iPhone 6 Plus Vs Nexus 6 Review: Fabulous Phablets Fight. #woshmulla

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iPhone 6 Plus Vs Nexus 6 Review: Fabulous Phablets Fight
The stars have aligned. One year ago this comparison made no sense. The Nexus 5 was vastly bigger than the iPhone 5S and half the price. It was also meant primarily as a reference device to inspire Android handset makers. How things have changed.
The iPhone 6 Plus sees Apple AAPL -0.04% charge into the large screen/phablet sector for the first time and the Nexus 6 has grown in both size and price to match it. Google GOOGL +0.27% also isn’t playing anymore. The Nexus 6 is being sold through most major carriers and is as much a rival to other Android handset makers as an inspiration.
So whose debut phablet comes out on top? Having used both for some time here are my thoughts.
Design – Curves Are Essential
As the saying goes, there is more than one way to…

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iPhone 6 Plus Vs Nexus 6 Review: Fabulous Phablets Fight. #woshmulla

iPhone 6 Plus Vs Nexus 6 Review: Fabulous Phablets Fight
The stars have aligned. One year ago this comparison made no sense. The Nexus 5 was vastly bigger than the iPhone 5S and half the price. It was also meant primarily as a reference device to inspire Android handset makers. How things have changed.
The iPhone 6 Plus sees Apple AAPL -0.04% charge into the large screen/phablet sector for the first time and the Nexus 6 has grown in both size and price to match it. Google GOOGL +0.27% also isn’t playing anymore. The Nexus 6 is being sold through most major carriers and is as much a rival to other Android handset makers as an inspiration.
So whose debut phablet comes out on top? Having used both for some time here are my thoughts.
Design – Curves Are Essential
As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat and Apple and Google have taken completely different approaches in building their phablets.
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iPhone 6 Plus (left) and Nexus 6 (right) – image credit Gordon Kelly
The iPhone 6 Plus has the greater Wow Factor thanks to its aluminium unibody and beautifully bevelled buttons and edges. It also has a jaw droppingly thin form factor which the Nexus 6 cannot touch.
But Apple hasn’t built a phablet, it has built a supersized iPhone 6 and this is a problem. The flat back doesn’t lend itself well to the increased size making it hard to grip and the slippy finish borders on ludicrous for such a large device. The iPhone 6 Plus is therefore a pretty horrible device to hold and you’ll need a case to use it with any confidence. A problem for a device that is already huge.

The strengths and weaknesses of the Nexus 6 are the exact opposite.

