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Nexus 5 vs. Galaxy S6: 10 Things to Expect



The Nexus 5 is no longer Google’s Nexus flagship smartphone but it’s still widely available and it’s still in the hands of many consumers, some of whom might be looking for an upgrade in the near future. In a few weeks Nexus 5 owners and prospective buyers will have another option to look at, the Samsung Galaxy S6. With that in mind, we want to relay our own Galaxy S6 expectations and examine what we expect from the Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 5.

In the fall of 2013, Google announced a brand new flagship Nexus smartphone called Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 replaced the Nexus 4 as the company’s flagship and for a year, it reigned as the company’s top in-house option, complete with high-end specifications and a vanilla version of Android 4.4 KitKat. This past November, Google replaced the Nexus 5 with a Nexus 6 but that doesn’t mean that the Nexus 5 is no longer relevant. Thanks to Nexus 5 deals and Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Nexus 5 is still an option for consumers around the world.

The Nexus 5 also is also still in the hands of many people, some of whom are considering an upgrade after a year with Google’s former flagship. Prospective Nexus 5 buyers and current Nexus 5 users would be wise to wait a few weeks for making a move though. There are a couple of big smartphone launches on the horizon.

Nexus 5 side

Both HTC and Samsung have launch dates scheduled for March 1st. It’s there that we expect to learn all about Samsung’s Next Big Thing, a device that’s currently being called Samsung Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 rumors have been swirling for a number of weeks now. As we’ve gotten closer to March 1st, the Galaxy S6 rumor cycle has started to mature to the point that we’ve now got a very good read on what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S6 release date, Galaxy S6 specifications and the highly anticipated Galaxy S6 design.

We’ve started to get a ton of questions about the Samsung Galaxy S6. Many people want to know how it will compare to the top smartphones on the market. We still can’t answer those questions with 100 percent certainty but there is enough information, enough evidence out there, to start putting together some early expectations. Today, we want to offer our own set of expectations for those comparing the Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 5.

This early look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 5 will take you through 10 things we expect from this big smartphone battle. It covers specs but it will also take a look at some of the finer details that will become important once the Samsung Galaxy S6 arrives later this year.

Galaxy S6 Release Date

If you’re thinking about making the Nexus 5 your next smartphone or if you’re thinking about replacing the Nexus 5 in the near future, do yourself a favor and wait. The Samsung Galaxy S6 launch is all but confirmed for March 1st which is now just a few short weeks away. It’s there, that we expect to hear about when you will be able to go hands-on with the Galaxy S6 and compare it with the Nexus 5, something you should do before settling on a new device.

Current Galaxy S6 release date rumors suggest that the device will arrive shortly after its launch date. The latest intel points to an arrival in and around March 22nd. A specific date hasn’t been rumored just yet but it’s looking like we’ll see the start of the Samsung Galaxy S6 release take place in late March or early April, earlier than usual.


If you’re skeptical, note that we’ve also started to see Galaxy S6 models obtain necessary certifications ahead of their release, a sign that Samsung is pushing ahead and making progress behind the scenes. These filings don’t confirm an imminent release but they mean that the device is one step closer than it was a week ago.

We expect there to be a way for consumers to go hands-on with the Galaxy S6 ahead of its release date on shelves. Shortly after last year’s Galaxy Note 4 launch, Samsung put the device on display in Best Buy stores ahead of its release. We could definitely see the company getting the Galaxy S6 into stores ahead of release day so that consumers can compare it to top rivals.

Either way, we expect the Samsung Galaxy S6 release date to land a few weeks after Samsung announces the device on March 1st. Late March and early April seem like the safest bets at this point.

Display Size

The Nexus 5 comes with a 5-inch display which, as we’ve noted many times, is a perfect fit for most hands. Most flagship Android smartphones hover in and around that 5-inch mark and we expect to see the same from the Samsung Galaxy S6.


Samsung Galaxy S6 rumors are all pointing to a 5.1-inch display. If true, and we think that it probably is, the Galaxy S6’s overall footprint will likely be similar to the Nexus 5’s.

