Nexus 6 vs. Nexus 5
The definition of a Nexus device seems to change every year. Okay, so they do always run the latest version of stock Android, but things like pricing, how they're sold and how high-end their specs are have fluctuated. Let's see what it means to be a Nexus phone in 2014 vs. 2013, as we compare the Motorola Nexus 6 to the LG Nexus 5.
So much for subtlety. The Nexus 6 isn't just a little bigger than the Nexus 5; it squashes last year's model like it's a puny insect. The new model is 16 percent taller, 20 percent wider and 17 percent thicker.
No minor difference here either, as the Nexus 6 is 42 percent heavier than the Nexus 5.
While only a few smartphone OEMs go all in on metal (namely Apple and HTC), we've seen a recent trend towards plastic backs with metal edges. The Nexus 6 joins the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Alpha and Moto X in that club.
We're looking at "Midnight Blue" and "Cloud White" color options for the new Nexus.
Again, Google apparently had no interest in taking baby steps this year. The Nexus 6's screen is 45 percent bigger than last year's display (measuring area, not misleading diagonals).
When I first heard about Quad HD displays, I didn't think there was any way they could be anything but overkill. But I do notice – and appreciate – the more densely-packed pixels in phones like the LG G3 and Note 4.
... the only caveat here is that, when spread out over 6 inches, Quad HD might not look dramatically sharper than 1080p on a 5-in screen.
The Nexus 6 is the first Google flagship with an AMOLED display since 2011's Galaxy Nexus. AMOLED screens have deeper blacks and, typically, richer colors and higher contrast than IPS screens.
I didn't think the Nexus 5's camera was terrible, but I certainly wouldn't have called it its killer feature. At least on paper, the Nexus 6 is looking much better in this department.
Dual LED flash
The Nexus 6 also joins the latest iPhones, LG G3 and HTC One (M8) in having a dual LED flash. It can help your flash shots come out more colorful and evenly-lit than flash shots usually look.
We splash these battery specs up here, but you can only know the story on battery life after using a device. We can say that battery life sat alongside photo quality as another meh area for last year's Nexus 5.
The storage tiers in the new model are double what we saw in the Nexus 5.
Neither phone supports microSD cards.
We haven't yet put the Nexus 6 through the paces, but the Note 4 runs the Snapdragon 805 – and that kitten purrs.
We're also looking at an extra GB of RAM in the Nexus 6.
Like the new Moto X, the Nexus 6 has front-facing speakers, which should add to the experience of watching movies or playing games.
The Nexus 6 will launch with the software formerly known as Android L, now officially known as Android 5.0 "Lollipop." The Nexus 5 might still be on KitKat for a bit longer, but it's going to receive the Lollipop update before long.
What do you know, the new model is launching almost exactly a year after the last model. The Nexus 6 is supposedly going up for pre-order later this month, and will launch a few weeks later.
Starting price (off-contract)
For the last couple of years, Nexus phones had high-end specs matched with bargain-basement prices. Not this time, as the Nexus 6 is priced the same as flagships like the Galaxy S5, iPhone 6 and HTC One. At least you get some significantly upgraded specs in return, as well as the option to buy subsidized from all of the major US carriers.
... and hey, if you're still upset over the Nexus line dropping its budget pricing, it looks like the Nexus 5 is going to stick around for another year at its same tantalizing US$350 price point.