Nexus 6P versus the Nexus 6

The new Nexus 6P is one of the best Android phones you can buy today. Premium to the nth degree, and hundreds of dollars less than comparable phones you'll find on the shelves or online stores. It's the first Nexus phone that comes without a bunch of compromises. I love mine.

But there's another high-end Nexus phone that's been around for a while, and people who have one still love it. That would be the original Nexus 6 from 2014. Bigger, better built, and running the same exact software as well (or better in some cases) as the latest from Google.

One of the most popular questions I get from people who know I'm a fan of the Nexus program is about which big Nexus is better — the Nexus 6 or the Nexus 6P. That's not an easy one to answer, so we had to take a good long look at both to help everyone decide.

All about the hardware

Nexus 6 v Nexus 6P

Here's where the differences lie. And they go deeper than one having a fingerprint scanner and the other not having one. The two phones are built very different and feel very different when you're holding and using them.

The Nexus 6P is insanely thin, and no it won't bend.

The Nexus 6P is insanely thin at 7.3mm (just over one-quarter of an inch) and you notice just how thin it is as soon as you pick it up. It's also more narrow at 77.8 mm (about three inches) wide. It's not easy to find a Nexus 6P in the wild where you can fondle it, but if you take a trip to your local Verizon store, you can grab a Note 5 or an iPhone 6s Plus and see how a tall, narrow and thin phone feels in your hands. Manufacturers have went narrower for a reason — it fits in an average-sized hand a bit better than wider phones do.

Because it's so thin, it was inevitable that someone took video of it bending. Don't put much thought into that — it doesn't bend easily. There are also videos out there of folks measuring how much force is required to bend the 6P, but they are widely ignored by the folks who need to think it bends too easy. Undoubtedly, those people will be in the comments below. All I can say is I'm not gentle with phones that I didn't spend any money on. I've sat down on this company phone with it in my back pocket, I've flexed it until i thought the glass would break, and I've dropped it several times. It looks fine, and is still straight.

Nexus 6 v Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6 is as different as can be here. It's not thin or narrow — 10 mm thick and 83 mm wide — and it feels pretty substantial in your hands. I'm not about to say it's too big, but to me it was at the very edge of comfortability. Any wider and I'd have to two hand it for everything. I'm not a basketball player, but I have large, meaty and strong hands. People with smaller hands or delicate, nimble hands do have problems using it with one hand. If it were more narrow, they might not. You have to decide how big is too big, but know that width plays a really important part here.

It's also not going to bend under most sane circumstances. I can flex my Nexus 6. I could probably bend my Nexus 6 if I were an idiot and wanted to bend it for YouTube views. But it's not going to happen by accident.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryNexus 6PNexus 6
OSAndroid 6Android 6
CPU/GPUQualcomm Snapdragon 810
octa-core
Adreno 430 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
quad-core
Adreno 420 GPU
Display5.7-inch AMOLED
1440x2560 (518 ppi)
6-inch AMOLED
1440x2560 (493 ppi)
Battery3450 mAh3220 mAh
Removable batteryNoNo
ChargingRapid charging (USB Type-C)Turbo charge (microUSB)
Wireless chargingNoQi
Fingerprint sensorYesNo
Rear camera12MP, 1.55µm pixel size
laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
13MP
OIS, autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front camera8MP2MP
Storage32/64/128GB32/64GB
SD cardNoNo
RAM3GB3GB
Size159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm
Weight178 g184 g

Both phones have dual front-facing speakers. Both phones have a volume and power button on the right-hand side. Both phones are fully supported by Google and will get updates as needed, when needed. Let's look at some other differences.

The screen

Nexus 6P screen macro

I am not extremely picky about the screen on my phone, but I am extremely picky about the screen on my phone, all at the same time. Both the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 6P have an AMOLED panel, which makes 90 percent of the time I'm looking at them better, but also makes them horrible when I'm reading an ebook. I like AMOLED screens, but only 90 percent of the time. First world problems and all that.

Clearly, the screen on the Nexus 6P is better.

Clearly, the screen on the Nexus 6P is better. Let's say that up front. Google made sure we all know that it's using the latest and greatest AMOLED panel from Samsung, and to me the screen is excellent. I have no issues using it outdoors in the noon sun, and haven't seen any burn in yet. It was a little blue at first, but that has settled down with some use and the colors look good (though still blue because AMOLED and the way it does white) and I'm completely satisfied with the display.

