Google is making a 5.9-inch Nexus X because your opinion doesn't matter

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google is making a 5.9-inch Nexus X because your opinion doesn't matter
There has been a lot of news recently about the upcoming Motorola-built Nexus X, and the majority of the reports point to the fact that the Nexus X will feature a 5.9-inch display. There has been recent news that a 5.2-inch Nexus could come along as well, but that is dependent on certain Motorola releases. The main Nexus X will feature a 5.9-inch display, and this is a fact that has routinely caused a commotion in the comment threads (and among PhoneArena editors) because many of you don't believe the Nexus should be any bigger than the 5 to 5.2-inch range. So, I wanted to clear up the most likely reasoning for Google's choice of the larger display. 

As always, the rationale here begins with the basic purpose of the Nexus line of devices - what they are intended to be, and what they are not. The Nexus line has undergone some changes in recent years, and the basic definition of the brand has changed somewhat; but, based on various information and from talking with insiders, I believe that Google is attempting to bring the Nexus line back to its roots, and that means the wishes of average consumers and enthusiasts alike don't really matter. 

What the Nexus is not

First and foremost, the Nexus line is not a consumer-oriented set of devices. Nexus devices have certainly become popular with a subset of consumers because of the low price tag; but, aside from the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus smartphones have not been aggressively marketed towards the average consumer, certainly not in the same way that the Nexus 7 has been marketed and made easily accessible. For the most part, Nexus phones have been made available only through the Google Play Store, T-Mobile, Sprint, and certain other retailers, like Best Buy. Nexus phones are not found in the largest carriers, because that isn't really the point of the Nexus brand. And, while Nexus devices are often featured in Android commercials, the ads are not for the Nexus phone itself, but are more aimed at marketing the Android platform as a whole. 

Since the average consumer isn't the purview of the Nexus line, the consumer-facing brand will be Android Silver, which is the natural extension of the Google Play edition program. The aim there is specifically to highlight the stock Android experience and the speed at which software updates can come when you have a device running stock Android. The Nexus devices have done this as well, but the awareness hasn't extended much past the tech elite and enthusiasts. Average users still don't quite understand the benefits of stock Android, but Silver will be able to show it much more easily. 

Android Silver will have dedicated sections in all carrier stores, including Verizon and AT&T; and, employees of those stores will be specially trained by Google to help customers understand what it is. Android Silver will likely feature devices that would otherwise be Google Play edition, meaning it will be much easier for consumers to see how the Silver variant differs from the manufacturer customized model because both will be available in the same store. Imagine a customer being able to see the Android Silver version of the Galaxy S5 (which is not a device known to exist, but will for the purpose of this hypothetical) running Android L well before the TouchWiz S5 gets the same update. That is a powerful thing for Google in helping average consumers understand a more complex issue in the Android world, and its efforts to push manufacturers towards lighter skins and faster updates. On the other hand, while Nexus phones are often based on or closely related to certain manufacturer devices, it doesn't have the same impact in the comparison. 

Ultimately, Nexus devices are not designed to cater to consumer wishes. You may not want a 5.9-inch Nexus X, but I'm sorry to say, that opinion doesn't factor in to Google's plans, because at the end of the day, the Nexus line is all about what Google wants for the Android ecosystem, and what it thinks is necessary. It is the same reason why the Nexus line is not a set of devices featuring expandable storage and removable batteries. Just like Apple does what it believes best, often in spite of user demands, so too will Google do what it thinks is best for the Nexus line, despite what you might personally want, because the Nexus line isn't really for you.

What the Nexus is, and why Google thinks we need a larger Nexus phone

At its core, the Nexus line has had two major purposes since its inception: 

  1. To be a developer reference device, and 
  2. To highlight features/trends in the ecosystem, or those that Google wants to push. 

The first purpose has always been the biggest aim of the Nexus line. Google has always wanted to offer a device that is always running the newest version of Android without manufacturer modification, so developers know where the Android platform is going in terms of hardware and software. It is also the main reason why the Nexus line of phones has been priced so aggressively low. The fact that consumers and enthusiasts jumped on the Nexus brand is a byproduct of the low retail price, but Google's aim has always been to make a device that could get to as many developers as possible, which meant selling it at a cut-rate price. But, just because you like having an inexpensive high-end Android device doesn't mean that Google is building it for you. 

As Dave Burke, the head of Android engineering and the Nexus program at Google, said a couple months ago, the Nexus program is essential to developers, especially developers at Google. The new Nexus device is developed in tandem with the new version of the Android software, one cannot exist without the other. Both the software and hardware point the direction in which Google thinks the ecosystem is going or should go. Google wants more intuitive design with playful animations, so Android L has Material Design. Google wants to push NFC and de-emphasize SD cards, so those features are added/removed from the Nexus hardware. 

