These days a smartphone spends more time waiting for its user to do something than the other way around. The two phablets use the two of the fastest chipsets available, so you have lots of power to run whatever you like on those XL screens.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 packs a 5.7" screen, same size as its predecessor but with nearly 80% more pixels. The Motorola Nexus 6 rounds things off to a 6" sharp, at the same resolution: QHD or 1,440 x 2,560px. Both can fit as much content as the user can take in.
We'll go into more detail about screen quality later, but in terms of ergonomics both can be a challenge to use single-handedly. However, neither will leave you wanting for more room. One difference comes from software in that Samsung lets you run two apps side by side, while Google somewhat squanders the large screen and the powerful chipset on just one.
Our new screen-to-body ratio reading in the specs pages tell us that the bezels around the two screens are proportionately equal, though they are used for different things. Motorola followed HTC and Sony in adding front-facing stereo speakers so that the audio experience matches the visual.
Samsung, however, keeps the vestigial hardware keys below the screen, leaving no room for a speaker. This time it's by necessity though - the fingerprint reader lives below the Home key. The story goes that the Nexus 6 would have had a fingerprint sensor too, in dimple on the back where the Motorola logo is now but Apple bought the sensor supplier.
Google Wallet predates Apple Pay by three years yet Apple's solution garnered more buzz and therefore traffic. We can debate whether the added security of the fingerprint sensor is what helped the iPhone succeed, but Samsung clearly wants a piece of that action.
The screens on both phablets are supported by a metal frame that's left exposed on the sides. A design used successfully by many companies (like Nokia and Sony), this gives the phone a premium feel without making it as heavy as a metal unibody design. It also simplifies the internal arrangement of the antennas, important when you're looking to squeeze the components in the smallest volume possible.
More important for the looks of the device is the material on the back - plastic in both cases, but with a different finish. Samsung continues its fling with faux leather, which looks good and does well at hiding fingerprints and scratches, while Motorola went for a simple matte, soft-touch finish.
The metallic Nexus logo in line with the Moto logo and the camera make it attractive, but the plastic is a fingerprint magnet. Keeping the expansive surface clean can become a chore. It's a shame that the Moto-maker customization options don't expand to the Nexus.
Samsung's design of the back is less attractive with the protruding camera and the hole cut out for the LED flash and the heart rate/blood-oxygen sensor. The single loudspeaker on the phablet is in the bottom left corner.
The Nexus 6 camera is flush and features a rare ring flash. It's only provisionally a "ring flash" as it has just two LEDs, but the plastic ring does help to diffuse the light a bit. Near the bottom is the noise-cancellation mic, while the Note 4 positions its mics on the top and bottom.
The metal frames of the phablets house the ports and slots. For the Motorola this means just the nanoSIM and 3.5mm audio jack on top, plus the microUSB port on the bottom. This is a SlimPort so it offers a Display Port link to hook up external monitors (compatible with HDMI too).
The Galaxy Note 4 puts the 3.5mm jack on top and microUSB port on the bottom too. This one is an MHL port so it can turn to an HDMI port with an adapter. The Samsung phablet also has an IR blaster on its top so it can be wielded as a remote control for your digital equipment at home.
More importantly it has a microSD card slot below its removable back cover, so storage shouldn't be a concern even if you keep tons of 2160p videos or FLAC music or advanced 3D games. The Nexus 6 comes with 32GB of built-in storage as standard, but power users might want the future-proofing of the 64GB version.
Speaking of what's below the back cover, the two phablets have the same battery capacity of 3,220mAh. We would have thought that the Nexus 6 being bigger in every direction than the Galaxy Note 4 can spare room for some more but that's not the case.
One last thing before we go - the Nexus 6 has basic water resistance, similar to the other Motorola-made phones of late. We say "basic" because it doesn't have an official IP or MIL-STD rating and you shouldn't take it into the pool, but it should easily handle a splash of water.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. This was tough to call, but the Galaxy Note 4 really improved the looks of the series and we prefer the faux leather back to the fingerprint-prone plastic of the Nexus 6. The fingerprint sensor, the IR blaster, the expandable storage and the user-replaceable battery are a hard bunch for the Nexus 6 to match.
The Motorola Nexus 6 is a very attractive device in its own right and we like that it's splash resistant. The stereo speakers, and the flush camera with ring flash are great too. It was a close call and we would understand if you rank these two the other way.