Google Nexus 9 rumor round-up: hardware, Android L, features & release date

A Nexus 9 concept image shared by Android Police

A Nexus 9 concept image shared by Android Police


The Google Nexus 9 is one of Google's more interesting secret-ish workings for 2014. It is said to be a 8.9-inch Android tablet made in collaboration with none other than HTC - a company widely known for its quality smartphone designs, and a little less known for famously giving up on Android tablets after its only try at one, the 2011 HTC Flyer, failed to impress the public. However, the Wall Street Journal's recent revelations leave little doubt that the Taiwanese maker is once again involved in a tablet - and this time, Google is around to help. 

Like every respectable Nexus device, the Nexus 9 will be tasked with showcasing the next Android version at an affordable price point for both developers and consumers. This suggests a combination of potent hardware and a not particularly adventurous, but attractive and durable design.

So, does HTC have a shot at repeating ASUS's success with the first and second-generation Nexus 7? Most probably - yes! But we'll have to wait a few months to see how that will play out. Meanwhile, here's what we've heard about the upcoming tablet so far:

Design


We're yet to be clued in on how good-looking the Nexus 9 will turn out. It is said, however, that the tablet has a weight of about 14.745 Oz (418 grams), and is 0.3 inches (7.8mm) thick. Its dimensions are a purported 8.91 x 5.98 x 0.31 inches (226 x 151 x 7.9mm) These measurements are quite bulkier compared to the current slimness standard - the 8-inch Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact's 8.40 x 4.87 x 0.25 inches (213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4 mm) and weight of 9.52 oz (270 g). However, they are in line with the 9.7-inch iPad Air's 9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches (240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm) at a weight of 16.86 oz (478 g). 

It doesn't look like the Nexus 9 will be pursuing a higher than the average bar for size and feel, but this is mere rumors we're talking of. And in this regard, a source hinted at an aluminium unibody construction, which certainly isn't something you see in a Nexus device often! To top it off, the tablet is said to feature dual front-facing stereo speakers. 

By the way, all of this sounds a lot like the Huawei MediaPad M1, a device whose design was quickly compared to the HTC One. Check it out in the gallery below.


Rumored specs


While the Nexus 9's design is a well-guarded secret for now, we actually have a pretty good idea about the hardware that might power the tablet. Here's what the rumor mill has produced on the topic.

Display


The 2012 Nexus 10 was the first tablet to ship with a QHD display.

The 2012 Nexus 10 was the first tablet to ship with a QHD display.

The Nexus 9's 8.9-inch display could get the Nexus 10's sharp QHD resolution (2560x1600) display. Such a screen diagonal amounts to a pixel density of 340ppi, which is very good for this size. We know nothing about the display technology, but both HTC and Google are big on IPS LCD displays for one reason or another. Truth is, we'll be equally happy with an IPS LCD display or one of Samsung's fantastic QHD Super AMOLED screens.

Camera and Processor


There has been evidence that Google could use NVIDIA's mighty Tegra K1 processor to kick off Android into the 64-bit era. This is a 2.5GHz processor with up to 4GB of RAM and a graphics unit that sports no less than 192 cores! Don't ask us why, NVIDIA always had a thing for impressive numbers. This is the same unit that powers the new NVIDIA Shield Tablet, which is a gamer device capable of running DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.4-enhanced graphics. In other words, the K1 could run scaled down versions of Unreal Engine 4 and Frostbite 2.0-powered games on your mobile device without breaking much of a sweat.

As for the camera, the Nexus 9 is said to have an 8-megapixel camera with, wait for it, an optical image stabilisation module! Is this overkill for a device that isn't as practical for taking photographs as a smartphone is? Well, more is more - we don't mind at all! Meanwhile, the front camera could be a 3-megapixel unit. It should be terrific for video chatting, which is a favorite past-time of tablet owners.

Storage-wise, the Nexus 9 should be available in 16GB and 32GB flavours.

