Report: Nexus program retiring next year, Android Silver will take its place

by: Andrew GrushApril 29, 2014

Google Nexus 5 drop test aa 10

Earlier this month the web was abuzz with talk of Android Silver, a rumored program that places focus on near-stock Android devices from top OEMs. Now The Information has chimed in with their own details about the program, including Google’s plans to ax the Nexus line in favor of its Android Silver initiative.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumors about Google ending the Nexus program in favor of a re-branded Google Play Experience program, with the earliest reports going back as far as January. So what exactly is the Silver program, and how does it differ from both the Nexus program and existing Google Play Experience devices? Basically, Android Silver takes the best of both programs and rolls it into one experience.

Android Silver takes the best of the Nexus and GPe programs and rolls it into one experience

Like the GPe program, there can be more than one Android Silver device at a time. Where the programs differ is that Android Silver handsets won’t necessarily need to be 100% stock, though they will need to have minimal amounts of customization. Furthermore, the custom software and features that are present will need to be user-uninstallable without root access.

Another major change between the Android Silver program is that Google plans to offer these handsets directly through carriers. Google also has bigger ambitions when it comes to consumer reach, and is reportedly prepared to spend as much as a billion on Silver’s marketing campaign.

Google Nexus

What Google has to gain

For Google, Android Silver is about creating a unified Android experience to further combat the image of a “fragmented Android”. This means that Google will have more control over the software that runs on these devices, and will even have a say in the types of hardware specs and features that end up in qualified Android Silver products.

In short, this is about moving the Nexus and GPe program beyond Android enthusiasts and creating a program that is geared towards both Android fans and those simply looking for an unfragmented, unified mobile experience outside of Apple’s iPhone.

What the manufacturers and carriers have to gain

Reportedly Google will not only help market and sell devices that are accepted into the Silver program, they might even subsidize their costs. Google is also reportedly going to help maintain and develop the software, which puts a little less burden on manufacturers.

the Silver program will probably appeal primarily to manufacturers that have unestablished custom user interfaces or that are already stock-like

At least initially, the Silver program will probably appeal primarily to manufacturers that have less established custom UIs or have near-stock experiences already. This includes LG, Motorola and perhaps even Sony. In contrast, we imagine that Samsung and HTC will be less interested in participating, though the added benefit of heavy advertising could be enough to pique HTC’s interest.

For carriers, there are probably less immediate benefits to participating, especially if they aren’t allowed to put much (if any) carrier bloat onto these products. That said, money talks and more than likely will be the main motivator for many carriers. Free advertising won’t hurt any either.

htc one vs google play edition aa gpe standing

What consumers have to gain

Although it’s unclear how aggressive Android Silver pricing will be when compared with Nexus devices, the biggest advantage is that we will have multiple options when it comes to (nearly) pure Android devices with minimal bloat added on top.

For those that like having the most current Android version possible, giving Google more direct control also means that Android Silver devices should receive updates much more quickly than typical Android devices.

Wrap up

As a Nexus fan, I’ll admit I am a little worried about a future without the low-cost Nexus family. Of course, devices like the Moto G and OnePlus One have taught us you don’t have to be a Nexus device to have aggressive pricing.

Even if the pricing does end up higher than current Nexus offering, the Android Silver program looks like a step in the right direction and could go a long way towards rectifying some of Android’s perceived weaknesses such as slower updates, UI consistency and OS fragmentation.

As for when we might see the Android Silver program? Reportedly the program will first arrive sometime next year in major markets including the United States, Germany and Japan. Emerging markets are expected to follow a bit further down the road.

[poll id=”566″]

  • Kacho_ON

    Brace yourself, butthurt Nexus fanboys are coming

    • David Hart

      Consider me butthurt

    • Mf Lye

      my butt hurts badly now……. nOOooOOooOoo

      • samsung4ever

        its very confusing i will stay with samsung

  • Guest

    my butt hurts badly now….

  • MasterMuffin

    I’m a little said but also happy for the millions of people who will get the possibility to experience stock Android!

    “…geared towards both Android fans and those simply looking for an unfragmented, unified mobile experience outside of Apple’s iPhone.” Windows Phone? :D

    • Andrew Grush

      Windows? What’s Windows? :P

    • Juan A C

      Exactly. Loving the idea of a nexus-like experience, but geared towards the masses.

    • Guest123

      you’re a little “said” . . . I say, f’em. . . just kidding.

      I think this is bad. Now I’m really pushing for OnePlus to really take off and take over as THE low cost top of the line spec whore that has an open clean Android version. . . cause the prices of the GPE devices are ridiculous.

