Which Android manufacturer should make the next Nexus?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: April 25, 2012

As an Android device manufacturer, one of the most prestigious positions you can be granted is the role of Google's partner manufacturer on their Nexus device. For each Nexus, Google selects a single manufacturer to work closely with. Google will create the software while the selected company will design and produce a reference device for the forthcoming version of Android.

To date, there have been three Nexus devices (Nexi?): Nexus One by HTC, Nexus S by Samsung and the Galaxy Nexus, also by Samsung. Naturally, as we approach this year's Nexus and the next major version of Android, presumed to be Jelly Bean, minds begin to wander.

Who will be the manufacturer this time around?

Last time, before the Galaxy Nexus was made official in October, I seriously doubted that the third Nexus manufacturer would be Samsung, for a second time in a row. The Nexus S saw a limited amount of success due to its middle-of-the-road specs and staggered launch schedule. Not that it wasn't a great device (it most certainly was), but it never struck me as quite as prestigious as the Nexus One (which faced fairly poor sales itself). Likely hinging on the success of their Galaxy S II line, however, Google chose Samsung for a second time and launched the Galaxy Nexus.

The Galaxy Nexus was a far cry from its predecessor. Its specs were arguably the best of its time (the HTC Rezound had a few more pixels per inch and a slightly faster clock speed, but ran Gingerbread and suffered from very poor battery life), and the design and build quality were much better than before. Not to mention, the unlocked Nexus (which works on T-Mobile and AT&T 3G and HSPA+ networks) and Verizon LTE version launched within a month of each other, making it available to a larger market more quickly.

I had the Galaxy Nexus for about four months. Despite all of the envy I had for all those Note owners out there and the device's mediocre camera, I loved the Galaxy Nexus. To this day, I miss it. There's something about a Nexus device that makes it hard to let go of, even when there are much better phones available. (There were a lot of people unwilling to give up their Nexus Ones after the first few dual-core phones arrived.)

But would I choose Samsung to make the next Nexus ... again? Not likely, and I hope Google doesn't either. If recent word from rumor monger Digitimes is to be believed, however, Samsung may be the chosen manufacturer of the fourth-generation Nexus. (Don't forget, there was also word that the next maker of the Nexus will be LG.)

It's not that I don't like Samsung or that I don't think they're worthy. They definitely are. My past three Android phones have been made by Samsung, and I have enjoyed every one as much as the last. I love HD Super AMOLED and Super AMOLED Plus displays, Exynos processors, giant displays and Samsung has always offered one of the better image sensors to Android users. Needless to say, Samsung is the current king of Android and they know how to make a stellar, well-rounded device.

However, they're slowly becoming stagnant, at least in terms of design. We have yet to see what the next Galaxy entails, and I reserve my final opinion until after next week's announcement. But between the Galaxy Nexus, all of the Galaxy S II devices, Galaxy Note, Nexus S and even their Focus Windows Phones, all Samsung hardware looks virtually identical. They all are made of cheap, lightweight plastic that chips and mars with ease. I truly love Samsung devices, but the hardware (design, materials, build quality, etc.) is their low point. (It's also worth noting that Samsung devices have always been relatively easy to root and mod and have always had busy development communities, making the Nexus title almost redundant.)

In light of the HTC One series – which significantly raises the bar for the competition in terms of hardware, specs and design – I would really like to see what HTC could make of another Nexus. (What would they name it though? Nexus One 2?) The One X is thin and lightweight without sacrificing the high quality feel, the 720p S-LCD2 display is fantastic and super sharp, and the ImageSense camera technology is certainly more promising than the Galaxy Nexus shooter. Also, HTC devices generally come with locked bootloaders and Sense UI, meaning the Nexus title (read: hackability) would more greatly benefit an HTC-made device.

To be perfectly honest, I would also like to see what Motorola could do with a swing at the Nexus. They've always had a knack for great hardware (though their choice in displays could be better) and they're not afraid to equip a phone with large capacity batteries. But the likeliness of Google showing Motorola any extra attention after the proposal to buy them could put their partner relations the fritz. I wouldn't bet on Moto getting a shot. Not for a while, at least.

And ... I know this may sound a bit random. But I wouldn't mind Huawei getting a shot either. They showed their interest in making high-end devices, and the Ascend P1 S is nice and unique. Hey, they deserve a shot at least. (I would choose them over LG.)

Plain and simple, I want to see what other manufacturers are capable of when they focus 100 percent of their attention on hardware and leave the rest to Google. Samsung has had their chance (twice now) and has done an okay job. It's time for someone else to take the torch for a round. Or maybe more than one manufacturer should make a Nexus device for Jelly Bean.

How would you feel if Samsung made the fourth Nexus, too? Would you be upset that Google hasn't given another manufacturer the chance? Or would you be happy about it? If not Samsung, which OEM would you prefer to see make it? LG? HTC? ... Huawei?