I also think the display on the Nexus 6 was mostly fine. It's difficult to see in the sun, and it's not quite as sharp (it's also slightly bigger, so less dense) as the display on the 6P. This means it's a little worse during my 10 percent reading time, but chances are you'll be OK with the display on the Nexus 6, until you need to go outside.

The camera

Nexus 6 v Nexus 6P

Here's where things are wildly different. The camera on the Nexus 6 is adequate. You can take a picture and share it to Facebook or Google+, and it will look good most of the time. You can even take a picture that would look good when printed as a 3 x 5 sometimes, depending on the light and how much you wanted to fiddle with things. It's a middle-of-the-road camera that some people can use and get spectacular photos with, but most of us will get results that are just "good enough."

Not so with the Nexus 6P.

If specs don't tickle your fancy, the results from the Nexus 6P camera speak for themselves.

Behind the hump that so many people love to hate, the 12MP, laser autofocus, dual-LED flash 1.55µm pixel size camera is a joy to use, and fun to type because I get to use the µ symbol. If seeing specs listed doesn't tickle your fancy, the results from the Nexus 6P camera speak for themselves.

I've used a lot of smartphones with the "best" camera. I get slightly better results when fiddling with manual modes on the LG V10 than fiddling with Manual Camera on the Nexus 6P. I get slightly better results when I take my time in the best lighting with the Galaxy S6 edge than I do with the Nexus 6P. I get slightly better results in low light with the Nexus 6P than I do with either the V10 or the S6 edge. Most importantly, I get really nice results from any of these cameras, in almost any conditions. This is the first time we can say thing about a Nexus phone.

Camera comparison

You would probably be satisfied most of the time with the camera on the Nexus 6. You will love the camera on the Nexus 6P.

Other hardware differences worth noting

Nexus 6 v Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P does not have wireless charging. This is worth putting in bold. Yeah, I've heard the reasons — metal back, USB Type-C, rapid charging and all the rest. All valid reasons, but they still don't change the fact that the last generation had the feature, and we were told to love and embrace it, then it was removed. If you're like me, and you loved and used the Qi charging feature of prior Nexus phones, you will miss it on the 6P.

The Nexus 6P does have a fingerprint scanner, and Nexus Imprint software to make use of it. And it works really well. There's a dimple on the back where the scanner lives, and it reads fingerprints quickly and accurately. Even hard, calloused prints on stumpy fingers like mine. Marshmallow has a new set of APIs that developers can leverage to include fingerprint authentication in their apps, so the feature will get even more useful.

The external speakers are better on the Nexus 6 than they are on the Nexus 6P. Headphone audio on either is adequate, but not great.

The Nexus 6 gets better reception than the Nexus 6P. It's noticeably better on the edge of T-Mobile service.

The Nexus 6P has a great 8MP front facing camera. The Nexus 6's 2MP front-facing camera is terrible when compared to it. If you love you some selfies, go 6P.

You can buy a Nexus 6P with 128GB of storage. The Nexus 6 tops out at 64GB.

The Nexus 6P has a working RGB notification LED. The Nexus 6 has one, too, but you need to be rooted and use an app like LightFlow to get it enabled.

Software

Nexus Imprint

This is easy. Both the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 6P run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with the same default apps and the same default features. The only difference is that the Nexus 6P has a fingerprint scanner, so the software to use it is present.

But there's more to the story when you're actually using these phones.

During normal, day-to-day boring stuff like checking mail or messaging, you won't see much difference between the two. Both are quick and fluid, and both are a joy to use. That changes when you get into heavy, CPU-taxing apps that make use of, or don't make use of, multiple cores and threads.

The Snapdragon 810 in the Nexus 6P is a product that was launched because people designing and making smartphones decided that all the new ones had to be 64-bit. The cores themselves are standard ARM big.LITTLE reference designs. There's nothing worng with this on the surface, but CPUs using Qualcomm's custom Krait cores, like the Nexus 6's Snapdragon 805, fare much better during operations that tax a single core. The Krait 450 cores in the Nexus 6's CPU include three way decode and four way out of order command execution. This means the Snapdragon 805 executes commands in an order that is the most efficient, versus executing them in the order they were recieved. It can also execute more than one command per cycle because of the way it can allocate silmutanious instructions.