Samsung may thin down the bezels to keep the size of the phone manageable but we doubt that it will be much smaller, or much larger, than the Nexus 5. This is a good thing because it means that it should be attractive to most people, even those with tiny hands.

Expect to use a fingerprint on to unlock both devices, and the Galaxy S6 could match the ease of using Touch ID this year.

Expect to use a fingerprint on to unlock both devices, and the Galaxy S6 could match the ease of using Touch ID this year.

We also are expecting the company to release a Galaxy Note Edge competitor with a curved display. Rumors have hinted at the arrival of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with two bent edges. The Galaxy Note Edge only uses one. If true, and we think it is, it would give Samsung another intriguing option for those looking into buying the Nexus 5. Expect the screen size on the Galaxy S6 Edge model to be similar to the regular Galaxy S6.

Screen Resolution

When the Nexus 5 arrived back in 2013, its 5-inch Full HD display was one of the best on the market. And while it’s still good, Android manufacturers (including Google) have shifted to Quad HD displays for flagship smartphones.


Unsurprisingly, Galaxy S6 display rumors continue to hint at the arrival of a Quad HD display. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 also uses 2K resolution so we’re expecting the Galaxy S6 to at least match the quality found on Samsung’s current Galaxy Note flagship. Anything different would be extremely strange. We could see the company make some tweaks to its display panel but we wouldn’t expect the resolution to be any different.

What this means is that the Galaxy S6 should deliver 2,560 x 1,440 resolution at 575 pixels per inch. The Nexus 5’s display features 1920 x 1080 resolution at 445 pixels per inch. As we’ve noted in our reviews of the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Quad HD resolution isn’t just a gimmick. It delivers crisp looking content and we expect there to be a noticeable difference between the two. Specifically, we expect the Galaxy S6’s panel to be able to display more detail in videos and photos.

Galaxy S6 display

Expect a great Galaxy S6 display.

If you want to get some idea, go into a store and compare the Galaxy Note 4 display or the Galaxy Note Edge display to the Nexus 5 display or another Full HD screen. You’ll immediately notice the difference.


Google’s Nexus 5 uses a black matte plastic design that was improved from the glass and plastic found on the Nexus 4. It’s not metal but it’s very nice for an all-plastic form factor.

Nexus 5 both

In years past, we’d expect something similar from Samsung. The company’s used plastic designs for years including last year’s Galaxy S5 design that incorporated a perforated plastic back. This year, Samsung seems ready to make the leap up to something a little better in an effort to compete with Apple’s iPhone.

Last year, Samsung finally added metal to a flagship smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is mostly plastic but it comes with a metal rim around the edges. At the time, we noted that the inclusion of metal in the device’s design language hinted at future designs. Guess what? It’s looks like that’s exactly what we’re going to see from the Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 design rumor after Samsung Galaxy S6 design have all pointed to the same exact thing: A shift from the usual plastic designs to a new all-metal design that’s in line with the iPhone 6.

Design upgrades could make the choice tougher for consumers this year.

Design upgrades could make the choice tougher for consumers this year.

These design rumors prompted us to put together a Samsung Galaxy S6 concept, based on recent Galaxy S6 design rumors. The concept shows what the device could look like next to the real plastic Galaxy S5. The Samsung Galaxy S6 dimensions in our concept are 143.30 x 70.81 x 6.91 mm which are in line with rumors. The exact measurements could be a bit different but we’re expecting metal and we’re expecting thin. The Nexus 5 design is a fairly thick 8.59mm.

Fingerprint Sensor

The Nexus 5 shunned a physical home button in favor of navigation keys baked into its software. We expect the Galaxy S6 to offer something a whole lot different.

We expect Samsung to upgrade the Galaxy S6 with a touch-based sensor that’s similar to the Touch ID sensor found inside the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. The move makes sense given the failures of the Galaxy S5 fingerprint sensor which relied on swipes to function. The inclusion of a powerful fingerprint sensor also makes sense given the rumors about Samsung’s Apple Pay competitor.