This year designed by Motorola, the Nexus 6 is also essentially a blown up version of a smaller phone: the brilliant 2014 Moto X. The difference is the Moto X at 5.2-inches is also a big phone and therefore Motorola has taken more interest in ergonomics than Apple with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.
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The iPhone 6 Plus is thinner, but the Nexus 6 has superior ergonomics – image credit Gordon Kelly
Consequently the Nexus 6 has a heavily curved back which sits beautifully in hand and, while thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus, the tapered edges are more comfortable and the tiny bezels mean it squeezes a 6-inch display into virtually the same footprint.
The plastic finish is somewhat disappointing, particularly as it loses the grippier soft touch finish of the Moto X, but it still has more texture than the iPhone 6 Plus. A crucial aspect for such large phones.
Ultimately therefore I’ve grown to prefer the design of the Nexus 6. Both have aspects that could be improved, but Apple simply hasn’t thought about how a phablet is held and used. Just making a big iPhone 6 doesn’t cut it.
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Nexus 6 has the bigger screen, but both are phenomenal – image credit Gordon Kelly
Displays – Bigger Is Better
It is best to get this out the way earlier, as the primary reason for buying either of these massive phones regularly comes down to one thing: screen size.
At 6-inches and with a 2560 x 1440 pixel (2k) resolution, the Nexus 6’s AMOLED display comes out better on paper than the iPhone 6 Plus’ 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS display. But not so fast.
While the Nexus 6 has the fractionally sharper screen courtesy of its extra pixel density (493 vs 401 ppi) and its extra 0.5-inches do make a noticeable difference in general use, the iPhone 6 Plus strikes some blows of its own. Brightness on the iPhone 6 Plus is noticeably better than the Nexus 6 and it has slightly better colour accuracy and viewing angles.
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iPhone 6 Plus has better colours, but the Nexus 6 is sharper – image credit Gordon Kelly
That said these pros and cons need to be put in a real world context because no Nexus 6 or iPhone 6 Plus owner is going to be disappointed by either display. The pair are among the very best mobile screens ever made with only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3 sit above them in my opinion.
So if you’re after the biggest screen possible then the Nexus 6 has a tangible edge, but otherwise both are glorious.
Performance – Power Packed But Not Bug Free
A straight spec-for-spec comparison between the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus borders on pointless given their different ecosystems. So I’m more interested in discussing how they perform in actual use and both break new ground for iOS and Android.
The Qualcomm QCOM +0.95% Snapdragon 805 chipset in the Nexus 6 represents the peak of the Android world at present and in combination with a whopping 3GB RAM and, crucially, stock Android 5.0 Lollipop it flies. Navigation is buttery smooth as are the eye catching transitional animations in Material Design and there is no game in the Google Play Store to trouble it and likely won’t be for a year or two.
That said there is some controversy under the immaculate exterior. The Nexus 6 has encryption turned on by default in Lollipop (unlike upgrading Android devices where it is an option) and Anandtech found this impacts load times.
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Image credit Gordon Kelly
An extra second or half second isn’t going to trouble any but the most picky of users and has obvious security benefits, but until Google makes encryption optional it is likely to cause complaints.
Meanwhile the iPhone 6 Plus – while making a smaller proportional power jump to previous iPhone generations – has the efficiency of iOS 8 working beautifully in tandem with Apple’s latest A8 chipset. The A8 only has a dual core CPU and there is only 1GB of RAM, but performance per core is strong and nothing slows this device down.
Where it does stumble however are a number of major bugs which Apple is struggling to eliminate, despite a number of iOS 8 updates. My review device was fine, but there are widespread reports of WiFi and Bluetooth problems.
Android 5.0 Lollipop doesn’t escape unscathed either with some major apps still incompatible and erratic battery life (more later). It is important to stress, however, that both iOS 8 and Lollipop are brand new and bug fixes and enhancements will appear throughout the next year.
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iOS 8 and Android Lollipop homescreens – image credit Gordon Kelly
Phablet Credentials – Early Days For Both iOS 8 And Android 5.0 Lollipop
While bugs are the only complaint I have with performance in both the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both ecosystems do share one irritating flaw: a lack of phablet-specific functionality.
In a nutshell both iOS 8 and Android Lolllipop are essentially blown up versions of the software that is available on smaller phones. Apple has enabled landscape mode on the iPhone 6 homescreen and expanded landscape functionality in some core apps like Mail and Stocks, but it is a pretty limited effort.
Meanwhile Google has done even less. Other than an extra vertical and horizontal line of icons on the homescreen, the operation of the Nexus 6 is indistinguishable from running Lollipop on the Nexus 5.
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Both iOS 8 and Android Lollipop lack tablet-specific features – image credit Gordon Kelly
Given Google annoyed many in shifting the Nexus line to a phablet form factor (the Nexus 5 is being phased out), this is a real disappointment and it needs to be addressed with updates sooner rather than later.
