Google Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: in-depth specs comparison

In light of yet another humble, no-event Nexus announcement, it's only fitting that we keep it simple and straightforward, too. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nexus 6 is here, and this time around, Google has chosen Motorola to build it.

After a change from the strategy that saw Google and its hardware partner, LG, team up to bring vanilla Android-touting Nexus flagship devices to the market at affordable prices, the search giant is now returning to the roots of its line. Like with the now ancient HTC Nexus One and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we're once again looking at a device that will be sold for the more standard $649. But Google didn't leave it at that -- the 5.96-inch Nexus 6 is also the biggest Nexus yet, and by far.

So big is the Nexus 6, that it's actually now finding itself in the company of phablet veterans like the Galaxy Note 4. But size is not the only similarity between it and Samsung's 5.7-incher, for the two also boast extremely-sharp, Quad HD resolution displays, mighty Snapdragon 805 processors, and 3GB of RAM each. That's not the entire story, though, and this means only one thing: it's time to dig further.


The rumor mill had it right all along -- the new Nexus really did end up being styled after the 2014 Moto X. In fact, if it weren't for its size and the giant, vertical Nexus logo on the back, we'd have a hard time telling it apart from Motorola's latest flagship. The front is differentiated from the Note 4 by its more rounded, soap-shaped form, its two speaker grills on the top and bottom bezels, and, of course, the lack of a physical home button. At the back, we've got a matted plastic shell that curves to the sides, while Samsung has gone for a fairly convincing, but ultimately fake plastic imitation of leather. To the sides, we've got a small (and welcome) surprise with the Nexus 6 -- unlike most manufacturers (Samsung and its Note 4 included), Google's phablet houses both the power key and volume rocker low on the right side of the frame, making them easy-to-reach and manipulate.

But to claim that the Nexus 6 is going to be a comfortable device to use would be misleading -- if anything, its dimensions suggest that it will be quite unwieldy, even in comparison with the also imposing Note 4 -- 6.27 x 3.27 x 0.40 inches (159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06 mm) versus 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm). The Nexus 6 is also heavier (6.49 oz (184 g) versus 6.21 oz (176 g)), though its curvature might help alleviate some of the difficulties you'll probably run into trying to handle this device. In all, one thing is clear -- neither of these two is one hand-friendly.


If any of you were hoping that, despite the insistent rumors, Google will nevertheless keep its cool and stick to a conventional, battery-sparing 1080p display, you might not appreciate the fact that the company is transitioning to a Quad HD one. Indeed, the 5.96-inch panel boasts a super-sharp resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, good enough for 493 pixels per inch. But that's not all -- the screen we're looking at is of the AMOLED type, and those are fairly rare with manufacturers other than Samsung. Speaking of the Note 4's maker, it has fitted a 5.7-inch, Super AMOLED screen with an identical, Quad HD resolution (or 515 ppi). For protection, both devices are making use of a Gorilla Glass 3 cover, which is harder to scratch and more resistant to shattering than conventional glass, all the while providing lower levels of reflectance in order to aid outdoor visibility.

One definitive advantage of the Note 4's screen is its ability to become extra sensitive through an option in the settings menu, allowing you to use it with gloves on. With winter behind the corner, that's a great extra to have.

Interface and functionality

Perhaps with the exception of price (a non-factor here), the fact that the Nexus line runs on the very latest, manufacturer bloat-free versions of Android was one of the family's definitive highlights. This does not change with the Nexus 6, which will be among the very first devices on the planet to offer the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. One of the key changes with Lollipop is the transition towards a flatter, but animation-rich visuals that feel almost playful in that subtle Google style, and also provide a much-needed sense of fluidity to actions. Lollipop also brings notable improvements to the way you interact with notifications and how they'are served -- you can now action them straight from the lockscreen, for example. As part of the so-called Project Volta, Google is also introducing enhancement to battery life, so small to moderate savings are expected, not to mention that Android now finally has a dedicated power-saving mode.

Turning to the Note 4, we're looking at a much different approach. In contrast to Google's lightweight philosophy, Samsung is instead known for going full out with a bucketful of extras and perks, and nowhere is that more apparent than with its Note 4. The company's latest phablet sports Android 4.4.4 KitKat with its signature TouchWiz skin on top. The visuals here are also flatter than in the past, and Samsung chose to embrace color like never before with the latest iteration of TW, but we're still looking at the most complex take on Android available from pretty much any manufacturer. Apart from its iconic S Pen stylus sidekick (which now offers new features like Smart Select), the Note 4 also comes with notable perks like Smart Stay (screen stays on indefinitely, so long as you're looking at it), MultiWindow (run and interact with two apps side-by-side simultaneously), and even a special one-handed mode that re-sizes the entire UI to a more manageable size.

