Nexus 5 rumor roundup: specs, design, software, and release date [Updated]

October 14, 2013
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Nexus 5 at Android 4.4 KitKat statue unveiling

Update, October 14: we’ve updated the roundup with new info on the naming, specs, software, and release date of the Nexus 5.

It’s that time of the year again. Android manufacturers lined up their offerings for the all-important holiday season, Apple released its new iPhone, and now it’s Google’s turn to unleash a new version of the iconic Nexus.

With its absurdly low price tag, the Nexus 4 appeals to a wide audience, not just to a narrow niche of “pure Android” enthusiasts. Will the next phone in the series go down the same road? It sure seems so.

Thanks to some credible leaks and the usual mixture of unverified information coming off the rumor mill, we think we have a pretty good image of the next Nexus. Let’s break it down.

Name and code number

It’s very likely that the new smartphone in the Nexus series will be called Nexus 5. The name makes sense: first, the 2013 model is the fifth smartphone in the Nexus series; more importantly, the device will have a 5-inch (or approximately) display.

Google kept the Nexus 7 moniker for this year’s 7-inch tablet, and the tech giant is probably going to apply the same naming convention to its smartphone. However, having a 5-inch phone called Nexus 4 (2013) wouldn’t make much sense, so, unless Google decides to shake things up with a brand new name, Nexus 5 seems the safest bet.

Another clue is the wallpaper on the Nexus prototype leaked by TuttoAndroid, which shows a stylized “5” figure, similar to the stylized “7” on the wallpaper of the Nexus 7 (2013).

The Nexus 5 name appears in a log file that was allegedly downloaded from the new device, though the file also contains references to Nexus 4, as well as in the 7-minute hands-on leaked video

As for the code number of the device, FCC docs indicate that the Nexus 5 bears the LG-D820 designation. However, it is believed that LG-D821 (seen at Bluetooth SIG) also refers to the Nexus 5. Google apparently uses the codename Hammerhead to refer to the new Nexus internally.

Nexus 5 specs and features

Like its predecessor, the Nexus 5 is based on the hardware of an LG flagship, featuring specifications that are similar to those of the LG G2.

Knowing that, and using information extracted from several credible leaks, we can fill out most of the blanks in the Nexus 5 specification sheet.

  • 4.95″ Full HD IPS display
  • Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3Ghz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB of storage
  • 8MP rear facing camera with OIS
  • 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 2300mAh battery
  • NFC
  • Slimport compatibility
  • UMTS/GSM/CDMA/LTE compatability
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Pressure

Display

All rumors point to the Nexus 5 having a 4.95-inch Full HD IPS LCD display, slightly smaller than the 5.2-inch panel of the LG G2. This configuration translates to a pixel density of roughly 445ppi.

The display of the LG G2 received praises for its brightness, viewing angles, and color calibration, making us optimistic that the Nexus 5 will perform just as well. With that said, there’s no guarantee that LG will use the same type of panel on the Nexus, so better wait for the official release before drawing any conclusions.

Processor, RAM, and storage

It’s likely that the Nexus 5 will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 system-on-a-chip, comprised of four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU.

The Snapdragon 800’s 28nm CPU is faster and more efficient than the Snapdragon 600 chip that powers devices released in the first half of 2013. In benchmarks, the 800 consistently ranks at the top, and implementations of the processor in devices like the Galaxy Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z1 show that performance in real life is just as impressive. Running at 450MHz, the Adreno 330 GPU incorporated in the MSM8974 chip is another benchmark buster.

LG G2 Benchmarks

The Snapdragon 800-powered LG G2 does great in benchmarks

The Nexus 5 will feature 2GB of RAM, just like the LG G2. There will be two storage versions: 16GB and 32GB, with no microSD card support.

Camera and battery

Following the launch of the G2 and the release of FCC docs containing an image of the camera module of the alleged Nexus 5, there was some speculation that the new Nexus would feature the same 13MP camera as the G2. However, new leaks show that the Nexus 5 will be equipped with a different, 8MP rear camera.

The camera module includes a Sony-made IMX179 sensor, which prompted some to believe that the Nexus would come with a MEMS camera, though that rumor has been refuted.

We were initially skeptical that the Nexus 5 would feature an OIS camera, similar to the G2’s camera, but that seems to be the case now, after references to optical image stabilization were spotted in the leaked service manual. This gives us hope that the Nexus 5 will be the first device in the series to come with a more than mediocre camera.

Leaks show the Nexus 5 will have a 2300 mAh built-in battery compatible with Qi wireless chargers. That’s 200 mAh more than on the Nexus 4, but the Nexus 5 also has a larger and denser display to power. Last year’s Nexus had mediocre battery life at best, so we just hope Google and LG manage to surprise us somehow in this department.

Sensors and connectivity

The Nexus 5 will feature LTE, which is great news for all the potential Nexus customers put off by the absence of LTE on the 2012 model.

