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Rating the field: who should make the 2012 Nexus phone and first Nexus tablet

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Rating the field: who should make the 2012 Nexus phone and first Nexus tablet
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has only been on the market for about three months now, but chatter has already started with rumors about what company may be chosen by Google to be the hardware partner for the next Nexus phone. The thing is that the next Nexus phone isn't due out until the fall, likely November/December again, and there is a Nexus tablet due out in just a few months, but no one has mentioned what company may be building that reference device. So, we wanted to run through both the Nexus tablet and the next Nexus phone and talk about not just what companies are most likely to be chosen to build each, but which companies should be chosen to be Google's hardware partners. 

Motorola

Before we even get into the tablet and the phone talk, we just want to squash something right away. Motorola is not a realistic choice to be the hardware partner for either Nexus device that is going to be released this year. When Google first announced its intentions to purchase Motorola, there was a backlash from Android hardware partners that were scared that this meant Google would start putting out its own hardware and essentially alienate other hardware partners. Then, of course, there has been the inevitable scare tactics by Google competitors, starting with Microsoft and Nokia and continuing on with repeated accusations by HP's CEO Meg Whitman that Google's purchase of Motorola, Android would become a "closed" system. 

We have tried to be the voice of reason, pointing out that favoring Motorola or "closing" Android would not only be an extremely silly business move by Google, but it would go against every action that Google has ever made. Companies are like people in that they have personalities and you can predict future actions based on past actions. Google has never done anything to "close" Android, or favor one manufacturer over another, and has always pushed towards open standards. Of course, Eric Schmidt has continually denied that Google would favor Motorola over other manufacturers, but as always actions speak louder than words. 

As far as actions go, Google has already put in place a "firewall" between Motorola and the Android team, according to Android chief Andy Rubin. So, the Android team has no idea what Motorola is working on, and Motorola gets nothing more than any other Android partner. The logical extension of these actions is to keep Motorola away from the Nexus brand, at least for this year.

Google has never been good at combatting negative allegations by competitors, or by the media. Google recently got a lot of flak from all sides because news came out that it, just like many other companies, used a workaround with Apple's mobile Safari browser in order to create working +1 buttons on websites. Google never came out to not only explain its actions clearly, but to point out that the workaround it was using was based on a loophole in the open-source Webkit code that Google had patched back in 2010, but Apple had never adopted in its Safari browser. So, yes, Google was doing something a little suspicious, but it was using a loophole that Apple had never bothered to patch, even though it was available 2 years ago. 

Now, consider the media and PR backlash that would result if Google were to choose Motorola as the Nexus partner for either the Nexus tablet or the Nexus phone this year. Google could probably assuage the fears of major Android partners in private, but the media and public backlash is something that Google has no resources to deal with. So, why would Google even put itself in that position in the first place?

There is no real upside to choosing Motorola as the hardware partner either. The one Motorola built reference device, the XOOM, may have been an outlier in that it was the reference device for the lost version 3 of Android. Honeycomb was rushed and never found success as anything more than the basis for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The XOOM also seemed rushed and never found any real success, both because of the unfinished feel of the OS and because the hardware was blatantly first generation - too heavy and SD card support was missing at first. Motorola has made good handsets, and the new Xyboard tablets aren't terrible, although they certainly aren't at the top of the Android tablet pile, but at least for this year, there is no benefit for Google to use Motorola as a hardware partner. It would be far better to keep other partners happy and stay away from the troublesome PR fiasco that would undoubtedly come if Google were to use Motorola. 

The Nexus tablet

The more pressing story should be who Google is using as the hardware partner for the Nexus tablet, which is very likely going to be released in time for Google I/O at the end of June, but for some reason, no one is really talking about it. Perhaps, we all just assume that because we're so close to the release date that we'll have leaks soon enough and we'll know what is happening with the Nexus tablet, but it still deserves some mention here. All we know right now is that the Google Nexus tablet is expected to be a 7" device with a 720p display priced around $199. Eric Schmidt has said that the tablet will be of the "highest quality", but we don't really know what that means. 

