The Next Nexus

May 30, 2015

On Thursday I attended Mobile Dorset’s Google I/O Extended event at 3 Sided Cube’s offices. It was a great event, with a ton of Mobile Dorsetters there - all ready to lap up Google’s new announcements at Google I/O 2015.

Google IO at Mobile Dorset

The great new announcements were there for Android M, including new permissions for apps and better battery life.

The key ones to take away are USB Type-C support for Android, including the ability to plug two phones together and charge one from the other. USB Type-C is the future - with Apple adopting it for their new 12” MacBook and Google using it for the prototypical Chromebook Pixel, expect to see it in phones, tablets, and laptops from here on out.

The other new feature is Android Pay, with NFC payment and in-app payment all authorised from a fingerprint reader on the phone. Sounds a lot like Apple Pay - and it is. Consistency is great in this case.

But there wasn’t one whiff of new devices from Google at I/O 2015. No Nexus phone, no nothin’. So it got me thinking of how a new Google Nexus phone would look.

Running Open Device Lab Bournemouth, I see a lot of devices - over 400 of them! And one that caught my eye is the LG Bello, with volume and lock button on the back. I loved it so much, I bought myself an LG G3 after my venerable LG Nexus 4 died, and it’s been great. The G3 is a great phone, and the G4 looks even better, sticking with the now-distinctive rear buttons.

LG G4

For a while now, it’s been rumoured that LG is making the next Nexus phone, along with Huawei making a second one. Huawei is a surprise choice, but LG are a safe deal - they manufactured the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, with Motorola crafting the huge Nexus 6. Both the 4 and 5 are incredible phones - my 4 had, until recently, trooped on magnificently and the 5 is underrated across the board. Both were moderately priced at launch and offered ridiculous value, pushing the bar for Android phones in both design and functionality.

With a removable battery and 128gb Micro-SD support, you could slap the Nexus logo on the G4 right now and it’d be perfect. The Nexus 5 had a 4.95” screen, and the rumoured new device will have a 5.2” screen - slightly smaller than the G4’s 5.5”, so it seems like it’ll be just the right size.

Of course, a new Nexus device will have to include a fingerprint sensor to demonstrate Android Pay at its best and set the bar for future Androids. But where would it go? The front of most Android phones are devoid of buttons, with all physical front buttons moved to the screen. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a fingerprint reader, but that rests in the front home button, much like the iPhone’s.

Fingerprint Sensors

The most logical (and neat) place to put the fingerprint sensor on an LG Nexus is to keep the rear buttons and place it right there. It can scan a finger when locking/unlocking a phone and when using Android Pay. As I found in my research, the Nexus 6 almost had a fingerprint sensor but it was removed. In fact, it was supposed to be in the dimple on the back.

The design of this Nexus would take cues from the clean Nexus 5 with elements of LG’s recognisable design elements in a similar way to Moto’s influence on the Nexus 6.

Here’s what I imagine a Nexus 5 2015 would look like. Gone are the side buttons, replaced with the rear buttons and central camera.

LG Nexus 2015 Mockup

(Unfortunately, Photoshopping is harder than it seems on a MacBook Air 11”…)

This Nexus 5 would come with a USB Type-C connector, a 5.2” screen, wireless charging, and all the other usual gubbins. I doubt Google/LG would ship one with a removable battery and MicroSD, but that would be icing on the cake. One thing is clear: after the Nexus 6’s explosion to a high price point, this Nexus phone needs to be much cheaper.

Placing a fingerprint sensor with LG’s rear buttons and Motorola’s dimple is easy enough, but I’m not sure where other phone manufacturers will put them…

So that’s what I imagine a great Nexus 2015 would look like. What are your thoughts? Let me know by tweeting me.

Update Oct 2015

The Nexus 5X and 6P unfortunately didn’t quite meet my predictions for their rear buttons, but they do come packed with a fingerprint sensor and USB-C. Not bad, eh?

The newly announced LG V10 almost seems like LG read my blog…

LG V10

The central power button is a fingerprint sensor, flanked by volume buttons. Nice, LG. Nice. Sadly, this only comes with normal Micro-USB.