Wednesday, September 23, 2015

 The new iPhones hit stores on Friday, September 25. And just four days later, they get their first major challenge in the form of new Android phones from Google.

In the coming weeks, the tech and Internet giant Google is set to unveil its annual marquee handset in San Francisco.
Known as the Google Nexus, the flagship line (which also includes tablets) features the latest and purest version of the company's mobile operating system, Android. Initially popular among Android enthusiasts when it first rolled out in 2010, the Nexus' appeal widened as consumers recognized its (usually) low price and solid hardware specs.
Now in its sixth iteration, Google will soon announce its successor. Below, we gathered all the rumors and predictions that have been swirling around the device (or devices!).

Announcement and release dates

Screenshot by Nate Ralph/CNET Google's invite to its September 29 event.
About two weeks after CNET exclusively learned that Google will announce its Nexus devices on September 29 in San Francisco, Google sent out official invitations for the event and noted that there will be "some new treats" from the company.
This fall timeline is consistent with previous Nexus launches, and though there is no official release date for the handsets, you can expect their retail availability to take place some time in October.

Manufacturer(s) and price

Unlike past years, Google may be announcing two Nexuses simultaneously -- a first for the flagship line.
One will be manufactured by LG, which has worked with Google in 2012 and 2013 to create the Nexus 4 and 5, respectively. (The most recent Nexus 6, however, was done through a partnership with Motorola.) LG's Nexus variant is code-named LG Angler and may be officially named Nexus 5X -- though sometimes it's been referred to simply as the Nexus 5 (2015). Its price tag is predicted to be $400 for the 16GB model (or £262 and AU$507, converted) and $450 for the 32GB version (or £295 and AU$641, converted).

As a comparison, the Nexus 5 cost $349 (16GB) and $399 (32GB) when it launched. That makes the 5X slightly more expensive, but still competitive in terms of other top-tier smartphones.
Huawei is rumored to be the next Google Nexus partner, and LG is expected to return as well. Josh Miller/CNET
The second device will be called the Nexus 6P (code-named Bullhead). Though Google has collaborated with Motorola/Lenovo, LG, HTC and Samsung, it is said that it will be tapping Huawei this time -- a first for the Chinese-based company.

Having two variants and sizes (more on this later) has been seen as Google's attempt to reach a wider consumer audience. Though last year's Nexus 6 was a solid handset, its expansive 6-inch display alienated Android fans who weren't in the market for a big-screen phablet.

Starting at $500 (or £499 and AU$869), the 6 was also the most expensive Nexus to date. And in a time when companies like ZTE, Alcatel, OnePlus and Xiaomi are offering inexpensive but premium unlocked phones directly to consumers, the possibility of Google having two pricing tiers, with one or both being more accessible, may be a strategic move.

Design and display

Not much is known about how the new devices look. Leaked images of the LG variant's backplate shows a white paint job, a large lens and a flash. The model is also predicted to have a 5.2-inch display.
The new devices are speculated to be smaller than last year's expansive 6-inch Nexus. Josh Miller/CNET
Huawei's version is expected to have a 5.7-inch qHD screen with a 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution and a metal body.

Hardware and key components

Both handsets have been speculated to feature dual front-facing speakers, a USB Type-C port for charging and transferring files (more details below) and a fingerprint scanner on the rear.
A USB Type-C port on the Letv Le 1 Pro Superphone handset. James Martin/CNET
The Nexus 5X is believed to be outfitted with a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor from Qualcomm (the same one used in the LG G4) and a 2,700mAh battery, which is slightly higher than the 5's 2,300mAh battery.
The Nexus 6P, on the other hand, will boast more powerful innards, like a 3,500mAh battery. And while its processor has been predicted to be either a Snapdragon 820 or 810, the general consensus is leaning on the latter. It will also feature a 13-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front shooter, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory (though Google will likely offer other memory capacities like with previous Nexus phones).

Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Google's latest OS, Android 6.0 Marshmallow gives us an informative peek into what the new Nexuses will be capable of. As mentioned earlier, one is support for the Type-C standard, which offers a faster and more efficient connection. The plug is flippable, meaning you can plug it in right-side up or upside down, and you may use the phones to charge other devices as well.
Google also improved its digital search and voice assistant, Google Now with Now on Tap. The service is accessible by holding down the home button and it brings up relevant information in regards to a currently opened app. Now on Tap is more streamlined and draws from current apps and content for its own context and understanding.
With the Marshmallow update, users will have access to the digital payment platform Android Pay. James Martin/CNET
The digital payment system Android Pay is another big component of Android Marshmallow. It works with the NFC standard and the aforementioned fingerprint scanner. Unlike the Google Wallet app, Pay is baked into the OS and doesn't support peer-to-peer payment services.
Other features include an energy-saving feature called Doze, which help the handset use less power during standby; and users will be granted more control over app permissions. For more on Android Marshmallow, check out our first-take here.

Our thoughts so far

Given the possibility of two Nexuses rolling out at the same time, Google is offering consumers more choices -- especially those who want something more pocketable and comfortable than the Nexus 6. Having two simultaneous marquee phones isn't unusual and does well to cover one's bases; Apple did the same thing last year with its iPhone 6 and larger 6 Plus.

In addition, though the 6's pricing was consistent with the high-end devices of its time, it was more expensive than what consumers, who regarded the Nexus family as budget-friendly, were used to. But with two sizes and presumably two pricing structures, the Nexus line could be notably cheaper than the 6. This prospect is made more timely now that that so many premium unlocked handsets are more affordable than ever. If Google wants to be stay in the mobile hardware game, it's paramount that the Nexuses' prices be competitive to ensure the smartphones' success.