10 Things the Nexus 7 Tells Us About the Nexus 5

Earlier this week, Google announced its new Nexus 7 tablet, a tablet that was pegged with a July 30th release date but is already on shelves through various retailers in the United States. Not announced at the event was a new Nexus smartphone, one that would replace the current Nexus 4, though we believe that the new Nexus 7 has revealed quite a bit about the new Nexus smartphone, rumored to be called the Nexus 5.

In July of last year, Google announced its first Nexus-branded tablet, an Asus-made device called the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7, up until just a few short days ago, was Google’s iPad mini competitor and one of the most popular devices in the company’s Nexus arsenal. Earlier this month, Google replaced the Nexus 7 with a new Nexus 7 tablet that just hit the Google Play Store with a number of new upgrades including a better display, faster processor, new Android 4.3 software and more.

The new Nexus 7 design is matte black, slimmer and soft to the touch.

The new Nexus 7 has arrived. A new Nexus smartphone likely won’t be out until later this year.

The new Nexus 7 is the first new Nexus hardware of the year but it won’t be the last as rumors, and history, suggest that Google will introduce a new Nexus smartphone at some point during 2013.

In November, Google, in addition to the HSPA+ Nexus 7, released the Nexus 4, the successor to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus which emerged in December of 2011. The Nexus 4, made by LG, remains one of the top smartphones on the market, combining high-end hardware with Android 4.3 and a cheap price tag. Like all good things, the Nexus 4′s reign will come to an end in the future and rumors suggest that it will be a Nexus 5 that takes over for the popular smartphone.

Nexus 5 rumors are scarce at the moment but fortunately for those interested in the next-generation Nexus smartphone, we believe that the new Nexus 7 has revealed quite a bit about the Nexus 5, even if its announcement remains months out.

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Asus Could Mean LG

LG isn't working on a Nexus 5, but the company isn't in a position to turn down a chance to make the Nexus 5.

LG is rumored to be making the new Nexus 5.

In years previous, we saw Google use a variety of manufacturers for its Nexus smartphones. The first Nexus, the Nexus One, was made by HTC. The second, the Nexus S, was made by Samsung. The third, the Galaxy Nexus, was made by Samsung. The Nexus 4 of course was made by LG.

While the Nexus 7 doesn’t have the same type of history to draw from, it’s interesting to note that Asus built both the first Nexus 7 and the second-generation Nexus 7. This doesn’t necessarily confirm anything for the Nexus 5, but it does mean that Google still isn’t afraid of sticking with the same manufacturer two years in a row, especially if the device is a success. Google saw success with the Nexus S and the Nexus 7.

Rumors have suggested that the Nexus 5 will be built by LG and may be a derivative of the LG G2 which is scheduled to debut in August. The Nexus 4 was based on the LG Optimus G which was released last year.

Verizon Nexus 5 Possible

The Nexus 7 and the Nexus 4 unfortunately were only available through AT&T and T-Mobile with carriers like Sprint and Verizon left out in the cold. It’s no secret that Google was frustrated by the poor experience with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus and it was unclear if the companies would ever produce a Nexus device again.

Turns out, they have, in the form of the new Nexus 7 that runs on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. The device is capable of running on all three, meaning, buyers only need to buy one the one device.

Google is coy about the prospects of a Nexus 5 supporting multiple carriers like the Nexus 7 but Android head Sundar Pichai did tell Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that the company will see about support on a future Nexus smartphone.

The door is certainly open now that the Nexus 7 supports Verizon LTE and there are likely plenty of consumers who are hopeful for a Nexus 5 that is compatible with Verizon’s network.

At the very least, it’s now possible.

LTE

Speaking of that, the new Nexus 7 indeed was announced with 4G LTE data rather than HSPA+ or 3G data speeds like its predecessor. The Nexus 4 also did not come with LTE, one of its biggest drawbacks.

Now that the Nexus 7 is outfitted with LTE for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, it’s impossible to think that the company will release a Nexus 5 with HSPA+ an 3G. Look for the new Nexus smartphone to support the data speeds that its predecessor did not.

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie Update Likely

Rumors suggest that the Nexus 5 will debut in October alongside a new version of Android, Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, a major overhaul to the Android operating system. While it’s hard to nail down specific timing, it’s likely that the Nexus 5 will arrive with a new piece of Android software. Here’s why.

Don't believe the latest rumor that Android 5.0 is delayed.

