What It Needs: Nexus X

IFA is going to churn up a lot of dust in the smartphone world. We’re expecting new devices from Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, Sony, and Huawei, among others. However, one of the most anticipated Android phones, Google’s newest flagship Nexus phone (dubbed the Nexus X), won’t be available for a few more months.

Though you’ll be hard pressed to find a Nexus fan that is frustrated with the wait (for a long time, Google was rumoured to be finished with the Nexus line), you don’t have to look too far to find a fan with a few ‘must haves’ for the next flagship Nexus.

A great price

One thing the Nexus line has gotten a reputation for over the last couple of years is its great pricing. Whether it’s the Nexus 7 or the Nexus 5, Google has really concentrated on packing great specs into a well priced, well constructed package. The Nexus 5 had its shortcomings, but it was still the best Android phone for $350 when it launched. We know we’re expecting some pretty hefty upgrades with the Nexus X but we’re really hoping that doesn’t drive the price through the roof. If it does, it will take away one of the most wicked aspects of the Nexus line, which is a legitimately high-end phone, off contract, for a mid-range price. Honestly, our hope is that the price will stay the same, but we recognise that may be blind optimism. It just needs to be under $400.

Better battery life

Alongside great pricing, battery life is top of our list of priorities. The Nexus X needs a battery that will last all day, or at least most of the day. This was by far the the Nexus 5’s weakest point. Really, it should be a given that users want their phone to last well past dinner, but the Nexus 5 and its 2300 mAh battery just weren’t up to the task. For that reason alone, this is one of the major asks among Nexus fans, that the next one do what the current generation can’t. Regardless of battery size, some improvement is guaranteed in the form of Android L. Thanks to advances made in Project Volta, L will bring improvements to current hardware as well as future devices.


A better camera

We’d also like Google to pay more attention to the camera this time around. Gone are the days when the camera on your phone was just a nice extra on top of the ability to make calls. A lot of people are using their cellphone camera as their main camera (they say the best camera is the one you have with you and it’s true) but the camera on the Nexus 5 was slow to launch and took too long to focus and capture images. Things improved considerably with an update in December, but the camera still lags behind the likes of the iPhone 5S or this year’s Galaxy S5. Google hasn’t really gone to much effort with the camera UI, which is an area where a lot of OEMs try to differentiate themselves. Though we’re usually pretty against heavy OEM customizations, the fact is that the stock Android camera app leaves a lot to be desired and could use a little love.

More storage as standard

Storage expansion via MicroSD is something that disappeared with the Galaxy Nexus. Google has said in the past that it feels one unified block of storage is preferable and offers a better experience for users. However, it does mean that you need to offer enough onboard storage to begin with, and 16 GB just doesn’t cut it for a lot of people. The Nexus X needs to come with 32 GB of storage as standard and a 64 GB option, or Google needs to bring back the MicroSD solution. Google will probably argue that with auto-upload to Google+ and services like Dropbox and Facebook, users shouldn’t need so much onboard storage. But, between apps, music, photos, and video, 16 GB just doesn’t get you very far.

A screen that doesn’t approach phablet territory

Like most other phones in the smartphone industry, the Nexus line has slowly been increasing in size. The Nexus 5 is the biggest yet at 4.9 inches. While screen size is very much a personal preference, recent rumours have the Nexus X down for a near 6-inch display. That’s approaching Ascend Mate 2 territory and is totally ridiculous. It’s bigger than the current generation Galaxy Note (and probably the Galaxy Note 4, as well). Sure, the Nexus 5 isn’t massive right now, and could stand to be a little bigger, but it needs to be a 5.5-inch panel or less. The reason we’re happy for it to even go that far is that the current Nexus 5 design is pretty compact (it has the same size display as the HTC One M8 but is about 8.5 mm shorter) and we’re hoping Google will maintain that compact design regardless of manufacturer.

A resolution that isn’t totally ridiculous

Today’s last ‘must have’ feature for the Nexus X is brought to you by the letter ‘R,’ for restraint. While there was been talk of 2K display on the Nexus X, we have little interest in seeing this type of display on the Nexus X, or really any phone. As we discussed on episode 10 of the SyrupCast, you simply don’t need that kind of screen resolution in your pocket. Smartphone manufacturers have long been guilty of trending towards more (more megapixels, more pixels per inch, more cores, more RAM), but a 2560 x 1440 display is going to eat into your battery, eat into performance, and not really offer much in the way of return on investment. We need Google to skip this feature for the Nexus X.