The Information: Motorola Nexus phablet is happening, Android Silver’s future uncertain

by: Andrew GrushJuly 29, 2014

Google Nexus 5 black aa 2

Over the weekend we reported on a new rumor claiming that the next Nexus handset would not only be built by Motorola, it would be a massive 5.9-inch device with the codename Shamu. Lending a little extra weight to the rumor, the Information says that they have now verified with “three people with knowledge of the matter” that Shamu is really happening and that the deal began almost immediately after Google agreed to sell Motorola to Lenovo.

Google had apparently decided a while back that they would not involve Motorola in the Nexus program for fear that it would look like they were favoring their own handset division over their OEM partners. Once Google had publicly revealed its plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo, however, the situation changed.

Reportedly the reason that Google chose to work with Motorola over other OEMs this time around is that it wanted to showcase new technologies in Android L that were first brought to the table by Motorola such as Active Display technology and Touchless control.


What does Shamu (aka Nexus 6) mean for Android Silver?

Now that there seems to be at least two Nexus devices in the works — a Nexus 9 tablet and a Nexus 6 phablet — we have to wonder about Android Silver’s future.

According to the Information, Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora and a few others in the company had envisioned Android Silver as a full replacement for the Nexus and GPe program. It’s unclear what changed here, though we have a feeling negative public opinion about the death of the Nexus could have caused Google to have a change of heart. Either way, now that Arora is on his way out, the future of Android Silver remains uncertain.

Some in [Arora’s] camp wanted Silver to supersede the Nexus phone program. But with Mr. Arora’s absence, there are questions about how much firepower Google will give to the Silver program.

So what can we expect from Android Silver now that the Nexus series is reportedly here to stay? We see it one of two ways: first, Google will can cancel the project altogether, with the exception of the similar Android One program for emerging markets. Two, Android Silver will debut as a carrier-oriented effort that replaces GPe devices and works alongside the Nexus program.

Google Nexus

What does Shamu mean for Nexus lovers that aren’t into ‘phablets’?

Since reporting  on Shamu, we’ve seen many comments from our readers expressing disinterest in the idea of a Nexus with a near-6-inch display. Most of these readers say they were more than happy with the Nexus 5’s form factor. While I could probably do with an upgrade to 5.1 – 5.2-inches, I’m mostly of the same opinion that the Nexus 5 is more than big enough. But that doesn’t mean the Nexus 6 is a bad idea, or that it will even replace the Nexus 5 at all.

Up until now, Google has only supported one Nexus phone a year, but who says they can’t change up their strategy? In many markets, particularly in Asia, bigger is better in terms of screen size and so it makes sense for Google to give these big-screen fans a little love and deliver a phablet reference device that puts most of the existing competition to shame.

Up until now, Google has only supported one Nexus phone a year, but who says they can’t change up their strategy?

Meanwhile, who is to say Google won’t continue to sell the Nexus 5 throughout 2014 and into 2015 for those that want something a bit smaller? After all, the Nexus 5 has aged incredibly well, especially considering the fact that most 2014 flagships only offer a slight improvement in CPU/GPU with the Snapdragon 801, and most of the rest of the specs remain about the same as what we saw from the late-2013 flagships. Right now, there’s only so much Google could do to improve the Nexus 5, at least in my humble opinion, like adding a bigger battery or an improved camera.

Ideally, I’d like to see the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5 co-exist this year, with the Nexus 5 perhaps receiving a minor refresh that bumps up the battery, camera and introduces a Snapdragon 801. Then again, it makes just as much sense for Google to focus on the Nexus 6 this year and release a refreshed Nexus 5 (2015) once Qualcomm fully jumps onboard the 64-bit revolution next year.

The big takeaway is that the Nexus 6 doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is “moving on” from the 5-inch form factor. It just means that they are doing something different right now. Again, it’s also possible that Google will offer three Nexus devices this year: a Nexus 5, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. How awesome would that be? What do you think of Google’s changes to the Nexus program (Shamu, HTC Nexus), based on what we currently know? Excited or a bit nervous to see how it all plays out?