The recent GCF certification of the LG-D821 reveals that the Nexus 5 will support LTE UE Category 4, with download speeds of up to 150Mbps. Supported bands:

  • LTE: 2600(B7)/2100(B1)/1800(B3)/850(B5)/800(B20) MHz
  • W-CDMA: 2100(I)/1900(II)/1700(IV)/900(VIII)/850(V) MHz
  • GSM: 1900/1800/900/850MHz

We expect the usual laundry list of connectivity options (NFC, Bluetooth 4, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac) and the log file reveals an assortment of sensors on the Nexus 5, including a magnetometer and a barometer.

Nexus 5 design

While the Nexus 5 is based on the same hardware platform as the LG G2, leaks indicate that the two phones will have very different designs.

First off, the Nexus 5 will have a conventional button setup, with the power button and the volume rocker on the side, unlike the G2, which sports unique rear-mounted buttons. Several leaked images indicate that the Nexus 5 will adopt design cues from the Nexus 7 (2013), apparently in a bid to unify the image of the Nexus family.

Nexus 5 leak

LG Nexus 5 in bar

Just like on the Nexus 4, the front of the Nexus 5 will be an uninterrupted piece of glass. On the back, the glass and shimmering pattern from last year’s model are replaced by the rubbery texture of the Nexus 7 (2013). The wide ring around the camera and the landscape-aligned Nexus logo are two other traits borrowed from the 7-inch tablet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2ksOJl0PDDg

In terms of size, leakers say that the Nexus 5 is slightly larger than the Nexus 4, though the device appears to be lighter.

Nexus 5 software: Android 4.4 KitKat

Without doubt, the Nexus 5 will launch with Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Unusually, Google announced the name of the new version of Android in advance back in early September, but that’s all we know officially about KitKat for now.

Unofficially, some speculate that Google will optimize Android 4.4 to improve resource consumption and thus make the OS compatible with older devices. Google seems to hint to something along this direction on the presentation page for Kit Kat: “it’s our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everyone”.

Another rumor that has been making the rounds is that Android 4.4 would be a 64-bit operating system. A slide from a recent Intel event supports this theory, though that might have been just a long-term roadmap and not an outline of what’s to come in 4.4. Moreover, a recent report from Korean media says that Android will only transition to 64-bit next year. Overall, we’re skeptical that Google would push for 64-bit in KitKat, though we can’t rule out the possibility.

In terms of appearance, leaks show a lighter grey-white theme might replace the neon blue that has been a staple of Android since ICS. Google already uses a lot of white and pastel colors on its web properties and some of its apps, such as Google Now, so it’s possible that Matias Duarte and his team are giving Android a matching makeover.

alleged-Kitkat-screenshot

The TuttoAndroid leak shows that the navigation bar and the status bar transparent are transparent, though they retain their black background in apps. There’s a camera button on the bottom right corner of the screen and the camera can also be launched from the lockscreen by swiping from the right. Google seems to have operated changes to the design of the icons, which are now flatter. The apps in the app drawer are larger and arranged in a 5×4 grid, as opposed to 5×5 on the Nexus 4.

An interesting rumored feature is a new launcher called Google Experience, that integrates with Google Now and may be offered as a standalone app in the Play Store. We also heard reports about a revamped Downloads manager, better Location settings, a Cloud Print feature, new Payment settings, and the integration of SMS with Hangouts.

Nexus 5 release date and price

Most pundits expects Google to release the Nexus 5 in October, roughly a year after the announcement of the Nexus 4. The kickoff of Nestle’s KitKat-Android campaign may be a clue that the release of Android 4.4 is imminent, as it is the presence of the LG-D820/821 in the databases of various certification bodies. Another potential clue is the price cut received by the Nexus 4, which could be a sign that Google is trying to clear out stocks in advance of the Nexus 5.

There have been some rumors pegging the Nexus 5/KitKat launch for mid-October, but they seem suspicious to us. A more credible report claims that Nexus 5 and KitKat will launch on October 31 or soon after.

What about the price? The Nexus 4 was a hit thanks to its low price tag, and we think that Google will continue on the same path with the Nexus 5. If that turns out to be a correct assumption, the Nexus 5 may go for $300-$350 for the 16GB version.

The Nexus 7 (2013) is slightly more expensive that the 2012 model, so it may be that Google will also increase the price of the Nexus 5, possibly to cover the costs of better components or just to increase margins.

Wrap up

The planets are aligning for the release of the Nexus 5 in the coming weeks. We think we have a pretty good idea of what’s coming (at least on the hardware side), but experience tells us that surprises can never be ruled out. For now, remember that, with a few exceptions, all the information presented in this roundup is unofficial and therefore not totally reliable.

Last year, the Nexus 4 leaked extensively in the days preceding its launch, and it’s possible that the same will happen with the Nexus 5. As the launch approaches, we’ll be updating this roundup with the most credible leaks and rumors, and of course, with any official info that comes our way.

Are you excited about the new Nexus? How credible are the leaks that surfaced so far? Do you expect any surprises? Sound off in the comments.

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