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Google's Nexus concept overhaul due in November: lead phones with stock Android, manufacturer UI on the side

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Google's Nexus concept overhaul due in November: lead phones with stock Android, manufacturer UI on the side
A few separate sources today are confirming what we heard from the WSJ earlier this year - that Google's Nexus phone program is about to be completely overhauled, and perhaps that is the reason we haven't heard the usual rumors about the new Nexus phone reaching a crescendo level at this time of the year.

The sources point out that Google will be setting up a whole new Nexus program now, in which any major manufacturer can participate with the best they can offer, but will have to adhere to strict guidelines.

The major news here is that all the stock Android Nexuses, regardless of the manufacturer, will have their UI overlays that supposedly differentiate the brands, as just a theme available via a separate customization center. It was high time, if you ask us, and something millions of Android users have been demanding for a while now.

Moving on, we find the info that those new Nexus phones will be running an upgrade from Jelly Bean, numbered 4.2, and will have to include some hardware requirements that will get in use for a major Android 5.0 release, which is slated for next fall. Android 4.2, which may or may not be called Key Lime Pie, will bring minor changes to Jelly Bean, like presenting the homescreens as tabs, improved power management, integrated Play Store app, and some under the hood Nexus-y stuff that will be the basis for the next major Android release. 

Perhaps the biggest change will be the Customization Center we mentioned above, a native theme manager, which will allow you switching to the manufacturer UI overlay, if you are so inclined.

As to who will make those Nexus phones with the new concept - the LG Optimus G Nexus got confirmed for the umpteenth time, but also the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 2 is bandied about, as well as phones from Sony and HTC are claimed as potential partners, and the whole lot is said to hit shelves in November, just in time to rain on the Windows Phone 8 Lumia, ATIV and HTC parade. 

Let's not forget that November 5 is Android's fifth birthday since the announcement, so celebrating with a new Nexus program seems fitting. Andy Rubin is expected to talk about the new Nexus program at the AllThingsD: conference later this month, but the actual phones that participate are said to be unveiled in November.

Basically, the take is that we might have the lead phones of some Android manufacturers this holiday season sold with stock Android, and a theme manager to install the manufacturer interface as a personal choice, which can be reverted. Makes great sense, since everyone can choose their favorite design/hardware combo, and be sure that as soon as a newer Android version gets released, they will be first in line, with the manufacturer overlays out of the way.

Microsoft, which Nokia yesterday said is unlikely to make a better WP8 device than the Finns, if it eventually goes the Surface Phone way, is rumored to take an entirely opposite approach, and has allegedly already booked Pegatron for production of the Surface Phone, which might be coming by next summer.

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posted on 04 Oct 2012, 02:55 40

1. VJo003 (Posts: 357; Member since: 11 Mar 2012)

Power to the customer
Android FTW !!!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:26 22

7. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1236; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

Freedom is what Google has been all about!
This is going to be a game-changer!
new hardware for Android 5.0....looks like I'll have to hold up buying the Note 2 for now till November at least :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:05 6

25. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)

its gonna be pre awesomeness...!!!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:21 5

27. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:01 9

35. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1236; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

My Dream Nexus:

5.3 INCH SCREEN (1080P)
S4 Pro Quad
2GB Ram
3000+ mAH battery
Android 4.2 (update to 5.0 soon!)
S Pen/ Stylus prefereed (love Note 2 optimiizations)
13mp rear cam
no physical buttons
chassis - metal and plastic combo (plastic for better reception)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 14:06 2

48. The_Innovation (Posts: 610; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)

I think the Note II and the Optimus G will have the specs to handle 5.0. Even XPERIA T will. But of course it's safe to wait and see what NEXUS has up their sleeve for us.

