Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S4: 6 Things to Know Before You Upgrade

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is one of the most popular smartphones available, but with owners possibly approaching their 18 month update window, buyers are likely looking for something new. Last week Google officially announced a brand new flagship phone that may be on many of those buyers radar. The Motorola-made Nexus 6 smartphone. Buyers have a lot of choices, and with the Galaxy S4 getting a bit old these days many may be considering making a switch.

Now that the Nexus 6 is official and all the reports, rumors and leaks have been confirmed as accurate, buyers are probably pondering if it’s worth buying. While many GS4 owners have likely updated to the Galaxy S5, Note 3, or are eying the Note 4, Google’s new Nexus 6 is worth checking out.


Read: Nexus 6 Pre-Order Details Arrive

The Galaxy S4 was announced in March of 2013 and released around the globe within a few months. While many US carriers didn’t offer it until late May, that still means that over the coming months owners will be eligible for upgrades, especially those looking to jump on AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, or any of the other various early upgrade programs. Read on for everything you’ll want to know about the Galaxy S4 vs the Nexus 6.

Here's how the Apple iPhone 6 Plus compares to the Google Nexus 6 as big screens face off in 2014.


Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is still a premium smartphone that many owners can use and enjoy for years, but with screen sizes getting bigger, cameras improving, and the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop update finally here some could be looking to switch. Of course the Galaxy S4 will see updates, but not before the Note 3, Note 4, and Galaxy S5 devices that arrived after it do first.


The Galaxy S4 offers a large HD display and plenty of premium features, but like all things, a replacement is eventually going to arrive. And while we can’t predict a users wants, needs, preference or even budget, below we’ll rundown a few key details you’ll need to know before considering the switch.


One key aspect of any smartphone buyers decision (aside from the price) is the size of the screen. Android smartphones have continued to get bigger and bigger, a trend which was kicked into full gear by Samsung. The new Motorola Nexus 6 is the biggest Nexus device yet. So much in fact that it has turned off many potential Nexus buyers simply because it may be too big.

That being said, each user has different needs and wants, and this is what Google felt was best moving forward. Giving users more space to do what they want with Android 5.0 Lollipop and the 5.96-inch display on the Nexus 6. However, that huge screen is a Quad-HD screen with a 2560 x 1440 2k resolution display. Meaning it has tons of pixels, and pictures and video will simply look stunning.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 3.15.08 PM


Yes, the Nexus 6 has nearly a 6-inch screen, which is quite big compared to 5-inch screen on the Galaxy S4. It’s even bigger than the Galaxy Note 4 or iPhone 6 Plus. This is a Nexus phablet.

This may be the biggest concern for buyers. The Galaxy S4 has an impressive 5-inch 1920 x 1080p full HD display, so it still looks wonderful, but it isn’t a Quad-HD display like other premium phones released in 2014. 5-inches may be perfect for many, but a bigger screen with minimal bezels like the Nexus 6 gives you extra screen real-estate without taking up too much more space in your pocket.

Below is a quick comparison between some other large devices recently released. Showing it’s size compared to the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus, meaning it’s certainly bigger than the Galaxy S4.

Nexus 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus vs Note 4 size comparison

This is a big phone. A “phablet” in every sense of the word.


Samsung’s known for having some of the best displays on the market, and the S4 has a great screen that is crisp, vibrant, and colorful. Google’s Nexus 6 should in theory be better though, so consider that.


Another big difference between the Galaxy S4 and Nexus 6 is the design, and build materials. Previous Nexus devices have been built of plastic, rather lightweight, and not the most durable or attractive looking devices. The new Nexus 6 has a few big changes that will make it stand out. For one, it comes in a beautiful blue or white color, and is wrapped in a brushed aluminum ring for added durability, protection, and styling. No other Nexus has offered aluminum, except the original HTC Nexus One.

Everything about Motorola’s Nexus 6 screams big, although the back features subtle curves that wrap into the aluminum edges to make it feel extremely thin in your hand, even if it is nearly 10mm thick at the biggest point. It doesn’t sound thin on paper, but will still feel excellent in your hands. Another key aspect of the design is front facing speakers, just like the Nexus 9 and the HTC One M8, the Moto Nexus 6 has dual front facing speakers. One integrated into the earpiece up top, and another below the on-screen keys down below. This should make sound much improved, especially compared to the Galaxy S4 which has a single, small speaker on the back facing the wrong direction.


That aside, the Galaxy S4 is still a great phone. It’s thin, lightweight, but made of all plastic. It does have an aluminum-looking ring around the sides like the Nexus 6, but that too is made of plastic. It’s more for looks than durability and design.

Galaxy-S4-Best-Cheap-Phone-June 2014

On that same note, there is nothing wrong with the Galaxy S4. It was an extremely popular smartphone in 2013, and is still a good choice this year for those on a budget. It still has an HD display, a good 13 megapixel camera, a micro-SD card, and will see an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop sometime rather soon.

Release Date

We’ll get into specs and everything that makes this phone better in a moment, because everyone that’s looking to buy a phone probably wants to know when they can expect the new Nexus 6 to arrive. It was announced October 15th, pre-orders go live on the 29th, and it should be available in early November from all major US carriers.


