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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Nexus 6P: Vote for the better phone

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Nexus 6P: Vote for the better phone

If you've grown accustomed to phablets, or just don't mind lugging around a device the size of a small tablet, then you've likely eyed both the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Google Nexus 6P with interest on more than one occasion. Undeniably among the freshest of offerings this year, the two giants take markedly different approaches in most categories, and specifically in terms of design — both hardware and software.

It won't come off as a surprise if we told you that we're always interested in your take on most topics, and in this case we wanted to hear your take on these two well-rounded smartphones, broken down into categories. It goes without saying that the aim here is for you to be as objective as possible, and to vote your heart even if it means going against a device you own.

Design


After years of endless complaints, Samsung took note in 2015, and came up with a fundamentally different design language for its high-ends. The Note 5, which is really an up-scaled and slightly tweaked Galaxy S6, exhibits all the great qualities of that new vision: premium-felling metal and glass throughout, a relatively slim chassis, and no removable battery mumbo-jumbo. If you were to ask us, it's the most stylish Galaxy Note member to date.

Up in Google's camp, things look similar. Built by Huawei — a company more invested in metal builds than pretty much everyone save HTC — the contoured, all-aluminum Nexus 6P comes across as decisively premium and also a big step forward compared to the older Nexus 6. Huawei's influence is also apparent with the rear-mounted, touch-type fingerprint scanner, which comes in stark contrast to the solution available at the front of the Note 5. 

In terms of size, the Nexus 6P is notably taller, a tad wider and heavier, but also slimmer than the Note 5. Since the screen diagonals are essentially identical, this means that Samsung has achieved a better screen-to-body ratio, which sits at approximately 76.62% — versus 71.60% for the Nexus 6P.

Armed with this information and the comparison images below, which one would you say you prefer in terms of design?



Display


While the Huawei/Google duo went for markedly different styling with the Nexus 6P when compared to the Samsung camp, the two devices are actually quite alike when talking displays. At least on paper.

You're looking at two 5.7-inch AMOLED panels — a Samsung-branded Super AMOLED in the case of the Note 5 — that both offer Quad HD resolutions (1440 x 2560) and an identical pixel density of 518 ppi. That's about where the differences end, however.

With the Note 5 under the non-default 'Basic' display mode, we measured a significantly higher maximum nit brightness of 470 nits (versus just 356 nits), a notably lower color and grayscale error, but less ideal average gamma that tends to brighten up highlights unnaturally. The Nexus 6P's average gamma might appear spot on, but it's also consistently higher than optimal, so the image is generally darker than ideal. Still, on the whole, we'd say the two offer about the same level of fidelity on the gamma front, just going at it from different directions.

Based on this summary and after consulting the below tables and measurements, which of the two offers the better display?




Interface


Perhaps the most striking difference between Samsung's Note 5 and Google's Nexus 6P is the software running things. Sure, we're talking about Android in both cases, but with the latter you're looking at pure, vanilla Android — just the way Google intended it — without any bloat. The build on the Nexus 6P is the 6.0 Marshmallow one, and is therefore newer in comparison with the 5.1 Lollipop version (with TouchWiz on top) available with the Note 5.

The Nexus 6P is also guaranteed to get updates as soon as Google pushes them out in the future, while the Note 5 will require Samsung engineers to first port everything to TouchWiz. Of course, in return you're getting quite a bit more extra features, including goodies such as MultiWindow, a one-handed mode, and the whole S-Pen stylus suite.

Keeping all this in mind, which interface do you like more in terms of UX design and feature set?



Camera


When it comes to the main shooters on these two phablets, neither of the two snappers has clear superiority. 

The Note 5 is equipped with a 16-megapixel camera (16:9), made by either Sony or Samsung (depending on the batch), with super-wide,  f/1.9 lens, phase detection auto focus, and optical stabilization. As for Google's Nexus 6P, we're looking at a more standard, 12.3-megapixel sensor (4:3), with wide, f/2.0 lens, laser-assisted auto focus, and dual LED (versus single on the Note 5) flash. The camera here has no optical stabilization, but it's actually notably larger (1/2.3" vs 1/2.6"), which coupled with the lower amount of pixels packed into it, results in larger, 1.55 μm pixels (vs 1.12 μm with the Note 5).

Both cameras can shoot up to 4K UHD video at 30FPS, but the Nexus 6P is better at slow motion video, managing up to 240 frames per second, whereas the Note 5 is limited at 'just' 120FPS.

Here are some image and video samples meant to aid you in choosing the better camera. Which one do you like more?


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