Here’s why the Nexus 4 will probably be the last Nexus phone


Yesterday at the D11 Conference, Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai unveiled the HTC One Google Experience phone, which is now the second phone like this to be announced. The next obvious question from Walt Mossberg was, “Does that mean you aren’t going to make anymore Nexus devices?” Pichai answered by saying the goal behind Nexus was to invest in cutting edge hardware along with their partners to guide the ecosystem. He closed by saying “That will continue as well.” Correct me if I am wrong, but the word “phone” was never mentioned. I heard “devices”.

Let’s rewind to October of last year when a report from AndroidandMe said that the LG Nexus was on the way and a new Nexus Program was in the works. The rumor was that Google opened the Nexus program to all OEMs. Based on these latest phones from Samsung and HTC, it’s safe to say that this rumor held true. There were some things about it that were wrong as in the OEM skins (TouchWiz and Sense) would be part of a customization center, but it appears Google is heading into a different direction with the Nexus program.

Lets face it, hardware aside, the Nexus program was to promote stock vanilla Android and create devices for developers. For consumers, it was a way to experience Android that way Google intended it to be if they so wished. Unfortunately, it never really took off. The segment of the population that desires a phone like this is still very small. A little over a year ago I stated that Google should “mandate that each manufacturer release at least one phone and/or tablet per year that’s stock, and that it must be updated within 1 month of the release of the SDK.” I don’t think Google is mandating anything to Samsung or HTC, but it appears they have encouraged them to come out with these devices.

This is actually an upgrade to the Nexus program because it means more devices to choose from. The question is why would Google continue to offer Nexus phones? There really isn’t a reason, assuming this continues. Let us also not forget that Motorola’s next generation of phones will be stock Android with the possibility of some slight modifications or enhancements.

Okay, I will play along for a bit. If there is going to be a Nexus 5 (or whatever name), who is going to make it? LG seemed to be the chosen one, but VP of LG Mobile in Europe Won Kim said that they won’t be making a Nexus 5. Of course, shortly after, it was revealed that they do have a Nexus 5 prototype, but couldn’t it just be another Nexus Edition phone like the GS4 and One?

Going back to Pichai’s comments, I do believe the Nexus program will continue, but not for phones. So far we haven’t seen evidence of this type of program for tablets, and we know that an updated Nexus 7 will be announced very soon. We also know Google is working on a smartwatch and another set top TV box. These could also be marketed under the Nexus name. As to a Nexus phone, it is this writer’s humble opinion that you won’t see one this year.

You can also check out my followup article discussing Motorola’s role in all of this.

About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • Saif

    The purpose of Nexus devices is putting cutting edge hardware & software at very affordable price. They can’t achieve that with Nexus experience devices.

    Nexus experience devices are Google’s answer to people who wanted Stock Android on flagship phones. Google doesn’t design these phones, they just put Stock Android on them.

    • RobertNazarian

      The Motorola X will probably fill this need.

      • Saif

        Moto is separate.

      • Mystery Man

        Moto X is a low end device….

  • dice90

    Not everyone can afford $600 and up for a phone… That’s why it should continue.

  • bee

    There better be another Nexus phone, otherwise I’m not buying Android again…

    • Jordan Hotmann


  • bozzykid

    This article doesn’t make sense. Google needs Nexus phones so it can offer an affordable Android phone. Unless they are going to give up on emerging markets and pull an Apple so they can lose ground. Pushing lower cost Nexus devices is good for the market even if they don’t sell many.

  • Grant

    I’m sure Google has more say over a phone with their name on it than telling HTC “don’t put sense on that”. So, they’ll probably want to continue the Nexus phones. Did you hear the gasps from the crowd when they announced the Google Edition of the S4 at $650?

    And if you want to pay attention to wordings like not saying the word “phones”, then LG could basically be saying “we’re not making the Nexus 5” because it’s going to be called something else. Instead of listing of every Nexus device separately, he group phones, tablets, and possibly other devices into one. The phone part of the Nexus lineup is what everybody thinks of anyway. Why would they want to get rid of it?

  • Brad

    The Google S4 is even more niche than the nexus it is basically there to be there. It is more for the molders who will probably still buy the regular phone and copy the standard Google rom or some variation. It is great to have for standard drivers and updated files for the molding community to port over. But it will not sale well. If for no other reason than the price that was laughed at.

  • blix247

    Nexus is a real brand now, that sells millions of devices. It sells phones faster than LG could make them. Do you really think Google would throw that in the trash because HTC and Samsung happened to agree to Google Experience devices this year? Who says they do it again next year?

    More important than that, its still the way that the newest version of Android is married completely to a device. None of this IR disabled, beats mode always on stuff. Thats not Nexus, thats stock shoved into a phone that was never meant for it.

    I’ll consider giving up Nexus brand devices when manufacturers find out how to not put a logo on the front of their devices.

  • Justin A

    I don’t really get the hype on this. the Cyanogenmod team puts out a pretty awesome ROM very quickly. So, whats the advantage to an S4 vanilla over s4 with CM 10.1 or whatever comes next.

