Nexus 6 vs OnePlus One Camera Comparison Part 1: Same Hardware, Different Software

Nexus 6 vs OnePlus One Camera Comparison Part 1: Same Hardware, Different Software

By Rich W Woods

I’ve been using the Nexus 6 for a whole three days now and I am super impressed. It’s a super fast phone with a super beautiful display. It has a poor battery because of that 1440p display, which is a severe setback, considering that if you gave up your Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 for a Nexus 6, you probably want to use it for the combined use times.

Of course, the scope of this is to compare the camera of the Nexus 6 to that of the OnePlus One. I’ve been skeptical of the Nexus 6 camera thus far. After all, the Nexus 5 camera was less than spectacular and the Moto X is terrible in low light. Hopefully, the Nexus 6 will solve this problem.

Typically, when I do a camera comparison with the OnePlus One, the OnePlus One loses. The reason for this is because I use all default settings when I do camera comparisons and the images tend to look washed out. This time, I tried something different. I used the Clear Image and Smart Scene settings for these photos taken with the OnePlus One.

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OnePlus One vs Nexus 6: Specs

OnePlus One Nexus 6
Processor 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805
GPU Adreno 330 Adreno 420
Display 5.5″, 1080p, 401 ppi, LCD 5.96″, 1440p, 493 ppi, AMOLED
Body 152.9×75.9×8.9 mm, 162 g 159.3x83x10.1 mm, 184 g
Camera 13 MP, 4128×3096, 5 MP Front 13 MP, 4128×3096, 2 MP Front
Video 4K DCI – 24 fps, 4K UHD – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps 4K UHD – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps
Aperture F/2 F/2
Storage 16/64 GB 32/64 GB
Battery 3100 mAh 3220 mAh
Price $299/$349 $649/$699

Of course, the Adreno 330 is part of the Snapdragon 801 SoC (system on a chip) and the Adreno 420 is part of the Snapdragon 805 SoC. The reason that I included it is because it’s important to remember that the 1440p display on the Nexus 6 is powered by a stronger GPU, so it’s not going to have the same lag that something with a 1440p display and a Snapdragon 801/Adreno 330 such as the LG G3 would have. It does, however, severely effect the huge 3220 mAh battery on the Nexus 6.

There’s not much else to say about the specs. They both have the same amount of RAM, which will go farther on the OnePlus One given the lower resolution display; however, the slack is going to be picked up by the more powerful processor and GPU on the Nexus 6.

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OnePlus One vs Nexus 6: Rear Camera

In case you were wondering about just how much the software affects the quality of an image taken with a smart phone camera, you’re about to find out. The reason for this is because both the Nexus 6 and the OnePlus One use the Sony IMX214 Exmore RS sensor. It’s the exact same hardware with different software here. Because of this, there is going to be a second part to this where I use the Google Camera app on the OnePlus One to take all of the photos.

Here’s the thing about the Nexus 6. It really can’t offer any software features that any other Android phone can’t offer because the Google Camera app is available for any device. Of course, that doesn’t take anything away from it.

Please note that in order to enlarge the images, simply click or tap them and then you can scroll through the carousel. To view the full size images, there is a link in the carousel. Also, these images are unedited. I realize that some are not perfect and some might even be out of focus. I give you all of the photos I take. Some web sites might take 50 samples and pick the best five to show you. I give you all of them to provide a better comparison.

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OnePlus One Nexus 6

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There are a few things that we can take from these samples. First of all, the OnePlus One is clearly better in low light. This is something that Motorola/Google still has to work on and since it’s the exact same hardware, it’s something that can be fixed in a firmware update.

The nighttime photos taken with the OnePlus One used the smart scene setting. About halfway through the daytime photos, I switched from clear image to smart scene.

The photos taken with the OnePlus One still appear to have a yellow tint to them, looking a bit washed out, although not as much as when on Auto settings. Once it hits the smart scene images, that problem starts to go away but not completely.

While the OnePlus One photos look a bit washed out, the Nexus 6 photos look a bit oversaturated. If you know how to process a RAW image, none of this will matter because the OnePlus One gives the user to save a RAW image with the photo. Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced an API to make it easier for handset manufacturers to save RAW images in their camera apps; however, they didn’t include it in the Nexus 6.

