We wouldn’t blame you for just thinking that the Nexus 6 (code named Shamu) is just a stretched-out Moto X. After all it does just look like a larger Moto X, with the exception of the Nexus logo across the back. So what are the differences? Actually a lot more than you think, excluding the obvious such as not having Moto Maker.
So let’s get the obvious out of the way – the Nexus 6 has a 5.9 inch QHD (2560×1440) display compared to the 5.2 inch 1080p display of the Moto X, and both are AMOLED displays protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. One other subtle difference here is there’s no IR sensor array like you would find on the Moto X, which is used to detect hand movements over the device activating the display to preview notifications.
The other obvious thing that has changed is the battery. The Moto X has a 2300mAh battery, but the Nexus battery is a whopping 3220mAh! That’s a 40% increase in battery size but only about a 12% increase in screen size. So hopefully the larger battery, paired with the power efficiency improvements in Android Lollipop will fix the issues people seemed to have with the Moto X battery life. I say this because even though the Nexus 6 has more powerful innards compared to the Moto X (more on this later), more often than not the display is the biggest factor in battery drain. Unlike the Moto X, and just like previous Nexus phones the Nexus 6 comes with Qi wireless charging. Good news for those that spent money on wireless chargers, they won’t be obsolete. As well as Qi wireless charging, the Nexus 6 also comes with Turbo charging.
Beyond the differences that can be discerned from the outside, what else is different? Inside the Nexus 6 you’ll find the quad core Snapdragon 805, clocked at 2.7Ghz. The Moto X also has a quad core processor but it’s the older Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5Ghz. Of course the newer processor comes with newer graphics – packed inside the Nexus 6 you’ll find the Adreno 420 GPU, compared to the Adreno 330 on the Moto X. The Nexus 6 also comes with 3GB of RAM compared to the Moto X which comes with only 2GB.
Another surprising difference is unlike the Moto X, the new Nexus phone comes with dual stereo speakers. Looking at the Moto X, you would think it would come with dual front-facing speakers like the HTC One and others, but it only comes with one speaker. Another difference you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at it, or perhaps even looking at the spec sheet is that it has a different camera. That’s right! Don’t be fooled by the dual ring-diffused flash and megapixel count – it’s a different module altogether. Behind the lens you will find the same Sony sensor found in the OnePlus One. The Moto X has a lens aperture of f2.25, unlike the slightly wider aperture of f2 on the Nexus. To clarify though, the aperture does not affect the field of view, only that more light will reach the Nexus 6 sensor and ergo, should perform better in low light having a wider aperture.
Similarly, both phones support 4K video capture. Of course they also both support tap to focus, face detection and HDR. The Nexus 6 however, unlike the Moto X, comes with image stabilisation. It is unclear yet whether the Nexus 6 will support slow motion video, like the Moto X does. We’ll have to wait and see at the release of Android L and the flurry of new Nexus devices.
On the software side, the big news is that the Nexus 6 will come with Android L out of the box, which everybody knows. That said, the Moto X will get Android 5.0 soon after the Nexus line of devices gets the update. As it is a Nexus device, the Nexus 6 won’t have the customisations that Motorola built in such as active display, and Motorola assist. Google has done its own take of some of these however, such as ambient display. Ambient display is similar to the Motorola active display and is referenced on the spec sheet but doesn’t quite have the same interface. Also as we stated in our Android 5 article, Android now supports double tap to wake by default and the Nexus 6 will supports this, the first device in Google’s Nexus line to do so.
Another big difference between the devices is price – the Nexus 6 starts at $649 USD on Google Play, and the Moto X is $499 USD on Motorola.com. As expected, with the Nexus 6 you do lose to customisations from Moto Maker and you will only have two choices of colours – white and blue.
Note: This article has been updated to correct the screen resolution of the Nexus 6, it was wrongly reported as having a 1080 by 1920 display when infact its 2560×1440, as pointed out by reddit user Znicc. Thanks!