Google may have canceled their playground event due to Hurricane Sandy, but that didn’t stop them from announcing their Nexus family of Android devices on Monday, October 29, 2012. Rumors earlier this year pointed to a multi-manufacturer Nexus suite of devices to be sold for the holiday season and Google did not disappoint with its LG Nexus 4 phone, ASUS Nexus 7 tablet, and Samsung Nexus 10 tablet. Here’s what you need to know about each device and how they compare to what the competition is doing.
LG Nexus 4: A Budget Friendly Smartphone
First, we have LG’s Nexus 4, a smartphone that comes with Google’s latest stock version of Android, Android 4.2. The full Google Experience is presented with this phone. Since it is free of carriers, the phone should be updated straight through Google, so updates should be quick and on time. Google Wallet is also preloaded on the phone to make full use of the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Not only that, but the phone comes with inductive charging, which provides cordless recharging of the phone’s battery by just placing it on the included stand. This new technology comes at the price of a non-removable battery though. The phone will also have a quad-core processor and 8 megapixel camera, which should satisfy anyone. Something different about this phone is the glass back, which gives the phone a premium look and feel similar to Apple’s iPhones. The edges of the screen are also curved to provide better ergonomics for swiping and holding. The curve should protect the glass back. Both the front and back glass are made of the scratch resistant and highly durable Gorilla Glass 2.
The phone will be sold unlocked through Google’s Play Store for $299 for the 8 GB model and $349 for the 16 GB model and will work on any GSM carrier. In the states, T-Mobile will offer a subsidized version of the phone for $199 on contract. This is a great deal for the price and can be a real game changer. Customers looking to be contract free and take advantage of prepaid options such as AT&T, Straight Talk, or some of T-Mobile’s options. However, those who don’t fall under AT&T or T-Mobile’s coverage area are literally left in the dark with this phone since there’s no word of a CDMA version. To top it off, the phone does not have a LTE radio. LTE is the future standard for both talk and fast data speeds. Verizon’s LTE network is already quite robust with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile playing catch up. Google cites cost and the low penetration of LTE as reasons for the exclusion of the radio. To read more about why LTE was not included, check out this article.
Similar to other Nexus devices, the Nexus 4 will not have any expandable storage (SD card). Instead, Google would rather have their users take to the Cloud for their media and storage needs. This is a common theme with Nexus devices and will be seen across the Nexus family of devices.
ASUS Nexus 7: A Slight Refresh of an Excellent 7″ Tablet
Next is the ASUS Nexus 7. There’s nothing new to see here. The Nexus 7 was released back in the summer with Jelly Bean, Android 4.1, so this is basically a slight refresh of the hardware with more internal storage. This is a 7″ tablet at a competitive price: $199 for the 16 GB version and $249 for the 32 GB version. Previously, the tablet was priced at $199 for a 8 GB version and $249 for a 16 GB version. Google also announced a 3G version that will be sold through T-Mobile. The Nexus 7 is still a great tablet and is the perfect size and weight for reading e-books. The price is right and performance is buttery smooth thanks to its quad-core Tegra 3. The device should continue to receive the latest version of Android directly from Google and will be updated to Android 4.2 soon after the launch of the LG Nexus 4. Since its summer release, the Nexus 7 is now selling nearly one million Nexus 7s a month.
Samsung Nexus 10: Potential iPad Killer
Last but not least, we have the Samsung Nexus 10. Now this is a tablet. The Nexus 10 is a 10″ tablet priced competitively and ready to take on Apple’s main iPad line of tablets. With a gorgeous 2,560 x 1,600 pixel screen (300 ppi), this is the clearest and crispest screen on the tablet market. To put it in perspective, Apple’s 3rd and 4th generation iPads have a 2,048 x 1,536 (264 ppi) 9.7″ screen. Did I mention it is price competitive? The 16 GB model will be $399 and a 32 GB model will be $499. Just like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, the Nexus 10 will come with Android 4.2 and will take advantage of some of Android 4.2’s latest tablet features such as multiple users.
Google’s only hurdle will be proving their ecosystem on a tablet form factor is worth buying into. Scaled up phone apps are a sticking point used against Android tablets although this summer’s release of the Nexus 7 has generated some buzz in the developer community. Combined with new tablet guidelines and the release of the Nexus 10, developers will have even more incentive to create tablet optimized apps.
