Goodbye, Nexus?

google

Google today tweeted out an indication that it will unveil new devices on October 4. People have been expecting Google to at least show new mobile devices on that date, and the smartphone-shaped outline in the tweet confirms it.

A lot of rumors have been published on different media about the upcoming new smartphones from Google. Nothing too fancy or relevant, it seems, except for one detail: their name.

For some reason, Google could decide to change their phone names and say goodbye to the Nexus family. The new phones reportedly will be part of the new Pixel family, which will be announced on Oct. 4th, 2016.

By the way, do you remember that one thing that made the Nexus 4 so desirable? It was the first phone that was actually cheap for what it gave to their users. That trend was picked by other makers, but Google decided their following phones will be more and more expensive each time.

That could be another feature of the new Pixel phones: it seems the smaller Pixel phone will start at $649. Welcome to the new Google.

Google’s Nexus tries to learn the iPhone lesson

Google wants to make its Nexus phones more like the iPhone

We had heard about this previously, but now The Information confirms that Google is indeed seeking to have more and more control over its Nexus smartphones.

The plan is simple: no visible partnerships in order to compete in the high end range, where the iPhone leads the way. They want to control the hardware as much as they do control the software (Android and Google Services & apps) right now.

Everything sounds perfect except for that tiny, obvious detail: Google depends of other makers in order to compete as it has done until now. Controlling every aspect of the device won’t be easy for its traditional partners, and we must wonder what will the do then.

Will they make the jump to other platform (Tizen, Windows 10) or fork (CyanogenMod seems a good fit)? Or will they try to compete with their own partner in unfair conditions?

Microsoft tried that and so long it hasn’t worked. But then again, Google is another beast.

Windows 10 on the Xiaomi Mi 4 is all about freedom of choice

We are approaching a new turning point in the smartphone market: you’ll buy a smartphone and will be offered the chance to install not different Android ROMs, but different operating systems on it.

That’s what Xiaomi will offer next December 3rd when it makes available Windows 10 to their Mi 4 customers in China. This launch follows a trial Xiaomi and Microsoft started a several months ago.

From Android Authority:

While additional choice is always welcome, it’s not exactly clear what Xiaomi has to gain by offering two operating systems, as the extra support is sure to be resource consuming. Perhaps the company is looking to better cater for the business market, an area that Android could arguable use some improvement in.

I’d say this goes beyond that. It is maybe a message to Google and Android, and operating system that have been commoditized. Makers will be able to offer new options to customers, and that is an interesting move in itself.

Interesting move that adds to Google’s rumored intention to design its own hardware and become itself something more similar to Apple, controlling both aspects of the smartphone.

Interesting times, indeed.

Google as a hardware company

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Walt Mossberg has published a column in The Verge in which there’s a little mistake just in the headline. When he says ‘It’s time for Google to make its own hardware‘ he forgets Google is already a hardware maker.

It has shown that for example with its Chromecast devices, but above all with the two Chromebook Pixel models it released in February 2013 and March 2015. Those beautiful machines only had -still have- one big problem: they were -still are- based on Chrome OS, which was -still is- no match for a machine so powerful and well designed.

But I agree with him deeply in the rest of the article: Google should really become a mobile maker the same way Apple is since 2007 and Microsoft has started to be since the acquisition of Nokia in late 2013.

In fact, when I wrote about the useless Nexus I critiziced the new models (5X, 6P)  because they were competing with Google’s traditional partners without adding that much differentiation on them. As I wrote back the, “it seems Google makes this smartphones just because it can”.

But they can do better. They should do better. The Nexus family should be a testimony of what Android can offer. The should show the way, be the goal, become the model to follow. And that can only be done if Google designs not only the software but the hardware that runs that software.

The five reasons Mossberg gives to defend that role of Google as a mobile hardware company are relevant, and as he adds, that hardware “should be targetd  specific areas like hero phones and those for people in low-income countries“.

I see Google becoming that kind of mobile maker. And I see them doing that because that’s the only way the future Android-Chrome OS merger will be able to show what it’s capable of. Google can’t rely on its partners to demonstrate that. Apple has not done it. Microsoft has not done it (with Windows 10). Google shouldn’t do it.

Source: Mossberg: It’s time for Google to make its own hardware | The Verge

OnePlus X is the Nexus we all wanted

The OnePlus 2 has been surprisingly unsurprising, but the new smartphone from OnePlus sticks to what really shone in the first device that this Chinese maker launched. Impressive price/features ratio.

The design is fantastic, the size is convincing, and all the hardware features (AMOLED!) seem really promising. Even the camera performs on the first impressions, and I’m sure this one will be the star of the show for the upcoming months on that price range.

