Tuesday, September 29th is almost here with us. It is no secret that Google is going to unveil its long-awaited Nexus smartphones. Of course it will showcase the latest flavour of its mobile operating system, Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
There is a departure from the naming convention that inspired previous generations of Nexus devices. For instance the 4 inch Nexus smartphone from LG in 2012 was called Nexus 4. It’s successor, a 5 inch smartphone, was called the Nexus 5. Motorola’s first Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 6 had a 6 inch display. On the tablet front, the 7 inch tablet made by Asus was called the Nexus 7. Last year’s tablet from HTC is the Nexus 9. As you may have guessed, it’s 9 inches. The numbers are rounded off but you get the point. With everything seemingly taken, what was Google going to call this year’s Nexus devices? As the leaked retail packaging revealed, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X is what they settled on.
It is made by Chinese device maker Huawei. It is the first time that Huawei is making a Nexus phone and this is expected to make it a darling of the hardcore Android crowd. These are the people that love stock Android and would not touch anything with the slightest of modifications. Huawei is notorious for going overboard with the customizations it makes on its Emotion UI which is currently in its third iteration.
Simply put, making a Nexus device (whether a smartphone or a tablet) is the biggest endorsement that Google can ever give its partners. At least from the way we see it. HTC, Samsung, Asus, Motorola and LG have already been there. It is now Huawei’s turn. What does Huawei have in store for us then?
While we’ll get the complete picture at the event, there’s been enough leaked on the interwebs that we can already do our 1+1 without fear of being off the mark.
The metal-clad Huawei Nexus is expected will look like this:
Here are the expected specifications of the Huawei-made Google Nexus 6P:
- Size: 159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3mm; weighs 178g
- Display: 5.7 inch QHD AMOLED protected by Gorilla Glass 4
- Processor: Octa-core Snapdragon 810 v2.1 (the one that promises not to boil your hands)
- Memory: 3 GB RAM; 32/64/128 GB internal storage
- Camera: 12.3 megapixels at the back and 8 megapixels on the front
- Battery: 3450mAh
- Others: Quick Charging, USB Type-C, Fingerprint sensor
It will be available in white, black, aluminium and gold colours.
LG is no stranger to the Nexus smartphone fold. It’s been there before. It made the much-loved Nexus 5 smartphone and the glass-back Nexus 4 before it.
It is the Nexus 5 that LG has been contracted by Google to make an upgrade for. A 2015-class upgrade of course. Google went with an incredibly large 5.96-inch display on last year’s Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 6, made by Motorola. With the Nexus 6P expected to stick with the large size configuration (albeit stepped down a bit to Galaxy Note-size) introduced last year, there’s need to go the Apple way and cater for those who still cherish a more manageable device. That’s where the Nexus 5X comes in. Unlike the Nexus 5 which had a 4.95 inch display, the 5X is expected to be bumped to at least 5.2 inches in keeping up with 2015 standards where phablet-size is the new normal.
Here is everything we know about the Nexus 5X spec-wise so far:
- Display: 5.2 inch Full HD IPS LCD
- Processor: Hexa-core Snapdragon 808
- Memory: 3 GB RAM
- Camera: 12.3 megapixel main camera; 5 megapixel front-facing camera
- Battery: 2700mAh
- Others: Fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C
It is no secret that the two new Nexus smartphones will be what Google uses to showcase the best of Andriod to its partners, developers and users alike. The two devices will pack Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Android Marshmallow is not a big departure from the current Android 5 Lollipop but it packs so many improvements that Google saw it wise to give it its own version number instead of being just a point release like KitKat (Android 4.4) and JellyBean (Android 4.3) were.
One notable feature from the two Nexus devices is the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor. This is because Google just introduce its own mobile payments service, Android Pay, and while it currently just works fine with authentication methods like patterns and PINs, it is not only nice to have but more convenient to use biometric identification. And where else can that be showcased than on a Nexus device?
Another requested feature is finally coming to Android: the ability to manage app permissions. Android is not the most secure of mobile platforms out there. Far from it. It is one of the worst. There’s no lying about that. In fact it is one of the reasons why BlackBerry CEO John Chen is thumping his chest over the upcoming Priv smartphone, the company’s first ever smartphone running an operating system it has not developed in-house. While users are to blame for some of the security issues they have encountered, there’s still a huge role that Google can play in making the platform secure. One of it is giving users even more control over what they let applications access on their devices. Location details, call logs, messages etc are very personal and one should have control over which application accesses them. Even features like the camera. Why would a clipboard application request access to your phone camera?
Support for USB Type-C is also baked into the operating system and the two Nexus smartphones will have this as well.
Doze mode is the other feature of Android Marshmallow. Yes battery life on Android has improved more so after the 5.1.1 update but it could be better. One of the best implementations of how to go about this comes from an unlikely source in the East: Huawei. Huawei does a good job of integrating features that only Android power users had access to on its latest premium smartphones. Google is bringing that to every phone now. Apps will go into deep sleep when not needed hence resulting into some more juice that comes in handy later in the day. Apple’s iPhones have Low Power mode now thanks to iOS 9 and it is great to see Google continue to push the boundaries.
Google has at times introduced several unexpected Nexus devices alongside the main ones (i.e. the phones/tablets). These have included the discontinued Nexus Q (2012) and the Nexus player last year. While it is unlikely that Google would refresh the Nexus player this year since it is doing its work of being a TV console just fine, a new generation Chromecast is widely anticipated.
The small media streaming device is expected to get some improvements like support for the faster 802.11ac Wi-FI standard and its feature set upgraded to include what is being called Chromecast Audio, a separate device that will be geared towards making it easier to stream audio from the Chrome browser on your computer or music and podcasts on your Android smartphone/tablet via Wi-Fi while also being able to interface directly with speakers using a 3.5 mm headset cable.
Pricing information is scanty. And a going-to-retail date. Probably the only ones we are lacking. Unless Google decides to surprise us, we don’t expect much more to surface. We have a few hours to separate fact from hearsay and we can’t wait.