Can't wait.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 14:19

50. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1236; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

I agree with you. i am pretty sure the optimus g and note 2 can handle it...what worries me though is why did google tell the nexus manufacturers to make "certain" hardware changes to take full advantage of android 5.0?
note 2 can even crunch android 6.0 but it cant grow an extra part for hardware :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 15:09

51. The_Innovation (Posts: 610; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)

We'll most likely find out in a month or so.

posted on 05 Oct 2012, 01:08 1

58. Mittal (Posts: 493; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)

hmmm seeing the reds u r getting without any reason it seems some1 doesnt like u !!

posted on 05 Oct 2012, 09:33

60. The_Innovation (Posts: 610; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)

lol, oh well.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:13 6

2. Packer29 (Posts: 56; Member since: 10 Sep 2011)

This is going to be awesome stock Android ftw!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:17 7

3. evil_slayer (Posts: 50; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)

that's awesome!
can't wait

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:21 6

4. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

Can't wait for next month. Time for Google to steal the spotlight. Maybe there will be a new device in the top spot for smartphone of the year?

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:24 4

5. cGmC11 (Posts: 139; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)

WOW it's a dream come true! ...anyone will be carrier exclusive or will cost you $799 unlocked and activate it with your pref carrier?

AT&T consumers already have a busy holiday season this year with the Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One X+, Sony Xperia TL, HTC 8X, LG Optimus G... and now a Nexus?

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:25 12

6. achangavi (Posts: 21; Member since: 25 Jul 2012)

If google plays their cards right, and that includes standing up to the pesky carriers, this has the potential to benefit the android ecosystem tremendously. Think about it, right now carriers have complete control over every android handset in the US (with the exception of buying them unlocked), which means fragmentation, poor support, delayed updates, LACK of updates, etc. If we have multiple nexus devices on each carrier, which are ALL owned and operated by google (kind of like the iphone......yeah i said it), then all of the "fragmentation problems" can be reduced substantially, and the oversaturated android market can shrink down considerably to a few popular devices like the galaxy s line, and of course the nexuses. This is a good thing because updates would come much quicker, and it can significantly improve android's reputation!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:06 3

20. pokharkarsaga (Posts: 384; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

5 different nexus launched with 5 different SOCs like Qualcomm,Exynos,Tegra,OMAP 5,Atom will be the best for quick latest updates on all carriers.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:06

26. Mittal (Posts: 493; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)

u sound mostly right but the Android device market would still be pretty saturated as the devices u mentioned are the top crop. But the lower pyramid is wider, has more demand for mid range or low end Android devices

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:53 8

8. tiara6918 (Posts: 2036; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)

One of the best moves by google!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:57 15

9. wando77 (Posts: 839; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)

5th birthday.......... FIVE nexus phones??

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 10:12 1

33. bayusuputra (Posts: 962; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)

remember, remember the 5th of november..

i think if there were to be 5 nexus devices, they will be from Samsung (GNex 2), LG (Optimus G), Sony (?), HTC (OneX5?), Moto (Razr Nexus?)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:58 2

10. wando77 (Posts: 839; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)

Samsung, Sony, HTC, motorola & LG?

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:35 7

14. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)

yep this means we all can have OUR VERY OWN NEXUS to our own liking! simply amazing........dream come true? .........like dr king baby lol

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:25 2

22. Aeires (unregistered)

Bring on an Asus with Padfone docking capability to that mix as well.

One can dream.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 04:12 7

11. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)

Glad we get to keep sony's launcher :) it rocks

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 04:41 2

12. rizevnarastek (Posts: 347; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)

I really like the sound of that.... I'm tempted by the One X+ but this is making me want to wait... hope my phone lasts another month + time to release, it's LCD is starting to buckle :S

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:38 1

15. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)

yea i think this is making us ALL want to wait lol we all been saying it.....and now it seems we were right.......NEXUS IS THE FUTURE OF ANDROID..... :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 06:35 4

17. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


LG Nexus = Optimus G with stock

Samsung Nexus = GS3 with stock

Motorola Nexus = Razr HD with stock (maybe a slightly better processor and more RAM for the spec hogs)

HTC Nexus = One X+ with stock

Sony Nexus = Xperia TX with stock

Or you know, that super Nexus idea I had was nice.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 13:05 1

43. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)

haha it all sounds nice man.........and im glad you mentioned the xperia TX instead of the T because the T doesnt have a removable battery :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:12 4

13. d3nster (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Oct 2012)

Google Listens... thank god for that..lets wait for November shall we :D

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 06:22 1

16. jroc74 (Posts: 6005; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

This sounds nice, and something alot of ppl have been asking for.

