Report: Google plans to take an ‘Apple-like’ approach to the Nexus line

by: Jimmy WestenbergFebruary 1, 2016
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nexus 6p vs nexus 5x aa (3 of 25)

Google’s Nexus line has been constantly changing ever since its inception. Are Nexus devices aimed at the high-end market, budget-friendly crowd, or somewhere in between? That’s sort of the beauty of it all, really, as each Nexus phone is different in its own way. This is thanks in part to OEM partnerships. Google has reached out to Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG and Huawei in the past to make its Nexus smartphones, which ensures each Nexus device is unique in its own way. But if a new report from The Information proves true, Google may be taking a bit more control over its precious Nexus line.

Nexus smartphones will be more akin to Google's Pixel line

According to this new report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has signaled to “colleagues and outsiders” that the company is planning on taking more control over the Nexus line, from hardware to software. Google already controls the software side of things, but this new route would essentially weed out OEM partners and see Google making the hardware as well. The move to control both the hardware and software is supposedly being put in place in order to make the Nexus line more like the iPhone. The report states that this would strengthen Android’s brand overall in order to capture more share in the high-end market, an area in which Apple already dominates in many parts of the world. Google also doesn’t want its revenue-generating services on high-end devices to be at the mercy of Apple, like they are now.

With Google’s Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C tablet, Google built the hardware and software from top to bottom. This is essentially what the company will be doing with the Nexus line. Of course, Google will still be using processors, displays and other components from different manufacturers, but Google will be the sole company involved in building and producing the phone. The report also states that these new Nexus phones might only have Google’s name on them.

Ash_History_of_Nexus (78)See also: History of the Nexus family94

The Information also says that HTC has been in talks to produce this year’s Nexus phone, though given the new arrangement Google has been aiming for, HTC’s participation has been a controversial topic inside the Taiwanese company’s headquarters.

Overall, this move makes sense, and doesn’t at the same time. Google makes a good amount of its money from services on Apple devices, so it makes sense that Google would want to take control of its own services, and how much money it makes from them. Alternatively, this seems like an odd choice for the Nexus line. In the past, Nexus smartphones have not only showcased the latest versions of Android, but they have also acted as a way to increase brand awareness for OEMs. Nexus phones also gave hardware companies a better look at how to build better Android phones.

What are your thoughts? If the report proves true, would you support Google’s decision to take a more iPhone-like approach to the Nexus line? Be sure to speak up in the comments below.

  • IraqiSwaq21

    HTC doing the next nexus is honesty giving me 2nd thoughts and worries due to HTC’s Mess up in 2015. Hell I say Sony or Samsung would be a better manufacturer

    • Gordon Alvarado

      I would kill for a Sony Nexus, but I’m probably going to die before that ever happens

      • Hunter Miller

        Or Sony’s Mobile division will die before that happens

        • Gordon Alvarado

          Wow, your probably right haha

      • IraqiSwaq21

        lol yeah i know what you mean! We would probably get 4k and an amazing camera if sony was next, but heres waht I’m worried about: If people complain about 2k wasting battery life, DEAR LORD IMAGINE 4K!

    • Chris

      They did the first nexus as well as the first Android phone. It might help them financially by doing another nexus phone

      • Arman

        Also Google will make sure they make a good phone.

    • joshua

      Not if they can’t provide good front facing speakers and I have yet to see Samsung build a phone with speakers that Wowed me. Even their head phone jacks offer poor sound quality compared to the competition.

  • XDA bloke

    As long as the user experience remains the same I don’t see a problem. Easy root, custom ROMs, stuff like that. Stock android, of course.

    • Xavier_NYC

      100% agree.. Top of the line specs with everything you mentioned would be great.

  • Google does know that means they’ll have to beat Samsung but they are the iPhones of Android. LG have been trying to catch up to catch to Samsung for years but maybe Google will succeed because people won’t be put off by the LG brand like most people typically are if its not their TVs.

    • Chris

      Or lackluster appliances

      • balcobomber25

        I love my LG washer and dryer.

  • pabulum

    Quality issues blight Nexus phones so if this helps then all good, but Google has a helluva long way to go to get anywhere near Apple, and I say that as a long-term Nexus fan.

    • TrueNorth00

      I don’t think the gap is that huge. Particularly when you value proposition. Nexus phones are built by third-party OEMs with cost constraints imposed by Google. Imagine taking away the middle management. Google could easily pull off quality on par with Apple.

      • p3ngwin

        which they already do, with the Pixel line.

  • JaggedXJ

    I’m very confused why Google services on Apple devices were brought up, twice. WTF does that have to do with the new model for making Nexus devices?

    • Jimmy Westenberg

      Google makes a lot of money from its services on Apple devices. So if Apple were to cut down on including Google’s services on iPhones in the future (which they likely will), Google would lose money. Google is now pushing into the high-end market more than they ever have before so they won’t have to rely on Apple as much.

