Nexus 5 Breakdown: Everything We Know So Far

Rumor has it, Google has another Nexus smartphone up its sleeve, a device to replace the discontinued Nexus 4 from last year. The device is currently known as the Nexus 5 and from the looks of things, it will be landing on shelves alongside the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in the not-so-distant future.

Like Apple and its iPhone, Google releases a yearly smartphone that comes with a new software update and a Nexus name. In the past, we’ve seen the HTC-made Nexus One, the Samsung Nexus S, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and last year’s Nexus 4 from LG. The devices typically combine a unique design, high-end hardware and vanilla Android, the latter of which isn’t available on many top smartphones.

Last year, Google delivered the Nexus 4, a non-LTE device that arrived with all of those very features including a plastic and glass design, HD display, solid rear camera, speedy quad-core processor, vanilla Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and maybe best of all, an extremely cheap unlocked price tag that put it in a class of its own.

At $299 and $349 unlocked, the Nexus 4 took the smartphone market by storm as Android enthusiasts and average shoppers alike bought into Google’s tempting offer. In fact, Google completely underestimated the demand for such a phone and the Nexus 4 sold out not once, but twice, and it remained scarce up until February of this year when Google and LG finally got the supply line under control.

For most of 2013, the Nexus 4 was one of the top Android devices on the market. Google made it even more attractive late in the year when it dropped the price down $100, putting the 8GB model on sale for $199 and the 32GB model on sale for $249. By comparison, the 16GB iPhone 5 commanded a $650 price tag.

Then, just a few weeks ago, Google surprisingly ran out of 8GB stock. Then 16GB. And now, the Nexus 4 is completely sold out on the Google Play Store and it doesn’t look like it’s coming back.

So what does this mean for Nexus smartphone shoppers? It’s not entirely clear yet but thanks to rumors and leaks, Google’s plans are coming into focus ahead of time.

While nothing is confirmed, it looks like Google has at least one Nexus up its sleeve for later this year, a device that is currently being dubbed, the Nexus 5.

Nexus 5 Release Date

Google is committed to the Nexus program, giving hope for the Nexus 5 this fall.

Google loves to launch new Nexus smartphones in October.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was first announced on October 19th, 2011, alongside Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. And while it didn’t come to the United States until December, the Galaxy Nexus first hit shelves on November 17th.

Last year’s Nexus 4 was supposed to get shown off on stage in New York City in October but the company was forced to simply issue a press release on October 29th due to Hurricane Sandy. The company released the Nexus 4 on November 13th in several regions including the United States.

Read: Nexus 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 3: What to Expect.

These dates are important because they are a pattern. Google likes to announce its Nexus smartphone in October and get it out a few weeks later ahead of the holiday shopping season and Black Friday. This year’s Nexus smartphone should follow a similar pattern.

All along, Nexus 5 rumors have suggested a fourth quarter launch. Two recent reports, one from Digitimes and one from Ausdroid all but confirm its fate. Specifically, October 14th has been suggested as a launch date. While unconfirmed, it’s certainly plausible given the rumors, given that the Nexus 4 is toast and given Google’s history.

Throw in the fact that Google recently announced a new Android KitKat update, an update that one of its partners says will arrive in October, and it seems likely that the Nexus 5 will arrive next month. But what about its release date?

With the new Nexus 7 tablet, we saw Google move to tighten the gap between launch and release. And with the Nexus 4 out, the Nexus 5 seemingly moving through the certification process, and Google’s penchant for getting devices out within a few weeks time, we imagine that it won’t come any later than the middle of November with late October a distinct possibility for a Nexus 5 release date.

There are also some rumors out there that suggest that there will be a Motorola Nexus but thus far, the LG version of the Nexus has been the only one to make an appearance. Maybe it’s a diversion, maybe the Motorola Nexus is vapor.

Nexus 5 Design

Year-after-year, the design of the Nexus smartphone changes. While the Galaxy Nexus was all plastic, the Nexus 4 used plastic in the front and a delicate glass back that mimicked the iPhone 4S design.

Leaks point to the Nexus smartphone design changing again this year as the device believed to be the Nexus 5 has shown up sporting a design that looks an awful lot like the new Nexus 7 from Asus.

This could show the back of the Nexus 5.

This could show the back of the Nexus 5.

Below, users can interact with a render that is based on FCC filings and a leak inside of a Google video. The render shows off what very well could be the final Nexus 5 design, a design that possess what appears to be a black matte style similar to the Nexus 7 and a logo that matches up with the design of Google’s 7-inch tablet.

The new Nexus 7 saw Google and Asus apply some design tweaks including better plastic and a slimmer more lightweight design and it’s something that we could see it do with the Nexus 5.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

The photos that we saw leak, courtesy of 9to5Google, did not suggest dimensions. But what they did was affirm the design that we saw emerge at the FCC and in Google’s pulled Android 4.4 KitKat video.

Nexus 5 Display

Just about every flagship Android smartphone in existence uses a large high-resolution display so it should come as no surprise that the Nexus 5 is rumored to have a display around 5-inches that comes with 1080p resolution. The exact size of the display that we’ve seen in photos hasn’t been determined but rumors have all suggested a display that’s in the vicinity of 5-inches. A recent GFX Benchmark seemed to confirm the rumors if a 1080p display.

Designers who developed renders based on the dimensions of the Nexus 5 seen at the FCC and in Google’s now infamous Android 4.4 KitKat video show a device that sports a display that’s around the same size as the Nexus 4. These likely aren’t one hundred percent accurate, but it’s looking like we won’t get a massive change in size this year.

