The U.S. FCC may have given us the clearest picture of what Google’s Nexus 5 smartphone just yet. When Google does announce the Nexus 5 this fall, the device will launch with the latest version of the Android operating system. That version, which was announced earlier this week, is Android 4.4 KitKat, a surprising move given that many had anticipated that the firmware would be called Key Lime Pie instead.
Images of the rear back battery cover were spotted at the U.S. regulatory agency showing off the Qi-powered wireless charging coil along with an NFC antenna for functionality like tap to share, pairing with WiFi and Bluetooth accessories, and mobile payment services like Google Wallet. The Qi wireless coil has appeared on prior Google-branded Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4 that this Nexus 5 will replace as well as the new 2013 model of the Nexus 7 tablet.
Though FCC documents do not refer to the smartphone being evaluated as the Nexus 5, the model is referred to as the D820. The phone’s rear plastic cover reminds us a lot of the phone that had appeared in a video when Google was unveiling Android 4.4 KitKat earlier this week–that video was subsequently removed from YouTube when Internet users commented that the unannounced device in question may be the Nexus 5.
Based on these documents, it appears that the Nexus 5 will support 4G LTE on seven bands. LTE was an often requested feature that was missing from the Nexus 4, at least officially though users had noticed that the hardware was there and was able to hack the hardware into working. LTE offers faster mobile data speeds than the HSPA+ networking standard that the Nexus 4 topped out at.
The Nexus 5 will be a global powerhouse supporting multiple bands of LTE, GSM, EDGE, pentaband HSPA+, and CDMA radios, making it compatible with a broad array of networks. With support for LTE bands for AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, and Sprint Corp, the Nexus 5 will allow users to hop carriers. The device will also have dual-band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac.
As customers of the Nexus line usually have an affordable priced smartphone–the Nexus 4 was priced at $300 before being discounted to $200 when it sold out–without the need for lengthy contracts or phone subsidies, users can switch carriers at any time when they bring their own devices without worry about costly early termination fees (ETFs).
The phone is no slouch either. It will be paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, making it very competitive with flagship devices that are launching in the second half of 2013. The LG G2 was the first phone to debut with the Snapdragon 800 processor, and more recently Sony announced the Xperia Z1 and Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note 3 with the same chipset.
Further corroborating that the device in question may be the Nexus 5, Engadget reported that the phone is running a firmware of M8974A, which is listed as “aosp_hammerhead-userdebugKyeLimePieFACTORYeng.sangjoon84.lee.20130618.015154.”
Here, you can see that Key Lime Pie is oddly mispelled in the firmware’s name; Key Lime Pie was rumored to be the “K” revision of Android before Google surprised everyone by dubbing Android 4.4 as KitKat instead for the dessert that begins with the K letter of the alphabet to succeed Jelly Bean.
The last minute switch from Key Lime Pie to KitKat in naming the OS may be due to marketing reasons. Keith Nowak, former head of PR of HTC America and Nokia U.S. had speculated on social media that it’s easier to mail KitKat bars to members of the press as a marketing promo than it would to ship slices of key lime pie; Google did in fact ship out chocolate KitKat bars in the shape of the Android robot to media, as The Verge‘s Nilay Patel had shown on his Instagram posting.
As to the rest of the specs of the phone, AnanTech‘s Brian Klug is reporting that the Nexus 5 will in fact be a 5-inch smartphone with a display measuring 4.96 inches diagonally. This will make the Nexus 5 a bit smaller than the LG G2 flagship–that device has a 5.2-inch display.
When LG and Google partnered for the Nexus 4, that device was based off of the then Optimus G flagship. There were rumors that if LG and Google partnered again, the Nexus 5 would mirror the new LG G2 flagship that was recently announced. If that’s true, we may see a 13-megapixel camera on the rear with optical image stabilization (OIS) that would allow the Nexus series to have better low light photography and stabilized, shake-free video recording. Camera differentiation has been a theme this year with HTC, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Motorola all devising cameras for better low light performance.