Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ vs Google Nexus 6
If you live outside the United States, prepare for some big changes: chances are that instead of a new Galaxy Note5, your only option this fall when it comes to Samsung phablets will be the trendy new Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+. Yes, the futuristic phone with screen that curves on both sides is now the norm for Europe and many other markets. So how does that hip new phone compare with the staple of Google’s pure Android phablet army, the Google Nexus 6?
Both are large devices: the Galaxy S6 edge+ with a 5.7-inch display, and the Nexus 6 with an even larger, 6-inch screen; both have AMOLED screens, both lack expandable storage. And that’s where the similarities end: the S6 edge+ features the latest TouchWiz adorned with some Edge gestures, while the Nexus 6 runs stock Android.
And the actual quality of the screen, cameras, and just about most other aspect differ.
So which one should you get? We look at the details to try and answer this question.
We love the stylish, premium design of Galaxy S6 edge+ and the futuristic twist that comes with its edge functionality. The Nexus 6, on the other hand, is inconveniently gargantuan and features a plastic back cover that can get really messy.
The Galaxy S6 edge+ is all about new: it comes with the new design language that Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S6 earlier this year, and it’s also the first phablet with a dual curved edge screen. Make no mistake, this is a flagship-grade, premium product with a metal frame and two pieces of tempered glass around it, and all of that feels firmly put together in an impressively slim and good-looking package. The Google Nexus 6, comparatively, doesn't look as impressive: it is still well put together and features a neat metal frame, but its style much less refined and its plastic back catches fingerprints like crazy and quickly starts to look like a mess (admittedly, the S6 edge+ also catches fingerprints, but does not feel so greasy).
Then there is the size. The difference between a 5.7” screen and a 6” one should not be that big, but these two devices feel vastly different in size. Samsung has done an admirable job with smart curves, a thin profile, and impressively slim side bezels, so that the S6 edge+ feels more like a 5.5 incher. It’s very compact for its screen size. Not so for the Nexus 6 – it has a large 6-inch screen, but it is not disguised in any way: the phone is fairly thick, the bezels are not minimal, and the overall feel of this phablet is more like that of a small tablet rather than a big phone. And yes, this will definitely feel uncomfortably large for many people, while the S6 edge+ tends to be a bit more manageable and user-friendly in terms of size.
In terms of buttons, there is the signature Samsung physical home key on the S6 edge+ (it also acts as a touch-type fingerprint reader) with two capacitive keys, and then you have a power/lock key on the right and two volume buttons on the left hand side. The Nexus 6, on its part, lacks a fingerprint scanner, and uses on-screen navigation buttons.
What about those fancy new curves? Well, content seems to just flow into them in a neat futuristic effect and the phone feels almost bezel-less. We also like the expanded functionality of the edge - you can now switch between apps and quickly dial contacts - still not something that brings ground-breaking improvements to functionality, but it’s a cool little touch and we like it for what it is.
The 5.7-inch Quad HD screen on the Galaxy S6 edge+ is a showcase for the best of Super AMOLED: the screen is bright and well calibrated in ‘Basic’ mode. The Nexus 6’s 6” Quad HD screen is also AMOLED but colors are off.
Samsung has been improving its AMOLED displays at a fast pace, and while just a year and a half ago there were severe issues with color quality, these days AMOLED screens on top Samsung phones look much, much better.
The Galaxy S6 edge+ is a clear example of this improvement: it boasts a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560 pixels). The Google Nexus 6, in comparison, also comes with a Quad HD resolution and AMOLED tech, but it’s an older generation of the tech and the actual quality is actually much worse. This is not about sharpness: both screens use the Diamond PenTile matrix, and appear sharp and pixelization-free (pixel density is 515ppi on the S6 edge+ and 490ppi on the Nexus 6).
The difference is in color quality. The Galaxy S6 edge+ comes with various screen modes: ‘Adaptive’ is the default one, but for most accurate color mode is ‘Basic’. ‘Basic’ conforms to the sRGB color standard, the single color space that everything on the web and on Android is optimized for. Unfortunately, the Nexus 6 does not adhere to this color standard, with colors that look unnatural: oversaturated and unrealistic.
Looking at our exact lab measurements, the S6 edge+ has whites that look pure white, with a color temperature close to the reference 6500K, and gamma slightly south of the 2.2 reference value at 2.12 (a lower gamma may result in slightly washed out images). Color error is also notably small. At the same time, the Nexus 6 has overblown, unrealistic colors and gamma of 1.94, way below the 2.2 standard.
Samsung has been hard at work to make AMOLED screens brighter, and the S6 edge+'s is one of the brightest we’ve seen so far, reaching a peak brightness of 502 nits, while the Nexus 6 is noticeably dimmer at a peak brightness of just 270 nits. The higher brightness of the S6 edge+ matters most when outdoors, where the phone can truly shine and be easier to read and use. Keep in mind that with AMOLED screens, brightness varies depending on the colors displayed, and these are values that we have estimated by measuring an all-white image. We should also mention that viewing angles are excellent on both devices, as far as retaining brightness and contrast is concerned, but not color quality.