If it helps the update process, good.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 06:41 1

18. ahomad (Posts: 175; Member since: 15 May 2012)

xperia nexus with S4 pro chip and over 2000mA battery is all I dream of. xperia for the design, nexus for the software and S4 pro and the battery to power it.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 13:07 1

44. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)

haha now THAT would be "the dream come true!" it would be the iphone of android! if you catch my drift

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:02 1

19. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)

If this happens WIndows8 will be put down quick.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:17

21. wando77 (Posts: 839; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)

Or maybe the 5yr will mean 5" screen (1080p maybe)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:29 4

23. Aeires (unregistered)

Anything that takes phone control away from the carriers is a great thing. Instead of them pushing a handset that will be outdated soon, it would be nice if they focused on pushing their networks and plans so competitive pricing and coverage would improve.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:56 4

24. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


I seriously hope the "stock + OPTION to add mfctr overlay" bit is true. We've been begging for that exact option for quite a few years. I also HOPE that comes to more and more sets. That way there is zero excuse why the OS cant be updated unless its for hardware reasons.

The whole "will be compatible with 5.0 minimum hardware requirements" bit has me wondering what those will be though. Make it A15 mandatory!!!!! :) Why? Because then all 4 of the nexus devices will be A15 of course. :) :) lol

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:25 1

29. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)

As long as the gs3 and note 2 are compatible im good

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 09:35 3

32. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

If quad core exynos doesnt meet the minimum 5.0 requirements, the thing better be a hologram star wars/minority report style interface lol

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 13:50 1

46. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

Yeah, I think it will be a minimum of S4 or S4 Pro dual. Quad E4 will be golden.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 21:11

57. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

the S4 is a crap chip. Of course, that's in all the US samsung SGS3's so I'd be surprised if it doesnt make the cut for that reason alone. That's a lot of people that would be pissed off for being dropped. lol.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 15:46 1

52. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

i dunno, remember the OMAP5 demos from CES? they've got some Kinect stuff going on with it and it feels like Minority Report when i use my Kinect. xD

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 21:10

56. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

lol. I dont wave my hands at the kinect very often. I use it for voice commands of the dashboard and netflix. Im so lazy.. lolol. I dont care, I always get a little entertainment out of voice controlling my tv. :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:07

36. jan25 (Posts: 470; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

that still doesn't make sense. if the minimum hardware requirements are too high, there's no way for android to compete in entry level to mid range devices. that part is pretty puzzling.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 12:41

42. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)

Maybe they're thinking doing like Microsoft with WP7/8 (7 for Low to mids, and 8 for high and maybe the higher tier of the mids).

I dont think the requirements will be that bad though, given that ICS and Jellybean aren't really that demanding, most android devicse that are released these days meet or exceed those requirements, heck there's phones that came out in 2010 that can run these, its just they dont due to Carriers and Manufacturers not updating.

I like the idae of choosing between stock or manufacturer UI, but I hope this doesnt somehow delay the updates due to manufacturers having to tailor the update for their UI. Hopefully this means that 4.2 and beyond will build in support for custom UI elements like those which can lead to updates that dont need to be tailored to them, or require minimal work compared to the current setup.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:21 1

28. speckledapple (Posts: 892; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)

This customization center sounds like a very interesting take on appealing to those who like to change the fundamentals of their design while keeping the same device as is. I wonder if this means that it would be easier to get updates out as manufactuerers can spend their sweet time running away with their own UI in the customization center while the stock android is updated. Intriguing thought indeed.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 08:38 1

