Google I/O 2013: What’s On Tap For Nexus Smartphone And Tablet Hardware

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Gadgets, GT, Mobile
Tags: ,

Google’s big annual developer conference kicks off
on Wednesday, and while Android lead Sundar Pichai
has downplayed big new announcements at Google I/
O this year, we’ve also seen reports that suggest the
Nexus line of Google-branded hardware won’t go
completely untouched. Nexus Phones The rumors suggest that we won’t see a brand new
Nexus phone at Google I/O this year, but what we
could see instead is a mid-cycle upgrade for the
Nexus 4. In fact, the existing version seems tailor-
made for a couple quick internal hardware upgrades to
inject some fresh life into sales and activate some new buzz around the product, which by most
accounts has been selling fairly well, especially when
compared to previous Nexus flagship phones. What we’ve heard indicates that the Google Nexus 4
will appear at I/O boasting a 32GB internal memory
upgrade, along with built-in LTE support. There’s an
LTE-capable wireless radio built into the current
Nexus 4, but it lacks a proper signal amplifier and as
such remains officially disabled. Nearer the Nexus 4′s launch, you could activate it with a backdoor hack,
but Google quickly shut that down. Both these spec bumps would be easy enough to
accomplish, and are both considered the most
noteworthy obvious flaws on an otherwise very
impressive device. And a new spy shot making the
rounds today backs up earlier claims we might see a
white version of the Nexus 4, which so far only ships in black, which could be another factor in convincing
new buyers to take the plunge. It’s not clear how exactly Motorola’s devices will fit
into the Nexus line, but it’s also worth mentioning that
a new device labeled the “Motorola XT1058″ has just
been spotted making its way through the FCC, which
suggests it might arrive very soon. What precious
little info the filing contains suggests that this could be the fabled XFON we’ve been hearing Motorola is
working on for Google, and it could theoretically make
an I/O appearance, but this could also be yet another
smartphone already on Motorola’s roadmap pre-
acquisition, and there’s no guarantee we’ll see it at
the show either way. Nexus Tablets There’s less buzz around new Nexus tablet hardware
making an appearance at I/O, but there are some
indications we could see some upgrades there, too.
KGI Securities analyst Mingchi Kuo says there’s a
brand new Nexus 7 coming, with a high-res,
1920×1200 display, an improved processor and a decent rear camera. Reuters also reported earlier that a next-gen Nexus 7
would arrive, powered by a Qualcomm chip just like
Kuo reports, but they’ve pegged that tablet for a
release in July, which suggests we might not see it at
I/O after all, except maybe in a preview capacity.
Google demoed the original Nexus 7 at I/O in 2012, however, before bringing the device to market in mid-
July 2012, so we could see a similar pattern repeat
itself here. I’d hesitate to suggest we’ll hear about much more
beyond the Nexus 7 in the tablet category. Sales of
the Nexus 10 have reportedly been quite low so far,
and that device was only introduced in partnership
with Samsung late last year. Google will likely want to
give it a bit more time to try to pick up sales, or might focus its Nexus tablet efforts on the apparently more
popular 7-inch market instead. Earlier rumors suggested we might see a Nexus 11
make its initial appearance at I/O, too, but while it
reportedly sits on Samsung’s roadmap for the year,
there’s been nothing so far to indicate we’ll see it at I/
O. Nexus Q (LOL) We won’t see Google’s bizarre boondoggle make an
appearance at this year’s conference, and we didn’t
really need AllThingsD’s reported confirmation of that
fact to predict its absence, but it’s nice to have it. The Nexus Q was Google’s attempt at answering the
Apple TV and AirPlay if you recall, but it was an
overpriced, precious gadget that essentially screamed
“niche,” and a small one at that. Kuo said in the same
report that detailed updated Nexus hardware that we’d
see Google come back up to the plate with a stronger Apple TV-type device later this year, but it doesn’t
look like we’ll see that at I/O. Pichai said in his Wired interview this morning that Google doesn’t have “much in the way of launches of
new products” at the moment, but that leaves wiggle
room. It sounds like he’s trying to manage
expectations, and a couple of upgrades to existing
product lines would be right in line with something
Google hopes will impress, but not on the scale of something like a new smart watch or the original
Google Glass reveal.

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