Android

Google Nexus vs Android Silver: What will Change?

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The five generations of Nexus smartphones from the Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, and Nexus 5

The Google Nexus program is a line of smartphones and tablets that run Google’s stock Android operating system. Unlike every other Android smartphone that flood the market such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One, Nexus products are designed, developed, and marketed solely by Google. The only thing that Google outsources is the manufacturing of the products, which have been made by LG, HTC, Samsung, and ASUS. What’s most enticing about these devices is that they’re fully supported by Google and receive updates faster than any other Android device.

The beauty of Android is that Google released it under open source licenses that allow technology companies to run it as their platform’s OS that is very cost effective and highly customizable. One of the biggest downfalls to Android is with this highly customizable and open source platform, comes the ability for manufacturers to put their own UI on top of the pure OS that Google intended. While not inherently a bad thing, the added UI often serves to bog down the device, take up precious storage space, and creating lag during use. This is where the Nexus line truly shines, as they do not come with any manufacturer or wireless carrier modifications to the OS, similar to Apple’s iOS platform.

With a device that has been all but manufactured by Google, comes a piece of hardware that supports Android the way Google intended: vanilla and unrestrained. The near uninhibited customization that Android allows has attracted many developers to use the open-use code to create custom ROMs, new features, and a slew of apps that have grown to rival what iOS has to offer.

Apart from having a device free from third party modifications and being the first to receive updates, the Nexus line offers top of the line software that won’t break the bank. Google’s latest smartphone offering, the Nexus 5 retails for $349.00 off contract, whereas a device with near identical specifications (LG G2) will add another $250 to the price tag.

For the past four years, Nexus devices have been essential components for developers who require frequent software updates and minimal third party modifications. While still considered a budget device, the Nexus 5 took the biggest step towards flagship status by offering a phone that could only be knocked on their camera quality and battery life. But despite CFO Partick Pichette acknowledging that the Nexus 5 being a very strong performer, Google will be canning the Nexus program for a new line of devices under the Android Silver name.

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The new look for Android?

Google is company that can sell mobile devices at cost and still make a mint. According to their annual earnings report, Google “generates revenue primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising,” with as much as 96% of its revenue coming from AdWords and AdSense. So why would Google cancel the Nexus program for Android Silver if the user experience will be the same?

There are multiple reasons why Google would want to create a more premium line of Android devices besides increasing profit margins. The most apparent reason would be for Google a chance to command greater control over the android market. Despite the success of the Nexus line, the Android market has been dominated by several third party manufacturers over the past few years.

While the source code for Android is open source and members of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) agree to abide by the standard set by Google, there are manufacturers that take liberties to their software that don’t adhere to Google’s standards. Back in 2012, Google ceased production on a device Acer manufactured that ran Alibaba Group’s Aliyun OS, as it was regarded as an incompatible form of Android.

Currently, Samsung manufacturers the majority of mobile devices running Android and while they do abide by the OHA, their UI, Touchwiz, creates an user experience that only slightly resembles true, stock Android. This poses a problem for Google because as much as Samsung propels Android to a larger market share every year, more of the market is growing to understand Android as an OS that Google didn’t intend it to be. Regardless of increased profit margins, if Google can amass greater sales with their Android Silver program, it can regain control over what the Android OS is supposed to be: reliability with a buttery smooth interface that doesn’t rely on gimmicks. This will also allow Google to prevent update delays that users often experience with third party Android smartphones and better compete with Apple and their immediately available updates.

With Android Silver aiming to deliver premium handsets to the general consumer, Google could be aiming to lead a full-fledged campaign to bring Android Silver to the top of the mobile phone market. With the power and disposable income to run marketing campaigns that rival the likes of Samsung and Apple, Google may also set up kiosks similar to the Galaxy Experience that floods the mobile sections of Best Buy and other retailers to help expose customers to the Android experience.

One of the pitfalls of Android is that it takes patience and ingenuity to master, especially to first time smartphone users. This is where Apple cleans up. The intuitive UI and unrivaled reliability make it leading choice for many users, leaving an opening in the market for Google to take advantage of. According to AndroidPolice, Google plans to bring more unity to the Android experience by providing a 24/7 customer service experience via Google Hangouts similar to that of the Mayday service provided by Amazon on their Kindle Fire tablets. With a service not provided by any other mobile provider, Google could entice casual users and smartphone junkies alike with a top-notch customer service to go along their ever-encompassing ecosystem.

While we don’t understand the full vision Google has for the new Android Silver program apart from speculation, we do know that it plans to pair up with multiple companies such as LG and Motorola for manufacturing these devices. With the strict guidelines Android Silver will require, these companies will collaborate with Google to develop a more premium handset that will deliver the stock Android experience we’ve come to love with the Nexus devices. This, along with an aggressive marketing campaign could provide a flagship handset that could take its place amongst the top of the Android smartphone ranks over Samsung, HTC, and even LG to regain regain full control of Android.

