The evolution of the Nexus
1st Nov 2013 | 13:39
One off? But there are five...
The evolution of the Nexus: introduction
The Google Nexus phone has, in many ways, helped revolutionise the mobile market in much the same way that the Apple iPhone has. It has also taken many hardware and software design cues from the iPhone, but then again so has nigh on every smartphone handset that we see today.
Apple's iPhone has undoubtedly been the catalyst that has changed the mobile market in ways that would have seemed so radical a few years back. If it wasn't for the iPhone, we might well have seen Android looking a lot more like the OS that graced BlackBerry devices.
The Google Nexus One was not the first Android phone to market, that was the T-Mobile G1. With manufacturers still seemingly unconvinced about creating devices for its new mobile OS, Google introduced the Nexus One to show developers just what the software could do.
Google had never planned on making the Nexus series into a staple of the annual smartphone diet. The original Nexus One handset was designed to give Android a push in the right direction, and nothing more. It obviously worked, as Android now holds over 70% of the mobile market in Europe.
Perhaps buckling under industry pressure to follow the Nexus One up with more, and more impressive hardware, the guys at Mountain View made a second. And a third. And then a fourth. And what's that? Number five is now upon us.
Google also decided to take this "one off" into the tablet market, showing the world how it feels tablets should be made. Again, we might never have seen these devices had it not been for the advent of the original iPad, a device that again pushed Apple into revolutionising a new market.
So how has the volatile nature of the mobile market changed the Nexus hardware and software over the years? Well just click next and we'll take you through the journey of Google's Nexus range.
The evolution of the Nexus: the phones
Google Nexus One
Partnered with HTC, the Nexus One based itself on the Desire - the very first phone to win our coveted 5 star review. It had some competition at the time, having to win over fans from the likes of Symbian, BlackBerry, and those that had fallen in love with the iPhone 3GS.
$529 (around £330) bought you a single-core 1GHz processor, backed with 512MB RAM and 4GB of storage (and a microSD slot believe it or not). It also packed, what is considered small by today's standards, a 3.7-inch 480x800 screen to show off Android 2.1 Eclair.
A 5MP camera sat on the back, giving the Nexus One a lot to shout about given that the 3GS came with 3.2MP. To keep things running was a 1400mAh battery, which gave the Nexus One up to 7 hours 3G talk time.
- Read our Google Nexus One review
Google Nexus S
Things had changed by the time the second iteration of Google's smartphone, the Nexus S, launched less than a year later at just over £400.
Google moved to partner with Samsung to launch Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Google needed its impressive weaponry to fight it out with the iPhone 4, the biggest competitor to the Nexus S at the time.
The Nexus S based itself heavily on the Samsung Galaxy S, although coming similarly specced to the Nexus One. A single-core 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 5MP camera all seems familiar, but storage was given a boost to 16GB, but no microSD slot.
The screen was also improved (although the 480 x 800 resolution was stretched to 4 inches), with Samsung's Super AMOLED technology in use. The battery was also boosted, to 1500mAh for a similar talk time. NFC also made its first Nexus appearance here.
- Read our Google Nexus S review
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
By the time the Galaxy Nexus had launched, another phone had garnered our 5 star review, the Samsung Galaxy S2. At £429, it aimed to challenge the iPhone 4S, a phone that was making waves as it improved greatly on the iPhone 4.
Paired with Samsung again, Google looked to get some of the S2 magic into the Galaxy Nexus. This meant a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and 16GB storage. The camera took a boost, but was still measured at 5MP, and the battery was now 1750mAh.
As with all Nexus launches, the Galaxy Nexus heralded Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, displayed proudly on a 4.65-inch 720x1280 Super AMOLED display.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy Nexus review
Google Nexus 4
Google decided to move across South Korea for its next Nexus iteration, with LG taking up the reins for the Google Nexus 4 handset. Things were looking a little more difficult for LG, with the market now populated with the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X.
LG were desperate to get back into the smartphone making market, so its partnership with Google seemed ideal, giving birth to a device sporting a 768x1280 4.7-inch screen, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 8 or 16GB storage and an 8MP camera.
It launched with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and a 2100mAh battery, giving it 15 hours of 3G talk time. Perhaps the biggest game changer was the £269 price tag, that unfortunately has yet to revolutionise the mobile market pricing in the way we might have hoped.
- Read our Google Nexus 4 review
Google Nexus 5
The Google Nexus 5 is the new kid on the Nexus block and from initial impressions it's comfortably the best Nexus smartphone to date, although we'll reserve proper judgement until our in-depth review.
Again, LG is the partner of choice and the Nexus 5 welcomes the arrival of Android 4.4 KitKat and a similarly cheap launch price a la Nexus 4, if not a shade more expensive.
With a beefed up 2.26GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 4.95-inch screen full HD display the Nexus 5 is taking on the likes of the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 5S and LG's own G2 - but at a price point which makes it supremely attractive.
The evolution of the Nexus: the tablets
Google Nexus 7 (2012)
With the iPad carving out a market, that could well have been argued to be its own, the lack of Google's official presence seemed to be a little noticeable.
That all changed when Google and Asus took on the likes of the iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire with its very own Nexus tablet, the original Nexus 7. Launching at the cheap price of £159 for the 8GB version, Google looked to undercut the iPad.
For your money, you got a 1280 x 800 7-inch screen, a 1.2GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB RAM, 4,325mAh battery and a 1.2MP front facing camera. There was no rear sensor. It also brought Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to market.
- Read our Nexus 7 (2012) review
Google Nexus 10 (2012)
By this point, Google's only foray into the tablet market was at the smaller sized, budget end of the market. This left the gap for the iPad 4 (briefly the iPad 3 as well) to continue to grow the full sized tablet market. Third party devices were still struggling to compete.
Despite the New York launch being cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, the Nexus 10 managed to launch online. The Samsung made device packed an eye-popping 10-inch 2560 x 1600 screen, 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 2GB RAM and two cameras (5MP on the rear and 1.2MP on the front).
It also came with 16 or 32GB of storage (no microSD) and a 9000mAh battery, costing only £319. That made it £80 cheaper than the equivalent iPad 4.
- Read our Google Nexus 10 review
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
2013 came around meaning that the annual product refreshes that we are all so used were starting to roll in. The tablet market had changed drastically since the launch of the original Nexus 7, with Apple deciding that it too wanted to get a slice of the smaller cheaper tablet pie in the form of the iPad Mini.
This meant that Google had to go back to the drawing board, and came up with the Nexus 7 (2013). RAM was doubled to 2GB to sit alongside the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, with the same 1.2MP camera on the front, and a 5MP snapper now sat on the back.
The screen also became full HD, with the 7 inches now containing 1920 x 1200 pixels. The new Nexus 7 also launched Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The battery is a little smaller, at 3,950mAh, but still provides up to 9 hours use.
- Read our new Nexus 7 review
Google Nexus 10 (2013)
The new Nexus 10 is still a heavily rumoured device. We are expecting to see it soon, but any hope that it would launch alongside the Nexus 5 has been dashed.
Again, the tablet market has changed, albeit not as much at the full sized end. Still, the new Nexus 10 has to fight it out against the newly launched iPad Air.
There has been many a rumour surrounding the new Nexus 10, from a low price (32GB for only £319 sound tempting?) to the same full HD 10-inch screen which featured on the original.
We're also expecting it to come alongside Android 4.4 KitKat, powered by 2 (or 3)GB of RAM, and the Snapdragon 800 chip that's in the Nexus 5. We have also heard that the camera's could get a boost to 8MP and 2.1MP for the back and front respectively. A 9,500mAh battery has also been touted.