Nexus 6

In English, this means that the custom CPU Qualcomm built in 2014 (Snapdragon 805) runs single core tasks much better than the CPU they built in 2015 (the Snapdragon 810). You'll notice the difference if a developer hasn't optimized their application to use multiple cores, and there are plenty of those apps out there.

On the other hand, the Nexus 6P's Snapdragon 810 fares better when running applications using multiple cores, and get's better battery life from its big.LITTLE design. Things like 3D games run better and use less juice on the 6P.

For most of us, the differences here are neglible. You really won't see much of a slowdown on either phone, but the battery use differences may be worth considering. This is worth talking about though, because some of us want to squeeze the maximum performance out of our hardware. If you're one of those people, you need to decide which is more important to you — single core performance or multi-core performance.

The rest of us don't need to worry too much about it.

Which phone is better?

Nexus 6P

In the end, I have to make a choice, and throw it out there. That's hard. I still like the Nexus 6, and think if you have one and are happy with it, you should keep it for another year.

If you're shopping for a new phone, and have decided that you need more Nexus in your life, buy the Nexus 6P. It handles better, has a better screen, has a much better camera and can take advantage of fingerprint authentication. It's also a year newer, which means it will be supported for an extra year.

You can sell your Qi chargers on eBay.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

113 Comments
  • Gonna keep mine for another year. (Nexus 6 2016 Qualcomm 820?) Posted via the Android Central App
  • 6 is nicer, 6P is better
  • THIS! I had a 6 before very briefly and loved it. I've decided this coming tax time, I'm gonna get the 6P over against getting another 6. But my heart does break a little knowing that I'm not going to be going the other way on this.
  • Here is to hoping for a 5x 2016 with high end internals and not gimped like current model. Make the two models the same, differentiate on the screen size. 
  • I think another thing to keep in mind is price. You can get the Nexus 6 for well under $300 at this point.
  • Worst thing for me on N6 is the curved back. It would be nice if it sat flat and I think it would be nicer to hold. Number two is the cheap plastic back, but I put a nice leather texture skin over it. Otherwise totally satisfied with Nexus 6. Fingerprint would be nice. I would love to have a great camera, but fortunately most of my photos are stills and can take advantage of excellent HDR+. N6 is the first smartphone that I may use as my primary for two full years. And what a deal at the discount prices nearing $300 now.
  • I love my Nexus 6, I only ordered the 6p because I have to have the newest and greatest from Google. I do believe that the Moto Nexus 6 is built better hardware wise. The overall package of the 6p is worth the upgrade but I easily could have gone another year with the Moto 6 ... since the marshmallow update day to day use on the software is negligible. And I also didn't like having to go back and screen size believe it or not but I'm getting used to it. If you took the fingerprint scanner away it's a difficult choice to be honest if you look closely the Moto Nexus 6 has attention to detail. And the speakers are slightly better on n6.. Posted via a nexus
  • Cue rotten tomato with shitty bending jokes Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • It's amazing how you posted a single comment from three different devices. You must be God!
  • R u new? Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Nah, I've been around for 30+ years.
  • Must be new if you thought he was asking about your age. Posted via the HTC One M9
  • Okay. The Nexus 6 is not as flexible as the Nexus 6P, I'm always happy to oblige.
  • It would really be awesome if you guys could do some of these type articles in Video form. I guess i just prefer the sit-down and watch vs reading...
  • Yeah reading is hard for some........ I wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup
  • I could get behind that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They have a weekly podcast with video. Some of us rather read, but i do consume the podcast weekly.
  • Would have loved some video, cause the N6 is def faster than the 6P Thank You Jerry for this article
  • I'm the exact opposite. I hate when people put something in a 3 minute video that I could read in a single paragraph. It's ridiculous, and usually just an excuse to frontload it with some shitty ad. Since most of my catching up on tech news is done at work between tasks, video articles are really annoying to me. Plus...reading is better for you.
  • Well, if you look at actual display measurements the Nexus 6's display is a disappointment on every level except for contrast and viewing angles, which are of course due to it being AMOLED.
    It's as if they took a Galaxy S4 display and bumped up the resolution to QHD. I applaud Google and Huawei for managing to convince samsung to supply them with their latest panels this time. A huge improvement indeed.
