So if I don't want an iPhone, will the new Nexus fill the bill??

So if I don't want an iPhone, will the new Nexus fill the bill??

Summary: So we know that the upcoming Nexus phone will be a modified version of LG's Optimus G. Great. That leaves me searching for the ultimate Android phone.

TOPICS: Android

When my Nexus 7 arrived, I declared that it would change my smartphone buying habits forever. At 7", it was a spectacularly useful and portable size and made the race for the largest mobile phone screen pointless. As Android phones continue to bounce off the 5" mark, they make for great readability, but 7" is tough to beat for everyday usability. A 5" superphone, a 7" tablet, and a 15" laptop spell a heavy bag and some serious redundancy.

I've come to despise my current phone, a 4.7" Droid Razr for it's miserable battery life, lackluster Pentile display, pokey performance, and too-thin/too-wide form factor that makes talking and typing one-handed unnecessarily challenging. Fortunately, I'm due for an upgrade in December and have been hoping beyond hope that some OEM would have the good sense to jam a quad-core CPU and a great battery into a 4" or smaller phone. The name "Nexus 4" had been floating around the blogosphere...Maybe, just maybe, Google's upcoming flagship Nexus phone would be the one.

It now looks as though it will be based on LG's Optimus G, another 4.7" beast. Yes, the display will probably rock, performance will be awesome, and Android 4.2 will be on deck. Fabulous. But for those of us with Nexus 7's (or even iPads or other full-sized tablets) that go everywhere with us, phones of this size are overkill. Is it too much to ask for high performance and a nice display in a small package?

I hate to say it, but Apple doesn't seem to think so. The iPhone 5, by all accounts, is fast and smooth and it's 4" screen (!!!) has few rivals in terms of clarity and sharpness. Unfortunately, I'm just not a big fan of iOS. iOS 6 is fine on my iPad where most of what I do tends to be focused on a few applications (primarily Adobe's Touch Apps, Keynote, GarageBand, and Google Chrome). The OS is sort of irrelevant there, with the major requirement being that my daughter can watch Peppa Pig episodes in the car (Peppa Pig, unfortunately, is not available in the Google Play Store).

On my phone, though (and, increasingly on my go-everywhere Nexus 7), I tend to interact with the OS a lot more. Swiftkey is an outstanding replacement keyboard for fast typing in emails, texts, and social network updates. And I may be able buy Peppa Pig episodes in iTunes, but there's no Swiftkey in iOS. In the same way, iOS just doesn't handle multitasking as well as Android, Google Maps is still a vastly superior navigation tool, and Apple Mail is an abomination compared to the Android version of Gmail.

In fact, it's Android's tight integration with Google Apps (duh) that ultimately keeps me on Google's mobile OS. I live, eat, and breathe Google Apps for everything from invoicing clients to virtually all of my communication needs, especially when I throw Google Voice into the mix. Apple also really dropped the ball by not supporting NFC while Google Wallet is really quite elegant.

So iOS is out. I rely on my smartphone too much to compromise on the OS. Honestly, even the iPad Mini doesn't hold much appeal for me. I'll take my Nexus 7 anyday over a smaller iPad, where the iOS apps I love simply won't be as awesome. ArtRage would barely be useful on a smaller screen; same for Adobe Ideas or Proto. GarageBand as a portable recording studio and guitar amp on a smaller screen? No thank you. Give me all 10 inches of Retina bliss for four tracks and manipulating effects and loops.

Can you say first-world problem?

Good! I knew you could!

Unfortunately, that doesn't actually leave me any options for a Razr replacement. Most likely, the Nexus 7 will be relegated to testing purposes since I refuse to keep carrying a giant phone and a small tablet. The iPad will go back to being my primary tablet, and the LG/Google Nexus will become my next phone/compact tablet. If this isn't a first-world problem, I don't know what is.

But, believe it or not, I'm not whining about nonsense here. The point is that Android OEMs (and Google) are missing an opportunity here. There's a reason that Apple has clearly differentiated phone/iPod form factors from tablet form factors (even if a 7"-ish iPad Mini materializes). It makes sense to carry an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook. A 5.5" phone, a 7" tablet, and a 12.1" Chromebook? Not so much. A compact, powerful Android flagship phone could be an iPhone killer. Right now, it's David vs. a lot of Goliaths and we know how that story turned out.

On of the major advantages that Android has over Apple is the ability for huge variety in terms of form factors, costs, and features. The promise of Android is that anyone should be able to find a device that suits their needs well, whether those needs involve giant phablets, compact phones, entry-level phones and tablets, or bleeding edge devices with performance (and prices) that are second to none. So far, a major market segment is being ignored by Android OEMs and essentially being ceded to Apple and its nicely-sized iPhones.

Topic: Android

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Samsung is coming up with one !