Those last two images were both taken with Google Camera. The first is panorama and the second is photo sphere. It came out better on the OnePlus One but there could have been a number of reasons for that.

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OnePlus One vs Nexus 6: Video

The video situation with the OnePlus One and the Nexus 6 is an interesting one, considering that they use the exact same sensor and therefore have the same capabilities. That being said, they certainly don’t do the same things.

The OnePlus One can record two different kinds of 4K video with the rear camera. 4K DCI at 24 fps is a 19:10 aspect ratio, so the resolution of the video is 4096×2160. 4K UHD at 30 fps is a 16:9 ratio and comes in at 3840×2160. The OnePlus One does both of these, although theoretically any smart phone with a 9 MP camera at a 19:10 aspect ratio could do it. Unfortunately, in the Google Camera app, it will only use 1080p.

The Nexus 6 uses only the Google Camera app but although it has exactly the same hardware as the OnePlus One, the Google Camera app supports 4K UHD. The Nexus 6 does not do 4K DCI. Here’s some samples.

Please note that there is absolutely no sense in watching a 4K video if you’re not using a display that’s higher than 1080p. Also, it should be full screen. All too much, I see people going on about the quality of a 4K video when it’s in a little embedded window on their XVGA monitor.

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OnePlus One 4K DCI

OnePlus One 4K UHD

Nexus 6 4K UHD

OnePlus One 1080p

Nexus 6 1080p

Nexus 6 720p

So there’s really not much here that we couldn’t have learned from the photo samples. We know all about the color balance of each phone and we know what comes from 24 fps or 30 fps and we know what comes from different resolutions. Frame rate and resolution are specs. They don’t vary from device to device. 30 fps is 30 fps everywhere.

One thing we can take away from this video is that the OnePlus One seems to focus a bit faster than the Nexus 6 does; however, neither of them autofocuses particularly quickly.

OnePlus One vs Nexus 6: Front Camera

I have always considered the OnePlus One to have one of the best front facing camera on the market. It’s also one of the highest resolution front cameras, coming in at 5 MP. The Nexus 6 comes in at 2 MP, which is just enough to record 1080p video.

Please note that I sincerely apologize that I’m going to have to change the order of the images here. I try to organize them in a certain way and for some reason it gets thrown off if the higher resolution image is in the first column.

Nexus 6 OnePlus One

Both of these front facing camera take brilliant photos. The OnePlus One still seems a little better. The colors are a bit more balanced, they’re a little sharper. That’s not to say that the Nexus 6 has a poor front camera. It’s really good. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than the Moto X was; however, I don’t have the review unit anymore so I can’t say for sure.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Vote in the poll and let the world know what you think. Think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to vote in the FTLOT Awards!


All Nexus 6 Camera Comparisons

All OnePlus One Camera Comparisons

About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.

  • AL

    Very nice side by side photo comparison.

    • rwoods716

      Thanks for reading!

  • NateyNukez

    What about the Nexus 6 night shots with HDR+?

    • rwoods716

      I used default settings for the nighttime shots. I’ll try out HDR+ when I do the second part.

  • I think overall, the nexus 6 is better with truer color. However, being a theater lighting designer, low light pics are important to me. In that vein, the 1+1 blows the 6 away.

    • rwoods716

      I agree with everything that you said; however, they use the same sensor, so I’m going to do a second part where I use the Google Camera app for both.

  • The HDR+ mode has some magic that should never be forgoten… at least from a Nexus 5 prespective it makes wonders

    • And unlike OPO, the Nexus 6 has Optical Image stabilization – that alone should give a big advantage in low light…

      • rwoods716

        OIS is much less of an advantage than everyone makes it out to be. After all, the OPO has better low light performance than the Nexus 6 does. I feel like it’s just the latest feature being added to Android phones so people wig out over it, like QHD displays and higher resolution cameras. OIS can certainly make a difference in certain scenarios but in most cases, it doesn’t make a huge difference.

        • gargamel

          That’s not correct from my experience with the N5. Low light, with HDR+ and OIS comes out way better than the One+. Unfortunately my N5 was stolen 🙁 If you have one, try both in low light, but the N5 with HDR…

          • rwoods716

            Well, to be fair, shouldn’t I also use HDR on the OPO?