The Nexus 6 is going to be available on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular and… Verizon. Yes, all five major US carriers will offer the Nexus 6, which is a first for any Nexus device. The same can be said about the Galaxy S4, which is available on most carriers, even smaller ones the Nexus 6 won’t be. That could be an issue for some, but most use the five major carriers, and the Nexus 6 will be a worthy upgrade when it arrives early next month.

T-Mobile states the Nexus 6 will be available on its shelves come November 12th, and we saw pre-order pages on AT&T accidentally go live early too. While we can’t confirm any other dates, it’s highly plausible most US carriers will offer it come November 12th, if not slightly before or after. This means the Nexus 6 will be here next month right in time for 18 month update windows if you bought the Galaxy S4 when it was new.

Read: Nexus 6 Release Date Breakdown

It’s also likely the completely unlocked Nexus 6 will be sold from the Google Play Store a few days ahead of carriers, but it’s too early to tell. We’ll know more in the coming weeks as the Nexus 6 release date approaches. A few reports suggest pre-orders will open for the Nexus 6 on October 29th.

This all said, the Galaxy S4 is also available for huge discounts now that the S5 is here. So while we’re aiming this article at those considering upgrading from the Galaxy S4, you could also see the two and not want to spend extra on the Nexus 6, and instead pick the impressive Galaxy S4 up on the cheap.


The Nexus 6 is the biggest, fastest, and best Nexus smartphone to date. It’s also huge. It has all the top-tier specs users come to expect, rather than slightly undercutting the competition and offering a lower price. It’s on par with the Note 4, Galaxy S5, and all other manufactures this year, if not beating many in multiple key areas. This means it’s certainly an upgrade over the Galaxy S4 from 2013. While specs aren’t everything, some like the cold hard numbers, so here they are.

Nexus 6 Specs

  • 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD Display
  • 2.7 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 805 processor with 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB/64GB internal storage
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (64-bit support)
  • 13 Megapixel camera with OIS, 2 MP front camera (4k video capture)
  • Dual Ring Flash similar to Moto X
  • Dual Front-facing speakers
  • Aluminum frame around device like the new Moto X 2014
  • 3,220 mAh battery

Galaxy S4 Specs

  • 5.0-inch 1920 x 1080p Full HD AMOLED Display
  • 1.9 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 600 with 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB storage and micro-SD support
  • Android 4.4 KitKat (Lollipop coming soon)
  • 13 Megapixel camera and 2 MP front shooter
  • IR Blaster for remote control
  • Single rear facing speaker
  • 2,600 mAh battery (wireless charging optional add-on)

A quick look will instantly reveal the differences. The Nexus 6 is bigger, faster, better, and should have an improved camera while getting much longer battery life. And that’s before we even mention software.


Software is a big aspect of these two devices, simply because while Samsung updates quickly to Google’s latest releases, they cover it with their own TouchWiz interface skin. Or overlay. Samsung devices look nothing like stock Android you’ll see and enjoy on the Nexus 6, but it does have a few features that many enjoy.

Android 5.0 on the Nexus 6 adds important new features.

That being said, here’s everything you need to know about Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google’s added tons of changes from improved security, animations and effects for a more natural and visual response to touches, 64-bit computing support, guest mode for smartphones and tablets, redesigned the entire interface and notification system, and much much more.

The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will be the first devices to run the new Android 5.0 Lollipop release, but Samsung’s already working hard on delivering the same update out for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, Note 3/4, and many other popular Samsung devices. Below is a quick video that leaked of Samsung’s version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which should come to the Galaxy S4 sometime hopefully before the end of the year.

The general software features will all be similar, but look completely different on these two devices. Add in all of Samsung’s S-Apps, S-Health, motion and hands-free controls, and there’s a few things you may miss if you upgrade. That being said, I rarely use any of the gimmicky software features on my own Galaxy S5, so this may not be that big of an issue for potential upgraders.


Last but certainly not least is the price. Samsung’s devices have always been expensive, but buyers usually get them on contract and pay $199 out the gate. This is something that will also be available for the Nexus 6 for the first time in Nexus history, so the price shouldn’t be a huge concern, but is worth addressing.

Google’s Nexus 6 is $649 for the 32GB version and $699 for the 64GB model. There is no micro-SD slot. This is expensive, but it’s cheaper than the smaller Samsung Galaxy Note 4 that was released earlier this month. Meaning it’s expensive for a Nexus, but still undercuts larger devices of this caliber, making it a pretty good deal.

The Nexus 6 price is too steep for some potential buyers.

The Galaxy S4 though, has been dropping in price with new models arriving, and can be found for pretty cheap if you’re on a budget. Verizon and many other carriers are offering the Galaxy S4 for $49 with a new contract, or even free, and it’s $499 outright from most for the 16GB model. That’s $150 less than the Nexus 6 on contract or outright, depending on carriers or storage configurations.

All said and done though, many are used to spending $199 or so on-contract, which is what we’re assuming the Nexus 6 will cost. So if you’re looking for an impressive big new phone, the Nexus 6 may be a great choice if you haven’t already bought the Galaxy Note 4.