The Phablet market has really heated up this year with Apple, Samsung, and Google launching their phablet devices to gain the attention of consumers worldwide. Unlike last year, when the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 had virtually no direct competition, the Galaxy Note 4 has more than one major rival to take on. And interestingly both its rivals are from companies that have no prior experience in the phablet market – Apple and Google. We’ve already seen how the Galaxy Note 4 fared against the iPhone 6 Plus in our previous versus article, this time we’re going to see if the Galaxy Note 4 will be able to dominate its Android rival the Google Nexus 6 in the same way as it did with the Apple iPhone 6 Plus.
Samsung has a long experience in the phablet segment. The Korean tech giant literally created the phablet segment with the Galaxy Note three years back. Google on the other hand has no experience in the phablet market and the Nexus 6 is the first phablet product from Google as well as the manufacturer of the device – Motorola.
The display is one of the most important criteria when buying a new phablet. Both the Google Nexus 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 have very impressive displays with Quad-HD 2560 x 1440 resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 5.7-inch display while the Google Nexus 6 has a slightly bigger 5.96-inch display. That translates to a pixel density of 515PPI on the Galaxy Note 4 and 493 PPI on the Google Nexus 6. Both feature Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection on the front.
Even though there is a slight difference in the pixel density, in real world you won’t really notice much difference in sharpness between the two. In fact even compared to a smartphone with 1080p resolution display, the difference in sharpness will not be very apparent. As far as the actual quality is concerned, the Galaxy Note 4 display is definitely superior, but not by much. The main advantage of the Galaxy Note 4 display is the significantly higher brightness, which means outdoor visibility is much better on the Note 4. Color accuracy is largely similar on both.
This round could have been a draw but the low peak brightness means the round has to go to the Galaxy Note 4.
Being phablets, both of these devices are definitely not going to be comfortable to hold for people with small hands. And even for those with large hands, single-handed usage is only going to be barely manageable at best.
The Galaxy Note 4 has overall dimensions of 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm while the Google Nexus 6 measures 159.3 x 83 x 10.1mm. Not only is the Google Nexus 6 taller and wider, but it is also thicker. So for a lot of people out there, the Nexus 6 is going to be simply too big to handle easily.
As far as the weight is concerned, both are roughly the same. The Google Nexus 6 only weighs around 8 grams more than the Galaxy Note 4.
So picking a winner here is a pretty easy task. The Galaxy Note 4 is easily the more compact device of the two
2014 hasn’t seen a major jump in CPU performance for mobile devices. In the beginning of the year we saw Qualcomm release the Snapdragon 801 chipset, which was barely any faster than the Snapdragon 800 that launched last year. The Snapdragon 805 is a bigger upgrade over the Snapdragon 800 though, and that’s what you will find inside both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Google Nexus 6.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon’s four CPU cores are clocked at 2.7GHz and it comes with the new Adreno 420 GPU. The Adreno 420 GPU is the biggest improvement the chipset brings as the new GPU is significantly more powerful than the Adreno 330 GPU on the Snapdragon 801 chipset. The Adreno 420 GPU has been designed to deliver high-performance graphics on displays with Quad-HD resolution, so performance with high-resolution screens does not bog it down much like the Adreno 330.
Between the two phablets, performance is largely similar as the two have identical CPU and GPU. So this round is a tie.
Cameras on our smartphones have seen a big upgrade this year in the sensor size as well as overall performance. The Optical Image Stabilization feature has also become more popular and most high-end flagships currently come with OIS equipped rear camera. The Galaxy Note 4 and the Google Nexus 6 are no exceptions either.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 16MP rear camera with a 1/2.6” size Sony Exmor RS IMX240 sensor with f2.2 aperture wide-angle lens, dual-LED flash, Fast AF, Live HDR, and support for 4K video recording at 30 fps.
