Nexus 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus
The Motorola/Google Nexus 6 is just one of several huge phones that could be worth a look this holiday season. Let's line it up next to Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, to see how their features and specs compare.
Both phones are huge, but, as we'll see in a minute, the Nexus 6 makes more economical use of its front face with a much larger screen.
The Nexus measures 1 percent taller, 6 percent wider and 42 percent thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus. As many great things as Motorola did with the new Nexus, it didn't make a particularly thin phone.
The iPhone 6 Plus is 7 percent lighter than the Nexus. Considering the screen size difference (we're getting there, I promise), that's a pretty minor discrepancy on the scales.
The Nexus 6 should feel more premium than all-plastic phones, as it has a metal band running around its edge. That might not sound like a big deal, but a similar approach in the Galaxy Note 4 did wonders for making the phone feel more high-end.
You have two color options to choose from for the Nexus 6, and three choices for the iPhone.
See what I mean about a more economical front face? Despite only being a hair taller and a little wider, the Nexus gives you 18 percent more screen area.
If you don't care about thinness, and want not just a huge screen – but the biggest damn screen you can possibly put on something that isn't a tablet – then the Nexus could be just the phone you're looking for.
The Nexus 6's Quad HD display has it coming out 23 percent sharper than the iPhone.
The iPhone's screen excels in other ways, though: terrific color range and accuracy, excellent contrast and viewing angles ... it's hard to find anything to fault there.
The Nexus 6 has an AMOLED screen, which has blacker blacks and (often) higher contrast and richer colors. Again, though, the iPhone is already doing quite well in those areas.
Apple's Touch ID sensor is the best in the business. And with iOS 8, it doesn't just let you easily secure your phone – it also plays nicely with third-party apps. Password managers are an especially great fit for the sensor.
Google gave it the old college try with Google Wallet, but it never came remotely close to taking off.
Apple has the best chance of putting NFC-based ("tap and pay") payments on the map with Apple Pay (branded as Pay). It integrates with Touch ID to make the checkout process as simple as holding your finger over the sensor while holding your iPhone near the terminal.
The biggest obstacle to Pay taking off may be getting retailers onboard. It launched this week with a solid list (including McDonald's, Subway and the Apple Store), but you won't be able to leave your wallet at home until that list gets much longer.
Most likely, you'll use either phablet with two hands most of the time. But for those times when you need to do something with only one hand free, the iPhone 6 Plus has a big advantage. Apple's Reachability lets you slide top-level content to the bottom half of the screen, by lightly double-tapping the Touch ID sensor.
We haven't yet put the Nexus 6 through the paces, but the iPhone's camera is going to be tough to beat. It takes excellent shots, and is even great in low-lit conditions. Consider its (240 fps at 720p) slow-motion video the icing on the cake.
This could bode well for the Nexus' main camera, though, as it has a slightly wider aperture than the iPhone does.
Both handsets have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) onboard, which can help to offset the effects of shaky hands. This is one of the few differences between the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus (well, apart from size).
Dual LED flash
Both phones also have dual LED flashes, which help you to take better (more colorful and evenly-lit) flash shots.
This is another incomplete for the Nexus 6. The iPhone had very good (but not quite the best) battery life when we ran it through our battery benchmark.
Google says that you can get the Nexus 6 up to a level with "hours of battery life" after just 15 minutes of charging. This only applies when its battery is almost dead, though.
Though it isn't something Apple is advertising, you can charge the iPhone 6 Plus faster by plugging it into an iPad charger.
The Nexus doubles the iPhone's storage in the entry-level tier, but once you get to the second tier, they level out.
Neither phone supports microSD cards.
Apple's A8 chip is a beast, matching up with the Apple-made phone to deliver some of the smoothest performance I've seen on a mobile device.
On paper, the iPhone is looking pretty dated here, but in experience, I've yet to notice any problems on this front.
They probably won't be as wall-shaking as HTC's BoomSound speakers, but the Nexus 6 has a pair of front-facing speakers nonetheless.
The iPhone 6 Plus has been around since September, but supplies are still constrained. The online US Apple Store is currently showing 3-4 week shipping estimates, and physical Apple Stores have been tight – if not completely depleted – on supplies since launch.
Starting price (full retail)
The Nexuses 4 and 5 both delivered fairly high-end specs for very aggressive prices, but Google is trying something new with the Nexus 6. It has flagship pricing, starting at the same US$650 as the iPhone 6 (4.7-in), HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5.
Starting price (on-contract)
The Nexus 6 can save you $50 if you buy on-contract.