Android 5.0 is rumored for October alongside the new Nexus smartphone.

Nexus devices, in the past, have ushered in new versions of Android. With the Galaxy Nexus in 2011, it was Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. In 2012, the Nexus 7 brought Android 4.1 into the world. Later in the year, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 7 HSPA+ introduced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. And this year, the new Nexus 7 arrived with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

It’s a clear pattern and one that Google is likely to repeat with the Nexus 5. The most likely outcome is a Nexus 5 that ushers in Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, a piece of software that has been brewing in rumors for quite some time.

No microSD Card Slot

The new Nexus 7, despite the best wishes from consumers, does not come with a microSD card slot which means that it doesn’t feature expandable memory. While Google is selling the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition with a microSD card on its Google Play Store, that is not a pure Nexus smartphone.

The Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and more did not arrive with microSD card support and given that the new Nexus 7 has continued this trend, don’t expect the new Nexus smartphone to arrive with expanded storage.

Google isn’t interested in it and instead consumers should expect it to tout the benefits of the cloud.

Similar Storage Options

With the Nexus 7, Google originally offered an 8GB model and 16GB model. That was changed later in the year to a 16GB and 32GB model, the same storage variants that we’ve seen launch with the new Nexus. To us, that’s a sign that Google is content with offering two different storage options to consumers and that it’s unlikely to mix things up completely with the new Nexus 5. In addition, Google’s Nexus 4 8GB sold like hot cakes, as did the 16GB model.

The new Nexus 7 does not come with a microSD card slot.

The new Nexus 7 does not come with a microSD card slot.

Given that it didn’t offer anything different with the new Nexus 7, and given how well the Nexus 4 sold in those options, it’s hard to think that Google will offer three different options or move from 8GB to 16GB for the starting Nexus 5 model.

Price Will Stay Low

In addition to keeping similar storage options, Google kept the price of the Nexus 7 low despite the increase of $30. The original Nexus 7 checked in at $199.99 and $249.99 but Google decided to increase the cost this time around to $230 for the 16GB model and $270 for the 32GB model. It’s an increase, but the new Nexus 7 remains extremely cheap and much cheaper than the iPad mini.

Google may increase the price of its Nexus 5 smartphone, it may not. It’s clear though that the company is committed to offering its Nexus devices unlocked, at extremely enticing price points, in order to keep them competitive against the big names on the market.

The Nexus 5 will have plenty of competition when it arrives later this year as the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are said to be arriving on shelves in September. A low price, combined with great hardware will keep it in play.

Design Tweaks

Google has not kept a Nexus design consistent year after year. With the Nexus 7, we saw Asus make some design tweaks that improved upon the original design, mainly, the device is taller, lighter and thinner. It still keeps the same plastic black matte material in the back, but on the whole, the design was tweaked for the better.

Expect the same from the Nexus 5. Year after year, the Nexus smartphone has looked different, including last year’s Nexus 4 design that featured a glass backing rather than a plastic backing like the Galaxy Nexus. It wasn’t a complete overhaul, but it was tweaked to the point that it was an improvement over the last model.

Google will likely look to do the same with the Nexus 5. Keep it plastic and cheap, but encourage the manufacturer, be it LG or someone else, to improve on the dimensions and build quality of the previous Nexus.

Don’t expect the glass back, whose durability has been questioned, to make a return.

Current-Gen Hardware

The Nexus 7 arrives with vastly improved hardware including a 1080p display, quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip from Qualcomm, 5MP camera, improved front-facing camera, and wireless charging support. These are all not only upgrades over the Nexus 7, but they are top of the line for a tablet in the 7-inch range.

What this proves is that Google is committed to offering top-of-the-line specifications on its Nexus devices. While they might not be next-generation, they are typically current generation and consumers can expect the same from the Nexus 5.

Look for it to sport all of the big time features we’ve seen arrive on Android smartphones throughout 2013. A large 1080p display, quad-core processor, fantastic camera, lots of RAM, wireless charging, and more.

Supply Issues Under Control

The Nexus 4 is part of Google's new focus on design and build quality.

The Nexus 4 was plagued by supply issues.

With the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 4, we saw Google struggle mightily with supply issues, unable to keep up with demand. And while the new Nexus 7 launch is relatively young, it’s clear that the company is not experiencing the same type of devastating issues that plagued the previous two launches.

Google, with the new Nexus 7, announced that the device would be sold in a number of new retailers, far more than the number that supported the original Nexus 7. So far, so good. Google is still saying that it will ship the device out by July 30th and only Staples and Best Buy have seen supply issues.