As we've said, there has been no talk about who is Google's hardware partner for the Nexus tablet. There has been talk that Google is building some of its own hardware these days, but that seems to be solely in connection with the Android@Home project. Building the tablet alone seems as though it would raise the same issues as if Google were to choose Motorola as the hardware partner, so it seems more likely that Google has an outside manufacturing partner for the Nexus tablet. 

The world of Android tablets is filled to the brim with myriad manufacturers putting out their own versions of what an Android tablet should be. That said, as far as quality, there are two companies that have risen above the rest when it comes to Android tablets: Samsung and Asus. HTC and LG have put out pretty good tablets, but don't really have the proven track record with the form factor to be serious contenders in our estimation.

Samsung certainly has an impressive resume, as the Korean company has been the partner for the last two Nexus handsets (the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus), and was the biggest smartphone maker in the world for last year. Samsung's Galaxy Tab series has been a critical hit, with solid build quality, but the company has admitted that it is "not doing very well" in the tablet market. It seems to us that Samsung has simply been too aggressive and has over-saturated the market with all of the different sized tablets that it is offering. Keep in mind that where many companies have one or maybe two form factors available for tablets, Samsung has models clocking in at 7", 7.7", 8.9", 10.1" and reportedly there is also an 11.6" model in the works. And, on top of the various sizes, there are often both 3G and WiFi-only models for each variant. Choice is a good thing, but that seems like far too many products. Samsung needs to focus its efforts, and adding a Nexus tablet to its lineup seems unnecessary. 

It doesn't really make sense from Google's perspective either. Given how many different Samsung tablets there are on the market, Google would just be adding one more to the mix by choosing Samsung as the hardware partner for the Nexus tablet. Besides that, Google shouldn't want to be seen as favoring Samsung any more than it would want to be seen as favoring Motorola. Since Samsung has been the hardware partner for the past two Nexus phones, it would seem best to choose another company for the Nexus tablet. 

That brings us to our choice: Asus. Asus has been the most successful company in the Android tablet market. The Taiwanese company has been focused, only releasing the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus Eee Pad Slider, and Asus Transformer Prime. The tablets have been very high quality, hit very impressive price points, and have been some of the fastest on the market to get software updates, because Asus has tended to work with stock Android. The only real issue that Asus has faced has been with the GPS reception of the Transformer Prime, which has a solution that would be very easy to implement in a new piece of hardware. 

Asus also has a pretty impressive 7" tablet in the works that seems like it could be the basis for a Nexus tablet. The upcoming Asus MeMo 370T is a 7" Ice Cream Sandwich tablet with a quad-core Tegra 3 and is set to be priced at just $250. We would expect a different processor in a Nexus device, but Asus obviously has the resume to build a 7" tablet of the "highest quality" that could be priced at $199. 

Of course, there isn't really a race to talk about here as Google has likely already chosen the hardware partner and designed the tablet. The Nexus tablet is due out in June, so it is probably fairly close to production at this point as well. We hope it's Asus as the partner, but let's move on to the 2012 Nexus phone race. 

50 Comments
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posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:14 2

1. windowsRocks (Posts: 153; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


I am damn sure I am not the one...LOL.....

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:51 2

7. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)


Great one :p! Not me, either, if you ask...

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:14 6

2. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


I was always a Motorola guy but since my GT10.1 purchase i'm pretty die hard Samsung at this point.

I would say definitely not HTC because i've been disappointed with them recently... Also I would hope they wouldn't give it to LG because the most recent LG release on VZW was hideous.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:08 2

10. deeoh1084 (Posts: 50; Member since: 30 Dec 2009)


i agree i was very disappointed by HTC & Motorola recently (all HTC & Motorola devices that i used before were horrible except the G1) and i am using LG G2X right now and i'm not really happy with it... i wish Samsung can keep making the Nexus devices.. i really really love the Galaxy Nexus and i want one so bad... ever since i used Samsung i've been a die hard samsung fan as well

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:45 3

16. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


What's interesting to me is when I used to use Windows Mobile (before the Droid 1) the ONLY company I would buy was HTC. I had about 2-3 different HTC WinMo phones.