Nexus 5 Camera

The device that leaked out in the Android 4.4 KitKat video was boasting what appeared to be a fairly large camera sensor in the top corner of the device. The Nexus 4 boasted a solid 8MP camera and Google’s Vic Gundotra has gone on record saying that the company is working to improve the cameras in its Nexus devices.

Thanks to an FCC filing for a device thought to be the Nexus 5, we know that there is a very good chance that the camera found on the Nexus 5 will be the same 13MP camera found on the LG G2. LG used last year’s LG Optimus G as the blue print for the Nexus 4 and there are rumors that suggest it will use the LG G2 in a similar way this time around.

This man was caught on video on the day that Google unveiled Android 4.4 KitKat sporting a phone that may be the Nexus 5.

This man was caught on video on the day that Google unveiled Android 4.4 KitKat sporting a phone that may be the Nexus 5.

Good thing, because the LG G2 camera offers optical image stabilization, something that will allow the lens to move inside the Nexus 5 when the phone senses movement, which in turn, means it can react to a shake and hopefully negate the shake of the phone while in hand.

This is likely going to be one of the bigger upgrades from the Nexus 4.

Nexus 5 Specs

An FCC filing for the LG D820, a device that is heavily rumored to be the Nexus 5, suggests that the device will not have a microSD card slot or a removable battery, something that doesn’t come as a surprise considering the Nexus 4 shunned both features. What this means is that it likely won’t have expandable storage or a way to insert an extended battery.

We expect the device to come in two storage formats, like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, with 16GB and 32GB being a possibility. The Nexus 4 came in 8GB and 16GB so it could be that Google sticks to its guns.

The Nexus 5 battery is larger than the Nexus 4's but smaller than the LG G2's according to the FCC filing.

The Nexus 5 battery is larger than the Nexus 4’s but smaller than the LG G2’s according to the FCC filing.

The Nexus 5 battery shown in the FCC filing is rated at 2,300mAh, a boost of 200mAh from the Nexus 4. Whether it delivers more battery life or not remains to be seen.

This FCC filing also confirms another rumor that has been floating around. Rumors suggested that the Nexus 5 would be sporting a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor from Qualcomm, same processor found inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The FCC filing displays the name MSM8974 which just so happens to be the Snapdragon 800.

Nexus 5 Software

Google’s Nexus smartphone always come with a new version of Android. The Galaxy Nexus, for example, arrived with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Nexus 4? It ushered in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, an incremental update to the Android Jelly Bean operating system that had arrived earlier in the year on board the Nexus 7.

The Nexus 5 will have a new piece of Android software on board as well and it’s looking like that update will be an Android 4.4 KitKat update. There are several reasons why this makes sense.

  1. Rumors suggest Android 4.4 KitKat will arrive in October, same as the new Nexus smartphone. In fact Nestle, which partnered with Google for this update, confirmed the update for arrival in October.
  2. The FCC filing for the LG D820, thought to be the Nexus 5, shows that the device will indeed be running Android 4.4.

No further proof is needed, really.

Android 4.4 KitKat is rumored to have some new features though it doesn’t look like it will be a massive overhaul. Rumors suggest that it could come with updates for older devices, fragmentation changes including screen resizing, Miracast updates, color changes and new notification widgets.

One thing that we do know is that the Nexus 5’s software will be a vanilla version of the update, meaning, it won’t come with an LG user interface or features.

Nexus 5 Name

There is no evidence that suggests that the Nexus 5 will be called the Nexus 5. Unfortunately, there is no pattern to follow here, other than the fact that Google’s smartphones always have the word Nexus in the them. So it’s hard to say what the device might be called.

With the Nexus 7, Google decided to keep the name the same, so the 2013 Nexus 7 is also called Nexus 7. Perhaps, Google does the same with the Nexus 5. Perhaps, it’s called Nexus 4.

This wouldn’t be surprising given how well known the Nexus 4 name is and if the device does sport a display size under 5-inches, the name would still apply.

Nexus 5 Carriers

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

The Nexus 4 came to AT&T and T-Mobile, only.

There were a few disappointments when the Nexus 4 arrived. One was the lack of LTE, something that has been commonplace on Android devices. The other was the lack of support from anyone but AT&T and T-Mobile. The Galaxy Nexus had been available on Sprint and Verizon and may had been hoping that Google would put the terrible Galaxy Nexus experience behind it with the new model. Things are looking up this year though.

In July, we saw Google announce a Nexus 7 with LTE and reveal that it would be a single device capable of running on AT&T, T-Mobile and yes, Verizon. This was the sign that Nexus smartphone buyers had been looking for, and it’s a sign that has been backed up by hard evidence discovered within an FCC filing for a device thought to be the Nexus 5.

Buried deep in the FCC’s filing for the LG D820 is support for LTE bands for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Support for Verizon bands was not found. This comes as a bit of a surprise given that Verizon is playing host to the Nexus 7, a device that Sprint missed out on. However, FCC documents don’t lie and it’s looking like Verizon is a long shot.

Nexus 5 Price

We haven’t seen much pop up regarding the price of the Nexus 5, one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. However, thanks to history, the market and a leak, we do know a few things:

  • Digitimes suggests that the device will come with a mid-range price tag. No specifics.
  • The Nexus 4 was cheap and that’s why Google sold so many.
  • The iPhone 5C isn’t as cheap as many believed and that leaves the door open for Google.
  • Google bumped the Nexus 7 price up $20, and it looks like it will do the same with the Asus Nexus 10.

With all of that in mind, it’s looking like Google will keep the unlocked price of the Nexus 5 low. How low, we can’t say, but given the likely addition of LTE and a 1080p display, and given that the iPhone 5C priced at $549 gave Google some wiggle room, we wouldn’t be shocked to see the a 8GB/16GB model start at $399 with the larger storage variant starting at $450.