Overall, when thinking interface comparison, it definitely comes down to taste, as either of the two has its strong points. The Nexus 6, for example, offers a more straightforward, Lollipop user experience, and promises quick subsequent updates, all the while the Note 4 touts its arsenal of extras. It should, however, be pointed out that it will be a while until we see Android Lollipop on Samsung's latest flagship.

Processor and memory

With both devices sporting as high resolution displays, we're glad to see that the Google/Motorola duo, like Samsung, has gone for a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset. Capable of cranking up the clock speeds to up to 2.7GHz when needed, this is the first processor from the chip maker specifically marketed as capable of pushing such mind-blowing amounts of pixels. Both devices also make use of an Adreno 420 GPU, which has seen generational performance improvements over its predecessor, along with a few new features, like hardware tessellation.

As for RAM, both devices make use of generous, 3GB LPDDR3 blocks of memory. In terms of internal storage, we're looking at 32GB and 64GB models with the Nexus 6, and a 32GB model with the Note 4 (a 64GB version expected). Thankfully for Samsung, its phablet offers storage expansion via microSD (up to 128GB more), which is more than we can say for the Nexus 6.


Team Googlerola fitted a 13-megapixel, 1/3.06'' Sony IMX214 Exmor RS sensor (1.12 micron pixels) inside the Nexus 6, complete with optical image stabilization. The unit is also complemented by 6-element, f/2.0 lens and an unusual ring flash that surrounds it, with 2 LEDs inside. Up at the front, we've got a 2-megapixel selfie snapper, capable of 720p capture for the occasional video chat.

With the Note 4, we're talking a 16-megapixel, 1/2.6'' sensor (1.1 micron pixels), also garnished with optical image stabilization. The snapper has an equally wide, f/2.0 lens, but comes with a more standard, single LED flash. For the front-facing slot, Samsung chose a very generous, 3.7-megapixel camera that can do 1080p video.

In terms of video, both devices can do 1080p at 30 FPS (though the Note 4 can shoot super-smooth, 60 FPS 1080p clips also) and super high-res 4K UHD, also at 30 frames per second. Unlike the Nexus 6, the Note 4 can also capture slow-motion videos.

Obviously, the Nexus 6 is yet to reach our hands, so we don't yet know what kind of results to expect from its camera, but we do know that the Note 4 is currently one of the most capable smartphone shooters on the market, whether we're talking stills or video. We do, however, have to point out that the former two Nexus flagships were lackluster in comparison with the best flagships that were on the market at that time, but we'll still have to wait and see if that remains the case with the Nexus 6.


It'll be interesting to see the way Nexus 6 affects sales of the Note 4, but not because we believe it has any kind of a real chance of actually competing unit for unit. Instead, we're curious to see the split the two will cause within what is likely going to end up as a community that mostly recognizes itself as one -- power users. Indeed, the Nexus 6's price of $649 will likely put off bargain hunters, and that means that it'll be mostly up to the appreciators of stock, vanilla Android to pick it up -- the same compact tribe that adores the Note 4 for its extended cache of features that no other manufacturer offers.

In all, we don't expect the Nexus 6 to make much of a dent in Samsung's sales projections for its prized phablet, but to misconstrue that to mean that the former isn't worthy of your very serious geek-on would be unfortunate and out of sync with the reality we're witnessing right this moment.

Related phones

Nexus 6
  • Display 6.0" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Quad-core, 2700 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3220 mAh(24h talk time)
Galaxy Note 4
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)



1. Busyboy unregistered

Note 4

4. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

note 4 is a better multimedia house and the only device with has some features near to the pc also the note 4 hast removable battery and u can extand ur storage with a microsdcard :) sry for bad english xD

12. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

doesnt matter as long as ppl understand what you say.

15. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

thx bro

55. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

I believe nexus 6 is a better multimedia beast than note 4 with a larger screen and stereo speakers.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

Yea Note 4 for me as well. The most attractive thing about the Nexus line was how affordable it was. Now that it's at flag ship level price, I'm going to get the flagship device and that of course, is the Note 4. If history is any indictation of what to expect. Expect the Note 4 to have a better camera, better battery life, more functionality, and of course better display.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Well said......i agree, but I must check out both. The Nexus 6 at hat prices forces you to consider the Note 4!

56. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

As long as they have on par battery life and cameras, I think the price hike is worth it, and you can get nexus 6 cheaper too. Anyway both are beastly devices, both have their advantages, you can't go wrong with either.

65. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

Yes Nexus used to be cheap but if I compare Moto X with Nexus 6. it seems they charging close to moto x. but Nexus 6 is ahead in everything. Display Size, Resolution, PPI, Processor, RAM, Speakers, WiFi, Bluetooth. Moto X starting price is 500 but Nexus 6 have 32GB as starting point so Moto X cost 50 more. Nexus don't sound expensive to me especially when I compare to other flagships. also I've read that they including Turbo charger which cost 35. so for extra spec they just charging us $70? no bad han?

81. engine312

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 31, 2014

Ahead of everything? Really? Looks like you got it wrong. Same resolution. Same RAM. Same Processor. Nexus 6 has a slightly larger screen but Note 4 has a better PPI. Note has a better camera. Where did you get all that info? To me they both look pretty much neck and neck.

83. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

You are an idiot, you can't even read, I was comparing moto x and nexus 6 .. And I said ahead in .. Not ahead of... Also comparing note 4 with nexus 6... Note 4 have really awesome display, its not regard of higher density but better color calibration, great sunlight legibility, that's only thing making note 4 tempting for me.. Otherwise I never prefer touchwiz.. Put note 4 display quality in nexus 6, I would never consider note 4.. But I love displays so note 4 display is really awesome..

36. djm63401

Posts: 19; Member since: Sep 17, 2012

Nexus 6 is gorgeous I don't like touch wiz either nice device I like to get my updates fast so. Nexus wins for me. I'll jump in January.

54. T.Law

Posts: 423; Member since: May 10, 2014

Better wait for the next phone from OnePlus then.

2. Mobilephile

Posts: 166; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

Nexus side profile looks gnarly as hell, almost alien-like and those gap lines at all the 4 corners doesn't look nice AT ALL...just like those gap lines on the back of the new iphones, horrible.

3. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

Nexus 6 FTW

10. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

Oh shut it.. We know you would prefer anything but samsung sony boy..

66. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

Seems you prefer Samsung ;)

5. GTR722

Posts: 270; Member since: Oct 20, 2012

Seriusly Sony, how can you provide a sensor with optical image stab. for the Nexus 6 but not for your OWN Xperia Z3??

14. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Because Sony wants to sell you a camera and a phone. Same reason the audio quality on the Z3 is always a step behind. Because Sony wants to sell you an audio player or a standalone DAC. Sony doesn't realize that cannibalizing yourself is far better than having some other company cannibalize you. Basically Sony is failing Business 101 which is why they have huge losses, quarter after quarter.

17. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Their phones are making a profit, just pointing that out...

29. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

They are doing better with their phones, but in one of their recent interviews, they did mention that they were going to focus on their high-end phones and get rid of their low end models as they don't make any money on their low/mid-range stuff. This makes sense, but there will be even a greater emphasis on delivering quality and value to the market, i.e. including a headphone amp at least as good as HTC. Then there is Panasonic using a *SONY* 1" 20MP sensor in a new Lumix phone. Sony should be leading the way with the world's best mobile device photography, but they are making gimmicks like massive add-on lenses for phones. Sony has a lot of great technology, but their management team is full of fear and half-baked decisions. They remind me of TEPCO.

61. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

True.. I hope they will get their shi- together

52. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

And you know what the most surprising thing? The camera module in note 4 is also made by Sony.

63. Ashoaib

Posts: 3297; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

anandtech's review is the wrost review so far I have read... seems like they are trying very hard to up lift apple over all other brands

67. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

People who love Samsung, don't like to hear good words for Apple(mostly) or say don't like if someone praise other than Samsung.

6. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

At that price point, good luck.

57. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

I don't know what's wrong. Nexus devices were affordable because they compromised a lot, crappy cameras, horrible battery life, low storage options, inferior audio quality. Now that they are improving everything and the nexus 6 is going to be on par with the latest flagships out there (not only on paper, in real), then why not the price hike? And you are still paying less than recent flagships. Just saying.

68. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

Agreed. Compared Moto X with Nexus 6. Nexus 6 have everything better, Camera, Processor, Display, WiFi, Bluetooth, and there's more. and only add extra $70(almost) and all saying its expensive. Nexus 6 is freakishly awesome. Note 4 is also great too.

7. wilsong17 unregistered

Well I was going for the nexus but it was too big

8. twens

Posts: 1180; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

I'm surprise how much hate samsung has gathered over the years to the point when they clearly have a superior phone people still refuse to acknowledge and see it. It's like the world just wants to get rid of samsung. Lol

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