Until today, the Moto X 2014 could comfortably be considered one of the best smartphones for sale this year. Some longtime Android followers even referred to it as the best Android phone ever made. Now that we’ve seen Google’s Nexus 6, the Moto X 2014 crown may be in danger.
The Nexus 6 is the Moto X 2014 in most ways. Like with previous Nexus devices, Google contracted with a hardware maker to create a flagship phone for its new operating system – in this case that’s Motorola. Coming so soon after the Moto X 2014, Motorola didn’t completely go back to the drawing board for the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 is a bigger and maybe even more powerful brother for the Moto X 2014. It’s created for those who want a phone that has a screen so big that it’s really a small tablet.
Here’s how the Nexus 6 compares to the Moto X 2014, Motorola’s other flagship smartphone.
The Moto X 2014 is a design revelation. The edges of every Moto X 2014 are wrapped in metal that acts as the device’s antenna. Black or white faces hold a 5.2-inch high definition display, a front-facing speaker and a front-facing speaker. That aforementioned metal rim is only interrupted by a microUSB port on the bottom, a top mounted headset jack plus power and volume buttons sitting on its side.
The rear of the Moto X 2014 is curved and comes in dozens of different colors if it’s ordered online. a Dimple with the Motorola logo makes it easy to hold. The 13 megapixel camera is surrounded by a ring flash module that is supposed to soften glare in flash photography.
Each of those attributes are also included on the Moto X 2014. Absolutely, each one. Besides a paired down dimple and Nexus branding the two devices’ designs are identical. That’s certainly not a bad thing, they’re both absolutely gorgeous. The Nexus 6 will only come in white and blue versions though.
Display & Internals
The Nexus 9 and Moto X 2014 are peers in looks, but the former is clearly trying to be a modern powerhouse.
The 5.2-inch AMOLED display capable of playing 1080p video on the Moto X 2014 is bested in this case by the Nexus 6’s 5.9-inch AMOLED display. Not only is it bigger, it offers up more pixels with a 2560 x 1440 resolution.
There are key differences in other ways too. Whereas the Moto X 2014 had a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz, the Nexus 6’s 4 cores can hit 2.7 GHz. The Nexus 6 even has more RAM, 3GB as opposed to the Moto X 2014’s 2GB. In short, apps may load faster on the Nexus 6. Certainly, Nexus 6 users can look forward to having more apps running in the background and not interfering with performance than the Moto X 2014.
Historically, Nexus devices have always had pretty bad cameras. Last year’s Moto X did too. Motorola addressed this with a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera for the Moto X 2014 and with the Nexus 6 its building on that with optical image stabilization. Pictures and video taken while in motion will look better on the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6 also boasts HDR+ mode too, something that makes different colors in photos pop even more than they do with the Moto X 2014’s automatic HDR mode.
Since rebooting its lineup of Android smartphones after being purchased by Google a few years ago, Motorola has worked pretty hard to balance modern specifications and extras with good design. The Moto X and the Moto X 2014 are all about giving users the hardware features they desire, but there’s also a focus on being “good enough.” Frills that don’t have some reasonable use aren’t present in the Moto X 2014.
The Nexus 6 is for those people who care more about power than balance. The Moto X 2014 received criticism for having a so-so battery. The Nexus 6 has a 3220 mAh. This change translates into 24 hours of battery life, according to Motorola. Users can top off this battery with a wireless charging plate, something that many hoped Motorola would include in the Moto X 2014.
At first glance the Moto X 2014 appears to have dual-front speakers but sadly it doesn’t. The Nexus 6 however, does have dual-front facing speakers.
The biggest thing going for the Nexus 6 is going to be that it comes with an unmodified version of Android Lollipop. Users can expect quicker updates and almost complete control of what’s on their device. Ironically, that might be the Nexus 6’s biggest weakness. Stock Android is great in a world of heavily modified, terrible Android skins that don’t add valuable features. The Moto X 2014 is anything but that. It runs a nearly unmodified version of Android with apps and features that make sense.
Nexus 6 buyers don’t get that dedicated natural processing core that allows the Moto X 2014 to take voice commands at any moment. There are no sensors on the front of the device that allow users to wave their hands to ignore calls. Moto Assist isn’t there to automatically play music while driving either. The Moto X 2014 doesn’t come with a lot of cruft directly from Motorola either, and it’ll get Android Lollipop fairly quickly. Nexus 6 users only get two basic designs to choose from whereas the Moto X 2014 can be customized through Motorola’s Moto Maker website with backs of different colors, bright or dark accents, a white or black front and leather.
It’s also worth noting that the Nexus 6 will include a turbo charger that allows it to get 6 hours of use with 15 minutes of charging. The Turbo Charger is a separate accessory for Moto X 2014 buyers.
The Moto X 2014 is sold on contract for $99 by carriers in the United States, but it’s the Pure Edition Moto X that’s closest to the Nexus 6. Unlocked it costs $499 for a basic colored back and 16GB of storage. Users can pay up front and put the phone on any network they want or pay in monthly installments through Motorola’s financing program. Devices with 32GB of storage starts at $450. Again, this is without having to sign up with AT&T or Verizon for a two-year contract.
The Nexus 6 will sell unlocked for $649.99 with 32GB of on-board storage and $699 with 64GB of storage. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint will offer on-contract versions of the Nexus 6, but how much they’ll cost remains unclear.
For those who don’t need an aggressively modern smartphone or a 6-inch display – which really turns the device into a tablet – the Moto X 2014 seems like the clear winner. $499 doesn’t get users wireless charging, but it does get them a reasonably sized smartphone with decent battery life and some really cool software extras.
The Nexus 6 isn’t already on sale. It’ll arrive in the Google Play Store sometime in the coming month or so.