By Stephen Schenck | October 11, 2012 7:57 AM
That chill in the air as fall arrives doesn’t just mean shorter days, longer nights, and time to break out your sweater collection; with the clock running down on 2012, it’s high time we learned of a new Nexus smartphone. There are some hard-to-ignore rumors that a big change to the Nexus program could be on the horizon, and we’ll be seeing a bunch of handsets crowned with Nexus names, but one way on another, at least something’s bound to be on the way. When that new Nexus finally does get here, will you be buying one?
The problem with talking about plans to purchase the next Nexus is just how in the dark we are with regards to Google’s plans. Even if rumors of a handful of Nexus phones are correct, does that mean we’ll be getting news of them all at once? Will Google instead announce them in a staggered manner? It’s sure been sounding like the supposed Nexus 4 from LG could be the first to go official, so let’s focus on that for a moment. Based on what we’ve heard, are you likely to buy the Nexus 4?
From what the rumors have told us so far, the Nexus 4 doesn’t seem that different from the Optimus G. In fact, you could even argue that it’s a lower-end handset, because while it’s supposed to add wireless charging to the mix, it could arrive with less storage capacity than the Optimus G itself.
So, why even get the Nexus 4 at all? Software, software, software. Let’s say that what we’re hearing is true, and we’ll be seeing lots of new Nexus models. It sure sounds like most of them are going to be essentially the same hardware as the OEM is also using for one of its own top-tier devices – that’s certainly the picture that’s been painted for HTC, at least. The allure of Nexus models, as opposed to these non-Nexus cousins, has to be with how new Android updates arrive.
Google stumbled a bit with the CDMA Galaxy Nexus, but I’m thinking that it’s going to put a newly-restored focus on making upcoming Nexus models as developer-friendly as possible, meaning all the joys of unlocked bootloaders and early availability of the latest Android updates. If that sounds important to you, then by all means, ignore the LG Optimus G and get your attention focused on the Nexus 4 rumors.
OK, so instead of comparing the hardware for those two models, let’s think about the Nexus 4 compared to what could be coming from other OEMs on-tap for their own Nexus phones. Why might you want to hold off for something better, a little later?
The Neuxs 4 hardware sounds fantastic, but for that matter, so does the HTC Droid Incredible X. While that might have a little less RAM than the Nexus 4, it should the same kind of quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, so performance may be comparable. Unlike the LG, though, the HTC would have a larger five-inch screen, and perhaps most importantly, a jaw-dropping 1080p resolution.
Nexus devices have a reputation for pushing the limits of what we expect from smartphone hardware, and that 1080p screen sounds like a perfect example of what to look for. Based on these rumored hardware specs alone, the HTC certainly sounds more “Nexus-y”.
The thing is, though, beyond something like that display, I’m hard-pressed to think of a reason to pass on one of these models for a future Nexus (maybe a Sony, or something). Both have top-tier specs to the point where anything significantly better is still a really long way’s off.
Of course, there are still problems with this rumored hardware, and not necessarily the kind that are going to be fixed by other models. Google seems to be putting its foot down pretty hard when it comes to expandable storage via microSD, one of the most important features a smartphone can have, in my book. I might be tempted to write the Nexus line off entirely if we’re never going to see another model with a microSD slot, and I’m borderline insulted by the logic attributed to that decision, that Google doesn’t want to bother users with choosing what directory they want their files saved to.
If you just want a high-end Android with great support and don’t care so much about that expandability issue, the Nexus 4 sounds like a great option. If a 1080p screen is too tempting to ignore, maybe hold out for news of an HTC Nexus. Beyond that, though, I wouldn’t sit around waiting for something more impressive to arrive. Any way you look it at, we’re likely to have a whole bunch of really attractive options for Android smartphones as we roll into 2013. So, what do you think? Planning to jump on one of these models?