Another criticism of 10″ tablets is how heavy they are. The iPad 4 is about 652 grams and Microsoft’s Surface RT is 680 grams. The Nexus 10 comes in at 603 grams, making it one of, if not the lightest 10″ tablets on the market. This should make it more comfortable to hold for long periods of time, which is exactly what most people will be doing if they’re going to be using the tablet for media consumption – movies, books, magazines, TV, and more.
Is a Nexus Device For Me?
Google now has a Nexus device in three different sizes: one for phone and two for tablets, so there’s a Nexus device for everyone. The LG Nexus 4 phone is almost a no-brainer for AT&T and T-Mobile Android users. The price is right for a contract free phone and the specs are impressive for such a “budget” phone. Not only will you have the latest version of Android straight from Google, but you also get a quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 8 MP camera, and inductive charging. The cons of the phone is the lack of LTE, expandable storage options, a removable battery, and the 32 GB+ models.
Verizon and Sprint customers will have to hold onto their Galaxy Nexus for a year more and hope that next year’s Nexus line has something in store for them. Hopefully Motorola can fill the gap for Verizon customers, considering the two companies’ strong relationship. Many customers who bought a LTE/CDMA Galaxy Nexus in 2010, me included, will be coming off of their 2-year contract come 2013, so it would be silly for Google and Verizon to miss an opportunity to capitalize on these customers. As long as a Nexus phone, in that it has an easy to unlock bootloader, is made for Verizon with LTE, then I will be a happy customer come next year.
The tablets, on the other hand, aren’t as clear cut as the phone. The Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are both great tablets and the determining factor between the two come down to whether or not you want a 7″ tablet or a 10″ tablet. Personally, I own a Nexus 7, which I bought during the summer, but if I was presented with the current options today, I am pretty sure I would opt for the Nexus 10. The Nexus 10 has the most beautiful display of any tablet on the market and the 10″ of screen real estate can be useful. Sure, the 7″ form factor is more optimal for reading, but tablets today are more than just reading an e-book or browsing websites. Also, if the rumors of Microsoft Office coming to iOS and Android in 2013 is true, then the Nexus 10’s extra screen space will be invaluable from a productivity stand point.
Android fans should be extremely happy with the Nexus Family of devices since a Nexus device promises speedy updates to the latest version of Android – a major point of contention that iOS users hold against Android users. However, the choice of a Nexus device becomes less clear when we begin to look at the competition.
For people who aren’t interested in the Android ecosystem, then there are two main rivals: iOS and Windows 8. Many of us are already familiar with Apple’s iPhone 5 and its just announced iPad Mini and iPad 4.
However, there is also Microsoft’s offering to be aware of. Windows 8 was just released for desktops and it is joined by Windows RT for tablets and Windows Phone 8 for phones. All three versions of what I broadly categorize as Windows 8 share the same app ecosystem. While Windows 8’s app store is sparse compared to iOS’s and Android’s offerings, it is set to explode in the coming years as more people adopt Windows 8 products. Today, Windows 8 is sort of a joke, but it has huge potential for disrupting the market simply based on how many people will eventually adopt the OS. Windows hold nearly 90% of the desktop market and users who are still using Windows XP or Windows Vista, which is about 50% of the Windows market, will be looking to upgrade to Windows 8 (side note: I don’t completely agree with netmarketshare’s statistics because it claims Internet Explorer is the number one web browser when Google’s Chrome has made huge waves this year according to StatCounter). The Windows 8 Tablets with Microsoft Office can be more productive than the media consumption heavy iOS and Android offerings. In fact, some would say Microsoft’s Surface tablet is actually a PC in a tablet form. Having said that, Windows 8 is still in a nascent state and has yet to prove itself. However, its long term prospects are definitely promising.
The Choice is Yours
In the end, the ultimate decision falls on you, the customer. It’s a great time to be a consumer because we have unparalleled choice in the market with iOS, Android, and Windows 8. The Nexus Family of Google Android devices is a welcome addition to the Android ecosystem and provides Android fans and users with something they’ve been asking for for a long time: high quality devices with the guarantee of the latest version of Android. Unfortunately, CDMA/LTE Android fans are left out to dry and will have to seek other skinned options such as the LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S3, or HTC One DLX. This is a great step in the right direction for Google to increase the power of its Nexus brand and introduce more people to Android at a great price.