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Will we see a focus on build quality with Android Silver that we could only dream of with the Nexus line?

It is unfortunate to see an end coming to the Nexus program. For the past few months, we’ve seen countless rumors and leaks of Google making the final Nexus iterations coming by way of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 8. These two allegedly being made by LG (6) and HTC (8) were awaited with bated breaths after the success of the company’s previous Nexus 5 and 7 smartphone and tablet. But according to the ever-accurate @evleaks, Google will not be unveiling the Nexus 6 at all this year, working with LG to bring the first Android Silver phone in early 2015 instead. While sad news, rumors have it that the new phone will run Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 processor, which would be Qualcomm’s first 64-bit processor to compete with the likes of the 64-bit one found in the A7 of the iPhone 5s.

Whether or not we see a Nexus device again, Google has no plans on leaving Android to be run by third party manufacturers compromising the OS for their own software additions. Expect to see big things from Google in the coming months as they attempt to regain control over Android and make a push into the premium smartphone market.

Source: The Verge; International Business Times

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The LG G3 – The device to best the Galaxy Line?

Rumors have been gathering the past couple months regarding the G3 and while LG doesn’t have the clout that Samsung has in regards to selling smartphones, the touted specs of the G3 are noteworthy. Of course these are merely rumors, but if achieved, LG could take mobile technology to the next level of innovation; a level that Samsung and HTC failed to achieve with their latest flagships.

G3 brushed shell from @evleaks

The highly accurate @evleaks providing a glimpse of a back that mimics the brushed aluminum of the HTC One M8

Will we finally see a 2k display?

Scheduled to drop May 27, the G3 will be unveiled merely 8 months after it’s predecessor, to better compete with the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8). If the rumors hold merit, the G3 will become the first smartphone (with exception to the non-yet released Oppo Find 7) sporting 2k-resolution display. On a 5.5” True HD-IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, this will give the G3 roughly 534 ppi.

What can we expect from internals?

Underneath the display, the device will house Qualcomm’s newest chipset, the Snapdragon 801 with a Quad Core CPU clocked at 2.26 GHz and Adreno 330 GPU. These are along the lines of the S5 and M8, but the G3 is rumored to come with 3 GB of RAM on its 32 GB version, which top the formers’ 2 GB. The camera will be a 13 MP shooter with OIS and rumored to shoot 4k video, similar to the S5 and Note 3.

Is it enough?

Will these specs be enough to compete with the Galaxy S5 though? Having owned the G2 myself, I will say that LG deserves more recognition than they received for it. The power and volume rocker located on the back was a risky move, but proved to be as ergonomic as advertised in my experience and this allowed for a bezel smaller than any I’ve seen before. It’s difficult to comprehend by reading reviews, but having owned the 4.7” HTC One (M7) and 5.2” LG G2, they took up roughly the same hand real estate, despite have a .5” larger display.

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Most recent shot from PhoneArena show a more clear image of a polycarbonate back and not aluminum.

The one thing I could not stand on the G2 (and the reason I ended up returning it) was the polycarbonate shell. Despite being a large guy who perspires easily, I’ve never had issue with slippery phones from my experience with iPhones, the HTC One, or the Nexus 5. But without a matte finish or aluminum body, the polycarbonate finish (much like the Galaxy S4) would take any moisture from my hand and act as a lubricant, making the device feel cheap and grimy.

From the renders and new commercial launched, it appears that LG heeded the complaints and took a page out of HTC’s book in resolving the issue. The pictures leaked leads us to believe the G3 will use a similar brushed aluminum uni-body like the M8, but given alleged specks, it seems much more likely it’ll be a brushed polycarbonate finish that mimics aluminum.

What I’m most interested in seeing how the 3200 mAh battery will handle the 2k display. The G2 was a beast when it came to battery life, utilizing a slightly smaller 3000 mAh battery, but it also a smaller 1080p screen. My guess is that the new, more efficient Snapdragon 801 will use less battery life and the difference between the two devices will be a wash, but we will have to wait and see.

The G3 likely won’t beat the S5 in sales, but that has more to do with Samsung’s marketing monster than it does the G3’s possible shortcomings. The only thing the S4 had over the G2 was a removable battery and micro-USB expansion (both of which are available with the G3). Take away Touch-Wiz and LG’s UI, install a custom ROM, and these devices are very similar, with the G2 besting the S4 in internal storage, processor speed, screen size, battery size, and a better chipset.

The reality is that top end specs and superior hardware won’t be able to compete with the marketing department with seemingly unlimited funding (look at sales of the beautiful and acclaimed HTC One M7) that is Samsung. But at the end of the day, that’s okay. LG Electronics division is very profitable on their top of the line TV’s, home appliances, and lighting technology so they can afford to take risks with their mobile technology. It is this push for innovation that will drive the market to compete and improve and, ultimately provide the consumer with the absolute best it can offer.

 

Source: PhoneArena; GottaBeMobile