      • MasterMuffin

        I thought I had disabled auto-correct :/

        True dat, the prices are ridiculous!

        • Guest123

          The Sony Xperia Z Ultra GPE just took a $200 price drop — now it’s about the price I could have purchased it when it first became a GPE device.

          I’ll always go with an unlocked device, and I’m not paying over $400. . . ever. You have to draw a line somewhere. . . and that’s where I’m drawing it :D

    • Bryan Z

      I said it before and I’ll say it again, nexus is the only android phone I own and will buy until next year apparently lol

    • simpleas

      lol, I actually tried stock android and ran back to touchwiz. I will agree it is not the best looking but has gotten a lot better. I also threw nova prime on it as well like most of you guys will.

      • MasterMuffin

        I don’t even think TW looks that bad, but stock is just so much smoother and less bloated. I like being able to add features, not being forced to have them all

  • pytajnik

    wow this is truly amazing, I was hoping for something like this for ages, and by ages I mean a year or so.

  • Mf Lye

    will this be like those “developer’s edition” phones that cost as much as the unsubsidized phone without plan?

    • Guest123


      Seems like google caving in to samsung.

  • If the nexus line goes, I honestly don’t think i’d buy another android phone ever again unfortunately… The nexus 4 was my first smartphone and I was so impressed with it, I ordered the nexus 5 before I even read the store page! But every other android phone I’ve tried has left me unimpressed, there’s not one other phone that has even caught my attention (Besides the OnePlus One but invite) and I’ve always struggled to recommend any people to a samsung etc phone…

    • sdcoiner76

      Seems like you might like LG phones since you liked both Nexus 4 & 5. With that in mind when you need a new Android devive you could just see if LG has a Android Silver phone. You will still get the stock experience.

      • That is a good point, actually you just reminded me of the LG G2 which would be my choice of phone if the nexus line didn’t exist, but it’d still be a shame to see our beloved nexus line go…

        • grumpyfuzz

          Don’t count on the Nexus program dying off. People used to say the Nexus one was the only Nexus device, then oh, surprise! Nexus S was announced. There have been many rumors like this before, so I won’t believe it until I see it.

      • Guest123

        Most likely they will cost a lot more than you could find elsewhere for the same device.

        • That’s another thing I would miss, the price… It’s so amazing how they manage this and I honestly don’t see why everyone get’s IPhones when this line is so cheap.

    • Guest123

      I have to agree with you however, with one addition. If you like rooting and ROMing your device, then any decent popular Android device is a go, but I wouldn’t recommend that to the average person.

      So, for my recommendations to friends and family who aren’t tech savy. . . oh, boy.

    • maxx1987

      moto x is essentially nexus plus some useful features that don’t get in the way. i’m curious why you would look past that and jump to apple right away.

      • Guest123

        No doubt. If you are OK with a smaller device the Moto X is stellar!

    • Mark Lynch

      After experiencing the freedom of Android how could you even contemplate going back to the restrictive and overpriced iphone? Also, how would you feel about typing on that girly puny sized screen? Seriously, the iphone is just too damn small for men it maybe ok for girls and teenagers but I couldn’t type on it and I couldn’t imagine watching netflix or tv catch up services on such a girly screen either.

      Any decent Android handset beats the iphone and that includes non Nexus devices like the One M8, G2, S5 or brilliant Z2. Lasts years models of these phones can be picked up pretty cheap and they still are top notch and piss all over the crappy iphone.

      No wonder Android now totally dominates across the globe and Apple should start looking over their shoulder and worry about Windows phone because second place is the only position they are now fighting for.

      I wish Steve ‘worm food’ Jobs was around to see Apple’s fall from grace.

      • MacGoose

        I understand what he’s talking about. When Nexus is cut the only place to get a phone without OEM crap is an iPhone. I’m keeping my Nexus 5 indefinitely if there’s no more a stock Androids comming out.

    • K2

      This program could turn every phone into a ‘nexus’ phone….software experience wise.

  • Mur

    “I’m intrigued, though I’ll be disappointed if Silver handsets don’t have near-Nexus pricing.”
    Pretty much exactly like I feel. Maybe it’ll be something like Microsoft Signature for pc’s.

  • So I guess Eldar Murtazin was pretty accurate on this one.

    • His accuracy rate is very high. I’m excited for Android silver. Less bloat, more Android. Google would be wise to encourage participating manufacturers to price these devices very aggressively. And they will save millions (looking at you Samsung) on development. None of the manufacturers have anything on pure Android – except for Cyanogen.