Google Nexus 6 has a slightly lower resolution 13MP Sony Exmor RS rear camera that also has a lower sensor size of 1/3.06”. The Nexus 6 features a slightly brighter f2.0 aperture lens, dual-LED flash, HDR+, photo sphere, and records 4K videos at 30 fps.
As far as the front-facing cameras are concerned, the Note 4 has a 3.7MP unit with a wide-angle f1.9 aperture lens while the Nexus 6 has a 2MP front-facing camera.
When it comes to the overall quality, the Galaxy Note 4 is superior thanks to the bigger sensor and higher resolution. But the difference between the two isn’t huge though. The Galaxy Note 4 thus wins this round.
Over the past 2-3 years, smartphones have seen major upgrades in many areas but the one thing that hasn’t seen much of an upgrade is the internal storage size. The amount of internal storage on the latest flagship devices isn’t any higher than smartphones from 2-3 years back.
Samsung has in fact dropped the 64GB internal memory option from the Galaxy Note 3 with the Galaxy Note 4. The Note 4 only comes with 32GB of internal memory in all markets. Thankfully the memory is expandable, so you can get a microSD card and expand the memory by up to 128GB.
Like the earlier Nexus devices, the Nexus 6 doesn’t come with expandable memory. You have the option of 32 or 64GB internal memory with the Google phablet. While the higher 64GB option is certainly welcome, it still might not be sufficient for some users.
The amount of RAM on both devices is identical at 3GB.
Since 64GB memory should be sufficient for a lot of smartphone users, we are going to declare this round a tie.
Connectivity features largely depend on the chipset that has been used on a device. Since both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Google Nexus 6 are using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, you would expect them to have similar connectivity options. And that is actually the case, almost.
Both devices come with Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac dual-band, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE Cat.6, NFC, microUSB v2.0, and USB host connectivity options. The Galaxy Note 4 does have one advantage over the Google Nexus 6 though – it comes with a built-in IR blaster. So you can use it to control all your home entertainment devices as well.
LTE Cat.6 is the biggest upgrade connectivity wise that Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset brings. The previous LTE Cat.4 standard came with support for maximum download speeds of up to 150Mbps, but the new LTE Cat.6 standard can support download speeds of up to 300Mbps.Upload speeds remain the same at 50Mbps though.
This round could have been a tie but thanks to the IR blaster, the Galaxy Note 4 edges out the Nexus 6 in this round.
The hardware of a device doesn’t give you the complete picture of the performance of a device. Software optimization is also a key factor.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI layer on top. Unlike the previous generations of TouchWiz, the latest version on the Galaxy Note 4 is leaner than earlier and isn’t as resource intensive as earlier. Even on the Galaxy S5, TouchWiz negatively affects the performance. So it is good to see that Samsung has decided to bring positive change with the Galaxy Note 4’s software. What hasn’t changed is the amount of features added on by Samsung. Apart from the hugely popular and functional Multi-Window feature, there are other great S-Pen related features like Smart Select, Air Command, Photo Note, Action Memo, Image Clip and a few others. The usual Samsung S Voice, S Health, S Note, Motion Gestures are all there too.
Google’s Nexus 6 is the launch device for the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop version. Android 5.0 brings new changes like the Material Design UI, new Notifications view, redesigned recent apps menu, switch to the Android Runtime (ART) for improved performance, multi-user support, new battery saving mode with Project Volta, smart lock and more. As the earlier Nexus devices, the Nexus 6 is free from bloatware. There aren’t any apps that you would feel shouldn’t have been on it. It does get the always on voice command feature that is seen on Motorola devices, with the same Ti C55 hotword processor as on the Moto X.
Thanks to all the new improvements with Android Lollipop and a much cleaner UI, the Google Nexus 6 wins this round. Samsung is making good progress with TouchWiz but there is still some more work to be done to get it to perform as good as stock Android.