      • balcobomber25

        Not so much Google Services, it’s advertising. In 2014 Google made 11.8 billion in Mobile advertising, 9 billion of that came from iOS. A lot of it comes from China where Google is blocked.

  • Gaurav Pandey

    I happy to see this information, i was waiting for this. Also, some more stuff. I appreciate some aspects of Apple like iCloud backup. I want that too for Google.

    • Chris

      I’d love for software updates to come from Google. Not carriers

    • chrizbie

      Like Google drive? And gmail contacts backup? And photos backup? Icloud sucks as soon as you turn it off everything gets deleted forever

      • Gaurav Pandey

        I am aware of those but i am interested in Appdata and it’s settings. Phone settings. Alarm settings. Default Launcher and drawer layout. Like iTunes where you have an option to backup/restore entire phone.

    • balcobomber25

      Google already has that. Everything on my phone gets backed up to Google Drive and Google Photos…..

      • Kanex

        Everything on your phone? Not really. Android really lacks in the backup/easy upgrade department. Heck Google doesnt even have an equivalent to the local backup through iTunes,Apple has. Shame.

        • balcobomber25

          Everything on my phone:

          Files/Contacts/Messages/Wifi Passwords/Apps back up to Google Drive
          Photos backup to Google Photos
          Music is all stored in Google Play Music (50,000 songs for free).

  • Nibbler

    Yay?

  • Chris

    Thousands of Android nerds were screaming in their mothers basements when they read the title. Mothers came to check up at them and the nerds yelled at her and threw an empty can of Mt dew at her..

    • balcobomber25

      Sounds like you are telling us your life story….

  • jas grewal

    very good decision hurry up

  • AbbyZFresh

    Good For Google.

    The manufacturers on the other hand will hate this idea. This makes them essentially dumb pipe for Nexus.

  • E Stoner

    isn’t this a rumor every year? that Google will start making their own phones? I say it’s a pipe dream

    • balcobomber25

      It has been but with the Chromecast, Pixel and Pixel C it is starting to become a reality that they can sell their own branded devices with success.

  • nebulaoperator

    That’s the only way to go for google . To be apple of android and they can do it. All is there ecosystem is most important hardware is doable. I can see more OEM’s will be struggling to compate with NExus line. Some will go bust or simply will change they focus to something similar or simply drop out. That’s when truly innovations will kick out, market is saturated there must be plateau and then boom!

  • sjesudasan

    Having more control over hardware is good in one sense but on the other hand, does google have the volume to negotiate for better price while sourcing its components? I’m afraid this direction will increase the selling price of the phone

  • Scott Harris

    It’s necessary.

  • Marc Dostie

    Did they already try this when they bought Motorola Mobility and then got cold feet, ripped out their IP and sold the brand to Lenovo…

    • balcobomber25

      Nope. The Moto purchase was about one thing and only one thing: Patents. Google didn’t care about the phone business, they wanted the patents, which amounted to 17000 issued patents and 7500 applications for new patents. Patents are worth far more in the mobile industry than any single brand.

      • kld2009

        Yep. GUTS!

    • kld2009

      Yep. Pulled out Moto X’s heart & guts & sold the husk to Lenovo. :P

  • charlie Jason

    Hopefully having only google designing the phone, there will be less compromises.
    Even though my 6P is pretty good, I still find a lot of compromises, like the lack of OIS and slower flash storage compared to iPhone 6S.

  • JESUS MEDINA

    Although I would not mind a Sony Nexus myself,butni can see the benefits of them producing 100 percent of the phone.

  • A H

    This is good news and long over due, its time to put those motorola patents for some home grown built from the ground up Google Nexus mobile devices

  • Arman

    Sounds like a good plan!

  • adasd

    The biggest issue with the nexus line is that it is starting from scratch every year. There is no room for refinement like every other phone has.

    This is excelent news

  • Aris Routis

    That would be a big mistake. Google does not wish to be a hardware company controlling the os as well because that would pose a threat to the companies providing devices running android. I think they are more clever than that.

  • John Doe

    Why not.. One of Google’s/Androids biggest issues has been OS fragmentation. This way Google/Android have the power
    to control updates, etc. The only missing point is the carrier buy-in, which Google could fix by becoming a carrier themselves which is not
    much different than their Google Fibe venture.
    Google already has a lot of control with their Nexus Line, moving to a truly internal build/design is just the next step ..

    • DDD

      What magical fairy is stopping Google from giving out updates? Nothing is wrong with their OS either. The Nexus line gets stock Android and other OEMs get to build unto that. That’s not fragmentation.