    As for the bluish whites, I don't have the device but if you try the calibrated sRGB mode hidden within the developer settings it should bring down the display temperature.
  • I agree on the coloring. The only thing is every time you reboot you have to go back and set that again.
  • The A57 arm core is faster than the krait in both single and multi core performance? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dam it!!!! Only if the Nexus 6 had a better camera I would still be using it as a daily driver. I love the build quality of the Nexus 6. The Nexus 6p just looks strange to me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • To be fair it looks strange to me also, but that didn't slow me down one bit from buying one. To a reasonable extent, phone aesthetics really don't matter to me. It's all about what it can actually do. I mean don't get me wrong there comes a point when it does make difference, but to me there is nothing particularly offensive about the 6P, it's just kind of weird looking.
  • Only on the camera lens. From the front it looks great, though it does resemble the shape of the iPhone 6 quite a bit. Maybe that's why it looks so good, lol
  • I came very close to getting a Nexus 6. In the end, I'm glad I didn't, because I fell in love with the S Pen and the superior display of the Note 4. But it was a contender. The Nexus 6P isn't a contender for me. If others like it, bully for them.
  • Not exactly sure why you posted on a 6 vs 6P article, had a note 4 but I certainly cannot take the fact that Verizon and Samsung overloaded my phone with 300 apps, 387 apps with mine installed. I will take my Nexus 6 and it's 135 total apps any day of the week, if I want to use my S pen I'll pick up my note 10.1 2014.
  • ive always hated how it fit in my hand. from what i hear the 6p minor width change is a major difference in how it feels.
  • Nice comparison Jerry. Thanks. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Jerry - this is *exactly* what I've been looking for (along with many other on-the-fence N6 users, I'm sure). The N6P has been in and out of my Play Store Cart so many times in the past week I keep expecting a pop-up window saying 'No More Window Shopping!" My hesitation was based on radio and speaker performance relative to the N6, and your comments there have me thinking that, despite how sexy the new N6P is, since I'm not really *dissatisfied* in any way with the N6 (other than some issues for which I'll likely shortly be pursuing a warranty claim), I'll hold off another year.
  • The 6P feels so much better in hand. The 6 isn't a slouch, but in my opinion the 6P is a worthy upgrade. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm still lovin my N6, even after a year. Although that 6P is looking really good.. Not to mention the fingerprint sensor and slimmed down metallic body... I'll basically be trading wireless charging for fingerprint sensor.... Decisions, decisions Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think wireless charging wins hands down over fingerprint sensors.
  • i never used the wireless charging on my N6...too slow, and i'd look at it or bump it and it'd stop charging. i've quickly fallen in love with the fingerprint sensor on N6P (despite having android wear keep the N6 unlocked). Things like LastPass are great - app asks for password, lastpass pops up and says to put my finger on the scanner, a second later it's filling in login info. the slim body was important for me too - my hands are small, i had to replace 2 N6s due to dropping them and shattering them. N6P aluminum is slipperier, but at least my hand can fit around it i honestly haven't noticed a screen size difference. that was my biggest reservation. got used to the bezels quickly, and i'm appreciating that this thing is significantly faster during normal use. N6 amazed me with speed when i updated to MM, but N6P blows it away.
  • Lovin the nexus 6! I just wish it was 5.7" as opposed to 6". Not the best decision by Google, but the thing is a performance powerhouse
  • They actually could of made the bezels on the side a little thinner. A couple of millimeters makes all the difference in the world. Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Ya I thought the same. It definately would've made a difference
  • Wait the 6P has worse speakers? I thought it was the other way around from impressions I've read. Posted via the Android Central App
  • every other review out there says the 6P has better speakers than the 6
  • Good write Jerry. I have both so I can say you're on the mark. I like them both but I love the 6P a little more.
  • Liked my Nexus 6 but it was a bit too wide and I never really got used to the width. Sold my 6 and got the 6P for less width abd better feel in the hand, camera and fingerprint scanner which is crazy smooth and fast. Cannot wait for app to start using this new security feature. If these thing do not matter, the Nexus 6 is still a screamer with marshmallow.
  • Jerry, another great article. Thanks for the insight on the difference between the 805 and 810 CPU. Very interesting to see how the processors handle processing threads.
  • I LOVE my Nexus 6 but the fingerprint sensor on the 6P did it for me... After playing with my Husband's 6P, I got more and more irritated when having to unlock my 6. I am only slightly ashamed.
