Is this the first glimpse of the Google Nexus 8?

Is this the first glimpse of the Google Nexus 8?

Summary: Apple's iPad mini could face two new similarly-sized competitors in the new year.

This photo, allegedly from Google shows this woman with a tablet that's too large for a 7-inch one and too small for a 10-inch tablet.

If rumours are right, new 8-inch tablets could soon be joining the Android Nexus and Windows RT camps to take on Apple's iPad mini in the hot sub-8-inch tablet market.

Google is quickly gaining a reputation for letting images of its new products slip through in marketing material. The Nexus 5 debuted in an early KitKat promo and yesterday a previously unseen Nexus 7-like tablet with a thinner bezel than the current 2013 model appearing on the Android KitKat apps and entertainment page.

Will Google release a Nexus without a front-facing camera?

Google has now removed the mystery device and replaced it with details of the already available Nexus 7. The theory goes that the new device could be a slightly larger version of the tablet, known as the Nexus 8.

The difference between the Nexus 7 and what's thought to be the Nexus 8 can only be seen in the more compact bezels of the device, but if the theories are correct, it looks like Google could do away with the front-facing camera, which on the Nexus 7 sits in the top right hand corner of the device.

Who will make the Nexus 8?

Which OEM would make the Nexus 8 or whatever other sized device this turns out to be? Will Asus be tasked with making both the Nexus 7 and 8? Or perhaps Samsung, LG or another Android OEM?

Samsung makes the Nexus 10, Google's full-size tablet which is expected to be refreshed soon, as well as the Galaxy Nexus, so it's clearly a favourite with Google.

However, the 2012 Nexus 7's design was based on a MeMo device by Asus. Last month, Asus released a new iteration of the product, the MeMO Pad 8, which could theoretically be used to underpin the Nexus 8. However, the picture leaked by Google suggests a very different looking device.

Then again, Google could tap LG for the rumoured tablet having used the company for the newly-released Nexus 5. As reported by Android Guys, LG's G Pad could be a contender for the role.

Nokia joins the 8-inch race with Windows 8.1 RT 'Illusionist'

Yesterday, the Evleaks Twitter account — known for its good track record on device leaks — revealed that Nokia is planning to launch an 8-inch tablet next year.

Not much is known about the tablet, but reports suggest it will be a Windows RT 8.1 device running a Qualcomm processor. That much, like the codename itself, chimes with Nokia's first foray into the tablet market, the 2520.

The 2520 was launched at Nokia World last month, but has yet to hit the shelves. The 10.1-inch slate, which also runs RT and features a 2.25GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, will go on sale before the end of the year.

Who wants them?

So why the two big names' sudden interest in the 8-inch segment?

Apple has already proved there's a demand for more minuscule devices: around a year after the form factor was launched, it's thought to now account for around one in five of every iPads in use and 60 percent of all iPads sold in the most recent quarter.

In general, sales of the smaller tablets are currently outpacing shipments of traditional 9-inch and over tablets, and according to a recent survey by analysts Gartner,  almost half of tablet owners have a device that's 8-inches or less — which "confirmed Gartner's long-standing assumption that smaller is better when it comes to consumer tablets", the company said.

A high-resolution 8-inch Nexus that undercuts the new iPad mini Retina could be an attractive pitch to buyers on Google's side, while a similarly sized device would allow Nokia to beef up its nascent tablet line up — especially with the move to Microsoft on the cards, a known fan of smaller slates.

Topics: Tablets, Android, Google, Hardware, Nokia

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • What are they realy for?

    An 8 inches display is too small for serious work. (That is why there is absolutely no reasons to have a Full version of Windows to power them. Windows RT or Android is fine for that) So what are they really for? Read your emails?, Check your Facebook page, update your twitter status? I don't know but, I think you can do that on a smart phone very easily. The only thing that I see 7 or 8 inches tablets do better than a phone is browsing the Internet. So for me, such a device compromised. Too small and too big at the same time. I understand that Apple was able to find a niche for them. My wife bought an iPad mini. The only reason for that was too read e-books. She could have bought a less expensive device for that but the "Apple" logo was very charming to her.

    I'll pass on both device. My Surface 2 is a more serious and capable tablet.
    • Serious

      Fine for those who need a 'serious' device, but I am looking to replace my laptop with a tablet that will do general internet access, ebook reading, and email. It will take much less room, be vastly lighter, and I already have a Bluetooth keyboard. An 8" tablet would serve my purposes well, but it will NOT be a Windows 8 (of any flavor) device.
    • If you are doing "serious work" on a tablet, you're doing it wrong

      A tablet isn't for "serious work". If you think "serious work" can be done without a keyboard and mouse, I want your job.

