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Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 6: What Buyers Can Expect



Those looking for a new Android smartphone likely have their eye on the Nexus 6, Google’s current flagship. It’s a solid Android option but it’s one that will be joined by another flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S6, in just a few short weeks. With that in mind, we want to relay our own Galaxy S6 expectations and examine what we expect from the Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 6.

Last year, there was a lot of back and forth about Google’s plans for the Nexus program. In the weeks after the iPhone 6 launch though, it became clear that Google would once again release a Nexus smartphone to the public. That device was, and is, the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 is the true successor to the Nexus 5 and a device that was made in collaboration with Motorola.

Google’s Nexus 6 is one of the best Android smartphones on the market right now and it’s one that we recommend to those looking to snag a new smartphone. We just wouldn’t buy it right now. There are a couple of big smartphone launches on the horizon and we think you should wait a few weeks before reaching a decision.


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, ever since the start of the year and CES 2015. 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 6.

This early look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Nexus 6 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

Google’s Nexus 6 is still a little bit difficult to find. And while the temptation to buy might float through your head when stock arrives, you’re better off waiting. At least for a few weeks.

Samsung’s 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 6, something that we think you absolutely must do before committing to either of these flagships.

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 but it’s looking like we’ll see the start of the Samsung Galaxy S6 release take place in late March or early April which is actually a little bit earlier than usual. Usually, Samsung releases the device in mid-April or May.


If you’re skeptical, note that we’ve also started to see Galaxy S6 models receive 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 also expect there to be a way for consumers to go hands-on with the Galaxy S6 ahead of its release date on shelves. After last year’s Galaxy Note 4 launch, Samsung put the flagship 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 like the Nexus 6.

Either way, we expect the Samsung Galaxy S6 release date to land a few weeks after Samsung announces the device on March 1st. And we advise you to wait until that day arrives before jumping in with either device.

Display Size

The Nexus 6 took a step up from the Nexus 5 in a number of ways, including the display. Instead of a 5-inch display, the Nexus 6 employs a near 6-inch display. That’s absolutely massive, bigger than the Galaxy Note 4 display even, and it makes the Nexus 6 one of the biggest flagship Android smartphones that money can buy.

We expect the Galaxy S6 to feature a smaller display and a smaller design overall. 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, not the Nexus 6. We expect the Galaxy S6 to be easier to hold with one hand. This was one of the issues we brought up in our review of the Nexus 6. It’s fairly difficult to hold with just one hand.

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 bent edge.

Count on an upgraded 2k display, many sensors and an upgraded fingerprint reader.

Count on an upgraded 2k display, many sensors and an upgraded fingerprint reader.

If true, and we think it is, it would give Samsung another intriguing option for those looking into buying the Nexus 6. Expect the screen size on the Galaxy S6 Edge model to be similar to the regular version.

Screen Resolution

Google’s flagship also took a step up in screen resolution. While the Nexus 5 sports a Full HD display, the Nexus 6 became one of the first mainstream devices to offer Quad HD resolution. The Nexus 6’s display is one of the best displays we’ve ever used and it offers gorgeous looking content that jumps out at you from its 6-inches of real estate.

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 else would be extremely odd. We could see the company make some tweaks to its display panel but we wouldn’t expect the resolution to be any different.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 concept highlights a new design, 2K display and upgraded metal frame.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 concept highlights a new design, 2K display and upgraded metal frame.

What this means is that the Galaxy S6 should deliver 2,560 x 1,440 resolution at 575 pixels per inch. The Nexus 6’s display features a similar resolution at 493 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. We expect the Galaxy S6’s panel, like the Nexus 6’s panel, to display tons of detail in videos and photos.


If you want to get some idea, go into a store and compare the Galaxy Note 4 display to a Full HD display. You’d also be wise to compare it to the Nexus 6’s display if you can. Samsung has an excellent track record when it comes to smartphone displays and we’re expecting the Galaxy S6’s panel to match, or best the Nexus 6’s.


The Nexus 6 design is also a departure from its predecessors. It features a soft touch plastic back that offers a sleek metal ring around the edges to give it an elegant look and feel in hand. It’s worth noting that it comes with front-facing speakers, a feature that isn’t prevalent on Android flagship smartphones and a feature that still isn’t confirmed for the Galaxy S6.

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

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

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 and Android devices like the Nexus 6.

Last year, Samsung finally added metal elements to a flagship smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is mostly plastic but it comes with a metal rim around the edges, similar to the Nexus 6. 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.


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 and the iPhone 6.

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. Google’s Nexus 6 measures in at 10mm thick, thick for a flagship, and it weighs 184 grams. It’s thick and heavy.

Fingerprint Sensor

The Nexus 6 doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor and according to Motorola, it’s Apple’s fault. This might not seem like a big deal but talk to someone who owns a device with a fingerprint reader baked into the design. It makes getting to the home screen extremely convenient.

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. The inclusion of a powerful fingerprint sensor also makes sense given the rumors about Samsung’s Apple Pay competitor.


Google’s Nexus 5 camera was one of the device’s biggest disappointments. The Nexus 6 camera isn’t as bad as the Nexus 5’s but it still won’t be winning any awards.

The Nexus 6, for those that need reminder, comes with a 13MP camera with Optical Image Stabilization and a 2MP camera up front for selfies and video chatting. In our review, we found that the Nexus 6 camera is too inconsistent to be considered among the elite. The Nexus 6 struggles in low-light. It’s the same problem that Motorola had with the Moto X 2014.

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, 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 several improvements.

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.


One of the nice things about the Nexus 6 is that it comes with pure 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. The Nexus 6’s software looks and feels a whole lot different than the Android 5.0 Lollipop 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. This year, that might not be such a bad thing.


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. That would involve scrapping TouchWiz completely.


The Nexus 6 comes in two storage options, 32GB and 64GB. It does not come with a microSD card slot for expanded storage because Nexus devices never come with microSD card slots for expanded storage. We expect the Galaxy S6 to match the Nexus 6 from a storage standpoint. Maybe even beat it.

At this point, we expect the Samsung 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.


Unlike previous Nexus smartphones, the Nexus 6 arrived on a larger swath of U.S. carriers. AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and T-Mobile currently carry it while Verizon is expected to release it in the near future. When Verizon does release it, it will be available on all five major U.S. carriers. That’s big.

The Galaxy S6 concept next to the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha.

The Galaxy S6 concept next to the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha.


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, looking for your next home.

Galaxy S6 Price

The Nexus 6 is not cheap. A 32GB runs $650 off-contract while a 64GB is $700 off-contract. If you’re ok with buying on-contract, you can find it for in and around $250. That’s in between the price of the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 for those wondering.

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, similar to the Nexus 6’s price point.

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