When I switched to Android I got the D1 and after that ONLY bought Motorola... I even bought the Xoom when it released but returned it to GT10.1 because of the size difference.

After that, I'm all Samsung now...

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 11:22 4

23. jamrockjones (Posts: 345; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I'm not a huge fan of the way the software run on the LG handsets, but I'm thoroughly convinced that LG makes the best hardware. With Google focusing on software and LG doing what they do with their hardware, this could make a beautiful Nexus device. The LG Spectrum has the best display that I've ever seen on a phone!

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 17:03

32. phildroid (Posts: 18; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)


With the inclusion of the note taking feature they may call it the LG Nexus Vu. :-)

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:24 2

3. droiddomination (Posts: 203; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


anybody but iDUMP. Although with their shotty labor practices and low pay sweat shops, they could keep the price down substantially, and undercut the competition. they could call it the iNEXxUS S. (s for sweat shop of course).

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:28

4. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


Hahaha I love the name. We should just let each manufacturer to take turn each year. Wouldn't that be interesting? But if that's the case, we would see some disappointing Nexus in some of those years...

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:44 1

5. Captain_Doug (Posts: 1017; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I wouldn't count Huawei out. While they don't have very many high end devices, the Huawei Ascend D quad is high-end enough to really get some attention. If they were to make the Nexus device that could be a huge break for them. I'm not sure if I'm sold on the quality of LG's phones although I have the same problem with samsung. They just don't feel like solid devices. That explains my favoring of HTC and how solid their devices feel but I understand the history and have given up hope that they will be chosen. It's funny how much speculation and opinion drives the tech world.

posted on 04 Mar 2012, 10:03

48. pbui.818 (Posts: 78; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)


I am paranoid about any technology company headquartered in mainland China like ShenZhen (read "Shunn-Junn") and ever since I saw somebody mock the name of the device i cannot look at it with a straight face. Ass End d**k Wad. I know it's really childish. My impression of Huawei is tainted severely now.

I want Asus as the hardware partner for Nexus tablet and cannot imagine why they couldn't also be the partner for Nexus phone. I would like to see Google work with Samsung (or Wacom) to incorporate an "S-Pen & WHUXGA Beam pico projector" into a "Transformer Pad Infinity with keyboard dock"

If not Asus, I would largely prefer Sony over LG. Based on most of our article's author's reasoning, Michael H. almost seemed Sony should almost certainly be the better choice.

With Fujitsu's and Panasonic's exhibit's at MWC, I would like to see either of those before I saw LG. I am far from convinced of LG's ability to produce a premium device. Water-proofing should be a huge advantage that the entire industry should be encouraged to embrace. Fingerprint biometrics would also be a step in the right direction.

While I still think anything over 8MP is overkill, Nokia's 41MP does have some promise for how it's being used.

Lastly, I hope for IP57 grade durability.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 09:48 1

6. redmd (Posts: 1279; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


regardless who does it the nexus should have impressive specs all around.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:00 2

8. arcq12 (Posts: 733; Member since: 13 Oct 2011)


the best nexus device is still the nexus one as far as quality.. so id go with HTC..

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:23 3

11. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


My problem with HTC is that there is always some small detail that is broken on its devices. The Nexus One had a flimsy power button that broke 4 times on me. My sister has a Sensation which keeps having microphone problems. Other HTC devices have had weird touchscreen issues. There is always something that isn't quite right.

The worst I can say about Samsung devices is that I don't think the battery door would survive the daily battery swap I did with my Nexus One.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 17:22 2

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


it also had touch screen issues if i remember correctly.

still using the same battery door on my SGS1 without an issue, and i pop that battery a lot with all the silly things i do to my phone. :)

posted on 04 Mar 2012, 10:12

49. pbui.818 (Posts: 78; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)


I am to a point where I have to swap batteries no less than thrice a day sometimes four times.
Samsung Galaxy S Epic 4G.

