The Nexus 5 is sadly not being produced any more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on this year’s most popular stock Android smartphone. The Nexus 6 on the other hand is the latest iteration of a stock Android smartphone from Google and Motorola and aims to set a model for other OEMs on how to create a smartphone that is functional and practical, yet beautiful and easy to use at the same time. While I wouldn’t say the Nexus 6 design is better than the Nexus 5 design, it still is a significant upgrade and a big bump in price.
The Nexus 5 specs and price are the thing of legend, because Google and LG managed to get great hardware into a pretty high-end durable chassis and put an affordable price tag on the device. The Nexus 6 is the more high-end device which you would want to get if you are in need of something truly future-proof, but the Nexus 5 can be a great bargain if you manage to get your hands on it, unless you are bothered by the average camera performance.
Display, size and design
The Nexus 5 is definitely smaller than the Nexus 6, measuring 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm, while the Nexus 6 size is considerably bigger measuring 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm. The difference in weight is just as obvious, as the Nexus 5 weighs 130 grams while the Motorola Nexus 6 weighs 184 g, sitting heavy in your pocket. Not that I would mind. When it comes to display, the Nexus 5 is quite admirable, especially considering that it is last year’s flagship. The Nexus 5 display measures 4.95 inches, and has a 1080*1920 resolution which adds up to 445 ppi pixel density. The Nexus 6 display, on the other hand, shows off Google’s and Motorola’s efforts of keeping up with the tide and trend set by the LG G3 and Galaxy Note 4 and packs a 5.96 inch display with a 1440*2560 resolution.
When it comes to design, neither the Nexus 5 or the Nexus 6 have any innovative traits that would stand out, honestly, but both of them still have great, ergonomic design that sits very well in the hands and feels great to the touch. The Nexus 5 doesn’t bear much of the design elements specific to LG flagships, instead sporting a simple, flat design with average bezels and nice button placement. The Nexus 6 design on the other hand looks like a blown-up Moto X 2014, which is not bad at all. You have the rounded back and the Motorola dimple, as well as slim bezels and great front facing speakers.
Operating system, CPU, GPU and performance
Android 5.0 Lollipop runs marvelously on both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6, with the Nexus 5 having the Android 5.0.1 factory image and update already available through Google. Android 5.0 Lollipop came out alongside the Nexus 6 and HTC Nexus 9 as the brand new iteration of the revered mobile operating system from Google. Adorning in Material Design, both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 offer great user experience and power management, not to mention high-end performance. The Nexus 5 performance is just as good as the Nexus 6 one, although you will find that certain heavy games or apps might take a toll on the phone.
Hardware wise, the two devices aren’t equal, that’s for sure, but that doesn’t mean that a power user won’t be satisfied with what the Nexus 5 has to offer. The Nexus 5 runs on a Snapdragon 800 CPU backed by an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB RAM. The device is available with either 16 GB or 32 GB internal storage, with no microSD card slot available. The Nexus 6 specs outdo those of the Nexus 5 by a kilometer, if not a mile. Nexus 6 specs include a Snapdragon 805 CPU backed by an Adreno 420 GPU and 3 GB RAM. You still don’t have a microSD card slot on this one, but you do have either 32 or 64 GB to choose from. Nexus 6 performance is spotless, to say the least, even though Android 5.0 Lollipop did have some occasional lag and bugs, which were fixed by the subsequent 5.0.1 update.
Battery life on the Nexus 5 or Nexus 6 isn’t anything to write home about, but they are above average, nearing the battery life of flagships like the Sony Xperia Z4 and Galaxy Note 4, which hit the 2 day mark. The Nexus 5 battery measures 2300 mAH, which is plenty for a smaller, HD display and a good CPU like the Snapdragon 800. The Nexus 6, on the other hand, has a larger 3220 mAH battery, which is sufficient to power the QHD huge display, but not enough to offer spectacular battery life. You’ll get an average of a day and a half of battery life with both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6, but we do have to admire the fact that the Nexus 6 manages that with the large QHD display on board.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Nexus 5 camera is just average when it comes to photography, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enough for an average user. Its response time and image quality lack anything extraordinary, but they do make for pretty decent photos and videos. The primary camera on the Nexus 5 is equipped with an 8 MP sensor and optical image stabilization and dual LED flash, while the front camera is an average 1.3 MP shooter. The optical image stabilization definitely helps and is a huge plus, but otherwise the camera performance on the Nexus 5 is just average. The Nexus 6 camera, on the other hand, is pretty impressive, with a 13 MP primary camera equipped with a ring LED flash and optical image stabilization. The front camera has also been bumped up a bit to a 2 MP sensor. While the Nexus 6 camera isn’t anything to write home about either, it is an improvement over the Nexus 5 setup and does take impressively high quality photos even in non-optimal lighting conditions.
One of the best features of both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 is the fact that if you get them from the Google Play Store you will find stock Android on them, which is a pull factor for many Android fans. Skins like TouchWiz, Optimus or Sense aren’t favorites, even though the latter is quite friendly and impressive. Nonetheless, stock Android 5.0 Lollipop is definitely a feature on both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6. Both phones also include loudspeakers, but the Nexus 6 has front facing stereo speakers which offer better sound quality. NFC, 9 axis sensor and Gorilla Glass 3 are present on both flagships, but the Nexus 5 only has Bluetooth 4.0 while the Nexus 6 sports Bluetooth 4.1. At the same time, the Nexus 6 is water resistant, which means that it won’t die on you if you accidentally spill a bit of liquid onto it. Wireless Qi charging is enabled on both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6, which is definitely a desirable feature to have.
We’ve mentioned the fact that the Nexus 5 price can be a true bargain for smartphone enthusiasts, meaning that you can get your hands on an unlocked Nexus 5 for around $400, which is a great price for a flagship like this. The Nexus 6 price is on the hefty side though, the unlocked version setting you back around $650. Even though it’s a bit expensive, the Nexus 6 is certainly worth the investment, in my opinion, since you are getting a very powerful phablet with a great display, stock Android and great specs. Now if you are content with the Nexus 5 being last year’s flagship with pretty current specs, it would be the better deal for you, but if you want to keep up with the times, the Nexus 6 would be the better choice.