This year, the aim of the Nexus phone is to highlight a trend in the Android ecosystem and offer developers a device to help capitalize on that trend: phablets. Regardless of your personal preference when it comes to smartphone size, Android devices in the 5.5-inch to 6.5-inch range are growing in popularity around the world. South Korea has been dubbed the "home of the phablet", because customers there buy large screen smartphones at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, including buying millions of Galaxy Note handsets. But, the trend towards phablets is something that is happening everywhere. There's a good reason why Apple has a 5.5-inch iPhone on the way - customers want that form factor. 

Of course, until now, all of the Nexus smartphones have been 5-inches or smaller, while the tablets are either 7-inches or 10.1-inches. So, Google has been missing certain sections of the ecosystem with its developer reference devices. This year, Google wants to be able to hit all of the segments with its Nexus line. It wants developers to have options that fit every need, which is to say each size tier. This means a having the old Nexus 5 (or possible second new Nexus with a 5.2-inch display), a Nexus X with a 5.9-inch display, the old Nexus 7, a new Nexus tablet at 8.9-inches, and the old Nexus 10. That gives developers options to choose from depending on how and where they may want to target their software. 


While it is still possible that Google will release a Nexus device this year that is 5.2-inches, the main Nexus X is set to be 5.9-inches, and there is very good reason for that. Unfortunately, the number one reason is one that may not sit well with many of our readers: you are not the target market of the Nexus line, and what you want doesn't really matter. I'm not sure why this is a surprise though. If Google really listened to what the enthusiasts on sites like ours said, then the Nexus line would still feature expandable storage and a removable battery, but obviously those features are now gone. Google wants to limit the use of expandable storage to make for a more consistent experience for users and developers alike; and, force better hardware and software design by moving towards non-removable batteries. Now, Google wants to highlight the growing segment of phablets in the Android ecosystem, so we're going to get a larger Nexus device. 

As much as I love the Nexus line, I know I'm in the same boat as you, and I'm not the target market either; so, I've given up hoping to see the device of my dreams come directly from Google. Instead, I embrace the power of the Android ecosystem, and the hardware variety afforded by it, to find the device that fits my needs and desires. Last year, I traded my Nexus 5 for the Moto X, because of the design, the software, and the personality. This year, I'm still undecided until we see what comes with the X+1, Nexus, and various Android Silver devices, but I'm confident that there will be something that fits what I want. So, the conclusion is simple really: if you don't want a 5.9-inch device, the Nexus line may not be for you this year, but there will be plenty of options for you through Android Silver and other manufacturers. 

Related phones

Nexus 6
  • Display 6.0" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Quad-core, 2700 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3220 mAh(24h talk time)



1. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

With a 5.9" Nexus phone, you can skip to get a Nexus tablet. But you'll have to get a larger pants just for the phone to fit in your pocket...

29. DevilsAdvocate

Posts: 47; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

No matter what you say . . .But this is "goddamnit" well written article. Thumbs Up for the writer.

47. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Dude Michael H. has been writing GREAT articles on for YEARS!!! Best articles in my honest opinion!

59. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Yeah only those who have stayed long enough get to know what kind of quality Michael H articles have.

74. domfonusr

Posts: 1085; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Certainly this is one among the great articles... not because of popular views, but because of cold hard facts about the evolving world of mobile. Thank you once again, Michael H. Classy work!

76. register unregistered

Best writer here.

101. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Ummm.. Im new here.. Who is this Micheal H fellow? He sounds like one of those Bostonians! :)

104. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1776; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

remixfa! where ya been? I miss those days of you owning Taco50 :P

105. LastSun

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

I read this "Mordecai" voice, because of 'Dude' at the beginning.

92. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

Yeah, it is well written, but still looks like a bashing of Google.. He could have made his facts come across without the "Google don´t care about you" and "What you want doesn't really matter".. How can it not matter if WE are the ones who give our hard-earned money for THEM to subsist? He´s making Google look like an evil corporation... like Umbrella.. 0=D

97. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

As a 4 time nexus user, rooted, I would like to bash google too! Yes, I far prefer the clean ui, or I did. Recently it has changed and Google is choosing more of its own plans on us. I used to be able to connect my phone to my car, but 4.4.4 took that away. My nexus 5 battery now barely lasts a day, and regularly needs a top up. Both my current 5 and 7-2013 have full memories (without music or film) , and local mobile networks are inadequate. (I live in a city with a strong student population in the north east of England, not in the wilds ) cloud storage and streaming are utterly impossible except on home wifi. What works on Google campus barely works in most other places in the world - that majority need storage options. If Google cared about us they would encrypt SD cards by default, and put them on developer devices so developers could learn to use them properly. Android L interface is a solution to a non problem ;there is enough already broken that they would be better fixing rather than making it look prettier! Have you looked at the many google plus threads on complaints about what google has not fixed or has broken within Android? Honestly, how can you think they do care?

