Nexus Prime: what we know, and what we don't as of Oct. 7
Information seems to be falling into place concerning the Nexus Prime, so it seemed like a good idea to run through all of the rumors and speculation, weed out the items that are more likely true, combine separate stories into educated guesses, and generally give an idea of what we should all expect when the Nexus Prime launches sometime in the next few months.
We'll start off with the info that cracked the code: Samsung's lawyers outing the Nexus Prime in a cease and desist letter to someone who had gotten hold of the Prime's firmware. Until this news came out, it was still all rumors as to whether the Prime would be made by HTC, LG or Samsung. Samsung was recently rumored to have been showing off the Prime at the Verizon HQ, but unfortunately there were no photos, or reliable confirmations on that point. But, now that we know the Nexus Prime is a Samsung device, it's a pretty short walk to assume that the Nexus Prime is the GT-I9250 shown in Samsung's leaked roadmap from a few weeks ago. The trouble is that the specs sited for the GT-I9250 may not be accurate, as the original leaked roadmap has been pulled and Samsung has stated that the leaked information was not accurate. Of course, now we've seen updates on the specs leaks and even video of what is expected to be the device itself running Ice Cream Sandwich.
What we know for sure
This is still a pretty short list right here, but getting longer. What we know for sure about the Nexus Prime:
- It's a Samsung device
- It will be the first phone on the market running Ice Cream Sandwhich, which will be Android 4.0
- It will be 802.11n compliant
- - this piece of info has been repeated so many times and we had put it in a lower category, but if it isn't true, Google will have a geek riot on its hands. This rumor was part of Samsung's leaked roadmap, has been sent out as a tweet from Samsung Romania in July, confirmed by Korean news, and by the eye-witness rumors at the Verizon headquarters. Screen resolution has been one of the slower moving parts in Android handsets. CPUs are faster, storage is bigger, cameras are better, but many handsets still use the same 400x800 displays although qHD has started to make a push. If nothing else, this screen is the leading feature on what Google has always held as its pace car device for the Android ecosystem. The resolution and type of screen has essentially been confirmed, although the size is still under a bit of debate.
- The screen will be curved - we saw this in the recent teaser video of the Prime.
- It will have dock connectors - also in the teaser.
- It will have NFC - we saw an app list for the Nexus Prime, and although that's not a smoking gun, it's good enough for this feature.
- It will have facial recognition, which we know because Google flat out said it.
- Capacitive function buttons vs virtual buttons - this one seems like a done deal for virtual buttons, and we have seen enough photo proof to give it the pass. Given the likely display size, and the fact that ICS will be merging the best of Honeycomb to Gingerbread, virtual buttons seem like a certainty, but many people just don't like virtual buttons.
- It will be coming to Verizon, this again is part of the app list linked above, which shows Verizon apps. It's expected that the Prime will come as a timed exclusive for Verizon, but that falls into a lower category.
- TI OMAP 4460 CPU. We have seen enough spec leaks to confirm this, now it's just a matter of what clock speed it will be. Although since we know the chip make, that means we can also confirm the GPU as the SGX540 found on the OMAP 4460 SoC.
Some may say that they can confirm other aspects of the device, but right now we're setting a high standard for confirmed true information, and that means just these things. We need to have seen it in reputable photos, or seen proof that the technology is really ready, like the Super AMOLED HD screen, which we've also seen in the slightly-larger-than-the-Nexus-Prime Samsung Galaxy Note.
Things that are very likely true
We do know a number of things about the Nexus Prime that haven't yet been confirmed, but seem safe enough to say based on reports and our understanding of Google and the history of Nexus devices. We'll start with the easy stuff:
- It will be available on T-Mobile at launch - T-Mo is a Nexus standard both because of its history with Google and stock Android devices, but also because it is GSM and a T-Mo model can also be a launched on many carriers around the world. It is very possible that Sprint will also have the device at launch because of its increasingly close relationship with Google, but no Nexus device has launched on any carrier other than T-Mobile in the US, but it's looking more and more likely that will not be the case this time around. UPDATE: We're still betting the Nexus Prime will be on T-Mo when it launches as an official Nexus device, but new rumors have the Prime launching first as the Samsung DROID Prime on Verizon.
- It will have at least 16 GB of internal storage - this is a trend that Google started trying to push with the Nexus S, but has been slow to filter out to the rest of the Android ecosystem. Google wants users to stop having to rely on SD storage for apps, and that means more internal storage. We don't see Google moving backwards from the 16 GB of internal storage that was available in the Nexus S, and there is a possibility that the storage will be even bigger, as the latest rumors have it packing 32 GB of storage.
- - quad-core was a dream, but won't be ready for this release window, and Samsung's Exynos processors have yet to hit 1.5 GHz. We know the make of the chip, it's the clock speed we don't know, because we've heard rumors of both 1.2 GHz and 1.5.