One of the biggest changes with the Galaxy Note 4 is the improvement in design and build of the device. If there has been one consistent complaint with Galaxy devices, it has been the poor design and build. The Galaxy S5 for instance looks virtually similar to the two year old Galaxy S3. And the traditional plastic build only made matters worse. With the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung decided that it had enough and needed to step up in terms of design and build on its Galaxy smartphones.
The Galaxy Note 4 actually draws a lot from the Galaxy Alpha. It has a similar aluminum frame as the Alpha and has a much more premium feeling back that finally gets rid of the visible stitching pattern that nobody found appealing on the Galaxy Note 3. The front glass is also 2.5D curved, adding to the visual appeal of the design. The leather used on the back is also a lot more premium feeling this time, so finally we have a Galaxy device that looks and feels worthy of its high price.
Made by Motorola, the Google Nexus 6 is a charmer when it comes to design. It looks very similar to the 2nd gen Moto X, with the same curved back and shiny aluminum frame on the side. There is no doubt that it is the best looking Nexus device yet and one of the better looking flagship devices launched this year. Thanks to the use of metal and high-quality polycarbonate, the device feels solid in the hand and is every bit as good as the Note 4 in terms of build quality, if not better. It also has a water resistance coating, so that’s another advantage over the Note 4.
The Galaxy Note 4 is an improvement over previous Galaxy devices, but the Nexus 6 simply looks better. That makes Nexus 6 the winner of this round.
Apart from the large display, phablets are also popular for their impressive battery life. The Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 do not disappoint in this area.
It is quite interesting that both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Google Nexus 6 have the exact same 3220mAh capacity battery. Since the two phablets have the same battery, chipset, and screen resolution, you might be thinking battery life on both would be very similar too. Right? Well unfortunately that is not the case.
According to the battery life tests, the Google Nexus 6 actually has significantly lower battery life than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The reasons behind this aren’t clear but it could be due to various reasons. But it does have one advantage over the Note 4. Thanks to the Quick Charge feature, the Nexus 6 can deliver 6 hours of usage with just 15 minutes of charging. It comes with support for Wireless charging as well.
The winner is quite clear in this round, the Galaxy Note 4 it is.
When it comes to flagship devices, the prices don’t play a major role in the decision-making process for most buyers, but it is still important to be sure if the device is worth the price or not.
The Google Nexus 6 is available on the Play Store at $649 for the 32GB variant and $699 for the 64GB variant. But since this time the Nexus 6 is available through carriers as well, you can get it through the major US carriers such as AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile on a 2-year contract. AT&T and Sprint are selling the phablet for $249 down, while T-Mobile will sell it to you for $0 down.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is available unlocked at around $750 if you purchase it outright or you can get it on a 2-year contract from the carriers at $299. That’s the price you would need to pay upfront from AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is selling it at $0 upfront payment, just like the Nexus 6.
Clearly, this round goes to the Nexus 6.
Now that we’re done with the comparison. Let’s see which smartphone managed to win most categories. The Nexus 6 managed to win in three categories – Operating System, Price, and Design. Two rounds were a tie – Memory and Processor. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 won 5 rounds – Display, Dimensions, Camera, Battery Life, and Connectivity.
So does that mean the Galaxy Note 4 is the better phablet here? Well if you were to consider how good each of these devices are as a phablet, then the Galaxy Note 4 would obviously be the winner as it comes with the S-Pen. The Nexus 6 doesn’t come with stylus support and that limits its appeal to customers who are looking for a phablet that can do more than the average smartphone.
But if you don’t really care about a stylus and want a device with a large high-resolution display and the latest hardware and software combination, the Nexus 6 is definitely an option you should consider. It has zero bloatware, looks better, performs better in day-to-day use, comes with stereo speakers, will receive the latest Android updates much quicker than the Note 4 and for a longer time, and is cheaper as well.
Which one of the two is the more complete phablet according to you? Does the bigger display and software of the Nexus 6 appeal more to you or are you more interested in the S-Pen functionalities and the long list of features the Galaxy Note 4 offers? Do leave a comment below and share your opinion with us.