  • gabu

    Good move ..MOTOROLA will definitly deliver some awesome happening again ..:)

  • Jon George

    I’m excited.. When I was looking to upgrade from my S3 I was initially looking at the Nexus 5 because I love rooting and flashing ROMs..but one of the reasons I chose the Note 3 was the bigger screen(along with removable battery & SD of course). But I still want a Nexus 5 because of the sheer magnitude of available stuff to Now if Google & Moto release a N6 I’m grabbing it if they would allow us to swap our own batteries & SD that would be perfect.Lol. And to those who are bitching about the proposed 5.9″ screen…I thought my S3 was perfect & didn’t want to go bigger, but once I test drove my friends Note 3 I fell in love…its quite easy to manage single handedly and I’ve never dropped it doing so…once you use a bigger screened device for a week you’ll change your tune..going back to my S3 feels odd and its hard to do anything on it because its so

    • vince1228

      You hit it right on the money. I went from s3 to note 2 and that was still too small so i jumped from the note 2 to the note 3. Now going back to these regular small sized phones is something i cant do. The smallest screen size i can go back to is a 5.5 in.

    • Dark_Laser

      “Lol. And to those who are bitching about the proposed 5.9″ screen…I thought my S3 was perfect & didn’t want to go bigger”

      I actually find my S3 to be too big, so I’d like something smaller. Not everyone wants a Note. Also, you think the next Nexus is going to have a removable battery and SD card? Lol, good luck with that! Sorry, but this phone is going to suck.

      • Jon George

        Go buy an iPhone

    • n8hk

      If your 5″ screen begins to look small, changing the DPI can help you to an extent

      • Jon George

        Yes I know all about changing DPI …but truth be told I hate tiny ass icons..every time I flash something Slim based I have to readjust DPI because they set everything so damn tiny.


    5.9 is not my favorite screen size.

    • Farhan Yan

      it will be, once it’s released :p

  • MasterMuffin

    Three Nexus device? Something for everyone! I’d like to see a Nexus 5 with 5.2″ screen, S805, 2600mAh battery, 13MP camera and 64GB model for $399!

    “Google will can cancel” :)

    • TheNutzs

      make it 3GB RAM, S810, 3100mAh battery then I’m in or max it out by S800? 64bit, 4GB RAM and 3100mAh battery. Orgasm overload~

      • MasterMuffin

        I was being realistic

        • Jayfeather787

          Four way SLI 880Ti. Is that realistic?

          • MasterMuffin

            Of course not, everyone knows that after 3 there’s no real performance gain :D

          • Jayfeather787


    • Scott Ricketts

      It’s called the LG G2, well except for the 64G part. When my HTC One was long in the tooth, it’s the reason I got the G2 instead of the Nexus 5. Bigger screen, better camera, same basic innards, same price point right then, and a good ROM community. If only there’d been a GPE for it, it would have been perfect.

      • MadCowOnAStick

        for $399? :D

        • Scott Ricketts

          Well, like $420 from T-Mobile. Close enough for government work. This was just as the G3 was going to be announced so there was a fire sale on the G2.

          • isabelladdavis

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        • Marc Perrusquia

          For a lot of the G2’s life you could get it unlocked for slightly less or slightly more than the nexus 5 if you looked around.

    • ANON

      they can come up with these specifications, but you gotta pay them higher than $399.

      • MasterMuffin

        I was actually thinking about euros but put the dollar sign because… I don’t know. 399€

    • Hector R

      I second that!

  • Luka Mlinar

    If the Moto E and the leaked X+1 pics are anything to go after, than here comes a butt ugly Nexus phone.

    • TheCrusader

      i somewhat agree … the Moto E isn’t a “beautiful” phone ^^ i feel that motorola still needs to find its final design philisophy. The original Moto X and Moto G look kind of unbalanced, not symetric enough for my tastes. In my opinion LG makes the most beautiful devices out there at the moment (Nexus 5, LG G3), shortly followed by Sony’s unique design and the OnePlus One.

      I still believe in Motorola though. And until their new devices hit the markets some things concerning design might change.

