Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ vs Google Nexus 6
The 16-megapixel camera on the S6 edge+ is great: it starts quickly, focuses quickly, and takes sharp, detailed, beautiful looking images. The Nexus 6 camera is good, but not great with a slower performance and smudgy detail.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ features a 16-megapixel main camera with support for optical image stabilization (OIS) and an LED flash, while up front, there is a 5-megapixel selfie cam. The Nexus 6, on its part, sports a 13-megapixel camera on its back and a 2-megapixel front-facing shooter. For the Galaxy S6 edge+ chances are that we’re dealing with the same setup used in the Galaxy S6: a 16-megapixel Sony IMX240 1/2.6” sensor with 1.2 micron pixels and 16:9 native aspect ratio.
When it comes to the camera experience, the Galaxy S6 edge+ has an instant advantage in the speed department with the awesome ‘Quick Launch’ feature, a neat option that allows you to double click the home button to start the camera app from anywhere (even from a locked device). The actual camera app differs vastly between the two: the Galaxy S6 edge+ has both an auto and ‘Pro’ manual mode, along with other more specific shooting modes, while the Nexus 6 has cut all the manual features, and instead offers only the auto mode with practically no manual settings. We prefer the S6 edge+ approach better: after all, it’s nice having the extra choice, and users who don’t want to deal with the details can always shoot in the neat auto mode. It’s also worth saying that it’s easier and quicker to find settings on the Galaxy: for instance, the essential HDR feature is accessible with one tap, while it takes some fiddling to find and enable it on the Nexus. In the ‘Pro’ mode, the S6 edge+ now you get a full-on manual ride with access to ISO and shutter speed, which is nice. The Nexus 6 lacks those capabilities.
When it comes to actual image quality, the Galaxy S6 edge+ lives up to the hype with one of the best cameras around: it captures very detailed and sharp-looking images in all conditions. In fact, camera quality is almost identical to what we saw on the Galaxy S6. The Nexus 6, on the other hand, is also not a bad camera phone, but often misjudges color balance and errs badly with bluish, cold-looking images, plus detail appears smudged and overall images lack in dynamics. The S6 edge+, on the other hand, has the peculiarity of going a bit overboard with the warmth, adding a bit of excessive yellows, but that’s a rather small complaint.
In lower light and indoors, both devices do a very good job: images turn out sharp, with very little blur, which speaks great about their ability to pick the right shutter speed (we noticed that the Galaxy tends to shoot with faster shutter speeds). The color issues we saw in daylight are muted here, but overall the same trend of a bit-too-cold images on the Nexus 6 images is present. When you have to use the LED flash, the S6 edge+ performs better: its flash covers the image more uniformly and fully, and it provides more adequate lighting, while the Nexus 6 flash is insufficient for some scenes, and it also creates a spotlight rather than an evenly-lit image. Plus, again, we have the issue with the smudgy detail on the Nexus 6.
What about selfies? The 5-megapixel front shooter on the S6 edge+ has a wide field of view and can fit in all your buds in the picture. Heck, you can even take a full body picture of yourself with the front camera on the S6 edge+! We find this extra space to be quite the important advantage for selfies where you often want to capture many people. At the same time, the Nexus 6’s selfie cam not only has a narrower field of view, but overall much less detail and selfies were not very consistent with quality.
Turning over to video, we have 4K UHD video recording (3840 x 2160 pixels) on both the S6 edge+ and the Nexus 6. Both phones are thermally limited and can’t record more than a few minutes before getting hot (or running out of storage). Videos, however, do look fine on both with the same peculiarities when it comes to color reproduction (preference for warmer colors on the S6 edge+, and colder-looking ones on the Nexus 6). Auto-focusing is very speedy on the Galaxy, and a bit less quick on the Nexus 6, but overall fast on both. Stabilization is again much better on the S6 edge+. Samsung has said that it uses both optical and digital video stabilization in concert for a better effect, and it can be felt.
When it comes to media, we look at three main apps and their performance: the video player, gallery, and music player. Since you should be familiar with the stock Android apps on the Nexus 6 for those purposes, we won't spend too much time explaining those, and you can take a look to freshen up your minds about their looks in the screenshots on the right.
When it comes to the new kid on the block, the Galaxy S6 edge+, it features a new version of TouchWiz, but the media apps have remained largely unchanged. The gallery app, for instance, is practically identical to the one on the Galaxy S6, allowing you to switch between a timeline of all of your images, as well as a per-album view, events view, and an automatically generated folders with different categories of images (the phone shows you all your selfies, pictures with other people, and scenery images, for instance). You can also do some basic edits via the gallery apps, and you have the neat search option allowing you to search images by time, categories, events, location, and people.
The video app on the S6 edge+ handles the overwhelming variety of modern codecs with ease, and we had no issues playing back videos in even the demanding Quad HD resolution.
Then, the music app that many people will spend a lot of time in, is now flatter with more densely packed text, and it comes with an equalizer that allows you to customize the sound to your preferences.