  • Bradley Uffner

    I’m really going to miss having a pure Google phone. On the other hand there is at least a chance to getting a mostly pure, Nexus like, device with an SD card now.

    • Siralf

      Amen brother

      • sluflyer06

        Because SD card slots are totally worth paying $600-700 instead of 350.

        • Siralf

          Is that what costs throwing an SD slot on a Nexus 5? Doubles the price?

          • sluflyer06

            It effectively what its going to cost you with the new program if the end result is basically a more polished GPE program and no Nexus phones. That is the going rate for flagship spec phones..

          • Siralf

            So… flagship phones don’t have better lenses for the camera, more megapixels, removable battery, better black levels, better materials, waterproof, dustproof, better speakers, 4K video, etc… plus tons of inhouse developed software, that I don’t particulary like but cost a lot to be made… yes, it must be just the SD card slot.

          • Dave Haynie

            It’s not the $0.50 cost of the SD card slot, but rather, the device priced for sale through telcos. If everyone bought their phones unlocked, the prices would scale directly with everything else in consumer electronics. Which would have most devices priced in the neighborhood of the Nexus phones… Nexus aren’t low spec devices, they’re cheap because Google isn’t selling them through telcos.

            But given that 99% of new phones in the US are sold through telcos, they set the effective price. If you make a phone, they buy it for some percentage of MSRP. You can set a low MSRP, but lose money on pretty much every phone. Or realize the telcos are your real customers, price it so you make a comfortable profit on every device, and live with the fact you $350 retail phone actually has to sell direct at $750.

            Why do telcos do this? Money and control. After all, while other hardware companies drool at Apple clearing an over 30% operating profit, some of the US telcos are clearing 50%. The super high MSRP scares customers into buying a subsidized phone with contract, and of course dramatically exaggerates the bonus they think they’re getting.. since apparently, consumers can’t even judge that a $25 cost Nokia candy bar phone shouldn’t retail at $180.

            Sad thing about this move is that it may well put an end to Google’s reasonable pricing.

  • CRiTiCaL_FLuX

    Like many others have said, if the high end of these Silver devices don’t have Nexus-like pricing, then I’m done with Android.

    • Guest123

      Come on Ubuntu Touch!!!

  • One thing I like about the Nexus devices is their minimal branding.
    No logos on the front face of the device.

    • Jérémy Castellano

      I guess they will keep this way to brand their device but this time we can expect a cute little bugdroid on the back or “silver” to replace the nexus branding.

  • KingofPing

    Awesome! Judging by the comments section, Silver will mark the end of the Nexus Fanboy Era, since they’ll all be leaving.

    Couldn’t be happier about that prospect!

  • Matthew Drago

    If android silver happens will google ditch the support for the nexus 5 and 7 ?

    • Guest123

      They only give 18 months support, thus they don’t have long anyways.

    • Marikel

      Well, support for the original Nexus 7 has probably been dropped already (18 month support window) and the Nexus 5 will probably drop support around May 2015 (maybe a bit later if a new version of Android comes out shortly after, just like 4.3 on the Galaxy Nexus).

  • Shark Bait

    How about a nexus silver ?

  • Xhulio Zyfi

    why dont they sell them worldwide here in Albania i wont be able to buy them

  • John Garlits

    It’s sad to see Nexus go, but honestly I’ve skipped the past two. I had the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which was admittedly sabotaged by Verizon), and it was great when it came out, but over time the hardware issues got more annoying – bad battery life, lines in the screen, volume too low. In the end, it couldn’t be upgraded any more because of a cheap choice of processor. Nexus 4 had no LTE and a glass back (slippery, breaks easily like iPhone) – I was stuck in my contract anyway, but no thanks. I could have got the Nexus 5 this last time around, but I was again disappointed in the hardware in comparison to others, and I got the LG G2. If there had been a “silver” G2, I would have jumped on that. I’m hopeful this will lead to to some badass phones with nexus-like software. I had a Moto X for a short time (returned because the service it was tied to didn’t work out for me), and it was really awesome. Nice hardware, basically stock android with a few truly useful add-ons. That’s kind of what it sounds like “silver” phones will be, and you can take or leave the add-ons depending on how useful you find them. I’m looking forward to it.

  • maxx1987

    really excited for this, assuming it will be available on verizon. no more watching year after year being bummed that the next nexus device coming out isn’t accessible to me.

  • Red Colored Glasses

    I think this is a move in anticipation of Samsung dumping Android for Tizen. Samsung has the lion share of the market for Android, and losing Samsung will be a big loss for the OS. I personally don’t think it is a smart move as users seem to be more tied to an OS as opposed to a brand. Just my two cents.

