Right now, we are presumably just days away from one of Google’s biggest announcements of the year. On October 29th, Google is expected to announced its yearly Nexus smartphone, a device that will replace the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and look to not only compete with other Android smartphones and Windows Phone 8 devices, but Apple’s iPhone 5 as well.
On September 21st, Apple released its brand new iPhone 5, a device that brings a larger 4-inch display and 4G LTE data speeds, things that were once only found on Android devices. It combines those with a fantastic industrial design made of aluminum, glass and metal, two good cameras, a speedy A6 processor, and a 7.6mm design that weighs a mere 112 grams.
Read: New Nexus Phone vs. iPhone 5.
Already, Apple’s yearly smartphone has been bought by millions of people and millions more will buy it over the course of the 2012 holiday season.
In case you’ve forgotten, Google has a yearly smartphone as well and this time around, it appears that it will be LG, and not Samsung, that’s making the new Nexus smartphone. Dubbed the LG Nexus 4, the device has already leaked out ahead of schedule, numerous times, so much so, that we’ve already put up a detailed comparison pitting it between the iPhone 5 and the Nexus.
Now, it’s time to dive in even further and discuss whether the new Nexus smartphone, the LG Nexus 4, can compete with the iPhone 5 should it launch with all of its rumored features.
With the iPhone 5 already out and millions already sold, Google is facing an extremely uphill battle when it comes to competing with the iPhone 5. To add to that, it can longer rely on 4G LTE as a weapon as the iPhone 5 now possesses the same kind of data speeds. The iPhone 5 also features a larger display with 16:9 aspect ratio which allows for widescreen content.
In short, Apple did a fantastic job of catering to customers. It added the data speeds and it increased the screen size without increasing the width of the phone.
The company also made its best-in-class rear camera even better, added an HD front-facing camera which now works over cellular networks, an extremely fast processor that makes iOS 6 fly and again, added a design that feels both luxurious and comfortable.
So what Apple did here was make the iPhone 5 appealing in areas that average users care about and that’s a problem for the new Nexus 4.
It still features a plastic design, that may or may not have a scratch resistant back. It apparently has a decent rear camera and not an amazing one. It also brings a dual-core processor which while nice, isn’t something that will lure in the average consumer. 4G LTE is there as well, but it’s not unique anymore.
Something else that is troubling is the fact that it may feature 8GB-16GB of storage space with no microSD card slot. That will keep price down but storage space is crucial these days with apps and files as big as they are. Apple’s iPhone 5 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB form. There isn’t even an 8GB option.
I bought a 32GB iPhone 5 and I still think I might run out of space.
What’s more is that this phone may feature a weak battery. The LG Nexus 4 takes some of its features from the LG Optimus G, a device that doesn’t have quality battery life, according to CNET. This does not bode well for the Nexus 4 considering the iPhone 5 touts some of the best battery life found on a 4G LTE smartphone.
Maybe the only trump card that this Nexus 4 will have is the screen size and quality of the display. It’s supposed to be 4.7-inches with 720p resolution and 320ppi. The iPhone 5 has 1136 x 640 resolution, which isn’t HD, but apparently sports a 320ppi which means that the clarity of text and images might be similar to the Retina Display on the iPhone 5. I expect this to be an area that Google trumps up at the announcement.
The display alone can’t compete against the iPhone 5, so it’s going to need more. Much more.
iOS 6 is a great piece of software with its 200+ new features from iOS 5. From new additions to Siri, to an extremely useful Do Not Disturb feature, to Facebook integration to the new Phone app, there is a lot to like here. However, iOS 6 does not blow Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google’s current version of Android, out of the water.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is Google’s best version of Android yet. It offers amazing Notifications, a useful feature called Google Now, an extremely fast user interface and more.
That being said, this is an area where Google could strike an advantage with the Nexus 4 over the iPhone 5.
Currently, rumors are swirling around about a new version of Android called Android 4.2 that may launch with the Nexus 4. Details are scarce at the moment but new features and improvements to an already stellar operating system would be welcome and in my opinion, something necessary to compete with the iPhone 5.
However, a new Nexus with a new piece of Android software with a killer feature or two isn’t going to cut it alone.
The LG Nexus 4 is rumored to be coming in, at the very least, an 8GB storage format without a microSD card slot. If this is the case, then I fully expect Google to offer the device for cheap, both unlocked, and possibly, on carriers as well. However, in order for the price to matter at all, it needs to be mind-blowing.
The iPhone 5 sports a competitive price tag ranging from $199.99 on-contract for a 16GB iPhone to $399.99 for a 64GB iPhone 5. This is a price that has worked well and it’s a model that Samsung mimicked with its Samsung Galaxy S III.
If Google wants the Nexus 4 to have a chance, with that hardware, it will need to do something spectacular with the price and go lower than the $349.99 that it’s asking for the unlocked Galaxy Nexus.
$300 perhaps. Maybe even $250. And if the device arrives for individual carriers, maybe something like $150 on-contract or even lower if possible.
With the Galaxy Nexus, Google didn’t deliver any killer advertising. Verizon didn’t help either. Seriously, I dare you to recall two memorable Galaxy Nexus advertisements from the past year. I can’t.
Google made some adjustments with the Nexus 7 and it seemingly figured out how to advertise to the common person. It needs to do something similar with the LG Nexus 4 if it hopes to sway the average consumer.
Stay simple, speak to the consumers needs, and tout the benefits of having a Nexus phone.
Can the Nexus 4 Compete?
So let’s run down the list. In the hardware department, the iPhone 5 looks like it might hold a slight edge. In the software department, in my opinion, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean can hold its own against iOS 6. Google might be able to make a strong play in pricing but details are not yet known. And finally, I get a sense that it’s made some strides in the advertising department.
With all of that in mind, can the Nexus 4 compete?
As much as I’d love to see a Nexus 4 go head-to-head with the iPhone 5, I don’t see it happening even if the device arrives with good specs, software, a competitive price tag and inspired marketing.
LG isn’t a household name. Samsung is and was. This matters because average people trust brands and thus far, LG has not proved its worth here in the U.S. If the device does land on a carrier, I don’t see how it competes against devices made by Motorola, HTC and Samsung, all of which carry more weight in the U.S.
Google has not lived up to the promise of the Nexus. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus experience, which was marred by slow updates, left sour tastes in peoples mouths. The Nexus 4 might restore peoples faiths in the Nexus smartphone program but it will take time.
Google does a horrible job of touting the benefits of a Nexus. Average consumers won’t care about locked bootloaders but they should and will care about vanilla Android and fast updates to new features and bug fixes, just ask any Droid Bionic owner.
Now keep in mind, this refers to the Nexus 4 only. It’s possible that other companies may join the Nexus fold this year as HTC, Samsung and Sony are all rumored to be making Nexus smartphones.
If Google goes launch a multi-pronged attack, then maybe, the Nexus program could compete with the iPhone 5. But in its current state, with this rumored LG Nexus 4 device, it’s going to be tough and quite honestly, very unlikely.