Sony Nexus X

Starting with the Nexus One, Google has partnered with an OEM to develop each generation of the flagship Android-device. Generally, this device has featured the “Nexus” moniker. These phones and tablets haven’t necessarily represented the latest and greatest hardware, but they usually have pushed the envelope regarding “interesting” hardware and typically introduce a new version of the Android operating system.

NFC has become a Nexus “standard”, so have barometers to help save some battery life and get GPS fixes faster (in addition to just telling us the barometric pressure). Nexii have also begun to sour the power-user community due to their fairly limited internal storage and lack of an sdcard slot for external expansion, this thanks to Google’s push to put everything in “the cloud”.

What hasn’t changed, however, is that there’s always been just one Nexus per category released each cycle.  If rumors hold true that may very well be changing this go-around.

Where are all the others?

One unifying thread we’ve seen across virtually every source, forum, and discussion board has been that Google will be announcing multiple Nexus smartphones for the upcoming generation. If that’s the case, where are they?

The rumor mill has been churning out the idea of an LG-built Nexus, possibly being called the “Nexus 4“. Unlike many of its predecessors, the battery doesn’t seem to be removable and the “gold dots” seem to be missing. There’s no sdcard slot, and the operating system looks like it’s stock Android (not an LG skin). All signs point to this being “the next Nexus smartphone”.

Recently we’ve seen a hints of a Sony “Xperia Nexus” or “Nexus X” begin to float around, then hide away, then resurface. The latest picture includes Google’s “magic gold dots” for easy charging while docked.

We’ve also had various sources muse of a Samsung “Galaxy Nexus II” or perhaps a “Nexus G”? I haven’t seen any credible specs or pictures to pass along, but Samsung is on the top in the Android arena currently, and they have released the previous two Nexus smartphones.

Observations

The images we’ve seen of the LG “Nexus 4” include the words “with Google” on the back of the device. Most Nexii simply have the Google logo without the “with” prefix. The Sony “Nexus X”, on the other hand, drops the “with” prefix like we’d expect from a Nexus.

What of Motorola and HTC? Are these two top-tier manufacturers not coming to this year’s Nexus Party? Perhaps the rumors are being overly optimistic about a predictions of “several” Nexii being released in this go around.

Whatever the case, we have to wonder, are we really going to see multiple Nexus-branded smartphones this month, if so, why from only half the players? Are the ones we’ve seen because a few companies can’t keep a secret whereas the others are being more tight-lipped? We’re as curious as you are!

Why would Google change their Nexus strategy?

It should come as no surprise that people are loyal to a brand. For a very long time I was partial to HTC and didn’t really think much of Samsung. It kept me from getting a Nexus S. Google is missing out on having Nexus devices in the hands of the people who like one brand over another. Releasing a Nexus from each major OEM would overcome this bias and help get “real” Android devices in the hands of a much greater audience.

Nexus devices also have a benefit over their non-Nexus siblings: update frequency (CDMA varieties notwithstanding). As soon as Google has an update ready for a Nexus, they push it to everyone in waves, essentially bypassing the carrier.

Between Nexii, the user experience is the same. I know exactly what I’m going to see, where my settings are, what apps are pre-loaded whenever I pick up a Nexus. That’s not the case with phones and tablets made by other manufacturers. LG, HTC, Sony, Samsung, and Motorola all do things differently. Although Google is pushing for consistency, OEMs keep taking liberties that push one OEM’s devices away from their siblings from another OEM. I’m looking at you Samsung! That tap-to-transfer feature is cool, but not when you can only use it with other Galaxy S III users! Stick with the standards!

Releasing a pure-Android from every major OEM at the same time, with the backing, blessing, marketing, and programmatic assistance of Google will unify the platform. Hopefully OEMs will see more benefits from using a pure Android OS with source-code in the AOSP than the closed and fragmentary way they’ve been doing things in the past. Could Google be moving to allow ANY manufacturer who meets a core set of requirements call their device a Nexus? Is that what these rumors could really be pointing at? If so, what would those core features be? Gold dots for charging? Google logo? Pure Android experience? Source-code in the AOSP? No sdcard slot? No hardware buttons except volume and power? Are those what “define” a Nexus?

Your turn

Now that you’ve heard our thoughts, let us know yours in the comments! How many Nexii do you think we’ll see announced? What OEM’s do you think they’ll be from? Why are we only seeing Nexus leaks from half the OEMs?

hobbit

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