Interface

The new TouchWiz is cleaner and more refined as Samsung continues on its way to improvement. Stock Android on the Nexus 6 is still subjectively superior in terms of looks, and objectively better thanks to its faster updates.

The Samsung Galaxy Note5 runs on the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with the newest version of TouchWiz on top of it, and this time around, it is a fairly big change for the TouchWiz skin. The Google Nexus 6, in contrast, runs on the latest 5.1 version of Android Lollipop in its pure, stock form. This also happens to be the biggest advantage of any Nexus device - having a pure stock build and the blessing of Google, Nexus phones are always the first to get Android updates with new features and security patches. Samsung has promised to push security updates in a more timely manner, but when it comes to other Android changes, they are likely to come later to the Galaxy series than to Nexus phones.

User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6

User interface of the Samsung Galaxy Note5


As to the current state of TouchWiz, the skin now features a slightly changed set of icons - now all icons have rounded corners and non-transparent backgrounds, plus the style is a bit evolved. At the same time, the typical contrasty colors and cartoonish vibe remains. Samsung has now also added captions for everything, and we mean everything: even the toggles have ‘On/Off’ captions in order to ensure that users are not confused by menus. TouchWiz has lots of various options hidden in menus that you can explore, but they no longer feel forcefully and excessively pushed on users. Stock Android 5.1, on the other hand, is a well known platform with the signature flat Material Design and speedy performance.

UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6
UI of the Google Nexus 6 - Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Google Nexus 6

UI of the Google Nexus 6


The big highlight feature of the Note5 is the S Pen stylus on the bottom, which allows you to interact with your phone in ways not possible on the Nexus 6. Right after you take out the pen, you get a pop up with the Air Command menu showing you shortcuts to different actions that you can do with the pen. You can now quickly open apps from here (you select which apps), and that’s a neat shortcut. We also love the fact that you can just pop out the pen while your device is locked and start writing on the screen without starting any app beforehand. Neat!

Processor and Memory

The Exynos 7420 system chip is a champ: it brings improvement in single-core and multi-core performance, as well as graphics. Yes, it’s also faster than the Nexus 6 in all of those aspects. Yet, stock Android still feels zippier than TouchWiz in daily tasks.

Samsung was the first in the smartphone chip race to get to 14nm manufacturing and it used this advantage fully with its Samsung Galaxy S6, a device that ditched Qualcomm chips used before by Samsung in favor of the new Exynos 7420 system chip. The same chip powers the Galaxy Note5, and it’s an octa-core 64-bit solution that runs at up to 2.1GHz and relies on a big.LITTLE configuration of four high-performance Cortex A57 cores and four power-efficient Cortex A53s. The Google Nexus 6, in comparison, sports the Snapdragon 805, a quad-core 32-bit chip that features four Krait 450 CPU cores running at up to 2.7GHz.

Those are the specs, but what’s the perceived real-life performance? The Galaxy Note5 is an improvement over earlier Samsungs that had noticeable issues with micro lag (hello, Note4!), but at the same time, we still find the Nexus 6 running a bit zippier and stutter-free.

The big highlight of Samsung’s Note5 design is the inclusion of 4GB of LPDRR4 RAM that theoretically should make multitasking easier and more efficient.

Looking at benchmarks, one notices some significant improvements with the Exynos 7420 on the Note5 over the Snapdragon 805 on the Nexus 6: the single-core performance test on GeekBench shows a nearly 40% improvement, and an even higher boost in multi-core scores.

Gamers will be happy to see some improvement in gaming performance on the Note5 with its Mali T760 GPU that outdoes the Adreno 420 in the Nexus 6.

When it comes to internal storage, we’re happy to see that both phones come with 32GB of internal storage in the base model. At the same time, we’re also sad to see that there are no microSD card expansion options on the two - you’re stuck with the internal storage you have. And while that’s been this way for a few years in the Nexus family, the lack of microSD card is a recent downgrade for the Galaxy lineup. At the same time, we should say that the massive move to streaming music and cloud services for photos and videos, should alleviate a lot of the burden put on the internal storage before.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 67207
Google Nexus 6 49480
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 2532
Google Nexus 6 2731
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 5476
Google Nexus 6 3644
Sunspider Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 677.7
Google Nexus 6 797.6
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 37
Google Nexus 6 27.9
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 15
Google Nexus 6 12
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1765
Google Nexus 6 1470
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1431
Google Nexus 6 1062
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 4717
Google Nexus 6 3295

Internet and Connectivity

The large screen on both phones helps a lot with browsing, and surfing is speedy and without any major issues on both. Of course, you have 4G LTE connectivity.

