7 Features the Nexus Smartphone Needs to Compete with the iPhone 5

Apple’s soon to be released iPhone 5 is going to be faced with some heavy opposition not only from Windows Phone 8 but from its chief rival, Android. However, now that the iPhone is equipped with 4G LTE data speeds and a large 4-inch screen, the opposition really has their work cut out for them.

In the weeks ahead, Android manufacturers will launch a number of devices including the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Motorola Droid RAZR HD.  Another device that has yet to be announced is Google’s year Nexus smartphone, which will likely go head to head with Apple’s iPhone 5 sometime later this year.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Nexus 2, LG Optimus Nexus, Sony Xperia Nexus Rumored.

Thus far, little is known about the next Nexus smartphone, or if rumors pan out, Nexus smartphones. Right now, it looks as though Google may launch several Nexus smartphones in an attempt to steal customers away from Windows Phone 8 and the iPhone 5.

And while we don’t know many specifics, there are several features that the next Nexus device or devices must have if they want to truly make a dent in iPhone 5 sales.

Multiple Launch Carriers

It’s clear that smartphone customers like having choice. Choice of software, choice of hardware, and yes, choice of carrier. With the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google did not offer that at launch. Instead, those who wanted to get the new Nexus were required to sign a new contract or upgrade with Verizon.

Sure, the Sprint Galaxy Nexus launched later in 2012, but by then, it was an afterthought. This time around, with the new 2012 Nexus, Google should think about giving customers some options at launch.

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Let them choose between AT&T or Sprint or T-Mobile or Verizon. Limiting the Nexus to one carrier, and specifically a carrier that hasn’t been user friendly (see slow updates, locked bootloaders) isn’t a great way to drum up sales.

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Google should launch the new Nexus on multiple carriers.

There is another way to give users choice and that’s by not launching the next Nexus on any specific carrier. Instead, Google could launch the next Nexus unlocked which would allow them to run on the GSM networks of AT&T or T-Mobile.

Better yet, Google could charge a flat $300 or less for the new Nexus. I know of plenty of people that bought the Galaxy Nexus unlocked for $300+ and were extremely happy to do so. For that price, they get a solid smartphone that is void of any carrier restrictions and they are updated with the new software from the get-go.

In the case of the unlocked HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus, that’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Return to Its Roots

Speaking of that, Google and/or whatever carriers the Nexus launches on need to return it to its Nexus roots. The Galaxy Nexus and it’s extremely slow update times have, in my opinion, tarnished the Nexus’ name, maybe for good.

It should not have taken Verizon five months to roll out a bug fix update for the Galaxy Nexus. And it should not have taken this long for Sprint and Verizon to roll out the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean updates.

Updates need to be quicker with the new Nexus and hopefully that’s a promise Google makes when it announces the device or devices later this year.

Departure from Plastic

Ever since the Galaxy Nexus launched with its plastic design, I have been hoping for Google and the Nexus manufacturer or manufacturers to step up their game with the design of the Galaxy Nexus.

In my opinion, the Galaxy Nexus does not feel like a $300 phone. It’s nice, but it’s not as nice as the design of the iPhone 4S and it’s likely not as nice as the iPhone 5 which employs both aluminum and glass.

The Nexus is a yearly release that doesn’t come with a cheap price tag. Make it worth the wait and the price.

Killer Battery

One of the things I absolutely hated about the Galaxy Nexus was its poor battery life. It improved with the bug fix update it received after five months but it’s still not as good as I would have liked.

With the iPhone 5, Apple promises great battery life, even with the device’s new 4G LTE speeds. In fact, Apple says that it can pull down eight hours of browsing over 4G LTE, same as the Droid RAZR MAXX HD which Motorola says has best in class battery life.

Google and the Nexus need to up the ante. Battery life, design and software are three key components for consumers and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean combined with a classy design and the best battery life in any smartphone yet sounds like a recipe for success to me.

This will be the second go-round for a 4G LTE Nexus and this time, Google needs to get it right. Throw in a massive battery, customers will be thankful.

Flawless Software

And last but not least, the software on board the new Nexus, presumably Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, needs to be absolutely flawless. We’re talking very few bugs if any.