I'm waiting for Galaxy Note/Journal on Sprint since I can no longer wait for them to finally come out with a premium smartphone that includes a keyboard. A stylus/S-Pen eliminates some of what I need a keyboard for but still not some of the important stuff.
Besides, Miranda Kerr endorsing a device is not bad at all.

It be sweet if Sprint variant (call it Note or Journal) had even more screen resolution, memory and battery than AT&T's version.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:08

9. biophone (Posts: 1976; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Enough with the google moto takeover even as someone who prefers apple products i will tell you point black havig a moto nexus wouldn't mean a moto exclusive android platform. Also we must consider moto has mever made a nexus phone and gas been pumping out great phones with top battery tech. I might even buy a moto nexus. Samsung has made the lasy 2 nexus phone and htc has made 2 nexus phones as well. Give moto a shot and there is no way samsung or htc can be mad about this. Add to the fact that lg phone well suck a moto nexus would be great. Give lg the nexus tablet and no one would be considered with moto takeover.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:42

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


htc only made 1 nexus. they made 2 reference devices though the HTC nexus one and the HTC G1

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:55

20. biophone (Posts: 1976; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


The g1 is a reference device so i consider it a nexus or its equivalent that year. As it was in previous articles here on PA considered a reference device. Nexus's are considered the reference device and the first ones with a new os.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:32

12. skymitch89 (Posts: 1307; Member since: 05 Nov 2010)


I'm sure that it will be Motorola and Intel that will make/power the next Nexus device. Google is more than likely going to own Motorola, and Motorola and Intel have that contract to make Intel based Android devices.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:34 6

13. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)


I would love to see an Xperia NEXUS tbh...

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 13:41 5

26. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I know! I feel like Sony is one company that has some really cool designs, but I would never choose it because of the skin. If I could get a stock Sony Nexus, I think that would be really interesting.

posted on 01 Mar 2012, 14:08

46. Sarath (Posts: 19; Member since: 17 Jan 2012)


Would also like to see a play station supported Nexus.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:42 1

15. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 645; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


This is one retarded editorial, what in the hell would Motorola getting the greenlight to build the next all Google experience phone have to do with the purchase? Motorola is still clearly an independent company, and the Razr speaks volumes for Motorola in terms of design, quality of build and prowess. Samsung has had plenty of tries(I'm still not sold on SAmoled, all that talk from yesteryear about battery sipping is BS SG2 still eats batteries alive), HTC had one, but they are still going off that wave(notice that every HTC device similarly look like the Nexus One, that or HTC is very lame with design). If Moto gets the nod, then we can be sure to have one hell of a looker if the Razr is anything to go by along with super thin form factor and monster battery.

I think each manufacturer should be given at least one shot at an all Google device in the for of the Nexus line. Motorola have shown that they have a lot of ideas banging around in their heads, I think it's time they had a go at it. Then probably Hauwei then ZTE.

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 13:45 4

28. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


That's the whole point though. Google rivals and media organizations are looking for Google to make a misstep. That's why Google gets pounced on for every small mistake (or even perceived mistake). Motorola may be an independent company, but that's not how it would look in the media or in the PR world if Google chose Moto for the Nexus.

Moto could definitely build an amazing Nexus device, but the media backlash against Google would completely overshadow the device, so what's the value in Google choosing Motorola?

And, to your last point, Motorola already had a shot at a Google device with the XOOM. As you say, each manufacturer should be given at least one chance, so why not go with LG, Sony, Huawei or ZTE?

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 18:23 2

35. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


"Retarded"? Really? Are you in grade school?

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:47 6

17. davebuzz (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Feb 2012)


google be generous for once, give chance to cra-apple to make the next nexus :p

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:48 3

18. josephnero (Posts: 559; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


Sony i hope.Xperia Nexus

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 10:49 2

19. A.aoudi (Posts: 125; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


Its time for LG to build the nexus

posted on 29 Feb 2012, 11:19 1

22. jamrockjones (Posts: 345; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


Agreed!

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