  • Yeah, I consider a fingerprint sensor (and wireless charging) as necessities. That's why I wouldn't get a Priv, myself, as much as I think it's a great phone otherwise. The Priv has wireless charging, but no fingerprint sensor.
  • Just got my new N6 on eBay for 280. I like it a lot but width is certainly an issue. I can barely use this thing one-handed. Coming from an M9 that is a big change since I could reach the entire screen with my thumb on that. The speakers are super loud. I can actually hear my music when I'm in the shower. Not something I could say about the m9. The screen is pretty bad. Resolution is fine but whites look gray. I'm not a huge fan of amoled to begin with and the n6 has all of the issues I used to have with my Nexus S screen. I could see upgrading to the 6p when the price drops but for now I'm good. I really hope google adds software to help with one-handed use but I doubt they will. Posted via my Nexus 6
  • People drop phones less if they take the time to stop and use it with 2 hands instead of using it while doing other tasks. I'm completely OK with a 2-handed phone, though I know some aren't. If you think about it though, it's better in the long run to just stop and do what you have to do quickly rather than one-handing and dropping it, or being one of those jackasses that walk into people cause they're using their phone, ha. :) This philosophy has allowed me to run all phones caseless and without screen protectors without ever breaking one.
  • Hey, their both great phones.
    Bang/buck can't beat the N6.
    That doesn't make N6P a bad phone.
    On the contrary, it's a great phone successor to a great phone.
    Brought my wife on Google Fi with me.
    Toyed with buying a N6P for myself...wife getting the N6.
    Bought another N6 instead.
    Cheapest way to go.
  • alt 0181
  • I would like to see an article someday on why I shouldn't have spent $950 on the iPhone 6s plus 128 that I'm posting this from, and instead should have gone with Nexus 6p 128 for $300 less. I often consider coming back to Android, after using it for four years, until switching to Apple two years ago, but can't come up with a compelling reason to do so. Being abandoned for software updates on 8 Android devices also left a bitter taste that may never go away. Apple hasn't abandoned me yet in two years, and the only thing I feel like I'm missing is$300. Why would I ditch iPhone for this thing?
  • Are you familiar with how a nexus phone works? It's the most apple like experience you get on Android. Updates are straight from Google. Also I believe there was an iPhone 6s vs 6p already. Posted via my Nexus 6
  • I think I am. Google guarantees 18 months of updates last time I checked? Is that from purchase date or release date? I have an iPhone 5 I keep as a backup and it was released in 2012. It is running the latest iOS 9 and runs like a brand new phone, just like my 6s plus I bought two weeks ago. But my Nexus 7 tablet only was updated to lollipop many months after the software was released, and after struggling with resets and flashing multiple times, it was effectively destroyed by lag lasting over a minute sometimes, and has now been abandoned. My seven other Android devices were obsolete the moment I bought them. I feel so screwed over by Google and Android and Motorola and Samsung. I feel so stupid for getting screwed over and over and yet still giving more money to Android because Apple stuff was supposed to be overpriced. But it really wasn't because Apple devices, it turned out, get BETTER as they get older with ever improved software that I can install the moment it is released. Why are things better now for Android? What guarantee do I have I wouldn't get screwed again?
  • The OG Nexus 5 came out in October/November of 2013 and is still running the latest software. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's nice to hear, but I would still need to see a firm, written, enforceable commitment from the manufacturer I think before I ever take the Android plunge again. I was starting to feel like Charlie Brown, with Lucy holding the football.
  • How long do you want to hold onto your phone? I have a friend who had an iPhone 4S, and while the updates came in, the phone got slower and slower with every update. He got rid of it because he wanted something faster. Sure, it still ran and still got updates, but the hardware just couldn't handle the updates anymore. My wife has a Nexus 5 running Android 6. She should get another year out of it if she doesn't drop it. Do you expect more than that?
  • I have both and using my iphone 6s+ this week. Since I use more google apps than apple apps it is not hard to use iphone since google makes almost all of their apps available on iphone. I must admit the 3d touch is nice and as soon as more apps can use it it will be great. I have set up my Nexus 6P and used it around the house but have not received my screen protector and went out of town for a week so I left it home. Google does update the Nexus directly as I flashed marshmallow to my Nexus the first day it was out before selling it. Looking forward to using my 6P and hopefully more apps will use the fingerprint scanner soon. Both are capable and are almost the same size. One nice thing that iphone has right now is wifi calling and texting on