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May 15th 2013 7:26 pm

The future of "Nexus" devices?

Today, at Google I/O, the company announced a Galaxy S4, free of any skinning - basically, a Nexus device, if you define Nexus as pure, unadulterated Android with on-time updates. The thing is, they didn't give the phone a name. It isn't the Nexus 5 or the Galaxy Nexus 4, it's just another Galaxy S4.

Given that the Nexus project hasn't been a huge success in the past, is this Google's new strategy? Give people a flagship phone they know but with Google's own experience on it? And what happened to the cheap unlocked Nexus idea? I can't imagine that doing poorly, seeing as so many of my "non-techy" friends flocked to the cheap unlocked device.

What do you think Google's strategy is with "Nexus" devices going forward? Is it going to be more of a concept than an actual line of phones?

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9 replies

I don't think it's a change in strategy, it just seems a little too early to announce new Nexus hardware. The S4 is hot off the presses and is probably going to be a huge hit, but the diehard Android fans love the stock experience, so I can see why Google did this. It's a shame that this isn't a subsidized option...but anyways...
If you look into the past, Google never announced any new Nexus phones at Google I/O. Using the handy product comparison tool* and some Google power, here's the Nexus announcements we've seen thus far:

Nexus one - January 5, 2010
Android press conference - www.engadget.com­/2010­/01­/05­/live­-from­-googles­-andr...

11 months later...

Nexus S - December 6, 2010
Via Google Blog (no event) - http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/introducing-nexus-s-with-gingerbread.html

10 months later...

Galaxy Nexus - October 19, 2011
Joint event with Samsung - www.engadget.com­/2011­/10­/18­/samsungs­-galaxy­-nexus­-...

1 year later...

Nexus 4 - October 29, 2012
Android event - www.engadget.com­/2012­/10­/29­/nexus­-4­-official/

It's been 7 months since the announcement of the Nexus 4, so I think that there's still a good chance we'll see a new Nexus device, but not for several months.

* gdgt.com­/compare­/cellphones­/77937­+70195­+27783­+1734...
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I think you and some tech sites are looking into this way too much. They never called this a nexus device nor did they refer to anything Nexus related when talking about it. It's simply a developer device, just a Galaxy S4 with stock Android. Further to Cass's point a bit, Google has never in the past made such a small showing of a new Nexus device (unless you count the 4 but that was beyond their control). When they announce a new Nexus it's typically a combination of: new hardware, new hardware features (NFC) and a new OS to go with it.
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The strategy of the last phone was to have one model that would work on any carrier. The Galaxy S4 LTE is not anywhere close to that. It is a developer phone designed for one network in one country.
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I think the official Nexus devices from Google will be the phones that will be made from Motorola. Whenever those come out.
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I think that Motorola X will replace Nexus phones ...But still Nexus devices are pretty cheap
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Nah, I don't think they'll replace the Nexus line anytime soon. However, Motorola devices may start becoming closer and closer to a Google Experience, if not a full on Google Experience.
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Right. On This Week In Google they suggested that the issue might be that Google worked with Motorola to make an awesome phone so they want to give all their other manufacturers a way to get a quick Google branded phone to give them a bone to stop the perception of favoritism, but giving such treatment to everyone.
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Honestly, I think ALL phones should have nexus builds by default and the manufacturers add ons should be a (removeable) layer on top.

Who knows what Google's strategy is, they just had a change of leadership for Android and this could easily lead to a change in strategy.

One thing is clear, they're sending a message that they don't like the changes that Samsung and others have made to the OS specifically to trap users and hold up software updates (to drive users to buying new phones).
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Or it could be a dig at Samsung saying they don't like some of the changes they made. For example, with ICS (Android 4.0), Google made a strong emphasis on the removal of the menu button and almost every manufacturer removed it from all future phones, but Samsung refused to and still do. That oh so popular vertical ... in the top right corner doesn't even appear! In fact, most apps end up getting an old school Gingerbread-styled menu from the bottom instead. I've noticed Samsung are the most people who go around Google's uniformity requests with Android.
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