      • John Doe

        Not everyone buys their Nexus Phones directly from Google. Lots of users get their Nexus phones via Carriers, and are limited to Carriers sending out OSSecurity updates, etc.
        OS Fragmentation is due to OEM’s not updating their phones with the latest OS’s, etc. Maybe the Fragmentation comment should have been dropped from my last post .. :(

        • DDD

          Well that’s something. I was under the impression that Nexus phones would get updates as Google sends them out, regardless of what SIM card is inside the phone. That’s really counter-intuitive.

          • John Doe

            If you do not buy your phones directly from Google, then you are still at the mercy of the carrier.. tho that being said carriers are supposed to just pass the upgrades on to users, but there are never any true guarantees.
            I have been lucky that Telus actually is good at passing on updates and security updates ..

  • Anothermuse

    This seems to be annual rumor, which of course could be true. The question always is though, why Google would want to aggravate their OEM partners by more directly competing against them. And Google doesn’t make phones so not sure why they would want to get into the hardware business. The real answer is something like the now dead Silver program. Or letting OE’s each make a Nexus version of their flagships that would have to be certified by Google but again, those programs failed before.

    • abazigal

      The best answer I can think of is – because Google is now in a position of power and can afford to do anything they want. If an OEM partner is pissed, what are they going to do? switch to Windows phone? Tizen? Firefox? And for every OEM that does leave, there are probably many others lining up to take their place.

      This is a different time from the beginning days of Android when Google basically gave up all control of Android in favour of market share. Google has all but become the new Microsoft of the smartphone world and it can play one OEM against another should they so desire.

  • TrueNorth00

    Nexus Pixel!!!!

  • Marty

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Google can’t even get their Nexii updates right.

  • Pez Smith

    1. Keep the Nexus products by OEMs
    2. Create a new phone line in the Pixel range, e.g. Pixel P

    • Marty

      Agreed. Isn’t a Nexus kind of like a center hub with spokes in all directions? That would more akin to the many OEMs making Nexii than one single entity.

    • They already have brand awareness with Nexus though so I doubt they’ll do that.

    • Gaurav Pandey

      Love the idea of “Pixel :P”

  • Bobby Wright

    This is what ive been waiting for for years! Samsung won’t be happy but they’ve honestly wanted to wean itself off Android with Tizen for a good while anyways. Everyone else will just need to fend for themselves…

  • Jumperone

    I’m waiting for this soooo long. I hope that’s truth!

  • Mark

    Yes please.

  • Remodel Guy

    Why not implement a Pixel phone and keep the Nexus as a more budget friendly pure Android version? I mean if they were to copy Apple, wouldn’t that mean they need to design the critical internals and have them built anyway? If they just pick and choose existing components and package them in a Google-designed device, what’s the difference from having LG or others do all the work? It would seem that having a phone manufacturer design and build a phone to your specs would be vastly cheaper than doing it all in house. I say keep a Nexus line with the same strategy of the past few years and then go all out with a Pixel phone that can be as controlled by Google as they want. Oh, it will be high end and expensive too.

    • Joshua Hill

      They will. I wouldn’t trust AA’s interpretation of this leak. A few weeks ago rumours began circulating about a Pixel phone.

    • Jason Wilson

      I like the idea of Pixel phones being top of the line in every way, and Nexus remains the budget line. Both the Pixel and Nexus line come in 2 variants: 5″-5.2″ and 6″. The specs are the same for both sizes in their respective categories.

  • Jerry Stringer Jr

    Its about Damn time, I want a phone from Google that rivals apple in hardware and software. I’m tired of being held hostage from manufacturers for updates. This would also in sense put an end to the fragmentation issue they have. If you buy from Google there is zero fragmentation, or you buy from a different manufacturers then you will put up with always being a year or so behind in software updates. If this truly happens I will never buy a phone from any one else period. After buying a S6 from AT&T and having developers phones for the past 3 years and nexus devices before that I WILL NEVER do it again. The only reason I did get the S6 was solely for camera and I think it is a sexy ass phone, but 98% for the camera.

  • teomor

    I really don’t care.. I won’t be buying their stuff if the batteries keep lasting half of what the competitors offer. Or if they insist on using the damn soft keys which take up unnecessary screen space and also eat unnecessary battery. Did you ever compare a 4.7″ screen without soft keys to a 5.2″ screen with soft keys, side by side? They’re the same actually usable space.. Google is slowly turning the Android experience into something worse and I have moved further and further away from their philosophy, lately.

    • joshua

      I like the soft keys they are there when they need to be and don’t take up unnecessary space on the front of the device when they don’t. Leaving room for the daul front facing speakers. Which is far more practical than a dedicated button you are constantly hitting by accident.

      • joshua

        Also they did a good job with improving battery life with marshmallow.

  • Diego

    Ok, google.
    This is what you would need.
    1. control of the software, kicking everybody out.
    2. Make android from scratch.
    Make features more user-friendly, put some thought into the features.
    3. developer support.
    Now, you need to block pirated apps from android.
    Sorry, but thats the only way.
    4. Brand awareness.
    Thats almost impossible to do.
    5. better marketing.