    • Benjamin Pavel

      It’s a stable build.
      Just 2 days ago Cyanogenmod updated their device portfolio with ReleaseCandidate3 so there still isn’t any official stable build for devices.

      • Justin A

        So speed of delivery? I get that I guess. The thing is, now that there is an S4 vanilla, all you would have to do is download the stock rom for the vanilla phone, then flash it to your rooted phone. Tada! This would still require you to buy a phone which was available as a galaxy-type phone though, I understand.

        • Anthony Kim

          I don’t think you understood. Stable build doesn’t have to be quick or speedy with delivery. We get the official stuff while you guys who rely on those things get ‘copies’. We just have pride in the fact that we get updates straight from Google I guess.

  • Andy J

    Sigh….. “So far we haven’t seen evidence of this type of program for tablets” yes…. because the Nexus 7 was most definitely not exactly this…. oh no wait – yes, yes that’s exactly what it was. The reason this will continue being the case for both tablets and phones is really incredibly simple – it is in Google’s interest to provide subsidised devices to get Android “out there” and more importantly to expose new people to the Google Play ecosystem.

  • Oli72

    Nexus program lives. a reasonable prices beats all on the market. Nexus is rocking.

  • RobertNazarian

    For those that are arguing that Nexus phones need to be around for affordability, Motorola stock Android devices will probably fill that need.

  • ian

    The nexus 5 phone is alive. Still same pricing. Specs will be snapdragon 800 with 2gb ram plus nikon lenses for good capture of photos. Front camera is at 2 megapixels 1080p

  • Rohit Palit

    I just don’t trust motorola with their restrictive firmwares and bootloader locks.

  • k_paxz

    I don’t any of your words !
    Nexus will continue its journey…

  • Mike

    Why would it not continue? Those manufacturers are still getting their profit mark up, which is not what the nexus program is about, there will be a cheap alternative developer device and these new Motorola phones are in no way meant to take over for that aspect.

  • Mike

    To be fair, there is no need for a new Nexus yet, and it is too soon to even be curious or worried about what will happen or to expect any news regarding it, we still have 4-5 months before we even hear anything official.

  • Charlie Gould

    The way I read it, it was the interviewer that mentioned “devices” and Pichai said “the goal behind Nexus was to invest in cutting edge hardware along with their partners”…… in other words the Nexus programme continues…….. how this “reporter” can twist it round the other way is beyond me……

  • HZD

    I hope nexus continues, I have had a nexus one / HTC desire then / nexus s / s2 / HTC one x and currently a nexus 4, and every time between I have jumped back to nexus ( now a nexus 7 )

    I have the money for s4/iphone5/HTC one but I have grown sick of slow uupdates and bundled software I dont want !

    Fair play to have a nexus software based handset across manufactures, let the user decide stock android or sense / touchwhiz / motoblur.

    But also have the nexus handset to push the envolope how come lg and Google can produce a handset like the n4 for half the price of everyone else and others can’t ? Shows how much Samsung / HTC are turning into another apple ( those court cases over IP show that ! )

    A decent handset with good specs and battery at a £250 mark is what a phone should cost ! Not north of 450 for a 6 month flagship that’s superseeded as soon as the box hits retail in most regions.

    Nexus `s hold their own against the big boys for a year before they seem dated /slow.

    I’d rather fork out 250 for a phone like that every year than 450+ for the next big thing every 6/8 months and have to pay 40 quid contracts for the pleasure.

  • ehEye

    does anyone care who makes the nextUs, or if everyone is making “NextUses”?

  • Nottolate

    I won’t buy anything but a Nexus.

  • laptopfreek0

    Where is the -1 button. This article doesn’t make any sense. Last I checked a phone was a device. So lumping it into a general category means eliminating it?

  • MC Wong

    Nexus is nexus, it’s different to a “Google edition” device. LG has the best nexus, hope they do another when I need to replace my current one.

  • rose

    Haha lame report. Will google throw a lot sum of money in the window for abandoning a nexus series? Nexus sales almost topple the apple and samsung device in every release it made. Do your research thoroughly.

  • heenan73

    You probably should have checked sales figures for nexus, not to mention user reviews and loyalty. But you have missed of the point pretty spectacularly. It’s a way of introducing new ideas and new directions, a way for Google to work with manufcaturers. And with Motorola making it’s own new phones soon, that ‘working together’ will be vital for Google.

    I cannot prove you wrong; but I’m sure pf one thing, if you ARE right, it’s for the wrong reasons.

  • Nijear

    i really like nexus lineup, and i hope that they don’t stop at this point, but the only reason that nexus devices are not the top is that the phone cost 350$ in specific countries, and they don’t make (ads) for their devices, the reason of Samsung’s success is they make a lot of ads in everywhere in middle-east and north america…….etc, and the device’s price in other countries is 450$ and over.

  • Chensun

    Nexus 5 is the only reason I kept my money this long! HTC or LG should be doing the next Nexus!

  • purplej

    So…um…how’d the prediction work out for you bud…? ;-)