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Could the Nexus 5 be called Nexus 4 (2013)?

Could the Nexus 5 be called Nexus 4 (2013)? New details discovered in the allegedly leaked Android 4.4 KitKat images we've seen recently seem to indicate such a possibility.
October 3, 2013
Nexus 5 leak

The fifth-generation Nexus smartphone may be called Nexus 4 – Nexus 4 (2013) maybe? –a publication that has further explored the earlier leaked Android 4.4 KitKat image gallery suggests.

It appears that, if real, these pictures tell a more complex story than initially believed. In what follows we’re going to show you again some of them, which reveal beyond any doubt that the handset we’re looking at isn’t the Nexus 4 – or at least not the 2012 model.

Android 4.4 KitKat

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the next Nexus handset will be called Nexus 4 (2013), but these new reports certainly make sense considering the evidence presented and the fact that older, unverified, rumors have also suggested the new Nexus smartphone will still be called Nexus 4.

This isn’t a Nexus 4 (2012)…

Tutto Android speculates that the Nexus 5 will actually be called the Nexus 4 (2013), with Google keeping a similar naming fashion to the Nexus 7 – this year’s new Nexus 7 tablet is officially referred to as Nexus 7 (2013).

While there’s no way of confirming it at this time, there are two images that, when further processed reveal a front-facing camera placement that’s not characteristic for the Nexus 4.

The Nexus 4 has the camera on the right side and the proximity sensor on the left, with the earpiece in a central position. The device in these images (Nexus 5 / Nexus 4 (2013) ) has the camera on the left side with the earpiece in the center, but in a lower position than on the Nexus 4, with the proximity sensor placed on the right.

Galaxy Nexus (left) vs Nexus 4 (right) – Both handsets have the front-facing camera on the right.

Interestingly, this particular setup is consistent with a recent Nexus 5 leak – the prototype spotted in a bar and photographed front and back. That particular unit looked very similar to the device used by a Google employee to photograph the new KitKat statue on Google’s campus (see the following sequence of images).

Android 4.4 KitKat
Original picture – front camera and earpiece not visible.
Android 4.4 KitKat
Processed picture – front camera visible on the left side, and earpiece in the middle. Also note the button on the left side.
Android 4.4 KitKat screenshot
Original picture – front camera and earpiece not visible.
Android 4.4 KitKat
Processed picture – front camera visible on the left side, and earpiece in the middle. Also note the button on the left side.
LG Nexus 5 in bar
LG Nexus 5 found in a bar – front side reveals camera placement on the left and earpiece in the middle. On the right, sensors can be spotted.
LG Nexus 5 in bar
LG Nexus 5 found in a bar – back side shows the same camera placement and Nexus logo as the handset photographed on Google’s campus.
Nexus 5 at Android 4.4 KitKat statue unveiling
New Nexus handset filmed during Google’s KitKat statue unveiling.

Therefore, it would appear that the device in today’s leaked images is not the Nexus 4 made last year, even though that’s what the software says it is.

Since we’re talking about the About phone screen, we’ll note that the Nexus 7 (2013) is identified by the software as “Nexus 7,” just like the Nexus 7 (2012) is. So before you ask, we wouldn’t expect to see “Nexus 4 (2013)” in the About phone section of this device even if it’s name would indeed be Nexus 4 (2013).

Nexus 7 (2013) vs Nexus 7 (2012) About tablet screen. | Image credit: TechnoBuffalo
Nexus 7 (2013) vs Nexus 7 (2012) About tablet screen. | Image credit: TechnoBuffalo

One piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit with the Nexus 4 or leaked Nexus 5 images is the button placed on the left side of the handset, which is smaller than you’d expect it to be – and which should be a volume rocker.

The publication also notes that the bezel of this handset doesn’t resemble the Nexus 4’s bezel, which has a chrome finish that runs around the entire display. It would also appear that the corners of the device (or at least the left corner that’s visible in the retouched images above) aren’t as round as you’d expect them to be on a Nexus 4.

But is it the fifth-gen Nexus model?

However, in addition to the front camera placement that unequivocally proves this isn’t a Nexus 4 (2012) model, there’s other evidence that indicates this could be a Nexus 5 / Nexus 4 (2013) model.

The Hammerhead codename which we have talked about earlier today was spotted in previous Nexus 5 leaks, including the leaked log file,  and it’s the name of a shark family, or a fish. Coincidentally or not, this particular handset name seems like a logical choice considering a very early 2013 rumor that said the Nexus 5 will also be an LG job, with the device having an LG Megalodon (extinct shark family) code name.

All previous Nexus smartphones had fish names as well, with Nexus 4 being known as mako, which is also a shark type.

Furthermore, Tutto Android points out the fact that considering the high quality of the pictures it should be possible to spot independent pixels on the screen of this device when zooming in. Because that doesn’t happen, that’s one more reason to believe this isn’t a Nexus 4 but a device with a higher resolution. The Nexus 5 is already rumored to have a Full HD display.

Finally, the baseband of the device is actually older than the one on the Nexus 4. The publication speculates this happened because we’re looking at a Nexus model that will have LTE support, unlike the Nexus 4 whose limited and unofficial LTE powers had to be suppressed by baseband updates.

One other element that the publication says points to a Full HD display is the icon arrangement in the app drawer. Instead of a 5 x 5 app arrangement as found on the Nexus 4, we’re looking at a 5 x 4 arrangement that could indicate a 16:9 aspect ratio of the screen, which is what a Full HD resolution will offer.

Wrap up

The easiest conclusion one can draw here is that everything is a fake. This isn’t Android 4.4 KitKat and that’s not a Nexus 4 (2012) or any other Nexus for that matter. As we said before, these images aren’t official, so there’s always a possibility that these are fakes. But in such a case, what device has been used to produce this contraption?

However, in case they’re real, we’ll point out the obvious fact: both the handset and the OS version can’t be final. The device is running a mid- to late August Android build version, one that’s still called Key Lime Pie considering that it predates the KitKat official announcement (which came in early September), so software-wise things are certainly not final.

Similarly, the device may be an older test prototype, which would explain why it’s not entirely similar to the post-KitKat announcement Nexus 5 pictures we’ve seen – in particular that button on the left side has us puzzled.

As for the name, the Nexus 4 shown in there may be a mistake, or a placeholder name for the device. After all, Google managed to full most people, including most of its own employees to believe that Key Lime Pie was going to be the next desert name of Android.

What’s clear though considering the design elements we’ve looked at is that this isn’t the “old” Nexus 4 model here – something we ourselves missed when looking through what these reported Android 4.4 screens had to show.

The Nexus 4 name, as listed on the About phone screen was easily accepted by my brain, under the assumption the images are real, of course, as a kind of the device I’d expect to see KitKat leaks on before the OS becomes official – after all, we’re used to see unreleased Android versions run on existing Nexus devices before they’re officially announced – turning me oblivious to the front camera’s placement, which was apparently hidden in plain sight.

Finally, and in light of these new details revealed by Tutto Android, it’s worth mentioning one other aspect about these photos. None of them shows the entire handset. Only pieces of the turned on screen are offered, and only after you play around with them you’ll discover the front-facing camera of the handset – something that probably wasn’t meant to be shown in the leak.

Does this detail mean we’re looking at a fake? Or is it maybe a controlled leak to further increase the buzz around KitKat and the new Nexus?

We still have unanswered questions, but we’ll certainly keep our eyes open, even wider, for more details.