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AH Primetime: Will Huawei Be Making The Next Nexus?

March 4, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

Google’s Nexus line of smartphones is coveted like the Holy Grail by the loyal band of Nexus followers – and that is a good thing.  It is always nice to be so passionate about your smartphone brand, even though it can lead to blind assumptions at times…and this is with any brand, not just Nexus.  A couple things unique about the Nexus lineup of smartphones are that they use the pure vanilla version of Android’s latest operating system and they are the very first line of phones to receive the next software update.  Another unusual feature is that Google taps into a different manufacturer almost every year to design – under Google’s guidelines – and manufacture the device for Google.

For instance, in January 2010, Google announced the Nexus One – it ran Android 2.1 ‰clair and was manufactured by HTC and sold for $529 in the Google Play Store.  In December 2010, Google partnered with Samsung for the Nexus S, which ushered in Android 2.3 Gingerbread.  October 2011 marked the second Samsung version called the Galaxy Nexus – largely due to their growing success with their Galaxy line of devices – and with it came Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.  For the Nexus 4, Google partnered with LG and released the device in October 2012 and was priced at only $299 for the 8GB version and $349 for the 16GB version.  Google retained LG for the Nexus 5 device that came out on October 2013 for only $349 for the 16GB model and $399 for the 32GB model.  For the Nexus 6, Google partnered with Motorola to make a device that was a complete departure from its recent philosophy – great specs and a low price.  The Nexus 6 entered the premium territory of size, specifications and pricing at $649 for a 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB variant.

The next question people are asking is who will be the next manufacturer that Google will tap to make the next Nexus  phone.  Will they jump back to the success they had with LG, go back to Samsung or choose Motorola…or might they partner with one of the Chinese manufacturers – Lenovo (which purchased Motorola Mobility from Google), the very popular Xiaomi, or possibly with a lesser known Huawei. Surprisingly, that is the latest rumor, Huawei – iSuppli researcher Kevin Yang posted on Weibo on Wednesday that Huawei will be making the next Nexus – it has since been taken down. 

Not a household name by any degree, Huawei is an electronics giant in China and into many manufacturing arenas, not just smartphones.  This would be another big departure for Google, but they always have liked to shake things up and there are many reasons why this partnership makes a lot of sense.  For instance, Richard Yu, Huawei’s Director, CEO of the Consumer BG, told the Verge that Huawei phones that come stateside (the US) will come with “stock Android” rather than Huawei’s UI because “American consumers trust Google.”  Yu even said they could check with Google on the matter – pretty strong and confident words and a great move on Huawei’s part.

Huawei does make affordable phones, but also makes a high quality, highly spec’d and expensive device as well – the direction that Google seems to be taking its Nexus line of smartphones.  Google seems to want to highlight its Android operating system in a flagship style device and Huawei is perfectly positioned to handle that task.  It is also a large company with the resources to deliver a premium fit and finish in the quantities that Google would need, especially judging from their beautiful Huawei Watch and the fact that they shipped 75 million smartphones last year.

Google wants a fingerprint sensor on their next Nexus phone.  The Nexus 6 was supposed to have one in the large dimple on the back of the device, but was left out for some reason.  Besides Samsung and Apple, Huawei has done much in the field of fingerprint scanners – the Ascend Mate 7 has one and it works like Apple’s Touch ID and the new one on Samsung’s Galaxy S6/S6 Edge.  Google is obviously serious about mobile payments and needs the scanner on their Nexus model…how would it look if Google’s own device was not properly equipped to handle them.

The biggest drawback may be in the area of the processor – Huawei designs and uses their own Kirin branded ARM-based processors, and it seems unlikely that Google would turn from US based Qualcomm chips, but stranger things have happened.  Perhaps Huawei would optimize their Kirin chip to work in the Nexus device.  With all the positive reasons for Google to use Huawei as their new Nexus phone manufacturer, it seems likely they will be able to work out the processor.  Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know if you would have a problem with Huawei manufacturing the new Nexus smartphone – who would you like to see in the driver’s seat…as always we would love to hear from you.