Will the LG Nexus challenge the iPhone? [Editorial]

The release of a new iPhone every year brings with it new twists, turns and controversies. Much like last year, the iPhone release is to be shortly followed by the release of the next installation in the Google Nexus series. Last year, it was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, that was released in November 2011 to coincide with the release of Android 4.0 ICS.  This year, the baton falls into the hands of LG.

What do we know?

According to reports, the LG Nexus is slated for announcement on October 29, with release to follow some time after that, the device will probably be named the “Nexus G”. It looks like the “Nexus G” (The name by which it shall be referred to from this point on) is based upon the LG Optimus G, with different aesthetics. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the LG Optimus G.

Many of the Nexus G’s rumored features already appear in this phone, so its probably reasonable to assume that the two devices are going to be quite similar.

Nexus G reported Features:

  • Android 4.2
  • 1.5 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon S4 Processor
  • 2Gb RAM
  • 4.7″ 1280×768 True-HD IPS screen
  • 8 Megapixel Camera (The Optimus ships with a 13 Megapixel camera for Sprint versions and only 8 Megapixels for AT&T, looks like Google got the lesser of the two cameras)
  • No MicroSD slot
  • 8GB and 16GB internal storage only
  • Non-removable battery
  • Wireless Charging

Whilst the Nexus G appears to share many of the Optimus’ internal specifications, the actual design of the phone is much different.

LG E960 Nexus 4 iPhone 5 leak

Latest leaks claim that this is a side by side of the iPhone 5 and the Nexus G. Note the front-facing camera, which looks very similar to the Optimus’ camera. This will probably shoot at 1.3MP. The Nexus G here is running Android 4.1.2, but the expectation is that the released version will ship with Android 4.2

That information is a compilation of leaked details and photos, and they appear to paint a pretty good picture of what the Nexus G is going to look like. So now it’s time for some thoughts…

Hardware

Let’s not beat around the bush, this thing is powerful. I mean really powerful, in an Engadget hands on, the Optimus G performed at lightning quick speeds, and so I imagine that the Nexus G will too. Certainly, with a 1.5GHz processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be quick. Those specs are enough to blow the iPhone out of the water, on paper at least. I’ve long advocated the notion that the iPhone doesn’t need brutish hardware to perform well, and it’s true that the iPhone, over time, performs significantly faster on a day to day basis than some more powerful Android phones, which begin to lag over time. That being said, I have no doubt that the Nexus G will be a very quick phone.

By the sound of things, the display is also top notch. Sporting a 4.7″ 768×1280 pixel screen, the Nexus G will come achingly close to the iPhone 5′s current Retina pixel density of 326ppi. At 318ppi, the difference in resolution will be essentially unnoticeable. The substantial size difference puts the iPhone at clear disadvantage here.

The 8MP camera will probably shoot on par with the iPhone 5, which isn’t a bad thing. It would be completely unfair to make a judgement on the camera without any photographs to analyse, but it will most likely be very good. Hey, if it doesn’t give off purple lens flare, it may well be much better than the iPhone 5′s camera.

With things looking up so far, it starts to get a bit more interesting. The current trend seems to suggest that the Nexus G will only ship with either an 8GB or 16GB internal storage option, with no room for expansion. This seems like a huge development, and one that could ultimately turn many potential customers away from the Nexus G to a device with more flexible storage options. Apparently, Google asked LG to stick with these two options in order to keep costs down, and to encourage users to interact more with Google’s cloud storage service. A feature barely available outside the U.S. Another interesting turn came when it was rumored the Nexus G could ship with a fixed battery, another key selling point for many current Android devices. These two pivotal features, if they are true, could prove decisive in making or breaking this device.

(Wireless charging didn’t get a mention because I think it’s pretty pointless.)

Design

This is where I think the Nexus G runs into some serious problems. Look below, it’s a side by side picture of the Galaxy Nexus and the leaked Nexus G. The screens have been removed. Can you tell which is which?

If you said the Galaxy Nexus was on the left, you guessed correctly. But my point is pretty plain to see. It appears that the LG design team consists of one man and a photocopier, both of which were put to good use in creating stealing the design for the Nexus G.

LG E960 Nexus 4 rear leak

Granted, the back looks kinda cool, but it looks like the same plastic material that appears on most Android devices. It works for some people, and I wouldn’t be upset if my phone looked like that, but I’d feel a little wary of dropping it, especially after seeing how the Galaxy S3 responds to gravity.

Software

I’m not going to start a flame war, so I’ll keep this to a minimum. For a long time, I was repulsed by the way Android looked, particularly in variations such as TouchWiz and HTC Sense. However, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean are, to me, much more appealing to look at. I’ve never doubted Android’s functionality as an operating system, and now that it looks good, I feel much better disposed to it than I once was.

My only problem with Android is its somewhat fractured nature. I’ve never been convinced by the messy updating that seems incumbent of Android, and with plans to by an iPad and perhaps a Mac in the near future, I feel like I’d be much better off buying into Apple’s ecosystem, because of its polished functionality across platforms. Standalone however, the latest Android instalment is very good.

Conclusion

The Nexus G is shaping up to be a powerhouse. But it’s fantastic internal specification is somewhat offset by the prospect of a limited number of internal storage options and the fact that it apparently looks exactly like the previous Nexus phone. If I was looking to buy into Android, I’d be more inclined to wait for the release of the Nexus G, and then buy a Galaxy Nexus following it’s inevitable price drop. Will it challenge the iPhone? For a couple of weeks yes… but then a new Android phone will appear, and the Nexus will fade away. Even more likely, the Nexus will be completely overshadowed by the phone it’s based on, the Optimus G.

@TiP_Stephen

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  • Sgt Slaughter

    Pretty funny you’ll call out the phone for looking like another Nexus yet lay claim to being an Apple fanboy. I suppose it’s only OK when Apple does it for 5 years? ;-)
     
    Shoddy editorial all ’round.

  • MarkHsu

    Same style for the Nexus? Have you ever had deja, deja, deja, deja, deja vu? LOL. The editorial was fair enough except this nexus might have staying power if the processor is the S4 quad core. That is pretty much state of the art and future proof unlike my galaxy nexus which is running on a two+ year old cpu/ gpu but still surprisingly smooth thanks to project butter.

  • Matlock

    Maybe this is something that Google requested, since this is a Google Nexus device! I would understand why Google would ask for some uniformity as far as Nexus phones go. So don’t go blaming LG without the facts. Im still on the fence about this phone, as I am not a big LG fan. I have a Gnexus, and have previously owned a Nexus One,  and am/was super happy with those phones. I was   looking forward to maybe another Samsung Nexus or maybe a return to an HTC Nexus, heck at this point I would even like a Motorola Nexus, but LG has left a bad taste in my mouth after the G2x debacle, and the fact they did not support the G-Slate after its launch. Im still hoping for the launch of multiple Nexus phones devices.As for the fragmentation you speak of, it has nothing to do with the Nexus line. so when talking about the Nexus devices please dont bring up fragmentation, as it has really no room in this discussion.

  • KyleFrost

    @Sgt Slaughter I personally find it funny how Android “fanboys” are all up in arms when Apple releases a new device “only the screen and back changed!” Well, look at these leaked pictures. What’s changed? The back. That’s really all externally. That argument now is completely invalid.
     
    Coming from someone who owned 2 Android phones before going for the iPhone 5.

  • LV2355

    @KyleFrost 
    The point you missed out was the fact that an iPhone fan speaking about “looking like previous phone”. This whole article is a bad writing… missing so many things, badly understand for others. But for iPhone fanboys false information is a life style.