      • Luka Mlinar

        Fair enough. Not long now anyway :P

    • MJay

      I am sure you will put a case on it.

      • Luka Mlinar

        Maybe Motorola should get Beyoncé to do an ad campaign for them.
        “Don’t be mad once you see it
        Since it’s ugly you should put a case on it
        Wuh uh oh uh uh oh oh uh oh uh uh oh”

        • MJay

          Lmbo! That was actually pretty funny.

  • Job Koshy

    I don’t care about the size
    All i care is whether it has an sd card
    Nexus really need to bring back the sd card option Which was last there in nexus one

  • BozzyB

    5″ is alread too small for me. e.g. browsing sucks because you STILL have to use mobile sites. Also there are alot of older people which I see using 4-4,5″ phones which they can’t operate well. So not only for those , bigger screens indeed would be better.

  • Stephan Hall

    This is the most exciting news in the mobile market I heard this year. Motorola builds quality devices. If the Google were to refresh the N5 with a specification update, Id pick it over the 5.9 inch version. The G3, which I’ve fooled around with a bit, is the limit that Id buy . . and it feels a bit to large for my taste, When I buy another phone . . . it will be a Nexus however ….. even if its 5.9 inch. The N5 has made me a big time Nexus fan.

  • TheCrusader

    Bigger might be better, but bigger doesn’t fit my pockets …

    I’ve worked for an Austrian mobile company some time back in the sales department and I’ve noticed that alot of people want smaller phones, with 5″ displays being the absolute maximum. Funny though: reading boards and so-called “surveys” everyone seems to want even bigger hardware.

    Back then sadly there were no “good” AND small phones, like the Sony Z1 Compact. You had the Samsung Galaxy Ace, what a crappy piece of shit, not even the Motorola Moto G was out… And people got disappointed in the small phones they bought.
    I think that this time created some kind of indoctrination, making people beliefe that small devices are shit in general and that it’s the big screens to go after …resulting in the surveys of today that clearly favor huge phones.

    I still hope thought that one day everything will return to “normal” and that manufacturers will produce good phones for every taste in terms of size. And i feel that Sony is making one step after another in the right direction, pray that other manufacterers will follow.

    • Claudio


    • Jayfeather787

      Get bigger pockets.

      • TheCrusader

        sure, people should always adopt to new company products instead of the companies making products that fit their customers … isn’t that right?

    • Jesse Afolabi

      project ara

  • Shark Bait

    I would much rather see the nexus program continue, it seems to work well

  • Batman

    I’m definitely excited and definitely concerned. So much of it is up in the air – this is to be expected, but I am still nervous.

  • Sequoia46.2

    The 5.9″ phablet seems to be an experiment.

  • Jeff Edsell

    This may well be my next phone. I love my Moto X. The only two quibbles I had were the camera (which was much improved by switching to Google’s stock camera app) and that I wouldn’t mind a bigger screen because of how much reading I do.

    I’m still excited about the potential of Project Ara, but I’m equally afraid it won’t get off the ground (admittedly, if it doesn’t, it will probably be because of people like myself who don’t want to jump in until it’s already somewhat successful).

  • alfreduran

    Nexus 5 2015 version? Hmm I don’t think so!

  • rmkilc

    There were a lot of things lacking with the Nexus 4, but now with the Nexus 5, even though it is half a year old, there is no compelling new hardware specs that have me wanting a new phone. What I want is software. Camera software improvements. And I want a Nexus 5 (2014 or 2015) to come out, to put an end to the people refusing to believe the number is the screen size, but rather the iteration number. It’s pretty obvious it’s the screen size.

  • jonathan3579

    I’d happily own a Nexus phablet. Especially if it means that they’re able to cram a larger battery in.


    All this talk from people saying that they wouldn’t be interested in the nexus 6 if it is a 5.9″ phablet is a bunch of bullshit. Flat out bullshit. They know as soon as the beast makes its way to market they’ll be searching the web for any and all tidbits they can find. And come launch day they’ll be jamming up the Google play store trying to cop one. It is what it is. The nexus is a champion year in and year out!