Fingerprint sensors don’t offer Fort Knox style security but they do make getting through the lock screen a whole lot more convenient. Ask anyone who has access to one. They’re extremely nice.


While the Nexus 5 comes with some solid features, it’s camera has been one of its more disappointing specs. Google’s improved upon the experience with a series of updates though the camera still isn’t on par with many of the Android smartphones from last year. We expect the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera to offer a better overall experience.


Samsung, like Google, offers yearly camera upgrades. This year, Samsung’s promoting its Galaxy S camera like never before with blog posts and teasers. We definitely expect to see some improvements and it’s looking like they will include a bigger sensor and Optical Image Stabilization. The Nexus 5 was one of the first phones to include OIS.

Rumors suggest that those changes will include a new sensor, possibly a 16MP or 20MP, Optical Image Stabilization, and a 5MP camera in the front. The Galaxy S6’s new camera module should deliver better photos in low light and the switch to a larger sensor on the front should come with support for wider angles, something that will benefit selfie lovers.

Rumors suggest we will see a 16MP or 20MP camera with OIS.

Rumors suggest we will see a 16MP or 20MP camera with OIS.

Samsung’s Camera applications also outshines the stock camera app so even if the hardware isn’t up to snuff, we’d expect the Galaxy S6 to have the edge from a software standpoint.


One of the nice things about the Nexus 5 is that it comes with vanilla Android software. More specifically, it comes with vanilla Android 5.0 Lollipop. Many people prefer vanilla Android because it doesn’t come with a manufacturer UI like Samsung’s TouchWiz. It looks and feels a whole lot different than the software on the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 will almost certainly run Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google’s new operating system. We also expect it to also have Samsung’s TouchWiz on board but don’t go running out to compare the Galaxy S5’s software to the Nexus 5’s in an attempt to get a head start.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Concept - gottabemobile - 17

Galaxy S6 rumors point to a stripped down version of TouchWiz. Samsung began stripping down its user interface with last year’s Galaxy S5 but we expect it to take it to another level with the Galaxy S6.

From what we’re hearing, it looks like the device could be void of pre-loaded Samsung applications. It’s also expected to deliver some other changes including more themes, changes to the default keyboard (it supposedly has some iOS elements to it) and more. There’s chatter about Samsung trying to take it down to a Nexus level but we wouldn’t expect it to be pure vanilla. This could be one thing that lures in potential Nexus buyers.


The Nexus 5 comes in 16GB and 32GB form though it does not feature a microSD card slot. We expect the Samsung Galaxy S6 to offer more immediate storage, even if it shuns a microSD card slot for expanded storage.

We expect the Galaxy S6 to come in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB sizes as rumors suggest. If it doesn’t have a microSD card slot, we’d expect carriers to offer at least a few different options to make up for that. If it does have one, we’d expect carriers to offer the 32GB model and perhaps, the 64GB model as well.


The Nexus 5 is fairly limited when it comes to carrier options. In the U.S., it runs on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Verizon, the nation’s leading carrier, does not offer support for the Nexus 5.


Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is rumored to be coming to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon at the very least. We expect it to debut on smaller carriers as well giving it a bit of an advantage. This is going to be important for those of you that are free agents.

Galaxy S6 Price

It’s a year old which means that the Nexus 5 is now fairly cheap on sites like eBay. When it’s available on Google’s Play Store, it goes for $350 and $400 unlocked. The Galaxy S6 will almost certainly be more expensive.

Flagship Android smartphones like the Galaxy S typically command iPhone-like price tags at launch and we expect the Galaxy S6 to be close to Apple’s $199.99 base iPhone 6 model. Samsung can’t afford to go much higher than that or else it could push tons of potential buyers away.

If Samsung releases a Galaxy S6 Edge, we’d expect it to be $50 to $100 more on-contract than the regular model. Maybe $299.99 or so to keep it in line with the iPhone 6 Plus. Off-contract, we expect the Galaxy S6 to be $600+ in the United States.

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