Google Nexus 6 vs Google Nexus 5
The Nexus 6 shooter won't top any camera comparison charts, but it is pretty well-rounded, unlike the camera of the Nexus 5, which often has white balance issues.
The 13 MP camera on the Nexus 6 features an f/2.0 aperture lens, optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash ring, 2-megapixel front camera, and up to UHD 4K video recording. The Nexus 5 answers with quite the modest 8 MP shooter with f/2.4 aperture and optical image stabilization in its turn, able to muster 1080p video recording “only”.
The snapping app on both phones is Google's Camera – one that’s been available for quite some time as a downloadable app in the Play Store. Yet again, we can see Lollipop’s favor of offering a cleaner and simpler UI, since the Camera app’s interface is predominantly reserved for the viewfinder. In terms of shooting modes, we’re given photo sphere, panorama, HDR+ and lens blur.
Outdoors, both handsets take pretty decent photos, even in not so ideal lighting conditions. They often mess up the white balance measurements, casting an overly warm, yellowish hue over the scene (Nexus 5), or a leaning to the colder side of the spectrum somewhat (Nexus 6). The Nexus 6 exposure is largely spot on, while its predecessor often chooses an exposure setting that is a step under what it should be. The Motorola phone also captures a bit more detail than the Nexus 5.
The Nexus 6 performs well in terms of color presentation indoors, but the shots seem a tad too dark, and it introduces a bit too much noise in the frame. Indoors, the Nexus 5 fares well – it achieves decent exposure without washing it out too much, and the white balance issues from outdoors don't translate in low light. Its flash is very weak, though, when compared to the Nexus 6, and illuminates the scene quite unevenly, too.
Motorola's phone is capable of 4K video, while the Nexus 5 maxes out at 1080p footage. The Nexus 6 video is very fluid, and the optical image stabilization makes the scene just flow in front of the lens without jittery effects. The color presentation is slightly colder than reality, while the overly warm tones from the Nexus 5, whose video is yellowish to the point of unpleasantness. The Nexus 6 overall exposure is better than what the Nexus 5 spits out, as it makes the video brighter, and exposure compensation while panning around is faster, too. Continuous autofocus works like a charm on the phablet, while we wish you good luck trying to focus back and forth with the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 tends to produce a rather unpleasant sound recording, especially when you're shooting in a noisy location (as can be heard in the video sample below). With the Nexus 6, things sound a whole lot better. Both phones record sound in mono, unlike plenty of current handsets that record stereo.
Needless to say, one big advantage of the huge Nexus 6 display over the 5-incher on the Nexus 5 is media consumption, as pictures, video and games just look and feel much better on a larger screen. As for the pixel density, that's of a dubious advantage, as it's unlikely you'll go through the trouble to dig out the rare 2K video out there just to watch it in native resolution on the Nexus 6, as the difference will be close to invisible to the naked eye. Motorola's phone, however, flaunts an AMOLED display, whose blacks are really deep, compared to the slightly greyish-looking ones on the LCD panel of the Nexus 5, which makes a difference while watching darker scenes in movies, for instance. However, you'll also need to have luck on your side when picking a Nexus 6 unit, since some of those suffer from inaccurate (bad) color reproduction. As for codec support, the phones play most popular formats you throw at them.
The tune players are identical, using Google's stock Play Music app, which, lo and behold, is pretty devoid of anything other than the basic features. Another media consumption point for the Nexus 6 are its two stereo speakers at the front, while the Nexus 5 is equipped with one loudspeaker only, and a pretty wimpy one at that.