This review originally ran on Oct. 19, 2015.
This is a battle of some of the best, top-of-the-line, Android models you can buy featuring the latest smartphones from Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report (GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report - the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P - versus Samsung's (SSNLF) Galaxy S6 and S6 edge+ released earlier this year.
Samsung's latest devices are near state-of-the-art. In particular, the almost 3D-quality of the S6 edge+'s twin-curved display is an amazing accomplishment.
But, both new Nexus models, especially the slim 5X, with its near-perfect fit for any sized hand are just as, if not more appealing. The new Nexus phones are arguably, some of the best Android phones, ever.
Manufactured by LG (the 5X) and Huawei (the 6P), both phones run the latest Android operating system, Marshmallow. The Nexus 5X has a 5.2-inch, 1920 by 1080 pixels, 423 ppi) touchscreen and the 6P sports a 5.7-inch display (2560 by 1440 pixels, 518 ppi).
Inside the 5X is a 1.8 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and 12.3 and 5 megapixel cameras (back and front). The larger 6P uses a 2.0 GHz, octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor mated to 3 GB of RAM, 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage plus 12.3 and 8 megapixel cameras.
Samsung's handsets use processors designed and manufactured internally. Both Samsung devices use a quad-core, 1.5 GHz Exynos 7420 chip mated to quad-core graphics processors. The S6 has a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen (2560 by 1440 pixels, 577 ppi) while the S6 edge+'s unique, double-curved display measures 5.7-inches (2560 by 1440 pixels, 518 ppi).
There is also a smaller, double-curved screen model with specifications otherwise similar to the Galaxy S6 (our Galaxy edge review).
As for other important Galaxy features the S6 comes with 3 GB or RAM, a choice of 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage, 16 and 5 megapixel cameras and a 2,550 rechargeable battery pack. The larger S6 edge+ has 4 GB of RAM, 32 or 64 GB of storage, 16 and 5 MP cameras.
Google has really upped its game with these two new phones. The slightly larger Nexus 5X is now the same size as Motorola's third-generation Moto X. The 5X is actually a bit thinner. The 6P is the same length as last year's Nexus 6 but with no annoying battery hump on the back is a lot easier to hold.
With the new Nexus devices you can choose Google's low-cost Project Fi cellular service. It uses a combination of Sprint, T-Mobile networks plus Wi-Fi calling. Both phones register almost 100% signal strength on Project Fi. Voice calls sounded great.
Because they're the first phones to ship with Android 6.0, these new handsets have a leg up on Samsung and the rest of the competition. You get to enjoy Android's new features before just about everybody else.
In 6.0, 0 there's the new "Now on Tap" feature that allows you to ask for more information about what's displayed on your screen. The new operating system also supports fingerprint recognition and improved battery life. Our test units' battery packs drain at the same rate as other, recent, big Android phones.
Nexus phones don't include any extra apps. Samsung continues to add branded apps such as music playback and security programs. While the number of extra apps has been reduced over time, they still take up precious storage space.
The new Nexus phones are currently available for pre-order. Prices start at $379 for the 5X/16GB model. Add $50 for what we think is the best option - a 5X with 32GB. A Nexus 6P with 32GB is $499. Add $50 for the 64GB or $150 for 128GB versions.
Samsung Galaxy S6 models range from approximately $530 (for the 32GB Galaxy S6) to more than $700 for an unlocked GSM S6 edge+.
Overall Score for Nexus 5P: 8.9/10
Overall Score for Nexus 6P: 8.7/10
Overall Score for Samsung Galaxy S6: 8.5/10
Overall Score for Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+: 8.6/10
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.