Operating system


The Nexus 9 is planned as a flagship Android L device, much like the previous Nexus tablets showed off Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which was notable for its buttery-smooth interface. It will run an unmodified version of the operating system, which is another way of saying that it will be totally yours to customize! Aside from 64-bit support, Android L Version will bring a complete visual overhaul, functionality boosts, a new app runtime and energy-saving system, and much more. If you want to get up to speed with Google's workings, be sure to check out our Android L Preview , our visual comparison of Android L and Android KitKat, and our head-to-head comparisons of the operating system's developer preview against iOS 8 and Windows Phone 8.1.

Google Nexus 9 rumor round-up: hardware, Android L, features & release date

Accessories


There is a steady rumor about the Nexus 9 featuring an official snap-on keyboard cover. Interestingly, we've seen two versions of it, the difference being that one features a numeric row. The accessory could turn the Nexus 9 into a full-fledged laptop replacement and extend its battery life.

Release date


According to the latest rumors, the Nexus 9 will be unveiled this Wednesday, October 15, and it will go on sale two weeks later - November 3rd. The reported price is $399. This is definitely higher than what Google and its hardware partners usually charge for Nexus tablets. Maybe the latest one will be marketed as a proper high-end device, instead of a powerful developer device with uninspiring looks.

Expectations


We expect many a good things from a Google and HTC collaboration. First, the eventual success of the Nexus 9 could give HTC a much needed confidence boost, which would result in better tablets from the manufacturer further down the road. The powerful hardware will make short work of the next Android version, which is currently being tested on devices as old as the Nexus 4. It will also provide an excellent gaming, browsing, and multimedia experience. But the hardware brawn and QHD display could make for a very battery-hungry device if the issue isn't addressed properly. All of this aside, the very thought of an HTC tablet made with Google's blessing can only get us excited!

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38 Comments

1. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

The fact that my Nexus 4 could receive Android L made my whole week. And also ready to upgrade to the new slate.

10. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Wow I am very excited to see this new Nexus Tablet. It should be awesome!

18. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

Agree

23. Phooey506

Posts: 85; Member since: Sep 24, 2014

Did the gnex get KitKat? Google supports devices for 18 months. Don't hold your breath for L on the 2 year old n4.

29. guest

Posts: 370; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

I think the issue was with drivers for SoC on the gnex. The mfr simply got out of the business so no way to get updated drivers

2. gazmatic

Posts: 807; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

I just want HTC to catch a break. Hopefully having a Google nexus will bring all those who flock to the nexus brand

4. TBomb

Posts: 1186; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I had an HTC Rezound back in the day and the battery life was horrific. I've tried to go back but doing my research when my contracts up I always see bad battery life. Any feedback regarding if this is still present or not?

6. Muayyad

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

See latest iPhone 6 battery test and comparison.

7. Jack58221

Posts: 157; Member since: Feb 23, 2013

I had the original HTC evo, I'd unplug it at 6:00am before work and plug it back in on my lunch break with about 20% battery left every day. Now I have a galaxy s3 and sometimes I have 50% left by lunch, and other times it's sitting on the lab table by 9:00am dead serving me better as a hot plate than anything. Co-worker has the s4 that will sometimes do the same thing only his airways makes it past 10:00. HTC battery life may suck, but after 2 years I think I would go back to HTC just to know I would always make it to noon.

19. AstronautJones

Posts: 305; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

That inconsistency is due to the os. Programs hang up occasionally. You can check and see what programs are using the battery.

9. nathan.carter

Posts: 416; Member since: Aug 11, 2014

the rezound was a bad experience sorry, but...if you try thier products again you might be surprized. HTC has come a long way from the horrible rezound. Everything evolves nothing stays the same. Try HTC again you wont be dissapointed. Then again, that can be said for all the mobile devices out there.

