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AH Primetime: Nexus X / Nexus 6 – What To Expect

August 29, 2014 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

Many of you who love Android and are reading this, also appreciate Google’s Nexus line. Pure Android, great performance and timely updates are something that many people appreciate and thus the reason they buy Nexus phones year after year. There was some talk in the past that the Nexus line is or was going away and will be replaced with Android Silver in a way, but after some suspense those rumors dissipated. We’ve started seeing all kinds of new Nexus reports no matter if we’re talking about smartphones or tablets. Some people (and publications) think Nexus is still in business because Google’s Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora, left the company. Mr. Arora was the leading man within the company when it comes to Android Silver, that’s why many people think this has something to do with Nexus’ survival in a way. I personally don’t think Google ever considered killing off the Nexus line, Android Silver is one thing and Nexus something completely different. Nexus is a developer phone at its core, it is there to showcase new versions of Android and to be a guideline for developers when they’re coding / re-coding apps. Of course, there are many people around the world who appreciate the Nexus line and devices and are not developers, though those people are in general extremely tech-savy and appreciate vanilla versions of Android.

That being said, rumors started coming in a while back mentioning a Nexus 6 smartphone. Not long after that Android Police found something interesting in the Android Open Source Project’s database, a mysterious 5.9-inch device codenamed Motorola “Shamu”. Interesting enough, all Nexus devices thus far were named after small fish, codenamed that is. This was the first indication, and a rather good one, that Motorola will be making the upcoming Nexus device. Not long after that a new report came in stating that Google is calling this device Nexus X internally because of trademark issues. Many people were surprised with this report and a 5.9-inch display, luckily it seems there will either be a second 5.2-inch device or a 5.9-inch device never existed. Google’s Shamu device also appeared in AnTuTu benchmarks showing off a 5.2-inch screen.

Rumored specifications? Well, the latest rumors say that the device will sport a 5.9-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) display (keep in mind what I said about a 5.2-inch model) along with a Snapdragon 805 quad-core chip clocked at 2.7GHz and 3GB of RAM. Reports say that the device will sport a 13-megapixel camera (with OIS) on the back with a 2.1-megapixel shooter up front. These specifications actually sound great if you ask me, though I wonder how accurate they are. We have to keep in mind that this is a Nexus device after all and Google will probably want to keep the price as low as possible.

As you all probably know, Google lets the manufacturers design the device though it has to be in accordance with what they’re asking for. The Galaxy Nexus was designed by Samsung, thus it had a removable battery for example, Nexus 4 got its general design cues from the Optimus G and thus had a glass back and generally reminded us of that device etc. No doubt Motorola will add some of its own touches to the upcoming Nexus device, if it turns out they are its manufacturer of course. Unfortunately, we basically don’t know anything about the design, we do however hope that Motorola will include a dual front-facing set of speakers in this device though. Recent leaks showed us a screen protector of the upcoming Moto S (Shamu) device which has cutouts at the top and the bottom, which seemingly tell us speakers will be located there. It is rumored that the upcoming Nexus will be based on this device and thus perhaps sport front-facing speakers, oh please let it be true.

This brings me to software. Android “L”, Lemon Meringue Pie or whatever Google ends up calling it will quite probably find its way to this device. Nexus X / 6 / Shamu will probably be a poster child for Google’s upcoming operating system. This of course depends on whether Google will release its Nexus smartphone or tablet first, who knows, maybe they end up announcing them at the same time and thus both of those devices get to showcase the new OS at the same time. I won’t go into detail when it comes to Android “L” though, we’ve talked about it at length many times at this point. Material Design style / philosophy will be visible throughout the whole UI. It looks beautiful in my honest opinion (though I’m sure some of you will disagree) and Google promised us a better battery life through project “Volta” along with silky performance and tons of other stuff. Some reports even claimed some of Moto X’s features will find its way to the upcoming Nexus smartphone, though I really doubt that to be honest. Google would basically have to bake stuff like that into the OS itself and somehow I doubt they’ll do that, at least not in this version of Android. I do however hope I’m totally wrong and we see stuff like Active Notifications, Always-On Voice Recognition, etc.

And lastly, we come to the release date. Along with the Nexus X report came in yet another interesting rumor, that we’ll see this device launched this Halloween (+/- a few days). This makes all the sense in the world if you think about it, the only questions that remains is whether Google will hold a special event for this device or will we see yet another quiet launch like they did last year? I can’t exactly say “mark October 31st on your calendars” considering we’re not exactly sure that will be the date, but expect it to be launched around that timeframe as it seems like the most likely scenario. Would you prefer a 5.2-inch or 5.9-inch Nexus? Any additional thoughts?