Google's Nexus devices have never enjoyed the mainstream popularity of Samsung Galaxy flagships, but the pure Android handsets are still some of the most significant phones every year. Let's compare Google's latest handset, the Nexus 6, to Samsung's two big upcoming releases, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge.
The Nexus 6 is an enormous smartphone (nearly a tablet), towering over Samsung's two new releases. The Nexus is 12-13 percent taller, 17-19 percent wider and 44-49 percent thicker than the two Galaxy flagships.
The much bigger Nexus 6 is also much heavier: 33 percent heavier than the Galaxy S6 and 40 percent heavier than the Galaxy S6 edge.
Samsung went premium with this year's lineup, adding Gorilla Glass backs that bleed into aluminum sides. The Nexus 6 has a higher-end feel than previous Nexuses (with its own aluminum frame) but its plastic back makes it more of a hybrid-premium than full premium design.
You only have two color options for the Nexus 6, next to four for each of the Samsung Galaxy S6 phones.
The Nexus 6's screen also dwarfs the displays on the Galaxy S6 pair, giving you 37 percent more screen.
Navigation buttons location
In many areas of Android, though, that discrepancy won't be quite as wide, as the Nexus sacrifices some of its display for a bottom row of navigation buttons.
This becomes irrelevant, though, in areas where Android's Immersive Mode kicks in. It fades out those nav keys in places like photo, video and reading apps. A quick swipe from the edge of its screen will bring them back.
All three devices have ultra-sharp Quad HD displays, though the smaller screens on the Galaxies make their pixel density 17 percent sharper.
All three handsets use AMOLED panels.
Apart from some minor spec differences, this is the big difference between the Galaxy S6 edge and its standard counterpart. Similar to last year's Galaxy Note Edge, it has a curved display: only here both sides of its 5.1-in display slope off around the edges.
Google and Motorola didn't put any biometric sensors in the Nexus 6. The Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge each have a touch-based fingerprint sensor (which will likely be an improvement over the swipe-based finger scanners we saw in several 2014 Samsung devices).
Camera megapixels (rear)
The Galaxy S6 pair win on megapixels, and could very well have the better cameras. Samsung's 2014 flagships (including the Galaxy S5 and Note 4) had very good cameras, and the Nexus 6's camera, while pretty good, isn't necessarily one of its killer features.
Camera megapixels (front)
If you take lots of selfies, it's possible the Galaxy S6es will capture a little extra detail.
The cameras in the Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge have an ever-so-slightly wider aperture.
All three phones have Optical Image Stabilization, to help offset the effects of shaky hands.
The Nexus 6's battery didn't test at the very top of the 2014 phones we reviewed, but it still had good uptimes: dropping about 12 percent per hour in our stress test (streaming video over Wi-Fi with brightness set at 75 percent).
The Nexus 6 uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and the Galaxy phones use Samsung's own approach to fast charging. When using the stock cable, they'll let you quickly juice up a nearly-dead battery to a respectable level.
If you've ever owned a Galaxy phone, you've been able to pop off its battery cover and swap out a replacement battery. The pair of 2015 flagships, though, take things in a new direction (thanks in no small part to their premium glass and metal builds).
All three handsets ship with wireless charging built-in.
The Nexus 6 is a zippy handset, pairing with Android Lollipop for seamless performance. We haven't yet put the Galaxy S6 (and their "Qual-who?" Samsung Exynos processors) through the paces.
All three have a very healthy 3 GB of RAM.
Samsung is offering more storage options with the Galaxy S6es, though all three offer a solid 32 GB at the entry-level.
None of these three have slots for microSD cards.
Heart rate sensor
Like last year's Galaxy flagships, the GS6 pair each has a heart rate sensor on its backside.
The Nexus 6 runs Android Lollipop, without any skins or bloat – just as Google intended it. The Galaxy S6 phones also have a Lollipop core, though they have Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top (that skin is scaled back this year, though, with much less bloat).
The Nexus has been around for over four months, while the Galaxy S6 and Edge launch on April 10.
Starting price (full retail)
US carriers are taking their sweet old time announcing pricing for the Galaxy S6 and edge. One thing you can expect is a markup for the edge – we just don't know by how much.
Starting price (on-contract)
On-contract pricing is also still a mystery for the new Samsung phones. Considering its size, spec sheet and feature list, US$250 on-contract for the Nexus 6 is one of the best deals in mobile.
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