Will the next Nexus devices be affordable, or is Google going upscale again?

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 8, 2014

Google Nexus 5 black aa 3

The multiple rumors that predicted the death of the Nexus turned out wrong, for now at least. Over the past couple of months, solid reports emerged about a Nexus tablet from HTC and a phablet aptly codenamed Shamu potentially coming from Motorola. Assuming they are real, how will these Nexus devices change the game? Will they be value-packed, affordable devices like their predecessors? Or is Google going to get back to higher pricing? Either way, what will these new devices bring to the table?

Join us in the Friday Debate! Be sure to check out our take on the situation, vote in the poll and then join in the conversation in the comment section below.

Robert Triggs

Based on the latest HTC Nexus 8 rumors and the talk about a fingerprint scanner for Shamu, I can’t help but feel that the next batch of Nexus devices are aiming for the very upper tier of the market, and could well come with more premium price tags attached as a result.

Nexus devices have always had good hardware at a great price, but fingerprint scanners, metal cases, and unwieldy display sizes have usually been left to the other Android vendors. Nexus devices offer a solid experience, but they have never been flash, so to speak.

Given that Android Silver might now never see the light of day, perhaps these handsets aim to partly achieve what Android Silver was expected to do – offer up premium Android hardware, combined with Google’s vision for software, all under a unified name tag.

I’m not sure where this leaves consumers, as the Nexus brand is typically targeted at a more developer centric audience and availability is questionable at times. But given the uproar that followed the rumoured end of the Nexus line, perhaps Google feels that this is the best way to keep everyone happy.

Either way, I’m eager to see what actually turns up with the next batch of Nexus devices. I have a suspicion that Google is keen to show Android off in its best light come the official launch of Android L.

Joe Hindy

Well originally, the Nexus device was supposed to be the go-to “developer device”. However, since the Nexus 4, Google seems to have changed to focus to making the Nexus device the go-to Google device.

What do I expect? Pretty much what Triggs said above. I expect Google to continue to try to go after the upper crust of the Android phone elite (Samsung, HTC, LG) by creating a phone with up-to-date features just like they do. Unlike Triggs, I believe that the phone will remain at least somewhat competitively priced since that is the Nexus credo. I believe people will be pretty upset if the next Nexus phone carried a $700 price tag. Especially if they aren’t available on carriers so people can’t get them at a discount.

Overall here is what I expect from the Nexus device. I believe it’ll have the most up to date CPU (or close), 2-3GB of RAM (probably 2), a 1080p, 5-inch screen (maybe slightly larger). Like most Nexus devices, I expect the battery to be par or less and the camera to be shaky.

There is the chance that Google may go all out and build a $700 device and sell it for less (after all, they make their money on ads and Google Play Store earnings, not hardware sales) and there may be a chance that they go the Moto X, Moto G route and build a budget device that works surprisingly well.

Who knows eh?

Bogdan Petrovan

Commoditization. Pfew, that’s a long word. But it describes well what’s happening, or is beginning to happen, in the smartphone industry. Simply put, as smartphones are getting cheaper, more OEMs are jumping in the fray, and in turn, that leads to lower prices. That’s great for consumers – to an extent, but terrible news for companies like Samsung, LG, or HTC, which rely on shrinking profits margins to stay afloat.

With the Nexus 4, 7, and 10, Google contributed to the commoditization trend, because it supported its goal to put more high-quality Android experiences in the hands of more people.

But there are many devices out there that fit that role, from the Moto G to the OnePlus One, and more. And then, there’s Android One, which will help with the same objective at the low end of the scale.

Judging from what we know so far about the new Nexus devices and the reasoning above, I think that the new devices will definitely be more high-end than the last batch. That way, Google can give HTC and Motorola a helping hand in terms of profits, as well as support Samsung, who’s been suffering in the past year.

[poll id=”692″]

  • Shark Bait

    I hope google sticks to what its good at, providing amazing products at a great price. Thats the reason I have a nexus.

    • Irfan Hamid

      Same, i was thinking about upgrading when the next nexus phone comes out, but if it comes at a higher price, theres no way.

      • Shark Bait

        Exactly! The nexus achieved its goal and created a quality but low cost market segment, now nexus manufacturers should thrive in this area.
        Long live the cheap nexus!!

        • The Bastard Christ

          cheap is so negative… affordable nexus, FTW!

    • PurelyConservative

      I definitely agree. I am in the market for a new phone and sort of waiting on the next crop of Nexus to come out to see if that is where I want to jump. (Been waiting on the OnePlus One, but ummmmmm, yah still waiting). Really hope that they keep the price point in the value range, rather than jumping into the next tier of pricing.