In fact, this is what many of us wanted from the Nexus family. An unexpensive device with great features that can provide a good experience. I miss the fingerprint or the quick charge options, sure, but I can live without them for that price.

I’m waiting for the reviews, but I think this leaves Moto G and everything around $200-$250 biting the dust. And makes everyone wonder if they really need to spend the $400 the Nexus 5X costs. I’m not sure the official Nexus is worth that now.

Source: OnePlus X unboxing and first impressions [Video]

HTC One A9: judging a book by its cover

HTC released yesterday the new HTC One A9, a smartphone that look really good from the outside and that also gets really interesting features on the inside. There are doubts about its battery life, but what matters here is the promise of Android updates 15 days after the official Nexus line updates. They’ll have to prove that, because not everybody believes they’ll be able to get that.

Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.
Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.

The 3GB RAM / 32 GB storage will be $399 for a limited time, and if the camera delivers -audio seems to be fantastic- this is a good deal, although the Nexus 5X is even more competitive and the camera, according to the reviews, is really good.

The design is really aggressive. It’s so similar to the new iPhones that I wonder if Apple will sue them or not, but they really would have a winner here. But I guess HTC wanted to make a safe bet here: many people do judge a book by its cover, and on the looks area, the One A9 is good. As good as the iPhone 6s.

Nexus 5X & 6P reviews coming: worthy successors with surprising cameras

Reviews on the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are coming. Ars Technica (both in one review, interesting but please, Ars, pagination in 2015? Really?) Engadget (5X, 6P) and TechCrunch (5X, 6P), are amongst the first ones to publish them, but we’ve got also first (I’d say ‘second’) impressions from Wired.

According to Ars, “all other Android devices are second class citizens“. I think this is an overstatement, because the later admit that there is no quick charging or wireless charging support, and the cameras are not comparable but the cameras seem even better tan their rivals’ and they are no longer the typical limited Nexus cameras.

I don’t like the fingerprint position, and as I told previously, Google should use this phones to show what Android 6.0 (and future versions for that matter) can do. That, by the way, is clearly the big pro of both smartphones.

The devices have nice prices in the US. That’s not the case in Spain and the euro zone, where the Nexus 5X ($379) will have a price of 479 euro. The same happens with the Nexus 6P ($499 != 649 euro) .

Not bad phones, but not specially good on the features/price ratio.

The useless Nexus

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I wasn’t impressed by last year Nexus 6, and I’m not impressed by this year’s Nexus 5X and 6P either. The first one was an expensive super-phone (in every sense), and the new phones are not cheap either (at least not outside the US) and they aren’t specially different from the proposals from the traditional Google partners.

Vlad Savov makes a good argument trying to explain what possibly could have motivated Google to launch this products. There were valid reasons originally:

The original Nexus One in 2010 was Google’s first effort at selling its own phones directly to consumers, and was thus the boldest attempt the United States had yet seen of circumventing the market dominance of mobile carriers. The Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus then served as valuable references for the best of Android at a time when Google’s hardware partners were aggravating their users with awful Android skins and long delays on delivering updates. Since then, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5 — especially the Nexus 5 — have raised our expectations for what we can get from a good Android phone on a budget

That’s exactly right. Since then, though, the reasons are different, and as Savov points out, it seems Google makes this smartphones just because it can.

It seems Google partners aren’t happy with the situation. Motorola’s Moto X Pure is a good example of a device that should get promoted by Google, and not rivalled by your partner. Maybe Google just use Nexus as ads, like Savov explains, but if that’s the idea, I really don’t see the benefit.

Google should concentrate on making Nexus as the best examples of what a good, affordable device can do with the newest version of Android. That’s it. Let makers make.

Source: Google’s Nexus phones are just ads | The Verge

Why Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P could matter

It’s a little less than a week until Google reveals its new Nexus devices in San Francisco, but as seems to happen every year, we know pretty much every detail beforehand.

So we’ve got both leaked images and specs (Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P), and the big story here won’t be their performance, or the new USB-C port, or the fingerprint scanner, or even the cameras -though these ones will be very relevant.

No. What matters here is if these will be a continuation of the new philosophy applied on the Nexus 6 -which by all accounts has been a little sales disaster, with price slashes around-. Google can’t compete with Apple on this area. Or with Samsung. They can’t pursuit big profit margins with exclusive hardware/software products: that could annoy their partners.

They should follow what they did with the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5. Great products at affordable prices that allow us to enjoy the latest Android versions.

The Nexus family hasn’t to be a big seller: it has to be a promise of what others can accomplish with Android.

Source: [Exclusive] Leaked Images Of The New Nexus Phone Retail Boxes Confirm ‘Nexus 5X’ And ‘Nexus 6P’ Model Names