leaked, showing the performance of the Nexus 6 to be slightly above what a Snapdragon 801 CPU offers, but these reports are likely fake and unreliable.

If there’s something we’re certain Google will address and upgrade with its Nexus 6, it’s the phone’s camera and its capabilities. At this point, offering anything without OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) is a no-go for a top selling phone, and Google certainly knows its current Nexus 5 is lackluster in its photo capturing capabilities. This will most definitely be a point of focus for improvement, as will the phone’s general design and battery life. Let’s face it, the Nexus 5 still runs everything perfectly, so the company would be wise to focus on ironing out the weaker parts of its phones if it wants to stay competitive. Early reports suggest a 12 MP camera with 4k Video recording capabilities for the Nexus 6, and this is so far the most reasonable and reliable leak about the phone.

Despite many websites reporting on an early-September release for the Nexus 6, I remain skeptical. If that was the case, we’d know a lot more about the flagship by now, and alas, we do not. The Nexus 5 was released at the end of October and during November world-wide, and it’s reasonable to assume Google will stick to that time-period with the Shamu too. I usually recommend buyers to hold off and wait for upcoming releases when they are imminent, but this time I’ll do the opposite, and recommend you go with the Nexus 5 if you’re looking for a smartphone now. It’s going to be awhile until we’ll see the Nexus 6 in stores, and the Nexus 5 already offers a great deal for a really good price. The phone won’t get cheaper when its successor is launched, simply because going much lower would not leave too much room for profit. If you can handle a smartphone with care and unless photography is extremely important to you, the Nexus 5 won’t let you know. Granted, the Nexus 6 will certainly offer more, but it’s still months away and it will definitely cost more, so buy the Nexus 5 with confidence.