Having a large screen such as the 5.7” one on the Note5 and the 6-inch one on the Nexus 6 definitely works out great for browsing. The vast screen estate allows for pages to load in their entirety and require less scrolling around. Both phones come with Google's mobile Chrome for browsing, but while that's the only pre-installed option on the Nexus 6, the Galaxy Note5 defaults to a custom browser solution that offers a full screen view, and a few other perks. We found no troubles with surfing speeds – everything was moving quickly, pages rendered fast, and zooming in and out of pages happened without a stutter, just as you'd expect.

The S Pen makes it easier to annotate web pages and highlight sections of a page to save it or quickly send it to a friend or colleague. You also have a new S Pen feature that allows you to 'scroll capture' a page, meaning that you can take a screenshot spanning across the whole length of a webpage (usually, you'd need to manually scroll and stitch multiple screenshots to achieve this).

When it comes to connectivity, both phones are equipped with 4G LTE with a variety of bands, depending on the market. Since both phones are officially sold in the United States and Europe, you should not worry about any inconveniences with unsupported bands – LTE works fine on both phones on the common in the Western world bands.

In addition, you have the typical dual-channel Wi-Fi modem, MIMO (2x2) antennas for better reception, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.2, as well as GPS.

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14 Comments

1. Super.Vegito

Posts: 43; Member since: Aug 04, 2015

I'd say the Note 5 is better but I will still buy the Nexus 6 because of that critical s pen design flaw. Also saving some bucks doesn't hurt.

3. -Shadow-

Posts: 95; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

Seriously -_-

4. TyrionLannister unregistered

WTF. You are not getting a working flawless stylus in Nexus 6 either.

5. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Why would you even insert the S-Pen in the wrong way? :/ It's so easy to feel the S-Pen whether it's facing down or up.

12. Aroma

Posts: 11; Member since: Nov 17, 2014

exactly, ss note5 is fine but Nx 6 is more prefer than, I vl choose Nx 6. hoping I vl be sold in Viet Nam (Asian) lol

2. Bjray

Posts: 199; Member since: May 29, 2014

Pretty much the same results from last year between the Note 4 vs N6. I still choose the Nexus in the end because of stock Android and modding freedom. An GPE Note 5 would be perfect. Hopefully the 2015 Nexus 6 will deliver.

6. Trex95

Posts: 2358; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

https://youtu.be/JV8LlTxcIvY It seems that note 5 even with 4 gig of ram still can't multitasking even better than G4 sad :/

8. keithtae

Posts: 564; Member since: Mar 25, 2015

but it still finished up faster than any of them. nice troll haha

9. Trex95

Posts: 2358; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

The different not even noticeable for a 4 gig of ram compare it to dated G4 Soc and ddr3 ram.

7. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

The Nexus 6 cannot even be compared to a Note 5. The only thing that is better in Nexus 6 is faster updates. Even the UI of touchwiz has improved a lot after the option of theme customization (especially the material dark theme).

10. Niva.

Posts: 440; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

You're right, I wouldn't compare a great phone like the Nexus 6 to the Touchwiz ridden overpriced abomination called the Note 5.

11. ShaunO13

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 26, 2015

Haha! Yes! I've always disliked TouchWiz UI. When I had my SGS3 in 2012, I've flashed a custom ROM on it as soon as devs had a version for the device. I don't know what buyers really are paying for for Samsung devices, overpriced, doesn't really have that premium feel as what you would expect on an iPhone, so much gimmicks with the features and barely gets updates, well at least with the Nexus 6 you get Google stock experience which means uhm, EVERYTHING!

14. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

Better screen Better camera Better processor Faster storage and more RAM Better design S Pen and all of its functionalities As I said, the only thing good about Nexus 6 is faster updates. I am not a fan of the TouchWiz UI but that is subjective. Besides, the theme has made it at least more pleasing than before. You can say whatever you like but you can't deny facts. Stop comparing phones based on the brand name printed on them. Try and analyse the facts and appreciate good technology.

13. tokuzumi

Posts: 1821; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

LOL at the "design flaw" in the Note 5. Unless you are holding the S-Pen upside down, you aren't going to put it in wrong.

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