With the Nexus 4, the device was originally only sold through Google Play and T-Mobile. Google also underestimated the demand for the Nexus 4, something that it may have done with the Nexus 7 as well.

It’s clear from the new Nexus 7 that it learned from its mistakes and that said, it’s hard to think that the Nexus 5 will experience the same crippling launch issues. Will Google sell the unlocked model through other locations? It’s possible. But at the very least, look for Google and the manufacturer to drum up more supply to meet the demand.

Comments

  1. chazzmatt says

    Wow, one of the most intelligently written articles I’ve read on the Nexus 5. I am shocked. You do know your history and made very intelligent guesses as to specs. Yes, Google puts top of the line current gen hardware in their Nexus, but they don’t do “cutting edge” next gen specs. What you see on the market now — especially the 2nd half of 2013 — is what the Nexus 5 will have… probably Snapdragon 800, 5.2″ 1080p screen, 2GB (maybe 3GB) RAM. Look at the specs of the upcoming G2 — and those specs have been leaked — and you will see something very close to the Nexus 5.

    And THANK YOU for not mentioning the mistranslated, refuted statement by LG Mobile VP of Europe Kim Won. It was erroneous, irrelevant and immediately slapped down by LG corporate spokesperson — in an Asia corporate-speak way. But since LG can’t officially confirm or deny anything relating to the secret joint Google project, they had to leave it at that. The LG Mobile VP of Europe Kim Wong is NOT going to know everything that is going on in LG headquarters. The LG Mobile VP of Europe is responsible for sales of LG mobile products in Europe, PERIOD. He is not responsible for development or sales of Google’s Nexus phones — and would probably not be told of any such developments since it’s a secret project. Asking the LG VP of Europe about a future product LG is making for Google is like asking the janitor. He is not going to be in the loop as it’s not his department or responsibility whatsoever.
    .
    South Korean newspaper Daum has consistently quoted LG sources in confirming G2 development and specs, as well as Nexus 5 being the fraternal twin of the upcoming G2. Except as you pointed out, it won’t have expandable memory. However, it will have pentaband HSPA+ and multiple band LTE. Look at the Sony Xperia ZL C6506 (not the Z, the ZL). It’s unlocked, has pentaband HSPA+ and multiple band LTE (including AT&T and T-mobile bands). If Sony can do it, so can LG for Google. Interesting you mention the Nexus 7 v2 also has Verizon LTE. Very interesting.

    Yes, the Nexus 5 will have Key Lime Pie 5.0.

    The only thing you missed was while the Nexus 5 will be “announced” in October — with a show-and-tell press conference — it probably won’t actually be released (ship) until November, just like the last two successive Nexus phones. In fact, all past 4 Nexus phones came in November (#3 & #4), December (#2), January (#1). Anytime before November is EARLY. For the past 3 years (#2, #3, #4), the Nexus phone has SHIPPED in November or December. I’m betting on November again.

  2. JM_66 says

    “The Nexus 7, up until just a few short days ago, was Google’s iPad mini competitor and one of the most popular devices in the company’s Nexus arsenal.”
    I’m sure someone will correct me, but wasn’t the Nexus 7 originally released PRIOR to the iPad Mini? In which case, wouldn’t it be that the iPad Mini was Apple’s answer to the Nexus 7 and other 7″ tablets, rather than the reverse?

    • chazzmatt says

      You are correct:

      1) The Nexus 7 was revealed on June 27, 2012 and it became available for pre-order on the same day. On July 13, 2012, Google began SHIPPING the Nexus 7 to customers who had pre-ordered the tablet.

      2) On October 16, 2012, Apple announced the iPad Mini. ACTUAL RELEASE DATE was November 2, 2012.

    • chazzmatt says

      And there was the Nook and the color Kindle, etc. Steve Jobs famously said 7″ tablets were crap — until everyone had best sellers with them. Apple got in the game very late, even after Google.

  3. Syd says

    I don’t think it’s so significant that the Nexus 7 is running on Verizon’s LTE. It’s an LTE-only device. When you move outside of 4G range, you have no data. There’s no proprietary CDMA hardware, and proprietary CDMA hardware has always been the real problem in supporting Verizon the way they support AT&T and T-Mobile. A Verizon phone still needs that CDMA hardware, just to be a phone, so unfortunately it’s probably apples and oranges.

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