Comparison: the new Nexus 6 - first shots

Yesterday, I was at a congress in Utrecht and I only had very limited time with the Nexus 6, but nevertheless I think I got some interesting results from it. In this post you´ll see several shots I captured with the Nexus 6 and a scene I captured to compare it with the LG G3, Nokia Lumia 830, 930 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Sony Xperia Z3 - yes, you read that right :-)

There's not much I can tell you about the device itself you haven't already read elsewhere probably, although it might interest you it has been postponed due to software issues - Android 5 (Lollipop) appears to have some trouble with international text messaging for instance. The outroll of Lollipop to other devices has been postponed as well.

Other than that, the Nexus 6 is huge and its 13MP camera isn´t exactly overwhelming. But how does it compare? In this post you'll see a few comparisons - I only managed to get one scene with all devices - but I'll start with a few shots I got on the Nexus 6 only.

First, the Nexus 6 uses Sony's new IMX 214 camera sensor. A 1/3.06" stacked CMOS sensor with Exmor RS for better low-light performance. The lens has a f/2.0 aperture, and a dual LED flash with a ring - it's all very similar to the Moto X 2nd Gen in fact, it's just supposed to do a lot better.

Like on the Moto X (2nd gen), the exposure will change as soon as you focus on the brightest part of your shot - something Nokia users already are used to for a long time and something I think every smartphone camera out there should have. Here's what it does with the Nexus 6 - first a "general" focus, next focused on the brightest part of the shot (you'll see where).

Now that's quite a difference indeed, but the detail in this shot could have been much better. Didn't get the chance to make more shots though, so we'll have to leave this scene too soon. Next, a scene outside I managed to capture with a few other devices as well. First, the Nexus 6.

You'll notice it's quite on the bright side compared to the LG G3

And the Sony Xperia Z3:

You will find the originals in a dedicated album on Flickr. I will only share a few crops here. First coming from the Nexus 6:


Sony Xperia Z3

Seems to me the detail in the Nexus 6 is worst from all these three and LG G3 is best. I could make more crops of course, but trust me this post will be long enough as it is :-) I couldn't capture more shots from this scene since all of a sudden lots of people left the conference building so it was time to move on.

Inside, I found a quiet place with a more or less charming scene and very interesting light as well - not too bright, but not too dark either. This is where I finally had the time to use all the devices I already mentioned. First, the scene itself, captured with the Nexus 6:

This is quite an accurate representation of the scene. For now, I will just compare a few of the crops I made from the center of the shot. First, of course, the Nexus 6, coming from 9.7MP.

Like I wrote, it's a 9.7MP shot (in 16:9), so let's have a look at similar sensors first. Like from the LG G3 to begin with.

A bit brighter result, but comparable details I'd say. Quite a bit smaller appears to be the 8MP result coming from the Nokia Lumia 830 (this much smaller, due to different focal length - I didn't move an inch while making these shots). 

How does that compare to the Sony Xperia Z3 (put on manual and 8MP, since you can't choose "night scene" in 15.5mp).

A lot "warmer" colours indeed. What about the Nokia Lumia 930 in 5MP? Trust me, it's very similar to the Lumia 1520 as well.

And finally, here's the crop from the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, showing nice detail  once again in 15.9MP - some say it's due to agressive oversharpening, but I don't see anything really agressive here.

Now you've already seen pretty large difference in colours, and it's even much worse when you see all devices I captured this scene with, including the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 1020. I won't go into sharing crops from the highest resolutions this time, since I want to keep it more or less "close" to the best I got from the Nexus 6.

However, all shots I captured are in a dedicated album on Flickr. To see the remarkable differences in the way each camera presents the shot, I made a screenshot from my PC:

This is a pretty interesting screenshot in fact: from this you can tell the PureView team's algorithms for the Lumia 830, 930 and 1520 are very similar indeed - I actually never noticed the results to be this similar before. I even uploaded the original screenshot to Flickr.

All in all, you probably won't be buying the Nexus 6 as your next smartphone camera. There are more than enough other reasons to want one (Android "pure", great display, stereo front speakers), like there might be quite a few reasons not to (size and weight) - it's all up to you of course. But if you want the best camera experience from your next smartphone, the Nexus 6 isn't going to be your choice. If you need to convince yourself, all original shots from this post are in a dedicated album on Flickr.

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