After the launch of the Nexus One in early 2010, Google boss Eric Schmidt famously said that his company "didn't have to do a second" Nexus model, shattering the hopes and dreams of power users looking for a steady stream of "pure Google" devices that could sidestep manufacturer customizations and carrier lock-ins on a regular basis. Of course, we all know what happened next: the Nexus S came around toward the end of the year, and it's gotten a second wind thanks to the launch of the WiMAX-capable Nexus S 4G on Sprint several weeks ago.
Fortunately, there's been no hint since then that Google's planning on sunsetting the Nexus concept. We caught a glimpse of a rumored Nexus 3 (pictured right) a couple weeks back supposedly getting cooked up by HTC, and while that particular picture ended up being fake, Boy Genius Report has published a few new details on the underlying phone -- alleged details, that is -- that make Mountain View's next phone sound like it's certainly keeping pace with the specs race.
For starters, BGR says the phone is "possibly" called the Nexus 4G, a shout-out to the LTE radio it's apparently using. For everyone's sake, I'm hoping that name doesn't make it to retail -- there's far too much possibility for confusion with the existing Nexus S 4G. I personally think Google should've just carried on with the Nexus Two, Three, and so on... but it's a little late for that, especially since Philip K. Dick's estate made it clear that "Nexus One" was uncomfortably close to the Nexus-6 moniker from Dick's novels.
At any rate, the device is said to likely run either a TI OMAP 4460 or Qualcomm Krait-based Snapdragon core (probably the MSM8960, if I had to guess), not Nvidia's next-gen Kal-El architecture that it's been aggressively marketing over the past few months. Regardless, any of these cores would represent a marked improvement in performance and raw capability over anything that you'll find in phones today, up to and including the 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragons that are just now launching. That'll pair up with 1GB of RAM, which looks poised to become the new norm among high-end smartphones this year.
The display is said to be "monster-sized" with true 720p resolution, which presumably means 1280 x 720. That's head and shoulders above anything on the market today -- including both the iPhone 4 and Acer's not-yet-launched Iconia Smart -- and unless the screen is really massive, it'd be in the running for highest pixel density, too. I've got some skepticism on this one, though: the Dell Streak's commercial failure suggests that customers aren't going to tolerate a 5-inch phone, and 720p is of questionable value if you go far below that size. What's more, resolution and size are both enemies of battery life -- and devices are struggling to make it through a day as it is because manufacturers are caving to the demand for insanely thin chassis that can't fit much more than 1,500 mAh. It'll be interesting to see what (if any) concessions Google makes here.
Interestingly, the Nexus 4G -- or whatever it's called -- is rumored to be using a 5 megapixel sensor, a distinct step down from the industry trend toward 8-plus megapixels. Of course, the Nexus S' lack of support for HD video capture already suggests that raw camera muscle isn't first and foremost on Google's mind with this line of devices, but BGR says we can expect 1080p capture on the new phone along with "class-leading" image quality and low-light performance. Camera nerds know that resolution is the enemy of low-light performance, so that alone could account for the step down to 5 megapixels.
Finally -- and you've probably already guessed this -- it's said that the Nexus 4G will be an Ice Cream Sandwich phone, Google's next Android release that promises to finally marry Gingerbread's phone-focused features with Honeycomb's tablet leanings. That makes perfect sense: a flagship pure Android phone to kick off the release of Google's most important Android release (arguably) since 1.0. Lining up with existing rumors, that also means the phone is said to dispense of the physical navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen; obviously, a larger display would help make room for dynamic buttons. They're said to be targeting Thanksgiving for release.
BGR gives no hint to the manufacturer, but Android and Me had previously suggested that HTC and LG are both in the running -- and those guys have a decent track record for nailing rumors (they've scored key tidbits on the Nexus S and the HTC Pyramid in the past, which we now know as the Sensation). Given my personal experiences with the Nexus One and the T-Mobile G2x, I think I'd personally prefer an HTC, but I'm certain LG can make a great Android phone, too -- particularly under tight Google control.
Is this possible? Yes -- likely, even. But considering where we are today with devices, where the trajectory is leading us, and where Google has indicated that it's going, it'd also be very easy to divine these specs on your own as a plausible next-gen Nexus. Stay tuned.