It is important to state that these complaints are not to denigrate either iOS or Android in general, but when it comes to catering specifically for phablets both platforms are in their infancy.
What I will say though is Lollipop is the better OS to use on a big screen in general. Its support for widgets on its homescreens is a big differentiator that makes great use of the Nexus 6’s huge display and its more customisable nature means apps offer greater flexibility to change core elements of the user experience to suit bigger screens.
Examples include 3rd party Launchers to completely change the homescreen, the ability to hide unwanted icons and to place them anywhere on the screen. Furthermore the fact core Android’s core navigation buttons are either side of the home icon makes them more easily reachable.
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Android 5.0 Lollipop is better suited to big screens – image credit Gordon Kelly
Google’s third party keyboard support is also deeper and compact keyboards (as seen below from Swiftkey) allow one handed typing, a layout flexibility Apple has yet to offer.
To its credit, Apple has introduced swipe gestures to combat the increasingly problematic top left positioning of the back button and added ‘Reachability’ to drop down the UI with a double tap of the home button. These feel like half measures though and iOS still feels like an OS designed for small screens.
This isn’t the place for a wider iOS vs Android debate, however, instead you will find that (and discussions of features like Apple Pay and Material Design) in the link below:
Security
Over the years Android has developed a reputation for malware, something highlighted earlier this year by a report which claimed 97% of all malware is on Android. What wasn’t so keenly noted, however, is that this report also said nearly all of this was located in unofficial app stores. The official Google Play store turned out to be only responsible for 0.1% and the researchers found any that was detected was usually deleted within minutes.
That said there is no denying that, despite a growing number of attacks, iOS is still the more secure new system. A perspective that has been enhanced by the TouchID fingerprint reader now used on all new iPhones and iPads.
How does this work out in reality? Again it isn’t so black and white with TouchID vulnerabilities found, but the convenience (and cool factor) of TouchID has seen many adopt fingerprint security when they used none before.
For its part Android Lollipop on the Nexus 6 brings support for location based locks. This allows ‘safe zones’ to be established so pin codes are removed when home or in the office or even when connected to a nearby peripheral, such as a Bluetooth fitness band. Lollipop also supports automatic facial recognition unlocks, but warns it isn’t as secure as the traditional pin code.
The lesson to be learned? Used responsibly both platforms are very secure, especially since the Nexus 6 doesn’t support sideloading of potentially infected apps via external storage (one upside of this missing feature). But common sense is required.
Battery Life – Erratic Nexus 6 Sees iPhone 6 Plus Come Out On Top
When Google first announced Lollipop way back in June, it made a big fuss about ‘Project Volta’ – an initiative to dramatically improve the battery life on Android. Now Volta is here and in combination with the Nexus 6’s massive 3220 mAh battery you would think it should bring radical improvement. Sadly not.
When it comes to staying power the iPhone 6 Plus (and its 2915 mAh battery) easily comes out on top. The good news is both it and the Nexus 6 should get you through a full day, even with heavy use, but whereas the iPhone 6 Plus’ battery will do this consistently what you get day-to-day from the Nexus 6 can be all over the place.
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Nexus 6 battery is erratic – here it lasts less than one day – image credit Gordon Kelly
In my time with it the Nexus 6 has both lasted over two days and hit low battery by late afternoon, all with similar use. Whether this is down to third party apps and widgets that need updating or early glitches in Lollipop is unclear but it needs fixing and the Nexus 6 is currently outlasted by the Galaxy Note 4, which also has a 3,220 mAh battery but is running Android 4.4 KitKat. That shouldn’t happen.
By contrast the iPhone 6 Plus is rock solid and its greatest weapon is its phenomenal efficient standby time. Leave the iPhone 6 Plus unplugged overnight and it will use 1% of its battery at most, while the Nexus 6 will consume 5-10%.
This is where the big difference lies. In use battery drain in similar, but given our phones spend more time idle than in use the iPhone 6 Plus surges ahead over the course of a day. So for those in need of the best battery life, the iPhone 6 Plus here has an easy win.
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iPhone 6 Plus battery life is superb – image credit Gordon Kelly
External Speakers – An Easy Nexus 6 Win
There has been a clear evolution in smartphone speakers. Long wasted on the backs of phones, they then moved to the bottom edge of phones and now more and more handsets have front firing speakers as manufacturers begin to appreciate customers care a lot more about them than they originally believed.
Unfortunately here the iPhone 6 Plus lags a generation behind. Despite its huge front bezels, Apple continues to fit a mono, bottom edge single speaker. In fairness it is about as loud and clear as its limits allow, but it is no match for the front firing, dual stereo speakers on the Nexus 6.
In the wider scheme of things, HTC’s BoomSound speakers (which have led this front firing revolution) still offer a touch more bass than the Nexus 6, but the Motorola built smartphone is a little louder. As a result you won’t currently find many smartphone external speakers to match it.