They say in life, when you retrospect, you realise that every mistake no matter how serious or trivial, all adds up to who you are. When you join the dots you can see the whole picture and you can decipher the point it is trying to make. A series of connections, all leading to the focal point, the Nexus. Perhaps that explains the name of Google’s pure Android devices. They signify the very epitome of the best Android best experience. We’ve come a long way since the very first Nexus device – and they’ve been our window to the evolution of the OS that now powers a huge majority of handsets in the world. We covered the iPhone’s history earlier – let’s walk down that path for the Nexus devices now:
HTC Nexus One
Launch: The first of the Nexus flagship was launched in January 2010.
Android version: It supported Android version 2.1 Eclair through 2.3 Gingerbread.
Design and Hardware: The matte plastic along with a brushed metal accent was the HTC design style at that time and the Nexus One was also the same. The phone came with a trackball, 3.7-inch 480×800 AMOLED display, 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion processor with 512 MB RAM, 1400 mAh battery and a 5MP camera.
The Nexus One was sold mainly for developers and was launched at $529 for an unlocked piece, it offered a “pure Android” experience with an unlockable bootloader. It was Google’s first attempt to make people buy a device online without seeing in stores. It was perhaps a bit ahead of its time, but the Nexus buying experience ha evolved over the years.
The reaction was very positive despite the lawsuits and patent troubles. These were among the best specifications anyone has ever seen on a smartphone. Everything about the phone was amazing, apart from the pricing- even by today’s standards.
Android’s multitasking capabilities, Gmail’s multiple account settings and the operating system’s voice-to-text functionality were praised initially. It wasn’t free of issues though – users complained about the battery life after the 2.3.3 Gingerbread update. The device was discontinued in July, 2010, since the Adreno 200 GPU couldn’t keep up with the 2D acceleration engine in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung Nexus S
Launch: The next, Nexus S was released in December 2010 and the Nexus S 4G was released in March 2011.
Android versions: From 2.3 Gingerbread to 4.1 Jelly Bean
Design and Hardware: Samsung used a slimy hyperglaze plastic for their first Nexus, the 2nd in the series though, with a slight curve to the screen which was termed as a “Contour Display” by Google. It had a 4-inch 480×800 Super AMOLED display, 1GHz Samsung Exynos 3 CPU, 512 MB RAM, 1500 mAh battery and a 5MP camera.
The Nexus S retailed at $530, while the Nexus S 4G was sold for $550. The Gingerbread upgrade didn’t change much on the user interface front.
It was one of the best smartphones at the time and the first to have an NFC chip. The first model didn’t support HSPA+, which was bit of a bummer, although, Google seemed to resolve that by offering a 4G handset in the next few months. It wasn’t a huge leap up from the One, but it managed to keep the users interested in the Nexus series.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Launch: The next Nexus was released in November 2011.
Android versions: From 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Design – Although still plastic, it was more textured on the back plate, still retaining the slight curve of the screen. It included support for MHL through its micro-USB port, which allowed users to output 1080p video to an HDTV. This Nexus had a 4.65-inch 720×1280
Hardware: It was Samsung’s second Nexus with a completely new Super AMOLED display, 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 1GB RAM, 1750 mAh battery, a 5 MP rear-facing camera, and a 1.3MP front-facing camera. The first Nexus to have a front facing camera and a dual core processor!
The Galaxy Nexus retailed at $399 at its launch. What made this Nexus a huge success, is the software upgrade. The leap from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich is the biggest UI overhaul till date, with loads of new features/improvements.
The Galaxy Nexus became hugely popular due to the new software and UI. The biggest setback of this phone was its battery life, which frankly was quite terrible. A single charge wasn’t even enough to last through the day! To add to Nexus’ woes, its competitors phones at the time had much better battery life. The users were also disappointed when it was announced that the Android 4.4 Kit Kat update wouldn’t be available to them.
We’ll revisit the other Nexus devices – the 4, 5, 6, 5X and 6P in the next article in this two-part series. Coming soon!