Nexus 6 vs Galaxy Note 3: What Buyers Should Know

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 was the most successful phablet to date, and it’s still one very popular device. It was released in October of 2013, and was just replaced by a new Note 4. Last week Google officially announced a brand new flagship phone that could be a worthy replacement for the Note 3, instead of the new Note 4. And that’s the Motorola Nexus 6 smartphone. Buyers have a lot of choices, and with the Galaxy Note 3 approaching a year old, the Nexus 6 is a perfect replacement.

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 Note 3 owners have likely updated to the Galaxy S5, or are eying the Note 4, Google’s new Nexus 6 is absolutely worth checking out.


Read: Nexus 6 Release: What to Expect

The Galaxy Note 3 was announced in September of 2013, and launched around the globe in October. That means if you bought it around launch, or during the holidays, you’ve had it about a year and could be eying something new. Upgrades aren’t available yet unless you switch to an early upgrade plan like AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, or any of the other various early upgrade programs. That said, read on for everything you’ll want to know about the Note 3 vs the Nexus 6.



The first Galaxy Note was released in 2011 and was a massive 5.3-inch “phablet” and it officially kicked off the phablet term. It was too wide and hard to hold. The Note 2 was what really put phablets on the map, and the Note 3 last year refined it into an excellent smartphone.


Samsung’s Note 3 is still a premium smartphone that many owners can use and enjoy for years, but with screen sizes and resolution increasing, cameras improving, and the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop update finally here some could be looking to switch. The Note 3 still has a quality 5.7-inch display, but some could be looking for bigger, and better.

The Galaxy Note 3 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 about the Nexus 6 before considering the switch.


The biggest difference between these two phones at first glance will be the display, and we’re talking about both the size, and the resolution. 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. For Note users though, a big screen is perfect, and the Nexus 6 Quad-HD screen with a 2560 x 1440 2k resolution is worth the upgrade.


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 Note 3 only has a 5.7-inch 1080p HD display. It’s still big and easy to see, but it isn’t as big, crisp, or sharp as the Nexus 6. However, the 5.96-inch size of the Nexus 6 barely makes it bigger than the Note 4, and on par with the Note 3 in terms of size.

Read: Galaxy Note 3 Review

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 Note 3, but not by much.


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 Note 3 is a prime example of that. If you update to the Nexus 6 (or Note 4) you’ll be amazed at how wonderful everything looks with a 2k display. This all said, the Note 3 still looks great and the eye can only see so much, so the upgrade is completely warranted, but many will enjoy the bigger better experience.


Another important difference will be the design and build quality. The Note 3, like most other Samsung devices is made completely of plastic, and it won’t look nearly as premium as the Nexus 6. The Note 3 has a faux leather design on the rear and aluminum-looking edges, but it’s still all plastic. Previous Nexus devices have been built of plastic too, 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.


Both phones are pretty sleek, but the subtle curves of the Nexus 6 make the 10mm thickness feel extremely thin as it curves to a sleek edge on the sides. It will look thinner, and feel thinner while holding. 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 Note 3 which has a single, small speaker on bottom that isn’t that great.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy Note 3 -  005-XL

That aside, the Galaxy Note 3 is still a quality device. 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. You can’t go wrong with the Note 3, but if you’re on the fence or looking to upgrade, the Nexus 6 is worth eying.

Release Date

So when can you get one? Soon. After reading the above information you probably want one, so here’s what we know. 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 Note 3, 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 soon, just in time for those who are looking at the Note 4 as an upgrade option instead.

Read: Nexus 6 Release Date Breakdown

A completely unlocked Nexus 6 will be sold from the Google Play Store, possibly 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.

The Galaxy Note 3 Android 4.4.2 update is worth installing for most users.

The Note 3 is currently being replaced by the Galaxy Note 4, but it still available from many carriers, now at a discount, and can be found with a few deals from various places as well.


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. 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 Note 3 Specs

  • 5.7-inch 1920 x 1080p full HD Display
  • 2.3 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 with 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage (micro-SD support)
  • Android 4.4 KitKat (Lollipop coming soon)
  • 13 Megapixel rear and 2MP front cameras
  • S-Pen stylus
  • Bottom single speaker
  • 3200 mAh battery

These devices are actually quite similar, but the Nexus 6 edges it out in a few key areas. The screen is bigger and higher def, while keeping about the same size device, its camera should be better, build materials are improved, and they’re on par with battery. You can’t go wrong with either, and the small increases may not be enough to warrant an upgrade right now for some.


Last but not least is the price. Samsung devices have always been expensive, but buyers usually get them on contract and pay $199 or $249. 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. If you’re looking to update with the 2-year window this won’t matter, but if you want to buy off contract, be prepared to spend a pretty penny.

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 and worth looking at over the Note 4.

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

Samsung’s Note 3 is currently $199 on contract still from many carriers, and Verizon has it for $599 outright. Making it slightly less than the Nexus 6. But then you’re paying nearly the same amount for an older, more outdated device. Some carriers have it for as low as $560.

All said and done, most buyers 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, one with all the bells and whistles that will make you put that Note 3 up for sale or trade it in, the Nexus 6 may be a great choice if you haven’t already bought the Galaxy Note 4.