    • Nick V

      They may want to try and keep them cheap. With the introduction of Android Wear, the new phone and a new tablet, people will not spend on all if the price is too high.

  • Marcus

    I’d like Google to come out with a premium nexus. I wouldn’t care if it was maybe 100$ more if it was premium with a smooth running stock Google experience.

    • Airyl

      The Nexus Silver would be a nice name for a premium Nexus.

  • Xavier_NYC

    I would be A OK with them making it slightly more expensive if they go all out with the specs. Top of the line with everything from screen to battery to build quality. Also I think if they did plan on doing that it would be wise to make two versions of the phone. One would be cheaper and have the same specs but slightly less build quality or battery or camera etc..

    • PurelyConservative

      From what I have been reading there is the possibility that they go with a multiple device release this year. Sort of like a Nexus 5 with slightly upgraded specs, a Nexus 6 phablet (built by Motorola), and the Nexus 8 from HTC. that way they would be competing in the market at every device level. I would hope by doing this they would be able to keep the Nexus 5 device at current pricing levels, with the Nexus 6 competing with the G3 and Note4 (size wise) but at a better price point (say 100-150 more than the Nexus 5). I would be really happy if that is how it worked out.

      • Cole Raney

        I wish they would give a 10 inch, or larger screen tablet.

        • Airyl

          Nexus 10?

  • Sal

    As long as Google makes the the next batch of Nexus devices filled with high end competitive specs and price it similarly the the previous batch then there’s nothing to worry about.
    If Google releases it about $100 more I would be fine with it as long as the build quality feels premium, improved battery life, and better camera. It would be great if it had two front facing speakers to enhance audio quality like the M8 :)

    • Xavier_NYC

      I could be wrong but I don’t think front facing speakers will happen on a nexus.. I feel like the front facing speakers on the M8 make the phone too big especially with those big bezels.. I agree with everything else though..

      • PoisonApple31

        Didn’t the Nexus 10 have front facing speakers?

  • Ivan Budiutama

    non Google play version priced pretty much like 15-20% lower than LG latest flagship. Still considerably lower than most flagships if not all.

  • MasterMuffin

    I will skip this generation of Nexus devices, because I’m happy with my Nexus 5, so I wouldn’t mind if there was a price increase :P And all the people like me in countries without Google Play Devices have to pay high price for Nexus devices anyway, so…

    • Amrit Zoad

      Actually in India we have Google play Devices, but still Nexus 5 was literally priced ₹12,000 more than what Americans pay for it in US.

      • MasterMuffin

        That’s about $200 right?

        • Amrit Zoad

          To verify that I again checked the price for Nexus 5 32 GB. It’s $400 which is ₹24,460 in America but in India it is priced $540 which is ₹33,000. $140 difference. Which country do you live in?

          • MasterMuffin

            And for no apparent reason :/

          • Amrit Zoad

            All phones manufacture in China. And while transporting from China to India, No Customs tax is applied. But still phones are priced heavily in India. iPhone may be a common phone in US, but in India, it’s rarely seen. Which country do you live in?

          • MasterMuffin

            Finland. We don’t even have the 32GB model! The price has gone down, but still the 16GB model costs 330€ ($420), though now that I think of it, there’s probably some sort of high tax involved

          • Amrit Zoad

            Yesterday I ordered a Nexus Charger from Play Store for my dad’s Nexus 4. I was charged ₹1350. I have Galaxy S2 & the original charger costs me approx ₹550. Nexus Charger was more than 2 times that of my Charger. So, they are really selling products at a high price. I don’t know if it is intentionally or some forced tax.

          • MasterMuffin

            Conspiracy theory: Biggest tech websites and reviewers are American. They praise the phone and its price and Google doesn’t take any profit from those units, but gets a lot of money from other countries

  • Will S.

    Beyond updates and price, there simply isn’t much appealing about Nexus devices. I think Google should change this.

    • cooljames

      Uuh, what?

      When the Nexus 5 was released, it was the end of the HTC One and Samsung S4 respective marketing splash cycles. At that time, the N5 was on point with specs. The One has a metal case but its camera sucks. The S4 feels like a toy in your hand and has the annoying proprietary UI. Nexus came over the top with its case, internal specs, OS, and camera, and the non-delayed updates are icing on that cake. The camera itself was disappointing because of the software, not because of the device.

      So what’s appealing about the Nexus line? Everything. They’re better than every phone and you buy directly from Google. That’s enough for me. If there was no Nexus, I’d have an iPhone in my pocket right now.

      • Will S.