      And it's the crux of why Microsoft has always failed, now in their 12th or 13th year of trying to peddle "Windows-on-a-tablet", and failing miserably each time - this iteration included (you saw how much MS stock fell announcing the RT failures, I'm sure).

      And it's the crux of why the iPad succeeded, right out of the gate. It's because it's an entertainment and media-consumption device that simply works - which is a sharp contrast to the stigma that Windows has created over the years. Microsoft fails to realize that they are more responsible for the success of the iPad than Apple is for simplifying the experience.

      Personally, I wouldn't buy either - a great "in-between" can be had with a small tablet like my Nexus 7. First off, it's smaller and more portable than an iPad - or than a Kindle - or than the stack of magazines and books that I'd otherwise be hauling with me on the airplane. Second, I can install Swype on it, which is a data entry experience that can result in a WPM-rate as fast as I can touch type on a physical keyboard (and I'm an IT guy). A smaller screen actually facilitates this, the Nexus 7 in portrait is excellent for typing. Er... Swyping. No Other Onscreen Keyboard Facilitates Data Entry.

      And if you are using a "keyboard cover" or "bluetooth keyboard" or other such Rube-Goldberg experience, let's point out that you are no longer using a tablet -you are using a wildly underpowered (especially if you expect to do any actual "serious work" in a real application) device with a browser that is not supported for corporate applications, with a keyboard and mouse (and a sub-standard one at that) plugged into it so you can use it like the laptop that you should actually be using for "serious work".

      Sounds like it's not us, but you, who is confused on what a tablet is for.
      • agreed

        but, to play devil's advocate, at this point MS has no other angle to take, than the "productivity tablet." So that dead horse will continue to be beaten.

        my advice for M$:
        "come up with an original consumer oriented product besides windows/office productivity based ones, and soon. The xbox was the right idea and is successful but not profitable and I suspect may go the way of the PC." Milk the enterprises with versions of windows that they actually want, and give up on windows/office in the consumer space. By going for the whole enchilada you have accelerated the decline of the PC, and were too late with RT."
        • because having a device that does less is the way things should be?

          Understand that having access to full powered programs (not kiddie apps) is an OPTION for a user.

          There are a number of people who would love nothing more than to have a 7, 8, 10 or whatever inch device that they can take with them anywhere and not have to worry about what it WILL NOT be able to do.

          The point isn't that someone is going to be staring at an 8 inch screen all day trying to do productivity work they would normally do in the office, but that they have the OPTION to use their 8 inch device anywhere they happen to be should the need arise.

          I'm not sure people are understanding that. Honestly there isn't some magic formula that only iPads and Androids have to display movies, read books or play angry birds. That is basic level tablet stuff and it has remained pretty stagnant for the last few years.

          Mobile operating systems don't seem to be growing beyond that, but rather falling back on the notion that users will need to have secondary devices to meet all their computing needs or try to add on some of the clumbsy cumbersome keyboard/kickstand case combos 3rd party makers are offering.

          I love having one device that can do all my needs for tablet entertainment and desktop level work needs. It can even do some desktop level 3d gaming to boot.
      • Serious stuff

        Here's a few serious thing I do on my Surface 2 every day when I am on the road, on vacation or at a Restaurant.

        - Create, Edit and synch any Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
        - Exchange files quickly from a USB device or a Network path with not additional apps or dongle required
        - Use Remote Desktop to connect on any of our enterprise server. Check the status of a Database, an running application or a hard disk status. Get the job done and log out
        - Use Team Viewer and work on any non-metro app on my remote PC (SQL Server, Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, AutoCAD and more)

        Besides that, I can still do all the not so serious stuff you can do on an iPad.
    • 9" and a lot less bezel is the sweet spot

      I have an admittedly less than stellar Nook HD+ but there is one thing I think they absolutely nailed: the screen size vs weight. It's significantly lighter and much more one-hand-able than the old iPad or a Nexus 10 - in fact it weighs 1.0 lbs just like the iPad Air.

      With an hd screen like this, 9" and 9.8" are not much different.

      7" is definitely too small, and 8" doesn't quite cut it either. I'm telling you, you can make a 9" device about as small and light as most of these 7" and 8" units by trimming that stupid bezel down to size (yeah I'm talking to you Nexus 7, Kindle, Galaxy Tab etc.)
  • Nexus 8

    The updated version of LG G Pad 8.3 would be the Nexus 8 !
    We could expect high resolution display and Snapdragon 800 on board.!
    SYD Harry
    • Snapdragon 600

      While it's all speculative... It'll probably include a Snapdragon 600. This is what the LG G Pad 8.3 includes and it was only available for sale a couple of weeks ago. If you're right, I would want to buy it that much more!
      • I think it will be a top of the line Soc to compete with the Apple A7

        Has to be Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.5 at least or the Tegra 4! The 600 is on par with the Snapdragon S4 Pro on the Nexus 7! LG G Pad made a serious error in using the 600 on their 8.3 tablet. A7 is almost 1/3 to 1/2 faster in almost everything.
  • Seamlessly from 1" Samsung Gear to 27" Lenovo tablet

    It becomes increasingly harder to defy a tablet. There seems to be no viable pretext to shun one of those marvels.

