Nexus X (aka Nexus 6) rumor round-up: features, specs, price and release date


A few months ago, it seemed that Google had killed the Nexus line of devices, and the Nexus 5 was to remain the last one in the series. Reports from notable bloggers including @evleaks all agreed that Google was about to not only switch its focus from Nexus to the new Android Silver program for affordable markets, but also kill the Nexus series altogether. Then, we heard that Google’s Chief Business Officer, and the main proponent of Android Silver within the company, Nikesh Arora had left. This turned out to mean one thing: the Nexus was back in business.

At first, we were talking about a Nexus 6, a placeholder name that did the job done for the time being, but as more evidence started piling up, we started hearing more about a mysterious Motorola ‘Shamu’, a device uncovered in the Android Open Source Project’s code-base by Android Police at the end of July.

It was time to get excited: after all, Shamu is the name of the killer whale that has survived the most in captivity. Most importantly, it is a name of fish, and that is exactly what Google traditionally uses for its Nexus devices: the Nexus 5 was ‘Hammerhead’, the Nexus 4 carried the ‘Mako’ shark codename, and the Galaxy Nexus was developed under the ‘Tuna’ moniker.

After all those small fish, it was time for something bigger like a whale. 

The ‘Shamu’ is expected to not disappoint in this regard: it is said to come with a shockingly large, 5.9-inch display, a true ‘phablet’ size that could rival the Galaxy Note series.

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In the meantime, our own inside sources spoke up, confirming that the 5.9-inch Moto-made Nexus is a go. The name? Nexus X.

Nexus X (aka Nexus 6) specs

The Nexus series is designed to be a poster child for the newest Android releases. The Nexus X is therefore here to showcase the best of the new Android L release, and to do so it needs a powerful hardware. Our insiders confirm that it won’t disappoint.

Why the huge 5.9-inch display? Since the Nexus is a device aimed at developers, it’d give a boost to development for phablets, plus it’s a perfect vessel for the new, Quad HD resolution, with benefits that could only be noticed on such a large screen. Since this is a fairly extravagant screen size, as wild as it sounds, we don't exclude the possibility to see a second, ~5.2-inch Nexus as well.

Interestingly, just like the Nexus 5 was a doppelganger of the LG G2, the Nexus X is also said to be ‘inspired’ by another phone: the yet unreleased Moto S. The Moto S is rumored to have the same, 5.9-inch display, and we might see it right before the Nexus X.

So why have two devices? Basically, it seems like the same Nexus 5 story repeats itself all over again: some issues with Verizon Wireless and the Nexus program might result in the Moto S being a Verizon exclusive, while all other carriers get just a regular Nexus X. Not just that, the Nexus X also goes by its Motorola XT1100 codename.

One thing we know practically nothing about the Nexus X, though, is its design. Google has changed the looks of its Nexus smartphones from the ground up practically every year, and this year again, we expect a surprise.

Snapdragon 805: 32-bit's swan song

The Nexus X is expected to be one of the first devices (along with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4) to rock the Snapdragon 805 system chip, the grand finale in Qualcomm's high-end 32-bit chips. After nearly three years of polishing the Krait processor, Qualcomm is moving to a 64-bit lineup encompassing devices from the low to the high-end, but before that we have the Snapdragon 805.

Clock speeds on the CPU side are boosted to 2.65GHz (those are turbo frequencies, not nominal), but for all else we're looking at the same 3-wide Krait 400 CPU architecture. We've seen the first benchmarks leak out and they do show some improvements in both single and multi-core performance. Qualcomm claims this performance driven chip manages to deliver great overall power efficiency as well. 

With all this, having a 32-bit chip in a flagship when you know that the next big wave of Android L devices (likely coming in Spring 2015) will all switch to 64-bit architectures, is a bit of a turn-down: after all, a lot of the optimizations in Android L and the ART runtime will apply for devices with 64-bit chips.

Dual speakers, finally

While we don’t know much about the looks and style of the Nexus X, a simple leak of the screen protector for the Moto S, the device that the Nexus X will be based upon, reveals an interesting detail: it has cutout in both the top and bottom parts. The only logical explanation is dual speakers, so we have all reasons to expect front-firing dual speakers a la HTC One in the new Nexus. Great news for lovers of good sound and music junkies.

Motorola-made, all cool Moto features coming to Nexus

The one crucial turn of events that seems to have made the Motorola-made Nexus X possible is the sale of Google’s Motorola Mobility unit to Lenovo. Ever since Google acquired Motorola Mobility for its patents and more for a whopping $12.5 billion, the company seemed to be afraid to go on a full-on offensive with Motorola smartphones in fear of being accused of preferential treatment by other Android vendors. True, it launched, the Moto X flagship last year with some great software features, but purposefully or not, the Moto X seemed inferior when compared to other flagships in pure specs.

This year’s sell-out of Motorola to Lenovo seems to have untied Google’s hands: it is now expected to implement all the cool features from the Moto X, like always-on voice recognition and active notifications, into the Nexus series.

Android 5.0: the L release, or Lemon Meringue Pie?

Google unveiled the new Android L release months ahead of its launch to prepare developers for the huge changes coming in L: 64-bit compiler and the new ART runtime. It unveiled the new version of the operating system so early, it seemed even the company itself was not yet decided on the sweet treat to inspire the L release.

The latest leaks from multiple places reveal that Android L will indeed be a huge release with the following number and name: Android 5.0 Lemon Meringue Pie (LMP). We’ve earlier heard from sources that Google had also been considering names like Lollipop, but LMP seems like the more likely name at the time of this writing (hey, and Lollipop might sound a bit cheesy to some).

Nexus X (Nexus 6) release date, price and carriers

All in all, it’s hard not to be excited about the Nexus X: it’s the first phablet-sized device in the series and it’s immensely powerful, plus it will run Android L right out the box. Google, however, seems committed to its politically-correct ways of not overhyping the Nexus series (trying not to upset other phone makers), and we would not be surprised if it did not even hold an event to officially unveil the Nexus X. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with last year’s Nexus 5 - a press release and a quiet launch on the Google Play Store.

And while the lack of noise won’t do much to popularize the new Nexus, we expect Google to make up with immediate availability. Just like last year, we expect to see the new Nexus arrive right in time for Halloween, on Friday, October 31st (but hey, it’s not set in stone, so Google might surprise us!).

Last, but not least: the Nexus X will continue on the noble tradition of being priced very affordably. Leaks show that it will come in a starter, 32GB version going for €419 ($419), and a 64 gig model for €449 ($449). Those are all full retail, off-contract prices. As we mentioned earlier, Verizon Wireless might be the only one of the carriers not to get the Nexus X, but instead have a largely equivalent Moto S. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are likely to all have it in stock, but of course, the first stop for shopping for Nexus would be the Google Play Store.

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