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Is the LG G2 a preview of the Google Nexus 5?

T-Mobile LG G2I suspect many of us watching the LG G2 launch event this morning were less interested in LG’s new offering, and more interested in getting a preview of the Nexus 5. LG is rumored to be building Google’s next Nexus phone.

The LG G2 is pretty much everything the numerous leaks have said to expect. The LG G2 is a monster of a phone with a 5.2-inch 1080p display and an impressively thin bezel all around. This keeps it close to the size of the Samsung Galaxy S4.  The phone has no physical home, back and task switching buttons, with LG adopting the Nexus-like on-screen soft keys. At the back is a 13 MP camera with Optical Image Stabilization. Beside the camera are the rocker volume and power button, which also doubles as a shutter button. No more reaching over the back to turn the screen on.  Tapping the screen twice wakes the phone.

Inside is a 2.26 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor with Adreno 330 graphics. The LG G2 also comes with 2 GB of RAM and either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. You can expand the phone’s memory via a card slot. The phone comes with a 3000 mAh battery.  You will find several first impressions posted all over the web right about now. They will give you a better idea of what the phone is like, especially the new take on the volume and power button placement.

LG has also added new features to its custom version of Android. Raising the phone to your ear answers an incoming call. Plug in a headset and a menu of your multimedia apps pops up. These and other neat tricks can be expected from the LG G2. Notably missing though is any mention of the voice activation feature in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 which allows the phone to listen to the mic while on standby.

Suffice it to say, I think we are all impressed if not overwhelmed by the LG G2. That is exactly what LG wanted to do with its new smartphone. LG knows that before it can seriously compete with Samsung for market share, it has to compete for mindshare.

I suspect the burning question for many of us is– Is this the base of the next Google Nexus phone? I think the answer to that would be a no. Google’s Nexus phones have been getting larger each year, but the past two models have had almost the same size of display. The Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65-inch display and the Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch display. The Google-influenced Moto X also has a 4.7-inch display. This gives me the impression that Google has kind of identified 4.7-inches as the ideal size for its smartphone.

Google will subsidize its next Nexus phone. Offering a Google branded LG G2 at US$299 will wreak havoc on its OEM partners. Last year, in order to prevent its low cost subsidized Nexus 4 from competing with the flagship phones of its OEM partners, Google removed the LTE capability. I do not think removing LTE from the next Nexus phone is going to be feasible this time around. Instead I would think the compromise will be display resolution. At this point, some of you may start thinking that I am pointing to a Moto X based phone as the next Nexus phone. I really doubt that, too.

With native always-on voice command on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, I do not see how Google can ignore this processor. It will be used on a large number of devices, and Google is best served by optimizing Google Now for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor. Google basing its next Nexus phone on proprietary Motorola X8 technology would ruffle too many feathers.

My bet for the next Nexus phone would be a 4.7-inch, 720p, smartphone equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.  I wouldn’t expect to see Optical Image Stabilization for the camera and a MicroSD card slot. Who will build it? I suspect Sony will get the job this time around and bring its expertise in dust and water resistant to the Nexus line-up. Why Sony? Given how friendly Sony has been to the Android Open Source Project, I think giving them the honor of building a Nexus phone is already a bit overdue.

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