  • Yan Qin

    So no more inexpensive high end phone?

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    Slightly sad. But maybe this could mean android will have more features that some may want to have. And then maybe this becomes widespread and Google cracks down on oems forcing everyone to have at least one silver device.

    And the when you don’t like samsung’s camera app you could just use stock. Meaning all apps can be uninstalled and replaced with others. It’s like software modification.

    I’d like this if you could get it all over and customize the software like that but could do more than stock android now.

  • takpro

    I am a fan of Android and Google, but in all honesty, when discussing the management direction of Google, it would not be shocking to hear the word “schizophrenia” dropped in the conversation.

    • Guest123

      true that. . . I’ve stopped using a lot of their services due to the constant changing and inconsistencies — it was making me schizophrenic.

      And I hear a lot of complaints from friends about this.

  • Anonymousfella

    So there’s a possibility of getting a Nexus like device with a sd card slot? I’m sold.

    • elpcmaster

      Those are already available. It is called Galaxy S4 Play Edition.

      • Anonymousfella

        True.I had forgotten about that.Well, more devices with sd card slot. Choice is always good…

      • David Gabel

        Or the HTC One M8 Google Play Edition

  • Fabian Taveras

    I love the nexus line but I don’t have a problem with change if this means a more efficient and unified android.

  • reknaw a

    sounds a bit crap

  • shred

    I’m not much worried about the price tag. What worries me more is if these devices will be available outside the US market.

  • Mark Lynch

    Personally, I like the wide diversity that exists in Android and the various software options on the different manufacturer’s handsets. Do we really want Android to become as bland as IOS or Windows phone?

    Some people like stock, some HTC Sense and others touchwiz – that’s the beauty of Android, there are different options for different tastes. Different skins may mean Android updates take longer but again this doesn’t matter one bit to me. People make way to much about this issue and the general masses don’t give a damn as long as their phones does what it needs them to do.

    I bet most people could even tell whether their phone was running Jellybean or KitKat so miniscule are the differences. Android has reached a point where the OS is so smooth and sophisticated that new updates will only involve minor tweaks here and there.

  • Woe, Is [S]unjay

    I just hope that they have near-Nexus pricing.

  • Corbin Crutch

    I REALLY hope that Android Silver fixes this issue and helps the overall unity of Android. Not only should it replace the Nexus program by allowing devices to be cheaper, but I hope it begins a new process of platform design ubiquity. Not only on the carrier and the custom UI side, but on the lack of modern UI style apps. In iOS, almost all of the apps just seem to mesh together nicely and give the OS an overall look, but in Android… not so much; and seeing as how much I use apps and the ideology that apps are what the platform revolves around, it’s disappointing to see a separation of design there.

    • Mark Lynch

      So you want every Android handset to offer up the same kind of experience? Android will then be as boring as the other 2 operating systems. Diversity is Androids strength and not it’s weakness.

      • Corbin Crutch

        Okay, this is where things get both good and bad. I like the diversity and the choise, but at the same time I would want stock android to do well in the unity of the ecosystem. I still would want launchers and all the mods and roms and such but still think that the stock experience should be more whole feeling

  • YellowDevil

    The main complaint I see here is price…? As long as it doesn’t go beyond the price of an iPhone, I can’t see the big deal. If you want a value phone, get a flipper like your grandparents. I’m all for this move if everyone gets updates on time. Don’t know if anyone else saw that part of the transition before they checked their wallets

  • Groud Frank

    The only advantage stock Android has over a modified version of Android is update speed. The precieved increased smoothness and speed that comes with stock Androids is just placebo. Stock Android is also boring, plain and bland. If this silver thing is anything like the GPe program then expect a more expensive phone with less features. OEMs will not cooperate with Google if they took their flagship and sold it cheaper than they do or for the same price. Android is built on the Linux Kernel which is free and open source. Linux has traditionally been free, flexible, customisable, non-convergent and non-conformist. Instead of further confusing consumers let OEMs do what they want with Androids and you do what you want with with the Nexus line.

    • Thomas

      That isn’t even remotely true. Stock Android is noticably faster/snappier than TouchWiz.

  • thartist

    To me this sounds TOO PERFECT to be true. Stock with minimal overhead but core additional OEM features, with the possibility to uninstall, made widely available by carriers? Sign me in RIGHT THE HELL OUTTA NOW!

  • Alex

    I can’t see a change of name making any difference. You can still change direction and keep the name in tact.

