Thoughts on Google’s New Nexus Devices
So, albeit Hurricane Sandy that caused Google to cancel its much anticipated Android Playground event (which was to be held at Basketball City in New York, right by the East River, thus the cancellation), they went ahead and made a heap of announcements and product unveilings (coincidentally on the same day as Microsoft’s Window Phone 8 event; shame on you Google. And shame on you Microsoft for sending that Hurricane to New York).
There is a lot of exciting stuff, so I’ll keep it short:
Nexus 7 with 3G
Rumors about this first cropped up at the beginning of September. Adding 3g (or HSPA+ to be more precise) to the Nexus 7 makes an awesome tablet even awesomer.
The Nexus 7 was the first tablet I seriously considered buying because of its killer price point and smaller form factor, but after hearing that a 3G version might be coming I held off (which was, as I know now, the right call).
I personally would use a tablet mostly while out of the house or maybe for some browsing/playing/reading in bed/on the toilet/in the kitchen, which means it should be small (yay 7 inch), light (yay 340 grams) and have mobile data (double yay 3G).
They also doubled the storage while keeping the price the same, which means you can now get:
- 16GB Nexus 7 for $199
- 32GB Nexus 7 for $249
- 32GB Nexus 7 with 3G for $299
I’m not sure if there will be a 16GB 3G version as well, nothing has been announced so far, but I would imagine it would also be around $249.
These are amazingly cheap prices when compared to the iPad Mini (starting at $329 for the 16GB WiFi version) and it also performs much better than the similarly priced Kindle Fire HD ($214 for 16GB WiFi, ad-free version) as quite a few reviews have shown.
On to the next device. The
This one has also been extensively leaked over the past few weeks, so there weren’t many surprises, but it’s finally official and it’s a great Android flagship phone.
To quickly summarize some of its specs:
- 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 IPS display
- 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor
- 8 megapixel camera + 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
- Front + Back Gorilla Glass
- 2GB of RAM
- Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, NFC, Bluetooth, HSPA+
- Wireless Charging, 2100 mAh Battery
- 8GB or 16GB storage space
So, what stands out here compared to other flagship phones (e.g. Galaxy S3, iPhone 5 and Lumia 920)? Not that much as all of these latest and greatest phones are relatively close in terms of processing power, screen and camera quality, so there is little sense in comparing those directly.
What does stand out is wireless charging, which only the Lumia 920 also features and Google trumps them in that regard as well, mostly because the Nexus 4 has built-in magnets, which allow it to stick to its charger (and possibly 3rd party accessories) at an angle. This means you can actually have it docked on your desk and have it display you the time, weather and whatever else you want, while the Lumia 920 will just sit flat on it’s back.
The other thing that stands out is the omission of 4G, which is a relatively big deal, considering all other flagship phones have it. Google chose to do this to keep more control over the phone’s upgrade schedule as using LTE requires strict adherence to carrier imposed rules and limitations, including over the air updates.
I personally am not very bothered by it (for one their is no LTE/4G in Romania yet) and I’m quite satisfied with 3G speeds. It also means the phone is cheaper and has a longer battery life.
I quite like the design (a lot more than the competition’s looks), but as this is a matter of individual taste, claiming it looks better or worse than other phones is rather pointless.
One of the biggest selling points is its price though. It’s ridiculously cheap compared to the iPhone 5 ($649 for 16GB) or Lumia 920 ($700 for 32GB), starting at $299 for 8GB or $349 for 16GB.
Unless this phone will get horrible reviews for build quality (and so far it looks like its build quality is excellent) this will be my next (to say it in Joshua Topolsky’s words).
Which finally leads us to the:
While this is probably the least exciting announcement for me personally, as I really don’t like the 10 inch form factor (what the heck do I have a laptop for), it still looks like a great device.
Most remarkable is probably the insane screen resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, which even beats the iPad with retina display and it’s relatively light weight (604 grams).
Notably is also the omission of any kind of mobile data (even though that might follow if we can take a hint from the Nexus 7).
Of course it’s also cheaper than the iPad or Surface, although not by as huge a margin as the other Nexus devices are compared to their counterparts. Still $399/$499 (for 16GB/32GB) is an impressive price for such a device.
The final thing worth mentioning is probably the latest version of Android (4.2), which hasn’t gotten its own name as it isn’t a major upgrade from Jelly Bean. Of course all of the above mentioned devices will ship with it.
The new features worth mentioning are:
- Gesture typing on the keyboard
- Lockscreen improvements, including widget support and the ability to swipe directly to camera
- Miracast support for wireless display sharing
- Google Now can use Gmail as a data source for new cards, including improved flight tracker, hotel and restaurant reservations, movie and music recommendations
Android has grown into a really stable, mature operating system since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean builds on that.
In my eyes it’s the best mobile operating system out there at the moment.
iOS has stagnated with recent releases and even major version bumps have brought few innovations (I’m not even going to mention the fact that you are totally restricted in terms of what you can do with your phone and the software on it) and its UI guidelines are ugly and outdated.
Android is also quickly catching up in terms of app selection (although iOS still is the undisputed leader in that area).
Windows 8 on the other hand looks promising (I prefer its design language over Android’s), but is still in it’s infant shoes and plagued by early performance issues and bugs as well as a ridiculously small app selection.
To wrap things up, it has been a great day for Google Fans with a nice update to Jelly Bean and a bunch of new, shiny devices. Now let’s go see what Microsoft has in store…