Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6

Nexus 6
The Nexus 6 is bigger than the Nexus 5, but is it better?

The Nexus 6 is finally here. It's also bigger, more powerful and more expensive than the Nexus 5. The size and price could make it a tough sell for the Android masses, but it's certainly eye catching.

In fact it's different from the Nexus 5 in almost every single way. Motorola has taken the reins from LG and the camera, screen, specs and design are all different.

Just about the only thing that has stayed the same is the operating system, as the Nexus 6 will launch with Android Lollipop and the Nexus 5 should be getting updated to it very shortly.

Read on for a detailed rundown of exactly what's changed and whether it's for the better.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Design

The Google Nexus 5 has a soft-touch matte plastic back and sides which are almost devoid of details barring the obligatory Nexus and LG logos. The front is all glass and at 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6mm and 130g it's not massive or overly heavy.

Nexus 5

The blank slate Nexus 5

The Nexus 6 isn't an entirely different beast, like the Nexus 5 it appears to have a soft-touch plastic back, but a metal frame gives it a stylish flourish. In fact it looks a lot like an oversized Moto X, which makes some sense given that Motorola is behind it.

At 159.3 x 83 x 10.1mm and 184g it's bigger, thicker and heavier than the Nexus 5, but it's also more stylish. If the Nexus 5 is a blank slate for Android this has an identity all of its own.a

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Display

The 4.95-inch, 1080 x 1920 display on the Google Nexus 5 is a good size and at 445 pixels per inch it's sharp too. But the Nexus 6 has it beat thanks to a 5.9-inch 1440 x 2560 display with a pixel density of 493 pixels per inch.

Nexus 6

This is a phone that's very much in phablet territory and might not therefore have the same mainstream appeal as the Nexus 5, so it's a good thing that Google has seemingly decided to keep on selling the Nexus 5 alongside it.

There's no arguing with that resolution though, which makes the Nexus 6's screen one of the crispest on the market. Being AMOLED it's also likely to be brighter than the Nexus 5's IPS+ display.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: CPU, RAM and storage

With a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 GPU the Nexus 5 is pleasingly powerful, but the Nexus 6 once again has it beat, with a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 420 GPU.

Whether all that extra power will translate into real world performance remains to be seen, but we'd expect the Nexus 6 will be noticeably faster than its older sibling and the Nexus 5 is no slouch.

Neither handset has a microSD card slot but the Nexus 6 comes in a larger choice of sizes, with 32 and 64GB options to the Nexus 5's 16 and 32GB flavours.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Camera

On paper the Nexus 6 should have a substantially better camera than the Nexus 5 too, as it's rocking a 13MP snapper while the Nexus 5 has an 8MP one. But megapixels aren't everything and we weren't terribly impressed with the Nexus 5's camera, especially in low light.

Nexus 5 camera

In fact Nexus devices don't tend to have great cameras so we're a little worried that the trend might continue here. Still, here's hoping for improved performance. It does at least have a dual-LED flash, while the Nexus 5 relies on a single LED and the 6 can shoot video in 4K while the Nexus 5 is limited to 1080p.

It also ups the megapixels on the front-facing snapper, giving users 2MP to play with, compared to the Nexus 5's 1.3MP and its f/2.0 aperture should leave it better equipped for low light situations than the f/2.4 Nexus 5. Both phones have optical image stabilisation, which is always nice to see.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Battery

Battery life is another area where the Nexus 5 doesn't hugely impress, as its 2300mAh juice pack tends to need a daily charge.

The 3220 mAh battery in the Nexus 6 will hopefully fare better and indeed it can supposedly keep on chugging for 330 hours of standby time or 24 hours of talk time, which sounds pretty impressive if true.

When it does run low it also features fast charging technology, with a 15 minute charge apparently giving it 8 hours of juice.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Speakers

A quick mention needs to go out to the speakers, as while the Nexus 5 has a mono speaker on the bottom edge, the Nexus 6 has dual front-facing stereo speakers, so with any luck audio from the phone will sound a lot better.

Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6: Price

It's clear from this that the Nexus 6 is set to be a substantial improvement over the Nexus 5, even if the size is likely to be off-putting to many, but price is a big factor as well and that could be its downfall.

The Nexus brand is seen as an affordable way to get good quality hardware and that's no clearer than in the Nexus 5, which starts at £299 / $349 / AU$399, but the Nexus 6 is set to start at $649, which is likely to equate to around £500 / AU$700.

In other words it's not cheap, at all, but with the specs it's packing it's hard to argue that the price isn't justified.

  • Google's announced the Nexus 9 as well.
James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.