    I think Samsung is launching a 4" model of its S III series, with essentially the same specs. It will be launched in Germany and is expected to come soon to U.S. Think that will suit your needs better !
    • Samsung GS3 Mini

      First of all, they are turning it into a cheap budget phone. I want a phone that is exactly as powerful as the S3 but with a 4'' display!!!!! And, even more importantly: it is not a Nexus! I am so hoping for a 4'', or at LEAST a 4.3'' Nexus!!!
      • And with "Mini" suffix, Samsung again copies Apple

        Before Apple, "Mini" as TM was only used as standalone word -- as car "BMW Mini", for example. Apple made iPod mini, Mac mini and iPad mini. Samsung wants to copy that.
        • you are being sarcastic

          arent you?
        • you are being sarcastic

          arent you?
        • you are being sarcastic

          arent you?
        • Put your hands up sir

          For I am pointing my Uzi and Mini-Uzi at you and ready to shoot
        • You're an idiot

          1. There's no such thing as an iPod mini or even an iPad mini (yet)
          2. So you're saying apple owns the word mini ?
          3. There's also NO BMW mini, you tool. It's called (or was called) Mini Cooper.

          Fanboyism has turned you into a stupid tool for apple.
          • Troll

            Just an Apple troll. Also, Samsung has had devices with a 'mini' suffix for a really long time. (Possibly mostly marketed to emerging markets, like here )
            Han CNX
      • 4" phone is so 2010.

        No one is interested in a 4" high end smartphone. And the only reason this argument is brought up is because now Apple has a 4" phone. Interesting that I didn't see these same people clamoring for a high spec'd 3.5" phone when the 4 and 4S were Apple's premier phone.

        Apple decided to make the iPhone taller but not wider, that's a huge mistake because it minimizes the functionality just because they wanted to claim in commercials that you could still use only with one hand. That's a stupid and short sighted argument pushed by Apple's marketing arm. I'm sure the technical engineers were pushing for a true HD display format.

        4" phones are the bottom of the barrel. There are still too small for modern day use. Apple needed to have come out with at least a 4.3" screen that was wider as well as taller.
        • One-handed use is important to

          quite a few people.
        • You did a survey of every phone owner?

          Just because you might need to compensate with a larger screen doesn't mean that everyone has to or even wants to. I for one (and apparently the author) don't want a big phone. I was perfectly happy with the 3.5" screen size of the previous iPhones and if they would have gone wider and taller with the 5 I wouldn't have upgraded. I have large hands yet find the 3.5" almost perfect for 1 handed use and the 4" about as large as I would be willing to go no matter the brand. You can try to dismiss the one handed use as marketing all you want because you have nothing else but it matters to a lot of people. As far as too small for modern day use, what an idiotic statement. In this modern day I don't need a large screen phone, I have a tablet for when a larger screen is needed.
      • Powerful

        Genuine question: Why exactly does it need to be powerful? (As long as it's poweful enough to operate smoothly) If I understand correctly you wouldn't watch feature movies on such a thing, or do major gaming. You'd use it to quickly check some emails, and tether to whatever larger device you're carrying, right? So why does it need cosmic power?
        Han CNX
  • Does it do good phone?

    The biggest problem with my iPhone is so many people cannot understand me on it. Since I have dropped my landline, all of my phone is on my cellphone. I had to revert to a ten-year old Motorola clamshell, which I can plug in to a great mic and speaker, as well as my Bluetooth. But I'm looking for a terrific GPS/Camera/internet/email phone, big enough to do mini computer work but with terrific sound transmission. And, I'd like it larger than the iPhone and with a battery that lasts longer than a few hours.

    Does the Nexus do this? How about the Samsung?

    Thanks for your honest reporting!
    • Galaxy Nexus very nice phone.

      I have a galaxy nexus, it has a 4.65 inch 720p screen, it's very fast running android jelly bean. it is very light weight for it's size. gets very good reception. I also use skype at home for calling, for about $100 a year you can call anywhere in the U.S. and that includes a dedicated phone number people can call you on. I also use google voice to instant message. and the battery seems to last 2 days for me any way.
      • Me too!

        I have a Galaxy Nexus as well and I love it! The camera is great, and the battery lasts all day for me. (Admittedly I probably use it less than some people would, but I usually have almost 50% of the battery left at the end of the day.)
        • Very location dependent

          I have a Galaxy Nexus as well, and did get a couple of the extended batteries.

          At my old office (University City, Philadelphia) I got all-day run and them some, on 4G. In fact, the 4G worked much better in our building (very old stone building) than 3G did on my Droid. But since moving to a new job this past summer, I can easily run down the battery by lunchtime (well, ok, I do leave the house around 6AM). The only difference is cell coverage -- this office barely has 3G coverage from Verizon.

          Just something to keep in mind, particularly when one gets into a debate about battery life vs. phone model vs. radio protocol, etc.
      • How much of a difference did the Jellybean update make?

        I know the Galaxy Nexus is about a year old now, but I've heard many users say it feels like a new phone again after Jellybean. Faster, smoother, etc.

        Did you find that to be the case?
        • Jellybean

          Love Jellybean. For the most part Jellybean was pure speed. I'm on Android for power and flexibility anyway, but now it's faster than it ever was.
  • contradictory

    You just answered the questions yourself!!!!! Of course the nexux!!! Dam, Iship people are so Istu.d...!