Nexus 3: Dual Core, Ice Cream Sandwich, Super AMOLED Plus, and More

June 27, 2011
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    With the launch of two Gingerbead pre-installed Nexus devices already on sale, Google is hard at work creating quite a buzz in the marketplace – but that’s not enough for us. Since the official announcement of the upcoming version of Android at Google IO 2011, Ice Cream Sandwich, which is, essentially, a combination of Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0+ Honeycomb into a “cohesive whole”, the whole industry is abuzz with speculation, rumors,and increased excitement around the third Nexus device that is set to be formally announced sometime at the end of Q3/ early Q4.

    Below you will find a few new features we can anticipate from the next Nexus.

    Dual Core

    A while ago, the Android operating system was not able to fully utilize two discreet application processors. Google changed that in Honeycomb for tablets, and we can expect those changes to carry over with the Ice Cream Sandwich update for Android smartphones too.

    If Google wants to show off the new additions to the platform, a multi-core phone is definitely going to happen. And, if Android is revamped to understand multiple cores, the flagship device will have a bunch of candidates for the SoC  in the Nexus 3. Perhaps the most exciting (and least likely) is the Tegra 3, currently codenamed Kal-El. This is a quad-core Nvidia SoC that has only been demoed as a reference design. The OMAP4 series chips from TI are also possible candidates, clocked around 1.5GHz. The OMAP4 platform will boast impressive graphics with the SGX540 GPU, and has fantastic imaging capabilities.

    Qualcomm has started getting its newest dual-core Snapdragon SoCs in phones as well. Current models use the Scorpion core pioneered in first gen Snapdragons, but the first Krait Snapdragons are slated to go into production very soon. So this too would be a good fit, and plenty speedy; or maybe the Tegra 3 or the Hummingbird. Either way, all the options on the table are rock solid, and are going to pack plenty of horsepower to ensure a incredibly responsive experience on the Nexu 3.

    RAM

    While dual-cores may finally become a necessary feature in Ice Cream Sandwich, the amount of RAM is going to be the core and most crucial component to maximize the functionality of the hardware. One of the most useful things on the platform will be that the ability to jump in and out of running apps. Ice Cream Sandwich will almost certainly be able to run more services and use more RAM just on its own. Google will likely have to bump up from the customary 512MB featured in a lot of device of yesteryear, and so, we can easily anticipate that it will have either 768MB or 1GB of RAM in the next Nexus device.

    Screen

    Google has previously demonstrated a preference towards OLED-type screens on their first two Nexus phones. The Nexus One has a standard AMOLED and the Nexus S had a Super AMOLED. Samsung is the the largest maker of AMOLEDs, but is still falling short on supplies of the screens themselves. So, the question is this: If the next Nexus is not a Samsung device, will the OEM be able to source enough AMOLED screens? Or will Google turn to Super LCD like the HTC and other manufacturers had to due to the AMOLED shortage back in 2010 summer?

    Super AMOLED on far right, and SLCD on the left two

    To this day, most AMOLED phones are Samsung phones. However, we are hoping that Google will ensure the OEM has the components worked out ahead of time to secure Super AMOLED Plus panels in the upcoming Nexus flagship device from Google.

    As for resolution, we anticipate Ice Cream Sandwich will have a revamped UI to take advantage of higher resolution screens. A 960×540 resolution is a fair bump up over WVGA, given that current manufacturing technology can achieve this pixel density. AMOLEDs may get an upgrade from WVGA to 720p HD as well.

    If the Nexus 3 ditches the system buttons, a larger screen, say 4.3-inches, will be a necessity. On the other hand, rumors are saying that it is likely that the device will have no physical button, aside from the usual volume rocker and power-on button. While we aren’t necessarily opposed to this, capacitive buttons do seem to have a lot of issues, and most OEMs don’t use physical buttons.

    Carrier and Data Technology


    This is the real question, isn’t it? Will you be able to get the Nexus 3 on your carrier? The last two Nexus phones came out first on T-Mobile USA, with the same variant was then pushed out to international carriers in an unlocked format. The HSPA radio in the Nexus One and S lacked 3G bands for AT&T, and there was of course a CDMA radio. Later revisions of the phones came to AT&T, but they were in short supply.

    Given the situation with AT&T attempting to swallow up T-Mobile, we would be surprised if Google goes the same route as last time. Google has been getting awfully cozy with Sprint as of late with Google Voice integration, Google Wallet, and the Nexus S 4G. Google may well put out the next Nexus on Sprint first. Since most of the world runs on GSM, a corresponding version of the phone is going to be needed. It could be that we’ll see one device with a worldwide compatible radio set up, like the newly announced Motorola Photon 4G.

    Simultaneously, we will have to keep an eye over the LTE network it would work on and Verizon is very protective of their network, and allowing a device managed only by Google on might not work for them. AT&T is supposed to have LTE up and running by late 2011, but they haven’t been on the best of terms with Google.

    Our prediction is that you should expect a Sprint version of the Nexus 3. GSM users the world over won’t be left out, and this could come in the form of one device with multiple radios, or a different SKU.

    We’re still swimming in rumors here, folks. There are no concrete details on what the next Nexus will be, but we can at least make some educated guesses. Multi-core seems like a lock, as does increased RAM. It also seems likely Google will stick with AMOLED technology for the screen, even if the OEM needs to work out a costly deal with Samsung ahead of time. The situation with US carriers is still in flux, so this bit is more wild speculation on our part, but Sprint is in a good position to get some Nexus love. What do you think the Nexus 3 will look like? Do you believe the rumours? While little is still known, we do know one thing. We know that the next Nexus will be the phone to beat,  and will be the first to receive the Android Ice Cream update. Stay tuned for more Nexus 3 rumors!

    Also, if you’re interested in what carrier in the US has the fastest 4G speeds , then check out our review of each carrier here.

    We’ve also got a direct high speed connection to the Nexus 3 rumor mill here, too.

    Comments

    • Anon

      Hope they bring the sd card back. With most carriers forcing limited data plans on their customers, local space is more important than ever.

    • Guest

      I agree, no SD card = no purchase. In fact it would be nice if they would make a phone with dual SD card support… I have a 32gb card in my Nexus one and it’s almost full, wish I had more room to store movies and such for road trips where network coverage is spotty and Hulu and Netflix apps just don’t work well in those areas.

    • Guest

      I agree, no SD card = no purchase. In fact it would be nice if they would make a phone with dual SD card support… I have a 32gb card in my Nexus one and it’s almost full, wish I had more room to store movies and such for road trips where network coverage is spotty and Hulu and Netflix apps just don’t work well in those areas.

      • Cc

        just buy a phone that has a MIUI Rom available for it.

        Makes a carrier bloated ROM obsolete. MIUI ROMs fly.

        Check them out. Only requirement is that you can read the forums so that you don’t post millions of questions to the devs about how to install it.

        A little tech knowledge and you can make a bloated carrier installed ROM look like a go cart against a sports car.

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