Rumors of a HTC-developed Nexus tablet with a ~8-inch screen began surfacing at the beginning of the year, and caught speed when traces of a device codenamed “Volantis” or “flounder” were spotted in Google code.
According to Android Police, the Volantis is indeed a real Nexus tablet developed by HTC, that will feature high-end specifications and an aluminum body. Here are the specifications listed in the report:
- Display: 8.9-inch, 2048 x 1440 (281ppi), 4:3 aspect ratio
- Processor: Nvidia Tegra K1 64-bit
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16/32GB
- Cameras: 8MP with OIS, 3MP
- Build: aluminum zero-gap construction with tapered sides
- Speakers: front-facing stereo
- Dimensions: 8.91 x 5.98 x 0.31 inches (226.3 x 151.9 x 7.9 mm), 418g (427g LTE)
The report claims Volantis is referred inside Google as Nexus 9 (the 8.9-inch display size, and that it will launch alongside the L release of Android, sometime in Q4 2014. The device is planned to start at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, and $499 for the 32GB Wi-Fi version, while the LTE model will carry an unknown premium.
The image below comes from the leak, but it may not represent the actual device, according to AP.
According to several sources, Google is preparing to wrap up the Nexus program, with Android Silver pegged to take over in the first part of 2015. If the above report is accurate, Google may launch one more Nexus tablet in the autumn, which in past years was the release window of Nexus phones. So far, we haven’t heard anything about a successor to the Nexus 5, and LG recently confirmed that it’s not making a new Nexus phone, though that doesn’t rule out the possibility that some other company has taken over.
The inclusion of a Tegra K1 chip on the Volantis’ spec sheet is a bit surprising, given the issues that Nvidia’s processors have caused in the past. The only other Tegra K1 device on the market now is Xiaomi’s Mi Pad tablet. Nvidia’s Logan-based Tegra K1 chip is 64-bit though, which may be one reason Google and HTC have selected it for the device that will accompany a major new version of Android.
With an aluminum body, crisp display, and high-powered processor, the Nexus 9 seems to target a more premium image than previous Nexus tablets, which reflects in its reported pricing. However, it’s possible that Google is envisioning it as the successor to the 2012 Nexus 10, rather than a sequel to the affordable 7-inch Nexus 7 (2013).
Google I/O, starting this week, may offer us some more clues about what to expect on the Nexus front this year, though the actual announcement of the Nexus 9 seems unlikely at this point.