98. semo. unregistered

I had to sign up in support of this post and to add that the Nexus IS all about the consumer. The author mentions this in the article: 1. To be a developer reference device, and 2. To highlight features/trends in the ecosystem, or those that Google wants to push. A reference device that developers then use to create CONSUMER devices. So what goes in the Nexus then finds its way onto other devices. Is it any surprise that the trend these days is for bigger screens, sealed batteries and no SD or microSD slots? This wasn't the case before Google thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, good things like Qi don't seem to be finding their way in consumer devices though.

41. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I am OFFICIALLY drooling. If it looks like that & it comes to Verizon "F" the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. STUNNING!!!!

61. marcski07

Posts: 600; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

correct me if i'm wrong, nexus is for developers right? so for me, as an a average joe, who just want an up-to-date specs, would you recommend this nexus to me? or should I get other flagship phones? I prefer camera + design by the way and android of course..

75. register unregistered

Nexus is for developers but it offers great specs at such a low price compared to others which makes non-developers to buy it. Only problem is battery.

91. tokuzumi

Posts: 1900; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

You'll be getting the Note 4. After the Galaxy Nexus debacle, I don't see Verizon getting any more Nexus devices. Now, they should be getting Android Silver devices. One of those devices may fit your phablet needs. But they will most likely be released after the Note 4. So, enjoy your Note.

93. ePoch270

Posts: 193; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

I agree, you will hopefully find a Note 4 "Silver Edition" in verizon stores/ outlets etc... But IIRC, Google has vowed to NEVER make another CDMA Nexus. Don't know about VoLTE though. I'm not sure if the issue is with CDMA or Verizon.

43. Ashoaib

Posts: 3282; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

very nice article, now I know nexus is not intended for me(general user) rather it is intended for developers.... beside that they are going to put QHD display so I think may be 5.9inch is a perfect size for developers to optimize applications for QHD display and see/check the results/optimizations, as the critics of QHD says there is no benefit of QHD on small screen and human eye cannot notice any difference

2. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Great piece but. I don't care about the size much so that is not a deal breaker, the chip maybe. I doubt devs need to have a bigger screen to visualize a bigger rendition of their apps though, sorry that seems a bit outlandish to myself and far reached.

6. Bjray

Posts: 199; Member since: May 29, 2014

"I doubt devs need to have a bigger screen to visualize a bigger rendition of their apps though" No, but there are huge amounts of phablets on the market now and it would nice to have a dedicated fully developer friendly phablet to reference with.

11. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

What makes the difference though, .7 in screen size, is that justifiable to you to make or not make an app? That seems odd to me, I'm no dev though so I can't rule that out completely.

19. Bjray

Posts: 199; Member since: May 29, 2014

Oh I agree, just saying that it's nice having more developer device options.

63. timepilot84

Posts: 113; Member since: Aug 16, 2012

As a phablet fan, I can say that there are no big phone options out there that don't come with the manufacturer feature crap that seems to be all the rage amongst phone producers these days. This will be a welcome replacement for my Galaxy Note 3.

95. stevenswall

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 28, 2014

The OnePlus One should be right up your alley... Near stock Android with CyanogenMod, and no crapware and ugly front logos.

83. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

I see, gotchas.

35. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

It´s not really to make or not an app, but more to check how it looks, play with it, make optimizations depending on the screen size, etc

46. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

No, its about having more devices that are cheap to test on. Emulators are useless for testing largely because they run on simulated hardware. But, for example, my own app measures screen resolution and puts certain bitmaps in place to show the best possible results for the resolution and pixel density. The fact that this is done dynamically means I have to make sure that the system remains smooth while all the numbers are being crunched and having an actual device really helps that. Currently I own a N4, N7, S4, PFI+dock, G3, G Pad 8.3 and G Nexus to test on. I would definitely like a cheap but high end phablet to add to that mix to literally cover almost all ranges of devices (just need 12 inch tab after that I think).

3. Mrmark

Posts: 396; Member since: Jan 26, 2013

Finally just what I wanted a 5.9 Nexus I can get rid of my HTC Max ... FYI I do like the screen real estate on phones

4. TheRequiem

Posts: 245; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

I'm a developer and I don't want a 5.9 inch Nexus. It's too big and with most android's being around 4-5 inches, it's unreasonable to make developers work with just 5.9 inches... and guess what, my opinion matters! I'll stick with my Nexus 5 if this is the case.

5. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

I think you are bang on.

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