        I’m glad it made you ditch your iPhone but its simply not for everyone. I just don’t find any the stuff you’ve mentioned above exciting. I’d rather have the HTC Ones design & UI or Samsungs cool features & some lag over fast updates. All phones have decent specs and HTC, Sammy, LG, and others are getting better at updates.

        I just don’t find Nexus phones appealing, Nexus tablets are great though.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          You don’t have to, now move on.

        • Stephan Hall

          You dont ave a clue. I’ve had a lot of phones. The Nexus 5 is the best total experience in a smart phone I’ve had to date. I won’t buy any other phone but a Nexus.

          • Patrick Smithopolis

            I’m with you. I bought a Nexus 5 last November and it’s been my daily driver ever since. None of the phones released this year have compelled me to upgrade. I’m still waiting to see what Motorola has to offer.

      • Stephan Hall

        Since the updates, using HDR ….. I think the N5 has a very decent camera. I have been pleased.

        • Nick V

          I keep my camera on HDR all the time.

      • Nick V

        I was with you until iPhone…

  • The Bastard Christ

    i just wish they’d make a dual sim version.

  • joser116

    I’d like a Chromebook Pixel of a Nexus.

  • Harish Dasari

    They should keep selling the Nexus5 at a cheaper price after the Nexus 6 comes out. Same with the tablets. That way, they can address the price conscious customers and also make sure the hardware doesn’t go outdated too soon (like the current android phones do)

  • Stephan Hall

    I am very interested in the new Nexus. Currently very pleased with the Nexus 5. I feel, however, the N5 is fairly future proof until after this up-coming. Perhaps 2015. There would have to have some very impressive performance improvements to move me ….. and there hasn’t been any so far in the current array of “so called” flag ships. If I had to buy a phone today … it would be another Nexus 5.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    Nexus line is meant to be good affordable devices made by Android OEMs with minimum profit. Which means Nexus will NEVER be top-end device(on purpose). Because otherwise, the OEMs couldn’t sell their own devices with normal profit , and will refuse to make Nexus.
    How many times I have to repeat this to the ignorant tech media???
    If Google really want to make top-end device , must make it alone. But then will scare away the OEMs (like MS did with WP)

  • Robert Daniels

    I want google to come out with a tablet that’s about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S or bigger but have LTE 4G, WiFi AC, and more than 300 ppi ultra hd amoled resolution screen. Weight about the same and I wouldn’t care how much money it would cost. Google take my money if you make this kind of tablet.

    • The-Sailor-Man

      So Samsung must make it. Right?

      • Robert Daniels

        I don’t think Samsung would make it because it would compete against there Galaxy Note Pro. The size I would like to sse is 12.5 inch tablet. If such a tablet would be made I would be hoping for HTC to make it. Even using Gorilla Glass 3.

        • The-Sailor-Man

          But HTC have not such top technologies. Samsung have.

          • Robert Daniels

            Then maybe LG.

  • DarxideGarrison

    I don’t think that the next Nexus devices are going to be high price. It wouldn’t make much sense especially considering they offer “Google Play Edition” devices. So technically they already have premium hardware with Stock firmware!

  • Cole Raney

    The nexus 5 had the latest processor, 2 GB of ram, and a 1080p screen. How is the nexus not already high end?

    • Jesus

      Well… for one thing, the battery ‘sucks’. And there’s also the sorry camera.

      • Airyl

        The Nexus 5 was high end, it just wasn’t flagship material. Mainly because the battery life wasn’t too good and the camera sucked. Compared to other phones like the HTC One, Xperia Z1 and even the Xiaomi Mi3 it just wasn’t as good.

  • Kai Boogie

    I hope is goes high end .. I want that premium device + a vanilla OS

    • tyb82

      I’ve had the N5, m8, and currently the OPO and a year later the N5 is still the fastest and smoothest of them all.

      • Kai Boogie

        I went from an M8 to an N5.. cant wait to see what they gonna do for the N6

  • Jonathan Kramer

    I can only speak for myself, but it appears that more affordable unlocked phones are what consumers want and need. While getting the latest OS updates quickly is nice, I doubt the average consumer cares about it, but does want a reliable device that doesn’t lock them into a contract or carrier at a price that makes sense. The Oppo One +1 concept though large in size is along these lines.

  • Heimrik

    I think Nexus devices will be slightly more costly due to the fact Nexus devices will then be a part of the Android “Silver” program. Which essential just a line of devices that all manufacturers will be able to have the opportunity to produce Nexus devices as long as they adhere to the rules and standards of what Google defines as a true Nexus device. Among those rules will probably be that these Silver devices, manufacturers will have to keep these devices affordable and within a certain price range. So this will ultimately have Nexus devices vary in price. BUT It will give consumers a wide selection of Nexus devices in the market.