30. droidspd (Posts: 15; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)

Best article for the week!!!!!! :)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 09:33

31. omacmagics (Posts: 42; Member since: 27 Dec 2011)

There is no doubt in my mind anymore, I just have to get one of these Nexus devices and knowing it will be capable for 5.0 update is just sweeter.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 10:42 1

34. hulumanu (Posts: 11; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)

Google is the new Microsoft - think about it...
then - Intel x86 + M$ Windows..
now - Nexus - Android
with 1 very BIG exception.... Google is PRO-Consumer!!! Wooo-hoooo!!!! Can you say Nexus HCL?

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:10 2

37. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

PLEASE LET IT BE ON ALL CARRIERS!! I'm trying to hold off till then

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 13:52 2

47. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

Or at least let it be compatible with HSPA+ 42 and LTE with the unlocked version. That would be great as well.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:21 1

38. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

Looking forward to a 4GB ram, 6-core GPU and CPU phone with 39 MP for both cameras and HD-X screen with Gorilla Glass 3 and a projector......lol

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:22 1

39. thunder18 (Posts: 126; Member since: 06 Aug 2009)

This could literally be the thing to bring Nexus devices mainstream. Manufacturers can still provide their tweaks to satisfy their need to create a brand identity, but they are no longer able to force it upon the consumer. I can't imagine this not catching on and at that point who will buy the low end phones? You just wait for the Nexus device to become "older" and buy it at a discounted price.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 11:27 1

40. jan25 (Posts: 470; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

sounds like Google is trying to gradually set the Nexus devices as android manufacturers' flagships. through competition and a growing demand for these devices that give android users more freedom, every one will want to buy a Nexus. for example, when Samsung sees that more people are buying Nexus phones than their S series, they will focus on the former than the latter.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 12:03 2

41. paulislegend (Posts: 42; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)

FUG YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 13:36 2

45. iliketech (Posts: 72; Member since: 17 Aug 2011)

This is Christmas in October...
Now I know what I'm getting for Christmas!!!!!!!!
I'm soooo happy.
Thanks Google!!!!!
and then I will have a CHOICE!
I am liking my Google Nexus GSM phone right now, but better hardware bigger screen. nice. I thought I'd like the Samsung GS3 but I kinda like the Nexus better only probably because it has JB.
Well, that's my 2 cents.
Now, let's see the phones!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 16:01

54. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)

I just hope they dont make ALL of them like 5 inches or so......make them at a reasonable size.....4.3-4.7

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 14:10

49. MartyK (Posts: 816; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)

Hold up!, there are few questions!!..

1.Will all these phones (make and model) be able to work on ALL US CARRIERS?.

2.Can I buy my phone Directly from Google if my Carrier decided not to carry the Nexus I want?.

PA you need to get busy to find out these important questions :).

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 15:49 1

53. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

aw yeah, this is what i like to hear.
this is exactly what a few of us here came up with for Google to do a couple of years ago. xD

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 19:21

55. Endruu (Posts: 13; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)

Quick thoughts though...since it takes time to code even stock Android to work on different hardwares, wouldn't it mean that having for example, 4-5 different Nexus phones equate to longer waiting times for the latest and greatest from Android to be updated into our phones?

Case in point, Jelly Bean has been out for awhile now, but phones like the Verizon Nexus, as well as the older Nexus S, didn't get it until a few months later.

The concept sounds good bue if it's being executed like the way it is now, I foresee a lot of devices taking quite some times before they receive the update, and that can be embarrassing. =(

posted on 05 Oct 2012, 03:21

59. miki69 (Posts: 15; Member since: 01 Mar 2012)

sorry for an ignorrant question: If I have Sony Nexus, can I also install TouchWiz/Sense customization or not? And once there is a new update for vanilla version (eg Android 4.3) will custom skin still work, or it has to be updated as well?

This idea of having both vanilla and custom skin is great, but it does raise some questions.


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