    All I can say is that I hope the experience is better than my nexus 4 which was surpassed by its predecessor, the iPhone 4, no not even any S. I get really pissed off with inconsistencies between apps. Two mail apps what for? I would just use the gmail app but I cannot get my other accounts onto it by following the given instructions. Those 2 apps are starting to look the same, but why weren’t they they same from the beginning? If you believe one format is the best then use that throughout.

    I gave up on hangouts even though I like the idea of the integration because when you select a contact it doesn’t tell you if it is a number to SMS or an email address. Maybe it has changed I haven’t checked.

    There are so many niggling inconsistencies. But the thing I notice most is that it invariably takes at least one more step to perform tasks compared to iPhone.

    But the most annoying thing is how slowly it plays youtube. How can a google product play so much more slowly on a google device?

  • Blowntoaster

    this would be great, but it needs to cater for all levels of the market.
    Budget level, mid range and high end devices. And the pricing needs to stay close to current Nexus pricing.

  • Ivan Budiutama

    It’s very confusing and I don’t like the sound of this “Another major change between the Android Silver program is that Google plans to offer these handsets directly through carriers.” In my country these words means either “will never be available in this country, just dream lol” or “Hey we got unlock version but it will cost you like 50% higher of normal price” (for example, Nexus 5 here cost you about USD 530 for 16 GB version here. Oh and S5? Z2? it’s about USD 770)

  • AndroidBrian

    Its to early to know if this is good or bad. I’m leaning towards bad. Nexus phones are the dookie.

    It kinda just sounds like Google is going to release Google play edition of phones and call it android silver. These Google Play edition phones (silver) will be available through carriers so people can buy them at subsidized pricing & payment installments.

    Hopefully there is still a premium phone running stock android for $350.


    I Love these Wish List / Rumor Blogs pretending to be factual Articles.

    I said last August Nexus is over after the 5, Everyone laughed. GPE was the writing on the wall for that. Unfortunately GPE sales make Nexus sales look like iToy sales! And Nexus sales are all but a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. Lets be clear other than a few hundred developer, who are mostly given the phones by Google and a bunch of wannabee Developers or the Custom ROM geeks, Nexus ONLY has sales because Google Sells them near cost. At full retail they wouldn’t even exist.

    Please keep in mind, This is NOT a bash Android / Google / Nexus rant it is just facts.

    Google wants to be Apple so bad they are willing to blow BILLIONS to accomplish it, The Problem however is, even after losing BILLIONS, (Motorola), they failed miserably. The idea never even stood a chance of succeeding, since Android exist at the whim of the other OEM’s And until the day comes that Google Grows a set and decides they will do EVERYTHING needed to become Applle, which means No other Android Manufacturer and ZERO Carrier interference, They never will be. Thus they should stop trying to be and do what they do best, which is.As Sales, Search & Free software, Distributed on and by 100’s of models by countless OEM’s with multiple versions, of the OS or highly modified nightmare to upgraded versions of it.

    Android shot to the top by offering cheap products at cheap prices (The first version of which were truly crap) and allowing the Carriers and OEM’s free reign. This caused unsolvable long term problems, but it allowed them to steadily surge past apple with their efficient Single OEM / Single software approach.
    Like it or Not, that is what Android is. They are never going to be an OEM again and since they are unwilling to lock down Android. they should really just give up on trying to become apple, Before you even say it or thing it = Project ARA is D.O.A.

    Which is better? Beats me I prefer android since 4.4.2 over iOS, not for the usually parroted reasons of, Customization, Choice etc,, Reasons that by the way fall on deaf ears to 95% of all iOS users. But rather for two simple reasons; screen size and the ability to use my phone as an external HD.(No itunes) Other than that, the differences between iOS and Android are all but negligible to me. Add to that, every Google app is available on iOS and until recently , the iOS versions were usually better!.

    Which brings us back to this wishlist Blog. Nothing in it is even remotely true other than Nexus is ending.

  • Alu Zeros

    I feel like we’ve become the generation of people compared to the kids in the at&t commercial (More is better than less because if there’s more less stuff, then you might want to have some more). In my opinion, don’t need GPE phones, just Nexus line with a low, mid, high tier devices, and let other companies come out with whatever flavors/spin of Android they want.

  • MacGoose

    Near stock is simply not good enough.

  • Ahmed Safarini

    I think this is a great step , since most of the companies know how to build a good HW but when it come to the software they quite a losers , this already proved with Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 that people prefer over the LG G phones which is quite the same HW , not only for the price but mainly to get faster and up-gradable software .

  • amyunus

    Google, beat Oppo, OnePlus, and Xiaomi! ..if you can.

  • The Doom Master

    Well kinda Depressed here … so all i can say is Good bye Android Hello Windows Phone?