For five months, I dealt with pesky Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich bugs on my Galaxy Nexus. They completely ruined the initial experience for me and quite frankly, it ruined any chance of it becoming my daily driver.

Many of the Android devices I’ve reviewed ship with bugs. It’s not uncommon. But this is a Nexus device and it should be as close to perfect as possible.

What do you think the new Nexus(s) need (or don’t need) to compete with the iPhone 5?

Comments

  1. George says

    I think it should be made out of real titanium and real graphite and graphite composites. Unlocked, quad core or higher(cell processor maybe), 2-4 gigs of ram, the best onboard gfx currently out or make, 16,32,64,128gb on board space with upgradeable 64 gb SD card slot, best camera,fastest processor and memory on the planet that is faster than the fastest PC’s. Also made by lg,Samsung,Sony, Motorola, Google,htc, and more. Be a world phone able to use any carrier on the planet.
    Full support by all carriers and cell phone makers and cell phone makers to come. No bloat ware and Google and trusted makers to update phones.able to dock with a ps4(Sony’s version)able to play ps4 Games, able to leave the ps4 dock and play ps3/ps4 games on the go and more. Also be a phone that has a new network called g5 lte which is 30x faster than 4g and possibly faster than the fastest internet connection world wide.

    • ron says

      You sound like you’re 5. Google just needs to release a phone that can run programs just as a PC would so I can run ProTools 10 on my phone instead of shitty APs

  2. Answer2k1 says

    Personally, I’ve never thought that the Nexus line was meant to “challenge” the iPhone. I’ve always thought it was meant to give you the best part of Android, easy customizations to the user’s heart’s content. It never had the most cutting edge specs but it was close to the top with a developer community unlike any other device. Sure, the diehard android fans would love to have everything on their wishlist but in reality, is the average android (read mainstream) user going to flash/root/unlock/mod their phones?Short answer, no. They usually want what the Galaxy S, One, RAZR series gives them.

    • Jaime Lefebvre says

      I agree and disagree. Your point that the Nexus line has never had the top specs is true, but I’m not sure that its the right strategy. If you look at a cross section of the Android community, the people that want the high end bleeding edge specs are the same people who are in the root/rom community. Conversely though, these are also the same people who upgrade cell phones every six months. I see a desire for top specs, but not the necessity.

  3. Andrew says

    Android 4.0 running on any phone beats the iPhone 5 out of the park any day of the week.

    Android runs very smoothly, and iOS5 was not even close to perfect — I don’t think 6 will be much better.

    I am not an iPhone-hater, but I am an Android lover. After having the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, then switching over to a Thunderbolt and now the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, I couldn’t be happier. Beamin’ all my stuff between phones, 4GLTE that isn’t going to get sued, and a phone that won’t break on whichever side you drop it.

    Oh, and it isn’t Apple — a big deal, if you like customization.

  4. John Mayson says

    I hope Google sells the Nexus 2 as it did the original, unlocked via the Play Store. That’s the only way to do it, IMHO. No carrier bloatware, no carrier interference with software updates, and best of all I can shop around for the best service. Right now I’m using Simple Mobile and love it. I did the math, after 24 months I will have paid half what I would have paid AT&T for an on-contract iPhone 5.

  5. Rick E. Schwartz says

    Most of your posts are decent, but this one is pretty weak. Plastic case. Is that the best you can think of? I agree Verizon has been horrible with upgrades and the GNex should have never shipped with the stock battery, but my experience with 4.0 was every bit as good as any iOS release I’ve ever had. I don’t deny that you had problems, but a friend of mine had major problems with his GNex and ICS which were fixed when he swapped out his phone for another.

  6. ice says

    I totally agree with the “Departure from Plastic” part…

    Here in SG, the S3 is SGD 7.00 cheaper than the 4s but once you hold both phones… the 4s really feels better…

    I always wanted to get the Galaxy Nexus but everytime I see the demo unit available from Starhub, it looks really bad…

    Lets face it, Android devices do not get too many options when it comes to available 3rd party cases… not unless their Samsung and HTC’s flagship models. A good hardware is very important since you’ll be touching your phone often.

