It has been two years since the last two Nexus phones were released and there still feels like a void in the Android Marketplace. The Nexus brand was killed off in favor of a more premium lineup, called the Pixel. Not only that, but the beginning of Android One also helped ease Google’s decision to drop the idea altogether.
Now that doesn’t mean that the Nexus devices will never return; Google was quoted saying that they “don’t want to close a door completely, but there is no plan right now to do more Nexus devices.” So with that in mind, here are 5 reasons Google should bring back the Nexus phone for Android One.
Nexus devices were budget phones built by Google
We have come a long way since the first Nexus phone, but they all shared one thing in common. All of the devices were priced very reasonably (aside from the Nexus 6) for what you were getting. The early Nexus phones, like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, were priced starting at $299 and $349 respectively. For comparison, when the Nexus 5 came out, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 was priced at $639 off contract.
Both the S4 and Nexus 5 both came with very similar specifications, but the 5 provided a much smoother experience at a much cheaper price. Now I don’t expect a Nexus branded Android One phone to come with a Snapdragon 820, 821, or 835, but that doesn’t mean the device can’t provide a seamless user experience.
Google has been the king of making more with less. With how powerful mid-range chipsets are, Google would have no problem impressing potential consumers with the performance of a Nexus Android One device. The Snapdragon 660 is still a powerful processor. It’s an octa-core SoC that is capable of running a QHD display. A Nexus device running the 660 would be the perfect balance between budget and performance.
Updates are controlled by Google, not an OEM
Android One is a great program and one of the benefits is that devices are guaranteed “at least” two years of software updates. While this sounds great, the problem is who is distributing the update. Even though the devices are guaranteed OS updates, there is no timeline guaranteed from Google or the OEMs when the devices will receive the latest updates.
Motorola and Xiaomi manufacture the two best Android One phones, no questions asked. But, Motorola’s and Xiaomi’s track record at updating devices isn’t the greatest. Even though the Mi A1 was released last month and the Moto X4 is on the way, neither come with Android Oreo; even though Oreo was released in August. While they are both promised Oreo and will get it eventually, we have no timeline on when.
If Google were to manufacture a Nexus device for the Android One program, the software updates would be distributed by themselves. That means right around when a new OS is released. Software updates are a big deal to consumers and OEMs in Android One area already failing to deliver in a timely matter. If there was a Nexus device in the Android One program, it would definitely help alleviate that concern from potential customers.
The “Nexus” name will help Android One gain footing in the US
While the Android One program is relatively new, there is still only one device that will be available in the United States. That device is the Motorola Moto X4. For me, ever since Motorola was purchased by Lenovo I have not been interested in their devices at all. We were hoping that the Moto X4 could bring back what made the Moto X lineup so great, but that wasn’t the case.
The thought of the Moto X4 costing $400 sounded great at first, but then you have to look at the device’s competition. The OnePlus 3T is near that price and a brand new OnePlus 5 is only $100 more. Both devices have far greater specifications and a near stock Android OS. If someone were to ask me what phone around $400 I’d recommend to them, it definitely would not be the Moto X4.
Now, if Google is serious about strengthening Android One’s presence in the United States, they need to do something themselves. If the Nexus 5 were to get a reboot and put into the Android One lineup for between $400-$500, I have no doubt that it was sell insanely well. Since the device would be priced sub-$500, it would not infringe on any sales from the Pixel devices. This would be a win win for Google.
Nexus is an iconic brand that helped shape Android
Google hasn’t really pushed Android One in the United States just yet. If you were to ask any of your friends if they knew what Android One was, many of them would have no idea. Now ask the same people if they have ever heard of a Nexus phone. Odds are they have. Making an Android One “Nexus” phone would immediately bring notoriety and credible to the Android One brand.
Bring the Nexus brand back for the tech enthusiasts
Google’s Nexus devices always were and arguably still are the most popular devices on XDA Developers for custom development. Since Google always posts the factory images and kernel sources, it is very developer friendly. I don’t know if Android One OEMs are required to do the same, or if they will post their sources, but it is something that matters to the community.
Custom development has played a huge role in how Android has progressed over the years. Since the Nexus brand is no longer available, many fans have jumped ship to OnePlus. While OnePlus is a development friendly company, their update path has been suspect. Having a Nexus branded Android One phone would guarantee prompt updates, but also Google posting the sources for their devices.
Now we don’t know if Google will ever bring that iconic brand back, but Android One would be the perfect platform for it. Nexus devices always stood for budget phones, great performance, and custom development. If Google ever wants to take over the mid-range smartphone market, all they would have to do is produce a Nexus branded Android One device.