Nexus 6 Vs Nexus 5 – Is the Upgrade Worth the Cost?

by Jeremiah on February 5, 2015

Nexus 6

Last year, Google’s Nexus 5 more than earned its reputation as the best value smartphone on the market. With the Nexus 5, Google proved that it was possible to design and manufacture a high-end smartphone that would sell at a fraction of the cost of similar handsets like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S4. Now comes the Nexus 6, and it is not necessarily the upgrade everyone was expecting. While the Nexus 6 boasts some remarkable features, it definitely breaks ranks with the earlier model’s price point, landing it firmly in the arena of premium priced handsets.

Nexus 6 Vs Nexus 5 – Cost

With an average cost of £499 to £549, the Nexus 6 just manages to remain a more affordable alternative to its major rival, the iPhone 6 which retails for a round £629. However, the Nexus 6 is now being undercut by the Moto X, coming in at around £420. So, as the Nexus line moves decidedly into the realm of premium handsets, the question remains, “Does this latest upgrade warrant your hard earned cash?” Let’s compare some of the features of the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 6, and you can decide.

Design

The design of the Nexus 6 is a major change over the earlier model. Weighing in at a full 40% larger than the Nexus 5, it can be difficult to handle and pushes the size limits of the so-called ‘phablet’. The smooth back provides little in the way of grip, again, making it difficult to handle. That being said, the Nexus 6 is definitely well designed and smartly crafted. It is rugged, and can take a bit of abuse. But one can’t help think that some of that abuse could be minimized if the handset actually fit the hand, and had a sensible finish that made it easy to grip. Ultimately, as nice as the Nexus 6 is, the Nexus 5 easily wins out as far as overall design is concerned.

Display

One of the biggest selling points of the Nexus 6 is its display screen. While the Nexus 5 offers a perfectly satisfactory full HD display, the Nexus 6 really delivers something special. Its 6 inch AMOLED display screen delivers a brightness and accuracy that places the handset firmly in line with other premium devices. Frankly, the Nexus 6’s display delivers a vibrancy that other phablets will find hard to match, let alone beat. That being said, the Nexus 5 display is no slouch, and at a full 1080p is a stand out among budget priced handsets. Still, if you’re looking for a graphics upgrade, the Nexus 6 is a winner.

Performance

Considering the improved specs of the Nexus 6, you would expect it to trump the Nexus 5 in real world tests. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case. When it comes to performance, the Nexus 5 comes out on top. This is mostly due to the competing operating systems. The Nexus 5 runs a stock Android OS, while the new Nexus 6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Tests clearly show that the Nexus 5, with its stock Android operating system, delivers a faster, smoother, user experience. The Nexus 6, running Android 5.0 Lollipop, can be slow to load apps and tends to drag when forced to multi-task. This is partly due to the Lollipop’s enforced encryption protocols, which severely impact the handset’s performance. As good as the Nexus 6 is, when it comes to simple user experience, the Nexus 5 slightly takes the edge.

Battery Life

If there’s one improvement that owners of the Nexus 5 wanted to see in the Nexus 6, it’s greater battery life. Looking at the specs, you would think the Nexus 6 delivers in spades. It boasts a 3200mAh battery that clearly bests the Nexus 5’s 2300 mAh battery. However, size isn’t everything. The advanced features of the Nexus 6, particularly the stunning display, tend to eat up the greater battery capacity. Ultimately, there is a meagre 15% gain in battery life over the old Nexus 5. In real terms, that’s an extra hour or two with average use. Better, but not the improvement Nexus fans were looking for.

In Conclusion

The Nexus 6 definitely brings some impressive features to the table, particularly its stunning graphics display. But it lacks in a few key areas. Its size, and overall design, makes it a bit unwieldy. Performance and battery life are not as much improved as one might hope. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, its price point places it firmly in the realm of premium handsets, putting it out of reach for many Nexus 5 owners who might otherwise be tempted by the upgrade. In the final analysis, the Nexus 6 is a remarkable addition to the arena of premium phablets. But, for economy and overall performance, the Nexus 5 remains a high end handset that is hard to beat.

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