While most of the recent rumors and leaks have focused on the forthcoming iPhone, it's hard to ignore the fact that Google, too, will soon be aiding in the production of one of the market's next flagship Android phones. Despite having faced some adversity and getting off to a rough start, the Nexus brand is one that carries a great deal of weight within the Android camp. And among developers and modding fanatics, Nexus is a name that is highly regarded.
For two years and counting, Google has teamed up with some of its most loyal partners to create halo devices to debut new versions of software. To date, that has led to the creation of five Nexus devices and one Motorola-made, developer-centric tablet dubbed the XOOM.
Rumors of any possible Nexus later this year have been scarce. However, there has been a single rumor that suggests Google will be putting its newly announced PDK (Platform Developer Kit) to good use and give a handful of its partners access to the next version of Android months in advance for an arsenal of hero devices come time for the software launch. We can only hope that means there will be multiple Nexi in the last few months of the year, or at least a couple purely stock Android phones. (But that may just be wishful thinking.)
It's impossible to say whether there will actually be a Nexus phone to launch in 2012. But if there is one thing we're certain of, it's that Google is nowhere near done with the Nexus brand and it's actually in the process of refocusing its efforts on getting Nexus back to its roots by cutting the muck and selling unlocked devices directly to consumers through its digital Play Store.
So, just like we like to do with the iPhone, I'm here to speculate and share what I hope the next Nexus will entail.
Made by ASUS, HTC or Motorola
When it comes to manufacturers, I have no loyalty. I like any manufacturer that can put together a solid device. And I'm not here to say Samsung isn't capable of making a great phone; they definitely can and the Galaxy S III is a testament to just that. But Samsung has made the last two Nexi phones and they've been … okay.
I'm not a fan of Samsung's penchant for PenTile Matrix sub pixel layouts in their HD Super AMOLED displays, nor am I fond of their excessive use of plastic in the build of their phones.
One of my all-time favorite devices is the HTC-made Nexus One. While it may be small in stature compared to the market's current flagships, it was easily one of the best designed phones to date. I would love to see what HTC is capable of doing with another crack at the Nexus line. But I would also love to see what Google's in-house handset maker, Motorola, can do. And ASUS did a standup job with the Nexus 7. The phone component of the Padfone may be lacking, but I have faith they could knock a smartphone out of the park, just as they did with their Nexus tablet.
All I know is that the Nexus (handset) line is in dire need of a change in manufacturers. Samsung has had two chances to knock a grand slam and they've hit two ground rule doubles. It's time another manufacturer steps up to the plate, maybe even multiple, which leads us to …
One of Android's best selling points is choice. If you want an Android device, you have a surplus of devices to choose from with each U.S. carrier. Among other things, you can choose between different: price points, specifications, hardware, software, build quality and manufacturer.
That said, when it comes to the Nexus, there is never any choice, It's only one device, take it or leave it. I would love nothing more than to see choice, two or three different manufacturers' attempts at the best pure stock Android phone, the choice between various chipsets, build quality, display technologies and manufacturer amongst Nexus devices.
Big, long-lasting battery
To be concise, smartphone batteries suck. Most of the time, all of my phones come close to dying long before the day is through. Of all the manufacturers making smartphones, however, Motorola is the only one who has offered a decent solution: a gigantic battery. The Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX comes equipped with a 3,300mAh battery, whereas most smartphones have 2,000mAh or less.
I will be the first to admit that simply upping the capacity isn't the best solution; cramming more milliampere-hours in the same space comes with a few caveats of its own, like nearly doubling charge times or requiring more amperage to charge. But it's a solution that will work for the time being.
I can deal with my phone taking longer to fully charge if it means I can comfortably make it through an entire day without supplementary charges. For all I care, it can take my phone eight hours to charge – which could easily be done while I sleep – as long as it lasts a full day of heavy use.
While each Nexus phone has been relatively up-to-date in comparison to the respective flagships from their eras, their specifications have been quick to become outdated. Of course, most smartphones face the same hurdle of unavoidable and near-immediate obsolescence. But these Nexus devices, in particular, have dated faster than the average phone. For example, the Nexus S launched in late 2010 with a 1GHz single-core Hummingbird processor. Just a few short months after its release, a plethora of dual-core smartphones hit the market.
Instead of Google and its choice partner(s) simply fitting their Nexus with already-aging specs, I would love nothing more than to see a Nexus that pushes the envelope. For example, it would be great to see a brand spankin' new chipset – the S4 Pro or quad-core Exynos – and ample RAM. As long as the screen size is anywhere between 4.65-inches and 4.8-inches, I'll be happy.
Oh, and it would be nice to actually see a Nexus with a great camera as opposed to the bottom-of-the-bucket image sensor that was used on the Galaxy Nexus.
Your turn …
At this point, the next Nexus phone is a complete mystery. We don't know who will make it, if or when it will be available or what kind of specifications it will entail. But that doesn't mean we can't press the issue and revel in a bit of speculation.
What do you want to see in the next Nexus phone? Who do you want to make it? And is there one feature that will be a make-or-break for you? Mine is most definitely the camera. If the manufacturer can't fit their Nexus device with an adequate camera, I may just have to pass. What say you?