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Is Google working on a sub-$100 Nexus smartphone?

The rumor mill is piping up this afternoon - could Google be working on a sub-$100 Nexus smartphone? There are no specifications to speak of just yet, but unnamed sources and rampant speculation lead to the idea of a low-mid range phone with a MediaTek chipset, 1GB of RAM and 2G/3G connectivity for less than US$100.
April 19, 2014
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The rumor mill is piping up this afternoon with word of a possible sub-$100 Nexus device. There are no specifications to speak of just yet, but unnamed sources and rampant speculation lead to the idea of a low-mid range phone with a MediaTek chipset, 1GB of RAM and 2G/3G connectivity.

The rumored Nexus device is not expected to be Google’s next flagship smartphone, that has been reserved for what is dubbed the Nexus 6 which is speculated to be built by LG. It is not in Google’s typical naming scheme, but this new sub-$100 phone is starting to feel like what other manufacturers call a ‘mini’ version – Nexus 6 Mini, perhaps? As for the pricing, we’re already seeing Lenovo launch their A-series tablets for a little over $100 equipped with MediaTek chipsets, speaking to how the chipmaker could have Qualcomm and others worried.

Is it inexpensive, or just cheap?

This is a valid concern for Android device shoppers. We have seen more than a few cheap Android tablets creep onto the market in the last couple years. However, some prominent device makers have also created exceptional equipment at affordable pricing. Take the Moto G for example, the Moto G is a sub-$200 phone that was released this past December. It is a solid device that also packs 1GB of RAM and does not have a 4G radio, we’ve taken the Moto G for a full review, read all about it here, and checkout the video below.

Looking a little higher end than the Moto G, set to be officially announced in the next week, the OnePlus One is looking to possibly hit the market as the most powerful smartphone to date. The young company lives by the motto “never settle,” and is expected to have their ‘flagship killer’ smartphone launch for as little as half the price of the Samsung Galaxy S5. Google themselves have already shaken the 7-inch range tablet market, launching the Nexus 7 tablet back in 2012, with a redux in 2013. Built by ASUS, the Nexus 7 still feels very much like a premium device, but it too sells in the $200 price range.

We’ll compare the Moto G with pricier phones, because its price tag casts a new light on all of its features. - Joshua Vergara, Android Authority
motorola moto g (3)
These devices have set in motion a trend and a realization for smartphone manufacturers, there is a huge global market for quality, yet affordable equipment. Motorola is rumored to be bringing a new low-cost smartphone to Mexico – called the Moto E, the rumor has it as a very similar unit to the Moto G, capitalizing on a phone model that has already been a top seller for the company.

Is there a market for a sub-$100 Nexus device?

A sub-$100 Nexus device is an intriguing prospect. On the one hand, we hold the idea that Nexus devices are for those that are in the know when it comes to Android – specifically built for developers to have access to all of the OS features and hardware sensors that Google has put into their pure Android. On the other hand, Nexus devices have proven to be excellent phones at an affordable price. The Nexus 5 has been a favorite for many, starting at $350, it has been the best answer for many new-to-Android users that ask “what phone should I get?” Check out our review of the Nexus 5 to see why.

The success of a sub-$100 Nexus device may come down to two main factors. First, who is Google building this device for? If the phone is built as an extremely affordable developers test phone, normal consumers may be put off by a lack of features, such as external SD card support. Second, in one word, marketing. The Nexus 5 may be made to capture the moments that matter, but I have never met it in any ads outside of Google’s own websites, or seen people dancing with it to Michael Jackson. Whether Google’s purpose is to make a number one selling phone or not, a sub-$100 phone removes the barrier to entry to the Android ecosystem, which may prove crucial to gaining new users, especially in emerging markets around the globe.

We look forward to learning more about this sub-$100 Nexus device. Until then, what are your thoughts on a Nexus branded sub-$100 phone – will Google make a knockout product for an amazing price, or just a decent entry level unit that anyone can afford?