One cold, bleak morning a few months back, a controversial yet often dependable Russian blogger broke the ominous “news”. Apparently, Google was and likely is planning to discard our beloved stock Android-running Nexus devices in favor of an augmented GPE product portfolio.
Which is perfectly fine software-wise, as Google Play gadgets are just as “untainted” as Nexuses, but then again, a total absence of bloatware isn’t the sole reason we worship Big G’s phones and tabs. It’s also, or especially, about pricing. Specifically, about offering top-notch specs at “fair” costs.
But whether or not the gloomy rumors are true, it seems the Nexus line is still due for a number of refreshes later this year. And particularly if speculation pans out, we’d all like the family’s last hurrah to be epic.
The swan song will probably begin with a Nexus 6 handheld that we already previewed and dissected, followed closely by one or several Nexus slates. Which brings us to the order of the day. What exactly does the future hold for the Nexus series in the tablet department? Should we expect just one last N7 rehash or a long overdue second-gen N10 too?
How about an 8 or 9 incher? And more importantly, who might Google appoint as the co-manufacturer (s) of this (these) likely final iPad “killing” efforts? In no particular order, here are the prime candidates, based on hearsay, hunches and, well, common sense and logic:
Some say Google did Asus a great favor when contracting it to produce the first-gen Nexus 7, since the Taiwanese were not quite a household name in the industry back then. Which is partially true. Because Larry Page and the gang saw something in Jonney Shih’s outfit: an ambitious, enthusiastic, professional team eager to get ahead of the curve, regardless of money spent and resources used.
So, you see, the partnership wasn’t an act of kindness on Google’s part. Asus was simply the right OEM for the job. And at the end of the day, Asus helped Google just as much as Google helped Asus. Twice. Will 2014 mark a three-peat? Perhaps.
After all, keeping things fresh should come second to doing them right.
They sat a few rounds out, but when they made their comeback, they sure enthused, with possibly the sleekest, most elegant, fastest smaller than 10-inch tablet around: the G Pad 8.3. But was it envisioned as a Nexus test run from the get-go? It makes perfect sense.
And the only thing cooler than an Asus-made Nexus 7 2014 would probably be an 8-inch or so G Pad lookalike with a lower price point. Better yet, roll them both out, Google. Let the people choose.
Discouraged by the craptastic Jestream and Flyer, HTC, like LG, took an extended break from slates. But sooner or later, they’ll have to get back on the horse. Normally, you’d expect anyone with that kind of a track record to follow LG’s suit and (re) start off somewhat low-profile and pressure-free before earning a spot in the Nexus program.
Only HTC and Google’s relationship goes way back, to times immemorial, when they established the “pure Android” project by launching the Nexus One. Sure, friendship and nostalgia don’t pay the bills, but seeing how HTC develops arguably the most beautiful, sturdiest smartphones around, it’s not much of a gamble to trust them with a Nexus 8 or 9 pad.
If a Nexus 10-2 release is indeed on, the most logical contender to nab co-manufacturing rights is of course the maker of the first-gen. Provided Samsung wants the contract, since the original N10 was a box-office bust.
But here’s a crazy idea. What if Google really plans to go out with a bang and, as such, eyes a functionality or productivity overhaul of sorts? Say, by adding stylus support to the feature mix? How dreamy does a Samsung-made Nexus Note 10.1 sound?
It’s fairly obvious Lenovo has an Asus vibe going for it nowadays, looking to spend whatever it takes to truly get noticed. True, their tablet efforts so far have mostly been forgettable (save maybe for the Yogas), but they clearly have a lot of potential and room to grow.
Besides, they’ve already made an important deal with Google, acquiring Motorola, which, as you remember, looked like a win-win situation for everybody. Why not get into another win-win pact?
A leading mobile player since ages ago, Sony has pretty much topped every list of Nexus candidates in the past few years. Yet we’ve never moved beyond rumors or fabricated renders. Sadly, the way I see it, there are still a couple of reasons to be pessimistic vis-à-vis the prospects of an “Xperia Nexus”.
For one thing, I don’t see the Japanese capable of pulling the whole high-end, low-cost hardware feat off. Not as far as tabs are concerned, with the Xperia Tablet Z and Z2 Tablet as breathtakingly punchy as pricey. There’s also the question of mass manufacturing proficiency, a domain where Sony has flunked numerous times of late, most recently with the Z2 smartphone.
Sure, we’d love, love, love a cutting-edge Sony-made Nexus, be it a handheld or tablet, with the company’s iconic design, top-of-the-line audio and camera capabilities and so on and so forth, but we don’t want another Nexus 4 supply fiasco.
Before you even ask, yes, I know how crazy it sounds. And there’s no way it’ll happen, what with Microsoft’s Nokia buyout close to being sealed. Heck, there’s probably a better chance Apple will open source iOS tomorrow.
But a boy can still hope, can’t he? Say what you will about Nokia, however they’re damn good at assembling stellar hardware and, more often than not, selling it for a reasonable price. Just look at the 10-inch Lumia 2520. Now close your eyes, get rid of those grotesque tiles and replace them with icons, widgets and a multifunctional status bar.
Add a Mai Tai, cool little spot on an isolated beach somewhere and a couple of blonde 20 year-olds to cater to your needs, dreams and fantasies and you’re in heaven, eh?
Back to Planet Earth, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the Nexus future. Have any personal favorites from the list above? How about names we neglected to “nominate”?