  • Joshua Hill

    These won’t be Nexus phones they will be Pixel phones.

    Remember the rumour of multiple vendors doing Nexus devices that turned out to be a different program, GPe??? Same thing here, this is seperate to the Nexus program.

  • AndroidBrian

    A Nexus with the latest hardware, a SD card & nothing but nexus branding will be nice. Make a more affordable version (iphone c). Smaller screen and a bigger screen version 5.5 – 5.7. Release it immediately with all 4 major cell phone carriers & I’m sure it would be successful.

    • joshua

      I agree SD support would be a nice addition specially being able to use it as internal memory.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    ‘Apple-like’ ????? Come on. Is this an Apple media?
    Nokia did it long ago. Right?
    Whatever some company do is ‘apple-like’, or ‘StJobs has tried it long ago but leaved it for later’ . iPathetic. LOL

    • abazigal

      And look at where Nokia is today. I don’t think Nokia came anywhere close to the fanatical amount of control Apple wields over its own ecosystem. Apple has shown that owning the whole stack is very risky, yet immensely profitable if done right.

      Yes, many companies have tried to do what Apple has done. The main difference is that Apple is successful, while the rest likely won’t even be remembered in history books.

  • Shellyman 8K

    As long they keep the front facing speakers trend then I’m fine with it. :)

  • joshua

    I don’t have a problem with it so long as they make a budget phone and a high end phone. They need to continue to keep the nexus 6 close to 6 in no less than 5.7″. I just want to see the Nexus line to continue to improve. They did a great job with the Nexus 6p. I want that kind of thinking to continue. I think if HTC does make the Nexus this year they should follow in Huewa’s footsteps in every way but boom sound would be a welcomed addition.

  • joshua

    I want to see the day that the Nexus line becomes the best android phone on the market.

    • Colton Blumhagen

      Are you paying attention? The 65 is one of the best, if not the best on the market.

  • That One Guy

    No offense, but here is what is funny about this entire debate! People talking about rooting (I did it in the past), and other benefits of stick Android but, people who root and love stock make up less than 10% of the entire ecosystem of people who use Android around the world. The reason I am stating this is because I hear all this about nexus devices (owned the nexus 5 for 2 months and traded it for a note 4). I do not know about all cities, but the only time I saw a person with a nexus device other than myself was when t-mobile carried the nexus 4. That was only one time those. Nexus users are such a small portion of the Android ecosystem, people actually like features! I stopped rooting because most customs are so buggy it is not worth it. I see nothing wrong with 4k. As long as my phone lasts all day, that is great. I hear people saying batteries should last 2 days, are we not sleeping within 24 hrs. I do not understand some people’s logic, no offense. I am not sure about everyone else’s eyes, but I can tell the difference between 4k and 2k, just like I can 720p and 1080p. Let technology keep moving forward. I like the idea of Google attempting to take more control, because updates should never take 6 months.

  • joshua

    I think this could be a great idea if they would do something like moto maker and let you build your perfect android phone choice of screen size, proccesor, front facing speakers, SD support, pay for what is important to you.

  • AndroidBrian

    Google should do this. For other phone manufacturers, they can still release a Google play edition.

  • smokebomb

    This has been in the works for at least a year, maybe two. I support this move. It can only lead to better performance because the software and hardware will be made to work together. I’ve owned the galaxy nexus and the nexus 4. Outside of the small HDD space on the nexus 4, I’d have to say it’s one of the best phones I’ve ever owned.

  • EasyCare

    Yes please! I like the Apple-esque approach of taking care every aspects of the phone. That makes it consistent phone, but still customizable just like Android’s supposed to be.

  • SamsaraGuru

    The problem with being, becoming and maintaining the status of world’s biggest eight hundred pound gorilla is that even with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men at your disposal, beck and call, is that ultimately you come to believe that you can then be all things to all people – and, end up being nothing special to anyone in particular.

    Humongous Corporations like Apple, like Google or by whatever cute conglomeration of companies they go by now is that more and more they are moving in the direction of being a sclerotic edifice where lacking true entrepreneurial spirit they will opt for corporate, structured control.

    Nothing to be done about it in the end, like the huge dinosaurs that reigned supreme until a rock from outer space fell into their world and wiped them out – even Apple and Google will reach – are, have? – reached their apexes.

    Google, if moving in the direction of an Apple like dictatorial, draconian and totalitarian despotism, will ultimately find itself to have invited its own fall from grace into its presence.

  • Rohit Raja

    Yep this is a Good idea. Why did they not think this thru when they had motorola in their hands?

  • Rohit Raja

    Super Idea, Why’d they sell off motorola…Too Soon Google, way too soon…