    • Erm, nope?
      I have big hands, but 5″ is the absolute maximum for me, I can only reach the top left corner with my thumb if I rock the phone towards my palm. I’ve had an S3 and Nexus5, and find them pretty much perfect, I’d completely disregard anything nearing 6″.

  • cmbeid

    If I could choose between a refreshed Nexus 5 and a Nexus with a 5.9″ screen, I don’t know which one I would pick. My girlfriend’s Note 2 and Note 3 always felt too large and uncomfortable for me. I don’t do much gaming on my phone (use my Nexus 7 or gaming PC for that). The extra screen real-estate might be handy for remote desktop to my work PC, as doing that from my Nexus 5 is uncomfortable (find myself zooming in/out a lot).

    On the other hand, my gf would probably have jumped at the opprotunity to get a Nexus phablet, as she just recently purchased the Note 3 because she switched from Verizon to T-Mobile and could not take her Verizon Note 2 with her. She doesn’t use all the fancy Samsung software and features that their phones come with, and would probably be comfortable with a stock Android experience.

  • Groud Frank

    I LOVE the idea! I currently own a Note 3 and while I love the device I don’t love Samsung’s update policies. If this turns out to be true there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll get it!

  • Fredrol

    Motorola phones isnt avaleble in Norway, but that will probably change with the Nexus 6 i hope..
    But if it has 5.9″ screen, then i dont care.. :-P

  • Anothermuse

    I like the Google Moto combo for the N6. Can’t say I love the 5.9 for myself but that’s okay. I’m thinking X+1 for the phone and a nice N9 for maybe $300 for the tablet replacement. Does the rumor still have HTC on the tablet? Would like to see moto and active display and other functionality there too to be honest. But they both could use some Nexus love to get the brands kickstarted.

  • Josh Gilman

    I’ll take one…and Silver can be the ‘people’s’ pure Android phone mass marketed while the Nexus line is oriented more for developers.

  • Arturo Raygoza

    This will be the last nexus phone, next year it will be android silver taking over since making another nexus has to be a Nexus 7 (2015) which won’t work because of the tablet, thus a rebranding.

  • Simorq

    i think because of android L,it will come with 64bit processor

  • Salman Thaw

    This almost confirms Android as a platform for phablets, first and foremost. Google has shown little interest in 10″+ tablets, focusing on the 7″ and now 6″. The other OEMs all have big phones and the small phones are mostly cheap and under-powered (Sony being the exception.)

    It’s too bad. Android has the ability to be an OS that scales for all hardware sizes, but it seems that the hardware is scaling to become one piece of hardware for everything.

    Only Samsung is putting any real effort behind their tablets and it’s Touchwiz of all things that has support for multi-tasking. I never thought I’d see the day when people want Google to take a Touchwiz feature, but it seems that even iOS will have it before the rest of Android.

    I have nothing against this device. I just wanted more efforts to be put behind Android tablets so that we could have more tablet apps. I don’t know what kind of UI phablets will have – too small for many elements and too big for a few.

    I would even buy this device if it had an SD card, but too bad. I’ll wait for Volantis, if that ever happens.

  • descendency

    I was thinking (just talking out of my ass) that maybe Google feels their smartphone experience is so good that they can trust OEMs to use the Silver Program to fill the flagship area that the Nexus will vacate while moving their Nexus program into the phablet market to improve the large phone and small tablet experience. Then the Nexus 7 becoming the Nexus 8.9 allows Google to attack the tablet market more head on.

    That’s just something I thought up and has no source to it. It kinda makes sense though and would explain a large number of the rumors that circulated in the last few months. (nexus program dying, 6 inch phablet, 9 inch tablet, etc)

  • George Economou

    man, i want a phone that fits in my pocket.

  • shawn

    they cant just degrade the nexus 6 screen lower because its called a nexus 6! but the future of the nexus program will be exiciting to see

  • Rey

    Well @ 5.9″, thats a no go for me. Just too big.

  • Sirabhat Artroom

    The reason I will bought nexus is…
    1.It’s made from Motorola
    2.It had 5.9″ or 6″ display size