  7. KB says

    Plastic is fine in my opinion for 3 reasons. 1)can better withstand impacts when dropped. 2)most people use cases. With a case on, you don’t see it. 3) Average lifespan of a phone is only 2-years. It is just not worth going all-out on a high end shell if it is only going to be around for that amount of time.

  8. JM_66 says

    Isn’t the iPhone 5 really just catching up with everyone else on most features and specs? It’s probably a good bet that by the end of the year, they’ll need to catch up again. So I really don’t see them having to do anything except avoid carrier issues.

  9. bjrosen says

    Nexus should be like Fedora, a true development platform that’s aimed squarely at developers and other skilled people and only those people. To do that Nexus devices should never be sold through carriers, they should only be sold by Google and sold with the caveat that THESE ARE DEVELOPMENT DEVICES be WARNED. Updates should come directly from Google and they should be very frequent. There should also be a much better bug reporting and tracking system, similar to the Bugzilla’s on Fedora and Ubuntu.

    What Nexus doesn’t need to be is a special phone, just use the flag ship phones with the manufacturer’s software replaced with Google’s. The SIII would be a fine Nexus device as would the Razr MAXX.

    The advantage of open source software is that it allows not only for collaborative development but also for a much more effective beta testing environment. If you take the Fedora example, Redhat puts out Fedora as a development platform. It has the very latest code in it, gets daily updates, and it has a robust bug reporting and tracking system which they take advantage of, and which allows their users to interact with the developers. Periodically they take a mature version of Fedora and turn it into an ultra stable Enterprise Linux release which is what they sell. Fedora users get the bleading edge software that they want at the expense of being beta testers which is a bargain they happily make. At the end of the day enterprise users get a stable version which has already had at least 12 months of heavy use before they see it. This is what Nexus should be, the testing platform for Android. Phone companies are the ultimate in conservative users, they really really don’t what to use anything that hasn’t already been tested and retested and then tested again, asking them to be a conduit for leading edge software is unfair to them and unfair to the kind of user who wants bleading edge software. Google should be conduit for the test platform, then every one will be happier. This will also give a big advantage to Google because they can do faster and cheaper testing than Apple can because Apple can never show their beta software to anyone due to there culture of absolute secrecy,

  10. Jeff says

    Re: Galaxy Nexus
    My experience of the nexus seems a little difference… Jellybean has not being buggy at all (got the update very quickly). My battery life is fine, generally charging it every second day.

    What I did find is that when an large automatic update came through while in a building with metal walls; the battery drain completely in a couple of hours (and the unit got quite warm). I wonder if alot of battery complaints on any phone these days is caused by high power usage by the radio in poor conditions.

  11. Mark says

    Another useless article. The whole tone of the article shows favour towards Apple.

    The statement “It’s clear that smartphone customers like having choice” was amusing for an article saying what a phone needs to do to compete with iPhone. In my opinion, no company is worse at providing consumers with a choice. Apple likes to control everything you do even down to the way your home screen looks and the adapter you use- what is wrong with USB?

    In reality the Nexus and indeed the other Android phones from Samsung, LG, HTY, Sony etc and indeed Windows phones from Nokia etc are already much better than the iPhone. What other companies need to learn is Apple’s “secret” marketing skills, not how to improve their phones. It is amazing how Apple can make normally intelligent people believe everything they say. They make people believe all the features on their phone are the newest and greatest and perhaps more surprisingly, they can even spin the fact that they have not embraced a particular technology as a positive.

    I am always amazed how many people I speak to have a totally closed mind for anything outside Apple, even when they don’t like features on the iPhone etc. It is almost like Apple have brainwashed them to use their products with some kind of subliminal message.

    One final thing companies should do to compete is hire Apple’s lawyers.

  12. Jeff says

    Why not make the next Nexus look and feelium (In the spirit of the Nexus One). Find a manufacturer who will put more.effort behind it, or contract for a better quality product (I’m not sure what went wrong with the Galaxy Nexus). Don’t make the same mistake of putting a mediocre camera on it. People want a solid camera on their smartphones so Google is shooting themselves in the foot if they again compromise with the camera. Make your Nexus with solid build quality, pleasing design aesthetics, and Great features. We don’t want and will not buy (in mass) another “Galaxy Nexus Compromise.”

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