12. TBomb

Posts: 1186; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Thanks guys. i was just curious because i feel like this would stop a lot of people from trying it. But thus far I've seen good things about the battery life.. maybe i'll have to pick up another HTC device at some point. Plus they always looks gerat on the physical layer in my opinion

17. aBoss

Posts: 164; Member since: Sep 15, 2014

I had the Droid DNA by HTC and it had the worst battery life for any Droid phone. I believe it actually killed Droids reputation.

34. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

I still use a DNA, yea the battery life could be better but for the most part it is fine. I have a 4000mAh Mophie, for the tablet or phone if it needs a bump no problem. The phone is still a beast and if that's all it needs is a little battery, heck I can give it that.

30. cubanito92

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 13, 2014

I've been using HTC since the Evo 4G..I have not switched brands. I have stayed loyal to them and I can tell you that their battery life has improved dramatically. Now I have no problem having a full day of battery with heavy usage.

3. draconic1991

Posts: 200; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Just price it right and dont hold back on production

5. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Contrary to what the article said, I believe the first gen N7 flopped and the FHD model was the one that is successful and held the glory back. But the N7 2013 has got serious screen issues which they didnt took a solution. I hope HTC would make a better Nexus slate, better than ASUS.

8. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

Sorry to correct you. I'm the proud owner of a Nexus 7 (2012) and after KK update, has never been better. It was not even necessary to get the N7 2013! It is suposed after 2yrs any device starts to show his age, that's not the case with my 2 nexus devices.

11. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

He didnt say it wasnt a good device, he stated it was a flop, two entirely different things.

16. hurrycanger

Posts: 1755; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

My gf's 32gb Nexus 7 2012 really showed its age about half a year ago already. It got really choppy. I would say Asus is to blame because same thing happened to my Asus transformer TF300T with similar specs, same cpu, screen res and such. My gf's N7 also got issues with bluetooth and the loose battery. I've popped it out twice to reconnect the battery correctly. I believe it is a common issue because it was so easy to search for the issue itself and the fix on google and youtube even though I didn't know it was caused by the battery. About performance, I did a factory reset on that N7 and later updated it to KK. It looked better afterward, but performance didn't improve. Probably the hardware already turned bad. I've read people saying N7 2012 had poor ram and storage which degrade fast. To be more exact, I read around the time the 2nd Nexus 7 came out, which was like a year ago. So from my own experience, the Nexus 7 2012 is a flop. It was great to me when it was new. I had one for myself (8gb ver. about 2 months after launch and switched for the bigger tf300t later), I loved it, but it didn't last.

35. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

Hell yea, the HTC screen will be much better, looking forward to it!

13. ripp747

Posts: 20; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

Looks nice. But last time I checked, October was in the fourth quarter.

14. Totse2k15

Posts: 475; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

AMOLED and I'd buy it asap! If not, meh. Past. Don't really need a tablet.

15. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Slap on stereo speakers, excellent screen, and decent camera and I'm sold.

20. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

Do you know when is the release date for Android L ?

21. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

The Nvidia Shield K1 at 2.5 Ghz is a 32 bit quad core, how is it kicking off Android into the 64 bit era? The only Nvidia K1 64 bit cpu is the Denver K1, which is a dual core 1.4 Ghz

24. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

This time you are honoring your nickname. It's true that the expected K1 is the 64bit version and not the 32bit that is the one you find in the Nvidia Shield Tablet, BUT: - The K1 in the Shield Tablet is clocked at 2.22 GHz, not 2.5 GHz - The dual cores version (Denver) will be clocked at 2.5 GHz, not 1.4 GHz The expected version for the Nexus is the Denver one.

25. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

I know the Shield runs at 2.22, but this one will run at 2.5. I didn't know the dual core could be clocked this high, since I seen benchmarks of it, running at 1.4.

26. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

That's Nvidias own data ;)http://images.anandtech.com/doci/7622/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-06%20at%206.16.46%20AM.png I haven't seen any "real" benchmarks yet about it.

28. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Weird, somehow I can't recall the website I saw this 1.4 Ghz speed. They all say 2.5. Guess I misread something :)

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