    Well then, let's splurge ...
  • 8 is the new 10

    I did chuckle when I read "I understand that Apple was able to find a niche for them" above.

    The 'niche' for 7 and 8 inch tablets was already well established by Android devices for some time. Mr Jobs swore Apple would never release one, but after his passing ... well, let's just say that's when Apple stopped leading and started following. Shame.

    7 & 8 inch tablets now outsell their larger counterparts in all demographics and Android has achieved almost 80% market share worldwide. It'd be nice for Android to have some competition again to help drive-out innovation, clearly it's no longer Apple - perhaps it will be Microsoft?
    • Millstone

      Not as long as they have the Windows 8 millstone around their necks.
  • So Apple is the company that proved people wants 8" tablets

    "Apple has already proved there's a demand for more miniscule devices: around a year after the form factor was launched, it's thought to now account for around one in five of every iPads in use and 60 percent of all iPads sold in the most recent quarter.

    The same company through Jobs that said any size less than 9.7" is useless. You mean tons of androids and kindle tablets sold in millions way before Cook had to wait for Jobs to die to introduce iPad mini does not count. The world waited for Apple to prove that.

    What a load of *&6%ck. Oh I forgot, this is ZDNet.
    Alfred Soyemi
    • If you're going to quote someone, get it right.

      Jobs said the 7" market wouldn't catch on. The iPad Mini - at 7.9" in diameter on a 4:3 format - has 45% more room than a 7" 16:9 tablet.

      That's quite a jump in real estate for something you can still hold comfortably in one hand.
      • but it's IOS

        Don't get me wrong they sell, but Windows is a fresh breath of air in this market. 8.1 on an 8" form factor? Yes please. Dell's Venue Pro is a welcome addition with 8.1 and when Office Touch launches RT will benefit. The Windows Store is growing so as time goes on Metro becomes more and more acceptable.
        • Breath of fresh air?

          Saying Surface (RT or Pro) is taking off and people are buying it, just because you think that it would be awesome if it were true, is a very different thing to it actually happening.
    • It was "everyone else" first - ZDNet still believes Apple worship = readers

      Apple was publicly and verbally on-record as being opposed to a tablet screen smaller than 10" just like they were opposed to a phone screen bigger than 3.5".

      It took the success of all the 7"-8" tablets that were out there to SHOW Apple that there was a big demand for smaller tablets, to slap them across the face that they needed to make an iPad Mini.

      Just like it took the success and popularity of Android totally overwhelming Apple's marketshare - in large part because devices WERE out there in the 4"-5" range - to slap them across the face that they needed to make an iPhone with a 4" screen (which people STILL think is too small).

      But old-school outfits like ZDNet still think that suckling at Apple's teat will gain them readers.
      And maybe for their demographic - it will.
      Personally, I think an unbiased approach will capture the majority rather than the minority, but who am I to state that...
      • LOL... market share...

        I actually like Android, but numbers can tell any story you like. There are many ways to look at market share. For example, it takes a zillion wildly different Android devices from a couple dozen manufacturers combined to beat one Apple iOS product in "market share." If you compare any single Apple iOS product to any single Android product, the difference in sales is embarrassing for the Android product. We're talking 6 to 1 sales difference minimum in favor of the Apple iOS product. For most devices, it's more like 100 to 1. Even Android devices that are given away for free ship far fewer units. More people buy an iOS device than any other phone or tablet on the market. Both this fact, and your reliance on quoting the combined sales from all competing companies just shows that a person can spin numbers to look any way they want.

        The reason Apple's iOS gets so much attention on ZDNet, and other sites, is precisely because each iOS device sells far more units than any other device from any other manufacturer in its category. This is one reason why companies develop add-ons for iOS devices long before they develop for other devices. Another reason iOS gets so much attention is that new add on devices and apps are coming out constantly for iOS devices. When you get that much activity around one device, it generates a continuous stream of news for sites to report.

        I should also mention that you are complaining that ZDNet focuses on Apple when this article is actually about the Google Nexus 8.

        Enjoy your perfectly fine Android device. Others will enjoy their perfectly fine alternatives.
        • Samsung sells more devices than Apple

          And the catch, yes they are the largest, though Huauei is on track to surpass Apple as well. LG is next.

          Now world wide, Apple's presence is disappearing. Apple has four established markets. US, Canada, Australia, Japan. These are large markets yes. But it's losing market on three of these. It's only gaining in the US due to market leverage.