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Which manufacturer should make the next Nexus (Nexus 5) smartphone?

With Google I/O right around the corner, and the probable announcement of the next iteration of the Android OS, we're more curious about which manufacturer will be making the Nexus handset. Who do you think should manufacture the next Nexus (Nexus 5) smartphone?
Features
By
May 5, 2013
galaxy-nexus-vs-nexus-4
Nexus 4 (top) vs Galaxy Nexus (bottom)

We’ve seen some amazing flagship devices being released by Sony, HTC, Samsung, and LG this year, but Android geeks, or connoisseurs if you will, are still waiting to see what Google has planned for its 2013 flagship Nexus smartphone. There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to a Nexus device, such as a more than reasonable price for a high-end device, timely Android updates straight from Google, and continued software support for a long time. But nothing is more important than what defines a Google Nexus device.

No skins. No Bloatware. Just pure Android. No OEM-specific software features that eat up internal storage space, no UI skins and “enhancements” that hide some of Android’s best features (such as Google Now), and no pre-loaded apps. Just a “vanilla” Android experience. The increasing number of users favoring custom ROMs is a clear indication that a lot of people prefer Android the way it was meant to be, and that’s what you get with a Nexus device.

Nexus smartphones and tablets are sold off-contract directly from the Google Play Store and Google’s software engineers develop the software and are responsible for releasing updates. But, as far as the hardware is concerned, Google has been all over the place. The first ever Nexus device was manufactured by HTC, Samsung made the Nexus S and the very popular Galaxy Nexus, as well as the Nexus 10 tablet, while Asus got a chance to build the Nexus 7 tablet. And of course, LG manufactured the 2012 Nexus flagship smartphone, the Nexus 4.

So with the expectation of a Nexus 5, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Which manufacturer is going to make the next Nexus smartphone?” While we can’t tell which will, we can tell which should, and what they’d have to offer if given the opportunity. Let’s take a look!

Highly likely

LG

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4 aa (10)

LG had some great devices on offer last year with the Optimus 4X HD and the Optimus G, but really stepped out of the shadows after being given the opportunity to manufacture the Nexus 4. The company faced well the pressure of following the very successful Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and LG and Google got a lot right with the Nexus 4. After all, what’s not to love about a device with high-end specifications at a very reasonable price point, which was less than half the full price of other flagship smartphones. Granted, the 8GB version, which has only around 5.5GB of usable storage, was a let down, but the 16GB version was completely worth it for that price.

The anticipation and popularity of a pure Android experience was evident once again in the fact that the Nexus 4 sold out quite quickly, and the high demand led to Google being forced to admit to supply shortages. Those issues seem to have been sorted out, and the Nexus 4 is still one the more popular smartphones around. Given the success, it’s not difficult to imagine Google giving LG the chance to manufacture the next Nexus smartphone. In fact, if rumors are to be believed, that is exactly what is going to happen.

What can we expect from an LG manufactured Nexus 5? If the specifications of the Nexus 4 were similar to the LG Optimus G, we can expect the Nexus 5 to boast similar specs to that of the LG Optimus G Pro, (maybe the 5-inch Japanese version) or the rumored Optimus G2.  A 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, and (hopefully) 16/32GB of internal storage. It’s definitely wishful thinking to hope for a removable battery and microSD slot, but we can always dream. More rounded edges as opposed to the rectangular design favored by LG, and definitely no physical home button that has shown up on the 2013 LG flagship.

LG has done it before with the Nexus 4, and with a few changes, the Nexus 5 should prove to be another feather in the company’s cap.

Motorola

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As far as Motorola is concerned, the question isn’t whether Motorola should be given the chance to manufacture a Nexus device, but rather, “why hasn’t this happened already?” Even though one of Google’s intentions behind the acquisition of Motorola was to bolster its patent portfolio, many of us thought, or maybe hoped, that Google was going to make a jump into the hardware game as well. Unfortunately, we haven’t  heard a peep from Motorola in the last year, other than the Intel-powered RAZR i and the new RAZR M, RAZR HD and RAZR Maxx HD models. But 2013 is shaping up to be completely different.

The Motorola-made Google X Phone has been one of the most-rumored and hotly debated smartphones recently, and with good reason. Expectations have been soaring, and it’s crazy to imagine that Google may finally be developing a smartphone, technically, in-house. There have been a lot of leaks and speculation about this device, and while the Nexus tag hasn’t been bestowed upon this smartphone yet, the Google X Phone, when/if released, should definitely qualify as one. But, if the Google X Phone isn’t it, there’s always the possibility of a Motorola Nexus.

What can we expect from a Motorola manufactured Nexus smartphone? A large battery. A well-built smartphone that can endure the drop tests we’re definitely going to put it through. Somewhere between a 4.3-inch and 4.7-inch display, and top of the line specifications that should match up to the rest of the currently available flagships.

