The Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 may both be Google-branded phones, separated by a mere twelve months, but in some respects they really couldn’t be much more different. Here’s our full comparison review so you know which is best for you.
Design and usability: Size matters
The most obvious difference between these phones is the dimensions. Last year’s Nexus 5 seemed to be sizeable at the time at 5-inches, but even that was completely blown away by this year’s staggering 6-inch follow-up, the Nexus 6.
Sporting a bigger body than most phablets, including the pretty-damn-imposing Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Nexus 6 is significantly less manageable than the Nexus 5. It’s much larger, bursting out of all but the most ogre-like hands, and it’s a good chunk heavier too (184g vs 130g).
The Nexus 6 is a bit of a handful…
Basically, if you want a handset that you can just about get away with operating one-handed, the Nexus 5 is the obvious choice. If you want a phone that’ll slip into your bag or pocket without a bit of a struggle, the Nexus 5 is the obvious choice.
Not everything on the Nexus 6 is bigger, however. Despite rocking a much larger frame, it takes a tiny Nano SIM card compared with the Nexus 5’s micro SIM. Hooray!
We also prefer the design of the Nexus 5 over the Nexus 6. It’s neater and tidier, and the back doesn’t scuff up like the Nexus 6’s. Considering the Nexus 5 is a fair whack cheaper than the Nexus 6, it’s a shame that it’s also the more attractive handset with a more premium finish.
Screen and media: High-def delights
Both phones here pack crisp and colourful HD screens, ideal for enjoying high-def movies on the go. The size jump from 5-inches on the Nexus 5 to 6-inches on the Nexus 6 doesn’t really make any difference, as we found the viewing experience comfortable on both phones.
There isn’t any significant difference in clarity either; the Nexus 5’s 1080p visuals give roughly 445 pixels-per-inch while the Nexus 6 upgrades to Quad HD visuals, but that jump in screen size means you still get roughly 493 pixels-per-inch, and to the naked eye that isn’t a significant jump.
We personally lean ever so slightly towards the Nexus 5’s IPS+ display, as the Nexus 6’s AMOLED screen adds a yellow tint to whites that leaves some images looking a little murky. That said, the Nexus 6 sports some very impressive stereo speakers that belt out some wickedly powerful sound, and you can also pick up a 64GB model (the Nexus 5 tops off at 32GB and neither phone has a memory card slot for expansion). So if you’ve got a sizeable collection of movies and music, the Nexus 6 might be your best bet.
After all that deliberation, we’d still happily use either phone to kick back with a bit of Jingle All The Way this Christmas. So there.
Performance, apps and games: Then vs now
The Nexus 5 still runs like a dream thanks to its Snapdragon 800 processor, backed up by 2GB of RAM. However, the Nexus 6 has one over it with its more recent Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM.
Right now that means very little, as apps and games still run perfectly well on both handsets. However, the Nexus 6 is more future-proof and a lot more likely to give consistently good performance for the length of your typical phone contract (18 to 24 months), so bear that in mind before laying down your cash.
Battery life: A question of longevity
When it comes to battery life, the Nexus 6 is on top with its 3220mAh battery compared with the Nexus 5’s 2300mAh effort. We still manage to get a full day of life from the Nexus 5, but the Nexus 6 usually lasts well into a second day too, and gives around seven hours of video playback per charge, compared with five for the Nexus 5.
Camera: Well matched snappers
The Nexus 5 was ahead of its time when it came to cameras, offering Optical Image Stabilisation with its 8-megapixel lens, which helps to keep your photos and videos sharp and tremble-free. Our photos almost always come out bright, clean and colourful, especially when employing the HDR mode.
The Nexus 6 also sports OIS, while bumping the megapixel count to 13. That jump up doesn’t make much difference when it comes to picture quality, however, and we found that our photos were similarly sharp and attractive – although the lens did occasionally struggle when shooting up-close photos.
Verdict: Which is best for me?
For us, the major deciding factor when it comes to Nexus 5 vs Nexus 6 is the size difference. The Nexus 6 doesn’t have any features that demand an enormous phablet-sized screen, which means that you’re opting for a more-difficult-to-handle phone pretty much for the hell of it.
That said, the Nexus 6 does have longer lasting battery life and won’t age as rapidly as the Nexus 5, which is already a year old.