- Availability on Verizon - as we mentioned when we first reported the story, the rumor was that Samsung was showing off the Nexus Prime at Verizon HQ, that's all. There was no indication at all that Verizon would be carrying the phone aside from the unsubstantiated speculation added on by many other tech sites. No Nexus device has ever made it to Verizon, in fact there have been almost no stock Android phones on Verizon at all. Verizon is no fan of the added features in stock Android, and its also not a fan of Android phones that don't come preloaded with Verizon's favorite bloatware. That said, if Verizon can get past the idea of a phone with no bloatware, Google seems willing to concede free tethering and WiFi hotspot functions as those functions of stock Android were recently removed on the Nexus S with the 2.3.5 update. UPDATE: It looks like Verizon won't be getting the Nexus Prime, but will be launching its own variant exclusively before the Nexus Prime. Verizon's variant will be called the Samsung DROID Prime. The new rumors have claimed this will be a complete exclusive for Verizon, but we're still not sold on that. More likely, it will be a timed exclusive for about a month, then the other major carriers will get the Nexus Prime.
- October release - we're sure that Google would probably like to hit an October release for the Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich, but releases of Nexus devices have always been later than expected. The Nexus One was expected to be released for the holiday season 2009, but didn't make it out until January 2010. The Nexus S was expected to be released in time for Thanksgiving 2010, but didn't make it until December. So, Google may be aiming for an October release, but we certainly wouldn't be surprised to see that pushed to a November or even December release, besides, as we've said before, there may not be any reason for Google to rush the Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich for a manufactured head-to-head with the iPhone 4S. UPDATE: this is also a bit of a semantic issue, the Samsung Galaxy Prime will likely launch on Verizon in October, but the Nexus Prime will more likely hit other carriers in November.
- LTE/HSPA+ - we were surprised that the Nexus S didn't have HSPA+ support, and we'd be completely beside ourselves if it didn't exist in the Nexus Prime, but again there has been no word on what to expect as far as a radio in the device. Also, since no other carrier has been confirmed, it's hard to say whether there will be a Prime for Sprint, let alone WiMAX. There has been no word at all about AT&T getting the Nexus Prime. The main push right now is that the Nexus Prime will be on Verizon and will include an LTE radio.
- The Prime will not have any bloatware - this was also something taken from the leaked app list. The worry was never that the Nexus Prime would have bloat, but that Verizon's variant would have bloatware, because that's kind of Verizon's style. But, it's looking more and more likely that won't be the case.
Still just rumors
- 5 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera - we're torn on this one. It's not so much that there's any reason to doubt the 5 MP rear camera, which was also part of the Samsung roadmap leak, and multiple spec rumors, it's more that we don't want it to be true. 5 MP is kind of on the fringe. Obviously, MP don't tell the whole story, but even with a larger sensor, 5MP doesn't always take the best HD video. It could be perfectly fine, but we just need more information about it to get excited. However, a 2 MP front camera would certainly be nice considering most front cameras are still VGA.
- Size of display - this one has had conflicting rumors. While we are willing to say that the display will be the Super AMOLED HD, the size of the screen is harder to peg. The Samsung roadmap had it listed at 4.65", but some rumors have it as big as 4.7" or as low as 4.3". The Verizon HQ rumor had the size of the display at 4", but we're pretty sure that a Super AMOLED HD screen can't be that small because of the pixel density.
- A physical QWERTY keyboard - this was one of the more interesting rumors, which came from a Twitter poet with inside ties to Verizon. The claim is that "one" of the Primes will have a QWERTY keyboard, this could very well be true, and it also does point to the Prime not being a full exclusive on Verizon, but a timed exclusive.
- The Prime will dock with a tablet - this is a weird rumor. The teaser video of the Prime clearly shows dock connector pins on the side of the phone and it also shows a tablet on top of the phone. Some have jumped on this to claim that the Prime will dock with a tablet. We're more of the mind that the image is more of a reference to Ice Cream Sandwich bridging the gap between Android phones and tablets, but anything is possible.
- Facial detection unlock - another part of the app list leak was an app called FaceLock, which seems to point to a way to unlock your phone using facial recognition rather than a password or gesture.
- Chrome browser - there have been rumors floating around the Chromium boards that a full version of Chrome would be replacing the stock Android browser, and that it may even happen as soon as Ice Cream Sandwich. We're not going to hold our breath for this one though. It would be great, but there's very little to go on right now.
Not a chance
That just leaves us with one rumor that has absolutely no chance of being true: a dedicated Google+ button. This rumor started when G+ was brand new, and people were going a little crazy. Even then, we were quick to shoot it down as ridiculous, but it seemed worth the repeat. We're certainly expecting more deeply integrated G+ features in ICS, but a dedicated G+ button will definitely not be part of the Nexus Prime.
post image thanks to nviii-Surberus
Other images via: BGR, SlashGear