Without MotoBLUR and the lack of update issues that Motorola has faced in the past, a Motorola Nexus device could be absolutely amazing.

Read on to see the other major contenders!

On the outside looking in

HTC

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If there’s one device manufacturer that has been there from the start, it’s HTC. HTC manufactured the first-ever Android smartphone, the Google G1, and later, also the first-ever Nexus device, the Nexus One. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle for HTC, as Samsung took over the reigns as the top Android manufacturer. Even with great devices on offer since then, the past year or so have been a struggle for the Taiwanese company.

Giving HTC the opportunity to manufacture the next Nexus smartphone could be exactly what the company needs to claw its way back to the top. Considering that HTC’s design policies, and the lack of a microSD card and removable battery, play right into what Google expects from a Nexus smartphone. HTC has proved that it can make amazing smartphones, and whatever the reason for the parting of ways previously, it would be great if Google gave HTC another chance.

What can we expect from an HTC-manufactured Nexus smartphone? Definitely a premium build quality, drawing a lot of inspiration from the form factor of the HTC One. Possibly a 4.7-inch 1080p display, 32GB internal storage, and of course, no microSD slot. The premium unibody design will also mean a non-removable battery. Think about it like this, the HTC One, with stock Android 4.2 (or 4.3 or 5.0), immediate software updates, and priced $200 cheaper. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Improbable, but not impossible

Sony

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Sony, along with Motorola, are the only top Android manufacturers who haven’t made a Nexus device yet. Sony started off 2013 with a bang, releasing the well-received Sony Xperia Z and Xperia ZL, alongside the amazing Xperia Tablet Z set to arrive in markets soon. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t managed to penetrate the U.S. market the way Samsung and HTC have. While the devices can be bought online at full price, Cincinnati Bell is the only network provider to offer the Xperia ZL at a subsidized rate

A good way for Sony to establish itself in the one of the largest smartphone markets in the world, would be through manufacturing a Nexus smartphone. This year, Sony has proved that it is up to the challenge, and a Nexus device from the company could be pretty great. Sony began the year just like how LG had last year, so it’s not entirely unimaginable that Sony could get the chance to manufacture a Nexus smartphone.

What can we expect from a Sony-manufactured Nexus device? To start off with, definitely the name: “Sony Xperia Nexus.” We can expect a 5-inch 1080p display, other standard high-end specifications, and a great camera, which is one area the Nexus smartphone could do with an upgrade. Making the device waterproof would be a good feature, but may be a little expensive, so build material could be similar to the Xperia ZL.

A Nexus smartphone with a great camera would be the selling point for this device, and will definitely be the first choice for many.

Samsung

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Samsung continued its domination of the smartphone market in 2012 and cemented its place at the top, where it should continue to stay for a while. Moreover, with every subsequent iteration of the flagship Galaxy lineup, there has been a lot of speculation on Samsung distancing itself from Google, indicated by the host of proprietary S-features that the company packs its devices with. Conspiracy theories apart, Samsung is the only OEM on this list that doesn’t “need” to manufacture a Nexus smartphone.

Don’t get me wrong, a Samsung Nexus device, without TouchWiz and the bloatware, would be amazing! But, Samsung doesn’t need the additional “boost” of manufacturing a Nexus device, and could almost prove to be a burden, considering the number of smartphones Samsung already has in the works. While other manufacturers have been trying different and new things, Samsung has defined itself in a very specific way. It’s difficult to imagine a Samsung device not made of plastic, without a physical button, and with an unibody design. Regardless of the price range, you can recognize a Galaxy handset anywhere, and Samsung might not be ready to compromise on that popularity. Granted, a part of the company’s success can be attributed to the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus, and Samsung does manufacture the Nexus 10 tablet, but in the smartphone arena, Samsung may be maxed out.

That being said, I know a lot of you would love to get your hands on a Samsung Nexus device! So what can we expect from such a smartphone? A 5-inch 1080p S-AMOLED display, a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, or depending on production and availability, the octa-core Exynos 5 processor. A plastic form factor would be in order, and it might be nice to see a throwback to the design of the original Galaxy Nexus.

There are a lot of Samsung fans in this world who would pick a Samsung Nexus smartphone without a second thought, so this will definitely be a good choice.

Conclusion

All the manufacturers on this list are more than capable of manufacturing a great Nexus smartphone. There are have been a lot of rumors surrounding the Nexus 5, with the latest one suggesting that LG would be the manufacturer. If true, it’s still a good choice, but this time around, I’d love to see HTC or Motorola step up to the plate. Both companies are due for a win, and there is no question about their capabilities.

But it’s time for you to tell me your thoughts! Who do you think should manufacture the next Nexus smartphone? Answer our poll and sound off in the comments section below!   

[poll id=”280″]